Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas is known more for its tornadoes than its fall colors, and not without reason -- you can usually expect more yellows and browns than oranges and reds, as it's usually pretty dry. But not this year! Like the rest of the Midwest, KC got drenched from May through July. So, it's a good year for fall foliage even in the typically warmer, drier climate. Kansas City has the urban environment with just enough hipster influence to make it habitable (coffee roasters and farm-to-table restaurants, in addition to the old school barbecue!), while still offering plenty of outdoorsiness with tree-lined streets and neighborhood parks.
Case in point, the picturesque 73-acre Loose Park boasts 6,000 roses in its garden, as well as a Japanese tea room and lily-covered pond full of geese and ducks and a romantic arch footbridge running over it, and it's located in Kansas City just east of… the Kansas state line in Missouri. Damn, Kansas. We tried. It's literally less than a mile from the border though! And actually, come to think of it, all the cool hipster stuff is on the Missouri side, too. Get it together, Kansas.
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Nicole Rupersburg is a freelance writer who is, according to Thrillist commenters, "a complete f-ing idiot." She looks forward to hearing about all the gorgeous Midwest spots she missed in this article.