Illinois and Missouri each have 1 of the best US towns to see fall leaves, magazine says

A pair of towns in Illinois and Missouri recently appeared among a collection of spots across the country that offer the best fall foliage.

The list, compiled and published by Country Living magazine, recognizes the 55 best U.S. small towns to look at the autumn leaves. Nominees stretch from the West Coast to New England and generally offer a pleasant mix of colorful foliage and fall-themed fun for the whole family.

Pioneer Valley, Mass., claimed the top spot on this year’s list, but Missouri and Illinois are represented in their own right. You might not want to waste time if you’re hoping to catch the fall colors, as the Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map suggests roughly half of Missouri and Illinois have seen their foliage peak by the week of Nov. 6.

Here’s a brief look at their offerings featured among Country Living’s favorite fall foliage spots in 2023.

Parkville, Missouri

Located in Platte County, this Missouri town landed at No. 15 in Country Living’s rankings of the best U.S. small towns for fall foliage. The magazine says Parkville’s location along the Missouri River offers great scenery each autumn.

“Hidden just outside of Kansas City, this small town is known to locals for antiquing,” Country Living wrote. “Sounds like the perfect way to take a break from leaf peeping along the Missouri River, doesn’t it?”

Parkville, settled in 1838, has a population of roughly 7,117 people, according to 2020 U.S. Census estimates. Besides hosting Park University, the town is largely known for its antique shops, plus plenty of art galleries and restaurants scattered throughout its historic downtown district, according to, the region’s tourism bureau.

In the fall, visitors to the area might choose to head toward several local parks to catch the fall foliage at its peak. Top options include English Landing Park, Platte Landing Park and Parkville Nature Sanctuary.

Galena, Illinois

Galena is the largest city and the county seat of Jo Daviess County in Illinois, but it holds a population of roughly 3,308 people, according to 2020 U.S. Census estimates. Located in the northwesternmost corner of the Land of Lincoln, this town sits along the Galena River, one of many tributaries of the Mississippi River.

Country Living ranked Galena the No. 16 U.S. small town for fall foliage in its 2023 report.

“From Galena Oktoberfest to tours of its historic homes, this Midwest town offers several season-specific events for your whole family to love,” the magazine wrote.

Galena offers a rich history dating back to its prominence as a mining site for hundreds of years. The town itself is named for galena, or the natural form of lead sulfide, a critical lead ore. A 581-acre section of Galena is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Galena Historic District.

Visitors to the city itching for some fall fun might consider checking out Galena’s many parks and recreation areas, including Grant Park, Galena Gateway Park, Tapley Woods State Natural Area and Linmar Gardens. Other landmarks in the area include the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Sinsinawa Mound and the post office on the corner of Green and Commerce streets in Galena, which remains the second-oldest continually owned and operated post office in the U.S.

Country Living’s best small towns for fall foliage

Here’s a look at the top picks among Country Living’s best U.S. small towns for fall foliage this year. The full list features 55 towns across the country.

  1. Pioneer Valley, Mass.

  2. Montpelier, Vt.

  3. Saranac Lake, N.Y.

  4. Gatlinburg, Tenn.

  5. Stowe, Vt.

  6. Breckenridge, Colo.

  7. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

  8. Jefferson, N.H.

  9. Wellsboro, Pa.

  10. Munising, Mich.

  11. Cherokee, N.C.

  12. Camden, Maine

  13. Calistoga, Calif.

  14. Kent, Conn.

  15. Parkville, Mo.

  16. Galena, Ill.

  17. Oakland, Md.

  18. Fish Creek, Wisc.

  19. Park City, Utah

  20. Keene, N.Y.

  21. Fayetteville, W.Va.

  22. Bristol, R.I.

  23. Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

  24. Buckhannon, W.Va.

  25. Mountain Lakes, N.J.

  26. Sugar Hill, N.H.

  27. Jasper, Ark.

  28. Milford, Pa.

  29. Clayton, Ga.

  30. Manchester, Vt.

  31. Lilydale, Minn.

  32. West Glacier, Mont.

  33. Ontonagon, Mich.

  34. Weaverville, N.C.

  35. Estes Park, Colo.

  36. Kennebunkport, Maine

  37. Vale, Ore.

  38. Taos, N.M.

  39. Abingdon, Va.

  40. Woodstock, Vt.

  41. Bayfield, Wisc.

  42. Charlestown, R.I.

  43. Naches, Wash.

  44. Natchez, Miss.

  45. Ridgway, Colo.

  46. Nashville, Ind.

  47. Sandpoint, Idaho

  48. Mount Shasta, Calif.

  49. Bardstown, Ky.

  50. Defiance, Ohio

  51. Bar Harbor, Maine

  52. Lenox, Mass.

  53. Hudson Valley, N.Y.

  54. Mystic, Conn.

  55. New Paltz, N.Y.

You can read Country Living’s full feature on the best U.S. small towns for fall foliage by visiting