Autumn is here and we can’t wait to see some fall colors across North America! We’ve partnered with Keryn Means of Walking On Travels to give us some inspiration as we look for leaf peeping opportunities and outdoor adventures.
The kids are back in school. Somehow that summer glow is beginning to wane and vacation time is starting to take a backseat again. However, autumn is the time to hit the road and enjoy some of the best, and most delicious parts, of the season! Apple picking, apple cider, apple cider donuts, pumpkins, pumpkin spiced everything, not to mention leaves changing colors and falling across the country. We know you can’t take another one- to two-week adventure right now. You just got back from your summer travels. What you can do is rent a car and hit the road after you get off work or the kids get out of school on Friday afternoon and be home by Sunday night, not even taking a day off to enjoy an adventure close(-ish) to home. So, stop making excuses and chose your own escape. We already started your research for you.
Portland, ME to Wolfeboro, NH
New England is prime leaf peeping country, so you need to get creative about where you will go. Locals in Maine have access to Acadia National Park, always a great road trip in and of itself. If you want a change of pace, head down to America’s First Resort Town — Wolfeboro, NH. This lazy summer town on Lake Winnipesauke is better known for water skiing in summer and a Nordic ski scene in winter, but is still open to visitors throughout the autumn months. Several great restaurants, and a number of fabulous bakeries are worth popping into. Lodging options range from luxury vacation rentals to cottages, B&Bs and lakeside resorts.
Vermont Loop Drives
Vermont is famous for its maple syrup, and with it comes an abundance of dancing red, yellow and orange sugar maple trees in autumn. There are several driving options, spanning from quick 50-mile drives to 165+-mile loops to really see it all. We love the drive around the Lake Champlain region with a stay at the Basin Harbor Club Vermont, a resort that brings us back to those hot summer days lounging by the lake. You can also head up towards Stowe, a popular ski destination, and drive around the northern mountains. Both give you plenty of good options for seeing gorgeous vistas, lake reflections and peek colors.
Boston to New York
Those based in Boston or New York City can do this trip with ease. On a good traffic day (stop rolling your eyes) you can make the trip in about four hours, but why bother? There are so many little towns to stop at along the Connecticut coast. Best of all, the leaves hang onto their color long into the season along the coast, so you have a bit more time to start planning this trip. Pop into Mystic for pizza or New Haven to tour the Yale University campus and art gallery, but really, just enjoy those small coastal towns as you work your way north or south between two of the east coast’s largest cities.
Philadelphia to Gettysburg
Colonial history stretches across Pennsylvania, but so do apples. Most East Coasters know Gettysburg as a Revolutionary War battlefield. Did you also know that it is in Adams County, one of the largest producers of apples in the nation? What’s that mean for you? Apple everything of course! Farm stands, farmers markets, orchards, cideries and one of the last round barns in the country, are ready to help you celebrate the season. And it’s all less than two hours from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Plus you can stop in Lancaster on your way over, and hit the Reading, PA outlets, or detour to HersheyPark for the kids on your weekend getaway, too.
Washington, D.C. to Shenandoah Valley
Politics aside, D.C. residents get stuck in life just like any other city dwellers, which is such a shame. Just an hour outside of the city is the majestic Shenandoah mountain range just bursting with color. Book a night or two in Winchester, Middleburg, Harrisonburg, or any number of other towns in the Shenandoah Valley. If you really want to splurge, book a night at the Salamander Resort and Spa. A massage is a must! Take a horseback ride into the mountains to see peek colors as the season changes from summer to autumn into winter, too.
Chicago to Door County
Cruising north from Chicago, the city falls away and wide-open spaces open up to a blast of autumn color. Head towards the Door County Peninsula, where my fellow Gnational Gnomad Kirsten Maxwell tells us there are 11 historic lighthouses, multiple state parks, adorable villages, loads of spots to pick apples, and even a few wineries to enjoy a tasting or two. The Coastal Byway covers 66 miles of autumn bliss. If you still need your city fix, pop into Madison for a little college football on your way up, spend a day in the Wisconsin Dells and then slip back home in time for work Monday morning.
Seattle to Lake Chelan
Washington is known as the Evergreen State, but the Pacific Northwest does burst with color in the autumn months. Head over the mountains, east of Seattle, to see bold yellows and oranges reflected on the waters of Lake Chelan. Enjoy the local wine and apple cider, as well as gourmet meals while you are in town. If you are looking for a bit of adventure, you can head up to Mission Ridge to do some hiking, or over to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-inspired town. The drive along the river is worth the weekend road trip alone.
Vancouver, BC to Whistler
North of the border you can catch autumn colors a little earlier than back east as the temperature starts to drop a tad sooner, and locals pray for snow so ski season can start. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is worth the trek any time of the year. A stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in autumn means fewer crowds in Whistler Village, delicious harvest menus at the local restaurants, and golden-hued hikes in the mountains.
Texas Hill Country
Not many people think of fall colors when they think of Texas, but the Lone Star State is hiding an autumnal secret. The state parks, especially in Texas Hill Country, are bursting with color come the cooler months of autumn. Lost Maples State Park is a top spot for fall colors, and it’s no wonder given the name. Hit the east trail where most of the maples are planted, and changing colors in late October/early November. If you are looking for pristine water reflections, Garner State Park is the place to go next. Cypress, oak, mesquite, and persimmon trees all start to change hue in the autumn. Pick any of the 11 miles of hiking trails throughout the park. Just make sure you go to the scenic overlook that gives you a view of the Frio River surrounded by all of autumns glory.
L.A. to Lake Tahoe
Tahoe is best known as a summer playground and a ski bunny wonderland. However, this lake district has leaf peepers all excited each autumn, too. The crowds have gone, but if you want to catch the Cottonwood and Aspen trees changing colors, you have to time it just right as the weather starts to cool at night. Hope Valley just south of South Lake Tahoe is one of the best spots to grab fall colors. Enjoy a bite to eat under the aspen trees before moving onto your next spot. If you want a great place to stay that also shows off perfect autumnal color, book a stay at Zephyr Cove Resort. They have a small grove of aspen trees right on the edge of the lake, making it one of the most picturesque places for photos in the area.
San Francisco to Yosemite
Californians too often forget the number of brilliant drives they have that can get them to state and national parks in less than a day. Those living in San Francisco and Sacramento can easily make the weekend trip east to Yosemite National Park to see elk, deer and hawks before the snow settles in. Generally, it is the dry season in the parks, so you may not see an overflowing Yosemite Falls, and Mirror Lake might be a desert. But that doesn’t make the park any less impressive. Rent bikes for the day to get into sections of the park not accessible by car. There is a rental center near the lodge, and they do have rentals for families with caboose attachments and tandem bikes for kids.
Keryn Means is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.
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