With summer at a close, travelers don’t have to go far for their autumn escape. Fall foliage season is upon us with some of the best views located here in the United States. Across the country, leaves are changing from green to gold and bringing along a slew of autumn festivities with them. Travel Agent has rounded up some of the top fall destinations for aspiring leaf peepers to get their foliage fix.
New England is no doubt the heart of U.S. foliage season with the entire state transforming into an explosion of gold, red and orange. Foliage aficionados and amateur ‘leafers’ from all over the world congregate here annually to savor the kaleidoscope of fall colors.
Vermont sees a gradual transition with mid- September only seeing blushes of yellow and orange and full peak not approaching until early to mid-October. The best way to take in Vermont’s fall landscape is with a scenic drive through the state. Take in sweeping forests, farm landscapes, orchards and cozy villages through Green Mountain Byway, which passes through Waterbury and Stowe, across the northern Green Mountains to the west and the peaks of the Worcester Range to the east. Recommended stops include Smugglers Notch State Park and Mount Mansfield State Forest, both aplenty with fishing, hiking and biking activities. Break along the way at Waterbury’s Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where guests can watch pure apple cider being made with a traditional 1920's rack and cloth press, as well as watching live bees produce honey. Apple fans should get involved in the state’s Apples to iPods program. If apple pickers pick the wooden apple in a number of selected Vermont orchards they’ll receive an Apple iPad or iTouch.
The scale of the Canadian-bordering 6 million acre Adirondacks provides one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the Northeast. The mountain range encompasses a number of prime foliage regions, including the High Peaks, Lake George, the Thousand Islands and Lake Placid, all of which are abound with sugar maples, birch and oak trees.
With over 2000 miles of hiking trails, extreme hikers can trek up to the summit of Mt. Marcy (the highest point in New York at 5,344 feet) for panoramic state views. Those looking for a view without the slog should hop on the Whiteface Mountain Gondola, which climbs 3,676 feet to provide lake and mountain views. On a clear day The Green Mountains of Vermont is visible from Whiteface.
Those looking to take in the foliage from on the ground can hop on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. The route starts in Utica and travels through the Adirondacks, to Thendara Station, Big Moose station, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
The Adirondacks are full of fun fall festivals. Lake George plays host to a Oktoberfest Fall Festival that runs from October 10 thru Sunday, October 12. Expect German biers, food & music, arts & crafts, kids’ activities and fireworks. October also sees the Gore Mountain Harvest Festival (October 11th, 2014 - October 12th) which will have plenty of hearty fall food and drink, lively music and even a Halloween egg ‘haunt’.
It’s easy to skip over the west coast when you think of fall foliage but with the state’s warm days and coolish nights it’s easy to comfortably explore California’s foliage offerings. The eastern Sierra Nevadas provide a perfect spot for leaf peeping on the west coast. With the mountain range's elevation varying between 5,000 to 10,000 feet, fall colors will peak at different times allowing for prime leaf peeping right through the fall. Folliage hotspot Mammoth Lakes can be found nearly 8,000 feet up the higher end of the Sierras. Generally known as a ski town, Mammoth transforms into a colorful landscape right before ski season kicks off. Recommended foliage viewing spots include Old Mammoth Meadow and, out in the Sherwin’s area, Rock Creek Trail and Big Pine Canyon. The area is aplenty with outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking.
Recommended is a sunset trek to the Minaret Vista, the highest lookout point in the Mammoth Lakes area. Expect panoramic views of the Minarets, Mammoth Mountain and the extensive Sierra landscape.
20 minutes north of Mammoth is the must-see June Lake Loop. Located at the base of the eastern Sierras, June Lake is a meadow filled basin complete with four lakes. Picnic on the shores of Silver Lake and take in the views of the main star, the autumnal aspens.
While in the area check out June Lake’s Second Annual Autumn Beer Festival on October 11, which will house a beer garden, Sierra master chili cook-off and pie baking competition.
Care to watch the foliage from the shorelines instead? Cruise companies are offering a range of scenic cruises to take in the fall landscape. Crystal Cruises have a selection of various fall-focused itineraries on offer. The 10-day Fall Celebration voyage on board the Crystal Serenity embarks from Quebec City on October 6, stopping at Sept-Iles, the Magdalen islands, Halifax, Bar Harbor in Maine, Boston and Newport on the way, before terminating in New York City on October 16. Along the way, guests can partake in a number of excursions such as scenic drives through Canada’s’ fall landscape, an autumn ramble in Acadia National Park’s lichen filled forests, a lobster lunch and lighthouse cruises along New England’s coast.
Those looking for a more traditional journey can take in the autumn palette from the American Queen Steamboat Company’s Paddle Wheeler, the largest steamboat ever built. Travelers will journey through the upper Mississippi from Minneapolis to St. Louis on an eight-night journey, embarking on October 3. The cruiser is decked out in Victorian décor complete with a two tiered grand saloon bar and Mark Twain gallery. Stops include Red Wing, La Crosse, Dubuque, Davenport, Burlington, Hannibal and Alton.