Whether you call it leaf peeping, foliage following or just "spending a day outside," enjoying fall's colors is one of the simplest joys of this wonderful time of year. Whether you're practically a professional leaf-peeper or just a casual enthusiast, you'll need to know where to take in the season's splendor. Of course, there's much more to autumn than looking at leaves. It's harvest time, which means that it's also festival time. We've compiled some of our favorite places to enjoy both the natural beauty and classic celebrations that come with the crisper temperatures.
The ShermansTravel team has put together this list that will take you all across the United States (with a quick jaunt up to Canada, as well). Whether these destinations are right in your backyard, a quick weekend trip away or clear on the other side of the continent, they're worth your attention.
So, grab a sweater, save room for apple cider donuts and prepare for a good ol' fashioned hay ride through some of falls best destinations.
Be sure to check out the full list of fall foliage destinations on ShermansTravel.com.
There’s a reason that the small town of Lake George, New York (on the banks of the much larger body of water for which it’s named) has long been popular with people from Upstate New York, New England, and <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/united-states/new-york/new-york-city" target="_hplink">New York City</a>: it’s just plain charming. Beyond that, however, there’s plenty to do in and around town. Take a scenic drive along the water on Lake Shore Drive, get your blood flowing on the three-mile roundtrip hike to Prospect Mountain (with its 100-mile views on the summit), or just browse the many locally-owned shops. <strong>Mark Your Calendar:</strong> If Lake George’s shops don’t provide enough retail therapy, head over to neighboring Warrensburg, N.Y. for the <a href="http://warrensburggaragesale.com/" target="_hplink">Warrensburg Garage Sale</a> on September 29 and 30. Billed as the “world’s largest garage sale,” 100,000 shoppers descend on the small town, which converts its streets into a sea of vendors selling antiques, crafts, food, and so much more. <strong> Stay the Night:</strong> The Adirondacks are prime bed & breakfast country, and it pays to eschew the hotels in favor of a few nights at the spacious yet homey 10-room <a href="http://www.theinnoflakegeorge.com/" target="_hplink">Inn of Lake George</a>, which sits a mere 200 feet from the shore of the lake. <em>Rates from $125/night</em> <em>Photo: Flickr/reivax</em>
Located on Lake Champlain’s coastline overlooking the Adirondacks, Burlington, Vermont is a haven for artists, outdoor enthusiasts, and foodies. In autumn, the town grows exponentially with visitors enjoying the leaf peeping and harvest festivities. Take a stroll through the Church Street Marketplace, a four-block closed-off street filled with boutiques and restaurants. Kids will enjoy the <a href="http://www.echovermont.org/" target="_hplink">ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center</a> – a museum with over 70 species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles, along with plenty of interactive exhibits. <strong> Mark Your Calendar:</strong> For those in the harvest spirit, the <a href="http://www.lllvt.org/pumpkin" target="_hplink">Giant Pumpkin Regatta</a> on October 7 astonishes visitors by demonstrating what can be done with gourds. Teams race in giant hollowed out pumpkins on the Burlington waterfront. Onlookers can enjoy goodies from local vendors, take part in pie eating contests, and check out a fall inspired pet costume contest. <strong>Stay the Night:</strong> <a href="http://www.willardstreetinn.com/home/" target="_hplink">The Willard Street Inn</a>, a charming three-story B&B in a Victorian mansion is a great way to experience Burlington’s small city life. Each of the uniquely decorated 14 rooms offer private baths, free internet access, and restored antiques. A gourmet chef makes breakfast and guests can take a stroll in the property’s English gardens or relax in the solarium. <em>Rates from $160/night</em> <em>Photo: Linking Learning to Life</em>
