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Fall is a wonderful time to travel, often bringing idyllic weather with cool, crisp mornings and colorful foliage. It often means off-season discounts when it comes to everything from accommodation to airfare too, depending on your destination. This year, with many looking to stick a bit closer to home and avoid those long-haul flights, in particular, you might want to consider one of these relaxing getaways in the United States.
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Crested Butte, Colorado
While Aspen may be one of Colorado’s most famously beautiful mountain towns, it’s also one of the busiest and most pricey. Instead, consider Crested Butte, which offers all of the amenities without the crowds. As it’s rather isolated, located about 30 miles north of Gunnison in the heart of the Rockies, It’s the ideal place to enjoy the tranquility and stunning autumn views along with activities like hiking, mountain biking, and world-class fishing. A fall fishing paradise, the Taylor River is renowned for its rainbow and brown trout fishing. Don’t forget your camera as the area also boasts North America’s largest aspen grove with miles and miles of aspen stands that peek out among the evergreen trees.
Black Hills, South Dakota
There’s something for everyone in South Dakota’s Black Hills, including gorgeous scenery. The weather is likely to be ideal between mid-September and mid-October, bringing golden splashes across the densely forested landscape. Visit Mount Rushmore, take a scenic drive through Custer State Park on the Needles Highway with its remarkable rock formations, or travel the Wildlife Loop to spot wild burros, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and elk. If you’re looking for Old West entertainment and the chance to test your luck, Deadwood offers it all.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Autumn offers a much quieter alternative to a summer visit in Yellowstone National Park, along with fabulous scenery and abundant wildlife. It’s home to nearly 70 species of mammals, including, bison, elk, moose, bears and wolves. In September, the elk usually begin rutting and can be seen around Mammoth Hot Springs, while bears and other animals become more visible as the season moves forward. Plus you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of the geothermal features without the thick crowds, including Old Faithful and many other geysers, rainbow-hued Grand Prismatic Springs and other hot springs, mudpots, paint pots and more.
A popular weekend getaway in Vermont, Stowe sits among one of the most famous regions to visit in the fall, the Green Mountains. In autumn, the mountains are blanketed in a stunning array of color, with violet-red pin cherry and yellow alder leaves along with blazing orange and red maple trees. Enjoy a scenic drive to marvel at the most vibrant shades of foliage along the Green Mountain Byway that runs between Stowe and Waterbury. You can also look forward to many other fall delights, including made-in-Vermont items like maple syrup and cider donuts. Go in mid-October, October 9-11 in 2020 to enjoy the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Summer at the beach on Cape Cod means wall-to-wall visitors, but a fall getaway brings the opportunity for peaceful strolls along the Cape Cod National Shoreline which boasts more than 60 beautiful beaches. Check out the lighthouses and mansions, enjoy cycling the Nauset Bicycle Trail or any number of other scenic, nature-filled trails, and explore museums like the Provincetown Museum that was built to commemorate the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims. Provincetown is a great spot for art enthusiasts to base themselves with lots of outstanding galleries too.
Lancaster and the surrounding area is often referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. One of the state’s most well-known Amish towns, there are many Amish communities just outside of Lancaster, with people making their living by farming lands that their ancestors inherited. You can tour their homes and farmlands, and even engage with the Amish people. Some excursions include farm-to-table dinners focused on Pennsylvania Dutch home-style cooking too. As fall is harvest season you might want to go apple picking in the orchards and pick up some of the fresh bounty of produce, homemade baked goods and handcrafted items at the farmers’ markets. You can even take in the colorful scene from above by booking a hot air balloon ride.
