Grace Lower | Oct 24, 2018
Summer may be winding down, but the best consolation is the promise of a cozy autumn. Bring on the shorter, cooler days; bonfires with friends; and the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte!
Throughout the United States, travelers are hitting the roads to celebrate autumn and marvel at colorful fall foliage (an activity that’s adorably nicknamed “leaf-peeping.”) Regardless of which state you call home, chances are that you don’t have to travel far for a memorable fall experience. If you’re looking for autumnal inspiration, the destinations below will have you packing your flannels in no time!
If you can’t get enough of the Gilmore Girls-esque small town aesthetic, you’re bound to fall in love with Litchfield County. The region’s rolling hills and charming towns inspired the fictitious Stars Hollow, Connecticut that Rory and Lorelai Gilmore call home. Litchfield County’s visitors can take in the fall colors at Kent Falls State Park, or spend the day touring the region’s many wineries, breweries, and distilleries. In addition to more traditional fall activities, Litchfield County is home to a rich variety of galleries, museums, and upscale restaurants — allowing guests to incorporate a hearty dose of culture into their whimsical autumn escape.
Vermont may be well-known for its maple syrup, but it’s the state’s colorful sugar maples that make it so ideal for autumn travel. The lively town of Manchester, nestled in Vermont's namesake Green Mountains, is a beloved autumn destination — and for good reason! The nearby Equinox Preservation Trust is a perfect venue for hiking, biking, or simply wandering through the forest. For a more leisurely option, the Manchester Riverwalk provides walking trails with views of waterfalls and wooded glens. Manchester also offers options for luxury shopping, golf, farmers’ markets, and apple-picking; no matter your activity of choice, you’re bound to come away from your visit feeling refreshed.
Located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina is at once upscale and down-to-earth. This dynamic city is home to the Biltmore Estate: an enormous chateau-style mansion built by George Vanderbilt, which draws admirers from around the world. The grounds surrounding the home offer spectacular mountain views, which are made all the lovelier by fall foliage. For those looking to escape to nature, the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal venue for a day of hiking or biking. And no visit to Asheville would be complete without a trip to downtown’s quirky breweries, sustainable eateries, and contemporary galleries.
As the summer heat begins to die down, Georgia’s Blue Ridge makes for an idyllic autumn escape. Get lost in the serenity of the Appalachian Mountains by booking a stay in one of the area’s many log cabins or B&Bs. While hiking is a popular option, many travelers prefer taking in the autumn colors on horseback, or from a canoe on the Toccoa River. For travelers with a knack for fishing, the region is called the “Trout Capital of Georgia,” thanks to its hundreds of miles of creeks, rivers, and streams. This emphasis on nature and outdoorsmanship makes Georgia’s Blue Ridge the perfect fall getaway.
Traverse City may be best-known for its summertime cherry harvest; but with miles of vineyards, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches, Traverse City’s fall bounty deserves accolades of its own. Aside from plentiful produce, Traverse City is also home to breathtaking autumn foliage. Located along highway M-22 — which was named one of the country’s best scenic autumn drives — Traverse City offers a colorful annual display that delights visitors and locals alike. For those looking for a scenic view, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a favorite spot for families (just be prepared to run, slide, and occasionally roll, down hundreds of feet of sandy slopes.)
Located on the narrow peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, Door County, Wisconsin boasts more than 300 miles of lakeside shoreline. With its scenic limestone bluffs, charming coastal villages, and “seafood” galore, Door County has been lovingly nicknamed “The Cape Cod of the Midwest.” Although Wisconsin's temperatures tend to drop sharply in the autumn, visitors aren’t deterred. Door County’s bright foliage and charming Scandinavian architecture attract guests and admirers each fall.
While many of Arizona’s visitors flock to the Grand Canyon, the city of Flagstaff, AZ is home to treasures of its own. Stroll through Flagstaff’s Historic Downtown and Railroad District, where historic architecture intermingles with contemporary shops, galleries, and markets. Just outside of the city, visitors can explore ancient ruins and marvel at the red rock structures. While nearby canyons are a hiker’s paradise, leisure-lovers can find plenty to do in Flagstaff. From zipline tours to chairlift rides, to farmers markets and fall festivals, Flagstaff’s autumnal charm gives New England a run for its money.
Fredericksburg, Texas was settled by German pioneers in the mid-1800s, and to this day, the town prides itself on having “Texas heart with a German soul.” And that German soul has a chance to shine every September. With sausage and schnitzel, chicken-dancing in the town square, a “kraut-run” 5k, and a sizeable beer list, Fredericksburg’s annual Oktoberfest draws visitors from across Texas and around the country.
Bend, Oregon is a premier autumn destination for nature enthusiasts and foodies alike. Named one of the nation’s “ Best Restaurant Cities” by the Huffington Post, Bend has one of the highest numbers of eateries per capita. As summer tourist season dies down, Bend becomes an excellent “home-base” for autumn hikes, river tours, and unobstructed stargazing. After a long day of leaf-peeping, travelers can kick back in one of Bend’s many mountain resorts or B&Bs.
Although it is only an hour’s drive away from San Diego, the town of Julian, California is anything but beachy. This former gold mining town is perched more than 4,000 feet above sea level, making it a quaint mountain retreat for locals and visitors alike. Thanks to its elevation, Julian enjoys four distinct seasons (unlike many of its peers in Southern California). The cooler autumn temperatures make Julian a prime spot for apple-picking. Julian’s apple pies, in particular, have gained a cult-following of foodies, and visitors are treated to apple-based ciders, butters, preserves, and baked goods throughout the autumn season.
Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.