With an area that extends from the borders of Vermont to Maine, Quebec’s Eastern Townships are filled with maple glow and French flare. Originally a safe haven for Loyalists, the region welcomes fall foliage fans, too. Lakeside towns like Knowlton and North Hatley offer picturesque views, water activities, museums, and boutique shopping. North Hatley’s <a href="http://www.equitationjacquesrobidas.com/" target="_hplink">Jacques Robidas Horseback Riding Centre</a> offers group trail rides and lessons to enjoy the autumn colors from a different perspective. <strong>Mark Your Calendar: </strong>The region is also spotted with several mountains that greet avid hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers. Beginning September 15, <a href="http://www.montsutton.com/en/" target="_hplink">Mont Sutton</a> will host its month-long fall festival. The mountain resort will offer a range of family activities during the course of the celebration, including chairlift rides, ziplining, discovery hikes, jazz performances, and plenty of BBQ. <strong>Stay the Night:</strong> The Eastern Townships are home to several resorts that offer a one-stop-shop of sorts for lodging, activities, and restaurants. <a href="http://www.chateaubromont.com/" target="_hplink">Domaine Chateau Bromont</a> in Bromont, Quebec has a 4-star hotel, an inn, golf course, spa, and four restaurants – all on its 190 acre property. <em>Rates from $164/night at the hotel and $112/night at the inn</em> <em>Photo: Tourism Eastern Townships</em>
Located about an hour from <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/united-states/washington/seattle" target="_hplink">Seattle</a> by car or ferry, the Olympic Peninsula conjures an image of uninterrupted green rainforest, but autumn transforms this ecologically diverse region into a vibrant canvas of crimson and gold maples framed by towering evergreens. For prime leaf peeping, take the West End’s Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest within <a href="http://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm" target="_hplink">Olympic National Park</a>. Twihards upset that the saga of Bella and Edward concludes in November can relive the Twilight movies with <a href="http://twilightontheolympicpeninsula.com/" target="_hplink">self-guided and organized tours</a> of filming locations. <strong>Mark Your Calendar:</strong> Fungi lovers will enjoy the <a href="http://www.olympicnationalparks.com/play/upcoming-events/event-detail.aspx?id=11429" target="_hplink">Lake Quinault Mushroom Festival</a> (October 19-21), a weekend of cooking demonstrations, chainsaw-carved mushroom art, and field trips to hunt for native varieties. <strong>Stay the Night:</strong> Built in 1926, the cozy <a href="http://www.olympicnationalparks.com/plan/specials--packages/lake-quinault-lodge/fall--winter-special.aspx" target="_hplink">Lake Quinault Lodge</a> features a four-hour rainforest tour that transports visitors to panoramic views of polychromatic leafage. <em>Rates from $101.50/night</em> <em>Photo: Flickr/caitlinator</em>
Just west of <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/united-states/texas/austin" target="_hplink">Austin</a> in <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/united-states/texas/texas-hill-country" target="_hplink">Texas Hill Country</a>, colorful bigtooth maples, sycamores, and cottonwoods are merely a backdrop for fall’s premier activity: vineyard hopping. Centrally located Fredericksburg is an ideal home base for exploring the popular Wine Road 290 (nine wineries line the 45-mile stretch between Johnson City and Fredericksburg), but both Austin and <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/united-states/texas/san-antonio" target="_hplink">San Antonio</a> offer easy access to Hill Country’s wineries, which total more than 30. <strong> Mark Your Calendar: </strong>Hill Country’s fall foliage peaks from November to mid-December, but devotees of the grape make pilgrimages in October for the <a href="http://texaswinetrail.com/store/item/2012-texas-wine-month-trail" target="_hplink">Texas Wine Month Trail</a>, where a $20 ticket buys one to three complimentary tastings at 32 participating wineries, plus a 15 percent discount on three-bottle purchases at each winery, all month long. <strong> Stay the Night: </strong>Billed as the “B&B Capital of the World,” Fredericksburg doesn’t just do quaint Victorian. In the guestrooms at the <a href="http://www.hangarhotel.com/" target="_hplink">Hangar Hotel</a>, built next to the Gillespie County Airport to resemble a 1940s airplane hangar, armchairs are upholstered with brown bomber jackets and military blankets drape the beds. <em>Rates from $119/night</em> Photo: iStock International
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