Fall is the perfect time for a vacation. It helps you get over any melancholy feelings about the end of summer. It also provides some of the best weather and most incredible scenery in North America. You don’t have to worry about sweltering heat (usually) or ice storms. Let’s look at the five best fall getaways in the U.S.
The Catskills, New York
The Catskills region of upstate, New York is one of the best areas in the Northeast to experience incredible fall foliage. Ulster County is relatively close to New York City and less than a two-hour drive. This area is full of apple orchards, vineyards, fall festivals, hiking trails and other great reasons to visit in the fall. You might check out the Hudson Valley Wind & Food Fest, the famous Mohonk Mountain House or the Woodstock Film Festival.
Greene County, which is north of Ulster, is also more rural and fall foliage may peak a little earlier. This area is great for hiking, with several spots that inspired the Hudson River School painters of the 19th century as well as the Rip Van Winkle legend. You can tour the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and visit majestic Kaaterskill Falls.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most beautiful places in the southern United States and this region is especially amazing in fall. Towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer lots of choices for accommodations, such as mountain cabins, camping and hotels right in town.
One of the highlights of any visit to this region is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is part of the huge Appalachian Trail. With more than 100 types of trees, the park and surrounding areas provide some truly spectacular fall colors. One of the best walks or drives that take you through the park is Roaring For Motor Nature Trail.
While in the area, you might also want to visit Dollywood Theme Park and the adjoining Splash Country water park, where there are fun activities and entertainment for the whole family.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires provide the ultimate New England fall experience. To experience some of the most glorious colors in September and October, take a drive along the Mohawk Trail, which takes you through many areas that aren’t just great for scenery but also for hiking, dining, exploring museums and other attractions. You might stop at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
Fall colors are so incredible here that they even have a festival and parade to celebrate it. The Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Festival is scheduled to take place September 23-October 2 in Pittsfield, MA.
While Aspen is best known as a ski destination, you might want to head to the Rocky Mountains before ski season to experience the fall colors. The best time for this is early in the season, preferably September. Fall colors are magnificent but short-lived in this part of the country, so you have to time it right and check the reports. However, even if you miss the peak, you’re sure to see some memorable scenery all the same.
One of the best places to see the fall colors near Aspen is Maroon Bells, two peaks in the Elk Mountains, which have the distinction of being the most photographed peaks in North America.
One of the most famous and luxurious places to stay in Aspen is the Limelight, which was originally a tavern with a long and colorful history.
Gold Coast, Michigan
The area known as the Gold Coast contains quaint towns, beaches and pristine forests. A good way to explore this region is to start off in Chicago and drive to towns such as Holland, Saugatuck and Petoskey. Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a beautiful and uncrowded spot near Lake Michigan with dunes over 200 feet tall. Saugatuck has a thriving artistic community as well. You can find out about upcoming events at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.
Another scenic spot that’s lovely in the autumn is Mackinac Island on Lake Huron, where you can enjoy boating, carriage rides and a bustling nightlife scene. One of the best places to experience the fall colors and comfortable weather is Mackinac Island State Park, which is full of hiking trails, historic landmarks and unique rock formations.