Enjoying the great outdoors is always in season.
Ah, fall. It’s that time of year when we bid summer farewell and say hello to cooler weather, fall foliage and coffee that tastes more like a Thanksgiving desert than a caffeinated beverage. (Pumpkin spice latte, anyone?) It’s also the perfect time of year to take a trip to witness the change in season first-hand; and to attend fall festivities that only come around once a year. So whether you’re looking for fall travel ideas or you already have a destination in mind, read on before you pack your bags. Our fall travel guide will give you a snapshot of some of the coolest outdoor trips – across the U.S. and abroad – to take in autumn.
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
When to Go: September or October
Why it’s in Season: Travelers from all around the world come to Munich in the fall to celebrate Oktoberfest, a two-week long festival that originated in 1810 as a wedding celebration for two Bavarian royals. The festival is filled with carnival rides and traditional foods, such as Würstl (sausages) or Schweinebraten (roast pork), but it’s the beir (beer) from the local breweries that draws in the tourists each year. Munich is also located just 30 miles north of the German Alps, a great spot for mountainous views of the season change. Bring a jacket though, just in case, because the weather is known for being predictably unpredictable.
Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
When to Go: Late September to late October
Why it’s in Season: As early as mid-September, the leaves begin to change at the above 4,000 foot level in the Great Smoky Mountains. The sourwood, dogwood, maple, sassafras and birch trees are among the first to transition into autumn, with hints of yellow, orange and red hues making their appearance. With nearly 100 native tree species, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to both wildlife and green-thumb enthusiasts alike. If you’re the adventurous type, the greatest way to take it all in is by hiking through the Albright Grove and the Sugarland Mountain Trail. But if you’re just passing through, scenic drives on Parsons Branch Road and Newfound Gap Road are the next best thing.
Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in Switzerland
When to Go: Early to late October
Why it’s in Season: With 2,050 acres of ancient vineyards, the Grand Traversée de Lavaux from Ouchy in Lausanne to Chateau de Chillon Castle is hardly the road less traveled. Visitors come from all walks of life to take a leisurely stroll down the 21-mile path, stopping in at the vineyards, medieval villages, wine cellars, pubs, and restaurants to get a taste of the local ambiance. If you would rather roll than stroll through Lavaux, no problem. On Saturdays through mid-October, a train called the Lavaux Panoramic rolls through local villages, taking tourists on a wine tour in areas such as Chardonne and Chexbres.
The Enchantments in Washington State
When to Go: Late September
Why it’s in Season: If you enjoy fall foliage, here’s your golden opportunity to experience shades of rustic gold and dusty yellows unlike anything you’ve ever seen before (unless you made the trip out last year, too). Grab your backpack and head out to see the delicate yellow larches of the Enchantments, an upper and lower basin located within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness about 15 miles southwest of Leavenworth, Wash. For the best vantage point of the foliage, take a trek down to Colchuck Lake. Newcomers beware: It’s a challenging four-mile hike from the road, but the view is well-worth the energy exerted to get there. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing the trail with a family of goats. Enjoy their company from a safe distance.
Adirondack Mountains in New York
When to Go: Late September to Mid-October
Why it’s in Season: Marshes, river valleys, hardwood forests and high-elevation environments encapsulate the Adirondack Mountains, where you’ll find a variety of terrain year-round and a variety of color in the fall. While, in autumn, the oak and silver maple trees turn yellow, the red maple turns (you guessed it) a vibrant crimson. Also found within these mountains are larger-than-life views of the Hudson-Mohawk lowlands and the southern Adirondacks. Venture through Adirondack on foot via its hiking trails or take the scenic drive down any of its 14 byways. If you plan ahead, you can also arrange your travel around any of the region’s beloved local fall festivals, such as the Great Adirondack Moose Festival or the Adirondack Balloon Festival near Lake George.
Whether you’re packing up your car for a weekend getaway or booking a flight to another country, we hope these fall travel ideas will inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone and experience the season. And if it ever gets too cold out there, you can always warm up with a nice, hot pumpkin spice latte. Cheers.
Where do you like to visit during autumn?