Autumn is my favorite season. I can’t wait for the temperatures to drop and the warm gold, red and orange hues to blanket the trees. It’s one of the reasons I left my longtime home in Florida to move to the Northeast, I wanted all four seasons—especially fall. There are many destinations where enjoying this arresting season is a priority. Here are 5 of my favorites.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
The heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country delivers a wealth of color, pumpkin patches and corn mazes to satisfy all of your autumn cravings. Take a ride on the Strasburg Railroad through the countryside past Amish farms blanketed in the colorful quilt of autumn. Be sure to stop at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. In 1996, Jack and Donna Coleman joined the corn maze craze by opening one of the first “Amazing Maize Mazes” and now it’s voted as one of the top 10 in America. Cherry Crest has numerous special events through the season including the Pumpkin Madness Festival with activities like the Pumpkin Smash, Pumpkin Bowling, Pumpkin Putt-Putt and Pumpkin Chucking.
Basin Harbor Resort, Vermont
In Vermont, the typically summer destination of Basin Harbor located on the shores of Lake Champlain transforms into a haven for leaf-peepers. Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the resort invite you to sit, sip a glass of wine and soak in the vibrant colors of autumn mirrored in the reflection of the water. Cooler temperatures may deter you from swimming in the lake, but kayaking, canoeing, or a narrated cruise extend the water activities into the fall season. To immerse yourself in nature, opt for a guided hike of the Adirondack Mountains across the lake. Or make use of the resort’s bicycles for a leisurely ride through bucolic countryside landscapes. Nearby, Vermont’s oldest city, Vergennes, offers antique shops, craft boutiques, art galleries and quaint restaurants.
Lake Norman, North Carolina
On Lake Norman outside Charlotte, North Carolina, mild temperatures coupled with the brilliant palate of the season extend activities on the lake in the most delightful way. Have a party with your friends on the lake aboard North Carolina’s first cycle boat where you supply the pedal power while consuming the beverages you and your friends bring on board with the BYOB policy. The shores of the lake are lined with multi-million dollar homes surrounded by trees showing off their best fall colors.
If you’re feeling festive, the Lake Norman community of Huntersville is host to the annual Carolina Renaissance Festival. Enjoy outdoor theater, circus entertainment, a jousting tournament along with an arts and crafts marketplace at this 16th-century European style art and entertainment festival.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
The 700-acre Old Kinderhook master-planned community is home to a picturesque Tom Weiskopf signature golf course, which provides plenty of autumn splendor. If you’re looking for a pleasant place for golf, this is it. The resort is also the ideal home base for exploring the Lake of the Ozarks
Take in a panoramic view of the colors of autumn from the back deck of the Adirondack-style Willmore Lodge. While you’re there check out the history museum to learn more about the creation of the Bagnell Dam and the Lake of the Ozarks.
One of the best ways to soak in the fall foliage is with a hike through Ha Ha Tonka State Park where 14 walking trails cover more than 15 miles throughout the park. The park is home to a variety of geological formations including tunnels, caverns, springs, sinkholes and a large natural bridge. It’s also home to the Park’s iconic castle ruins. Built at the turn-of-the-century by Robert McClure Snyder who died in one of the state’s first automobile accidents before finishing the castle. His sons finished it but it was later destroyed by fire in 1942 leaving only the ruins still in place today. The ruins are an unexpected sight in the midst of the natural beauty of the park and offer impressive views of the Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka Spring.
For a true autumn treat, take the Metro North train out of Grand Central to Croton-Harmon and grab a taxi to Van Courtlandt Manor where you’ll find the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. This elaborate display of over 7,000 pumpkins carved into shapes like the Headless Horseman and even the Statue of Liberty is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Wander along the “main street” Pumpkin Promenade and stroll across the Pumpkin Zee Bridge. There’s even a Pumpkin Planetarium with a memorizing color-changing star show
To be honest, sometimes I just want to stay home in New York City in autumn. There’s something serene about the changing colors in the city—yes, serene in New York. Take a stroll through Central Park where the architecturally distinguished buildings surrounding the park peek through the red and golden leaves of nature’s handiwork and you’ll understand why the poet William Cullen Bryant called autumn "the year's last, loveliest smile.”
Do you have a favorite autumn destination?
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