As Albert Camus would put it, autumn is really more of a “second spring”. How is this so? The leaves turn into brilliant fiery colors which actually make them look more like blossoms than leaves. If you live in the USA you’ll have a chance to witness autumn for more than a month. You just need to make sure you’re in these prime spots.
Adirondacks in New York
Have you always thought about New York as a concrete jungle? Think again. The truth is that it has enough foliage for a weekend retreat, and it’s also home to one of the best spots to witness autumn in. Check out Adirondacks which interestingly enough is also nicknamed “America’s First Wilderness”. You shouldn’t miss out on the 12 scenic byways here which allow mountain peaks to burst into what seems like a pyrotechnic of turning autumn leaves. Go by the Olympic Trail wherein you can enjoy 170 miles of the best fall views of the area. It’s best to visit between mid-September and mid-October.
Take note that the trees at the higher spots of the mountain ranges turn their leaves first. You’ll spot flaming red leaves in the lower elevations as you near mid-October. The two best lodges to book your stay with while you’re here are the Lake Placid Lodge and the Mirror Lake Inn.
Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
This is a 469-mile-long trip to autumnal heaven. You’ll begin your drive at the Shenandoah National Park until you reach the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. If you’ve always been a fan of the season then this drive is probably not new to you. Most Americans have actually nicknamed this route “America’s Favorite Drive”. You should watch out for yellow poplars, orange sassafras, and ruby to russet red maples. Make sure you drop by the Biltmore Estate because the view here is amazing, and the property itself, an awesome spectacle.
The best time to go for the ride is from mid-October to mid-November. However, leaves start turning as early as September. If you’re planning to stay for a few days, it’s best to book your vacation with the Fodor’s Choice Inn located at the Baltimore Estate. The rooms here will certainly let you enjoy autumn to its fullest.
Glacier National Park in Montana
You might know Montan more for its winter sports prowess, but it’s also a good place to visit if you’re looking for pretty sights during autumn. The Glacier National Park is a particularly good place to witness the turning of some Aspens, birches and huckleberries. The best time to go here is from the middle to late October when the foliage just seems to form a flaming halo over evergreens, and amazingly enough, some parts of the Rockies which are already covered in snow. The show is truly fire-and-ice if you will.
If you prefer posh accommodations, the best place to book your stay would be at the new Grouse Mountain Lodge. Should you be more outdoorsy, you might appreciate the Bar W Guest Ranch more. Both lodges offer spectacular views and a chance for you to hike and enjoy the wildlife in the vicinity.
Upper Michigan Peninsula
If you stay here, you’ll witness over 100 species of trees turning colors. The backdrop is certainly picturesque too as this densely forested area nestles three of the most beautiful lakes in the region. You shouldn’t miss out on the western portion of the National Forest in Ottawa. The eastern portion of the National Forest in Hiawatha also makes for some stunning flaming views.
Should you plan to view the trees in the higher elevation of the mountain ranges, the best time to go would be in September. The trees in the lower portions begin to turn by the first week of October. You should stay either at the Trapp Family Lodge or the Topnotch Resort & Spa. Not to worry, this spot is a pretty well-kept secret. Both lodges are not considered tourist traps just yet.
Sonoma in California
You have to be crazy to talk about autumn and exclude California with its vineyards and wineries. This is a good place not just to view autumn but taste it as well, especially if you’re in Sonoma. Simply driving by the highway would give you the opportunity to drink autumn with your eyes, but why stop there? Drop by Sonoma’s farmer’s markets and taste what the autumnal harvest has to offer as well. There are plenty of gourmet items you can pick out for a refreshing picnic, perhaps at one of the publicly accessible fields in Alexander Valleys. Visit two or three wineries to explore their produce as well.
The best time to experience autumn in Sonoma, though, is mid-October to the day of Thanksgiving. The foliage really turns a brilliant orange, red and yellow just before winter sets in. Make sure you drive by the hillsides of Highway 101 for the full show. It’s best to stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa if you’re planning to stick around for a few days. That is, if you’re looking for stylish accommodations.
If you’re looking forward to a more rustic but still elegant vacation, The Farmhouse Inn is also a popular choice. This also has private saunas for guests to enjoy, but the rooms are more old-school than cosmopolitan.
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