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Each autumn, just as football season (finally) gets underway, so does leaf peeping, as towns from coast to coast erupt in brilliant hues of red, gold, and orange.
It's hard not to visit these places and dream up a sweet relocation plan. But prices in foliage-friendly spots such as Aspen, CO, and Stone Harbor, NJ, can be discouraging: A single-family home that's turnkey and worth drooling over can ring up at $1,795,000 (and higher) in Aspen or $2,290,000 in Stone Harbor.
Median home price: $288,800
A 90-minute drive from Portland (aka one of the best places to live and home to Oregon State University), this city has an outdoorsy vibe thanks to a Mediterranean climate and hiking spots within reach year-round. Look for an explosion of yellow come October, thanks to the tamarack trees.
One three-bedroom, one-bathroom Craftsman-style home has hickory cabinets, a fireplace, and a new roof for $435,000. On a spacious lot is another Craftsman: Built in 1910, this three-bedroom house has a huge covered front porch. List price: $230,000.
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Median home price: $284,300
Midway between ritzy Palm Springs and sprawling Los Angeles, this resort area is rich with mountains, picture-perfect vistas, and actual snow (lots of it) in winter. A rare four-season destination in Southern California, it has antiques shops, ski slopes, and eclectic dining. Aspens, cottonwoods, and oaks prosper here, as well as rust-colored ferns and red maples.
This three-bedroom, one-bathroom A-frame for $229,900 is surrounded by oaks and pines and sits on a private hilltop with ski-slope views. There's also a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, currently used as a vacation rental, for $209,000. It has a rock fireplace and two patios, but it measures only 896 square feet. Not a tiny home, but close.
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3. Hudson, WI
Median home price: $212,800
Hugging the bluffs of the St. Croix River, Hudson is 30 minutes from Minneapolis -- St. Paul and is often ranked as a best to live. It has antiques shops, a gastropub, a chocolatier, and cafes downtown, plus a National Scenic Riverway (a designation created by Congress in 1968). You can check the Wisconsin Fall Color Report for peak time to view the foliage.
This adorable hobby farm, which produces morel mushrooms and wild berries on nearly 2.5 acres, is $234,900. It has three bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, and a wide front porch. Next to a wooded preserve, with a fieldstone fireplace and knotty-pine ceiling, is this three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom townhouse for $235,000.
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Median home price: $200,474
The country's highest-altitude city, at 10,152 feet, is a former mining town with boutiques and a killer bakery in downtown's 70 square blocks, designated a National Historic Landmark District of Victorian architecture. It's known for the golden aspens, dramatic against the deep green conifers.
This three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom updated Victorian, for $145,500, is within walking distance of downtown and has a claw-foot tub and gorgeous staircase. Closer to the wilderness is this three-bedroom, three-bathroom ranch for $179,000, with mountain views from the house.
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Median home price: $198,250
This town's backyard is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Pelizzari Natural Area, which feature stunning fall foliage. Traverse City is an up-and-coming wine region with celebrity creds (Madonna's parents own a winery here) and a well-known chef who scoots through each summer (heard of Mario Batali?). Watch the poplars and ash trees pop among the maples.
Home values are rising but still within reach. This three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom ranch, for $220,000, has a landscaped yard and outdoor dining area. This corner-lot three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch, for $139,900, has a large deck and shares frontage with Gazebo Park.
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Median home price: $188,000
Autumn in this college town, home to the University of Iowa, means Big Ten football games and amazing hikes. There's in-town fun such as readings at Prairie Lights Books & Cafe, concerts at the vintage Englert Theater, and the university's Museum of Natural History. Check Iowa's Department of Natural Resources for a weekly update on fall colors.
In the Lucas Farms neighborhood (a tight-knit area with historic homes) is this retro '50s ranch with three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a ton of trees, easily viewable from the screened-in porch; asking price is $149,000. A lawn maintenance-free option: this three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom, two-story condo with a fenced patio. List price: $125,000.
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7. Concord, NH
Median home price: $179,800
New Hampshire's capital city offers hikes with views along the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, plus an amazing trail system. The town houses a planetarium, a speedway, a historic hotel where popular figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt once stayed, and an old-time candy store. You can track the changes among the swamp maples.
Built in 1880 and listed for $228,900, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house has beautifully restored tin ceilings and original woodwork. For $145,000, this three-bedroom, one-bathroom home already has brilliantly colored trees engulfing it.