Sedona offers a fabulous fall escape close to home for anyone in the southwest, particularly Phoenix residents as it’s just two hours north. It’s the perfect time for a hike, with trails that will bring you to spectacular views of the red rock formations without the heat of summer. If you’re looking for spiritual healing, this is also a great place to be. Sedona is famous for its vortexes that are said to enhance meditation and promote well-being. There are lots of crystal shops and places to get your aura read, along with a wealth of spas to indulge in and art galleries to browse too.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is an incredibly picturesque year-round destination in Michigan, but autumn is especially stunning with its rich and colorful foliage. Located in Lake Huron, this National Historic Landmark also offers a trip back to the Victorian era, a time when people got around on foot, horse or bicycle, as motorized vehicles are prohibited. You’ll find plenty of magnificent period architecture too. Plus, the summer crowds will have dwindled by now making for foot traffic-free hiking trails that wind through the woods for soaking up all the color.
Door County, Wisconsin
For a Midwest getaway, Door County is one of the best when it comes to enjoying the brilliant colors of fall. Hit the road for a scenic drive along Highway 57, much of which follows the shores of Lake Michigan, with pretty lighthouses, old barns and white-frame buildings highlighted by bursts of scarlet, gold, russet and vermilion. Don’t miss Newport State Park which covers nearly 2,400 acres, including 11 waterfront miles along the lake, providing a tranquil spot to fish and enjoy leaf-peeping too.
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Fall is a wonderful time to visit Fayetteville, West Virginia, with mild weather for enjoying all sorts of outdoor adventures like rafting, fishing, hiking and biking, surrounded by vibrant autumn colors. You’ll be able to capture postcard-perfect photos at historic Starr’s Mill and the New River Gorge Bridge. The bridge offers a dramatic bird’s-eye view of the New River below with trees that paint the gorge in a colorful mix of yellows, reds and oranges. The Canyon Rim Visitor Center on the north side of the bridge offers more great views.
Acadia National Park, Maine
One of America’s top spots for fall foliage, Acadia National Park boasts a rugged, wild coastline and a wide range of brilliant colors. On Mount Desert Island, the leaves begin to turn in September, with peak leaf-peeping in mid-October. Hit the trails on foot or two wheels to enjoy it, or ride the fare-free Island Explorer bus around the Park Loop Road. If it isn’t too chilly yet, you might want to rent a kayak and paddle along the shoreline.
Lakes Region, New Hampshire
The Lakes Region is beautifully serene, with reds and golds splashed across the landscape in autumn. Made up of Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, Lake Ossipee, Mirror Lake, Newfound Lake and Lake Winnisquam, the color can typically be enjoyed from late September through late October. This is a wonderful time for a peaceful paddle in a kayak or canoe across any one of the lakes with the red maples reflected on the water.
The Adirondacks, New York
The Adirondack Mountains make up the largest natural wilderness region in the eastern region of the U.S., providing the opportunity for a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city while enjoying a stunning array of autumn foliage from mid-September through mid-October. The 170-mile Olympic Trail links Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain, bringing views of the oak, maple, birch and beech trees that will be bursting with gorgeous hues. In addition to hiking and biking, visitors can enjoy hot air balloon rides to soak up the scenery from above, and, the chance to attend the three-day Lake George Oktoberfest in early October, complete with authentic German fare, live music and a European-style street fair.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Willamette Valley is the largest AVA in Oregon, and it’s a fantastic alternative to busy Napa Valley and other famous California wine country regions. The landscape is dotted with small charming towns, forests, vineyards and farmland while providing a wide range of outdoor adventures and opportunities for food and wine enthusiasts. Stretching from the Columbia River near Portland to Salem, the Calapooya Mountains just outside of Eugene are particularly renowned for their Pinot Noir and produce two-thirds of the state’s wine. Take advantage of wine trails, enjoy scenic hikes and picnic spots.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville offers all sorts of fun activities that can be enjoyed while gazing out at the autumn color displayed across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Take a hike to discover stunning vistas, enjoy a scenic drive, or celebrate the season with hot apple cider at a pumpkin fest. Iconic Biltmore Estate hosts a variety of events like Live After Five in the Village on Friday and Saturday evenings in September and October, along with The Vine to Wine tour that will bring you to areas on the estate guests don’t normally get to see.