Fall Road Trips To Take With Your Girlfriends
The best way to enjoy the cool, fresh fall air is by rolling down the windows in the car on a road trip with your best gal pals. Although the big cities can be fun year-round, there are a few small towns that deserve your attention especially in the fall, when the foliage is vibrant and the town square is bustling. With antique shops, galleries, antebellum homes, and plenty of outdoor space, these are some of the best spots in the region to meet your girlfriends for a weekend away. From ocean views along the shores of Alabama and Florida to the beloved mountains of Virginia and the live oaks of South Carolina, you won't regret taking some time off to explore these quaint gems.
Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee
You won't find a Tennessee town more charming than tiny Leiper's Fork south of Nashville. This artsy community has a population of less than 1000, but it is certainly not lacking in character. Visit Leiper's Fork Distillery to sample some exceptional Tennessee whiskey, stop by the Country Boy restaurant and snag a dish of their beloved banana pudding, and then pop into the Copper Fox to check out regional art. You may even catch a group of artists lined up and down Old Hillsboro Road with their easels, painting the local scenery.
The north Georgia mountains are calling your name! This historic downtown is perfect for friends who want to do a mix of shopping in a small town (antiques, boutiques, and galleries) and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spend the night dancing at Clarkesville's live music venue, Grant Street Music Room, or walk along the Soque River at Sam Pitts Park. Top off your visit with Scuppernong Pudding at Harvest Habersham on Washington Street.
If you and your gals like to look around in beautiful houses, Natchez is the place to visit! You'll find an antebellum home on every corner, and nearly 75 of these are bed-and-breakfasts. If you come during Fall Pilgrimmage, you'll be able to look inside and see era-appropriate costumes and table settings in some of the private houses – a popular season in this west-Mississippi town. While you're there, stop for a cocktail at King's Tavern – we recommend the "Little Easy" – and pick up Saturday-morning donuts at The Donut Shop.
For those girlfriends who love to bond over food, Naples is Florida's best-kept secret. Enjoy the freshest pasta around at Osteria Tulia, run by Chef Vincenzo Betulia, and then head to Sukie's Wine Shop to pick up a bottle for you and your friends to sip at one of the many hotels overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. On Saturday, enjoy the bustling Third Street Farmers' Market from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. – but don't eat before you come.
Forget bourbon–why not a wine trail? For girls that love to sip on vino, Fredericksburg should be next on the road trip bucket list. Between Johnson City and Fredericksburg you'll find nearly 30 wineries (including award-winners!) – all ready for sampling and sipping. And, in downtown Fredericksburg, the spirits continue. The town was founded in 1846 by German immigrants, so you'll find several beer gardens – and German-inspired eats.
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
To find outdoor adventure, look no further than the mountains in Virginia. Horsebacking riding is one of the favorite activities during fall between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, and the stunning landscapes will make your visit more than worth it. If you want something a little sweeter, stop by Marker-Miller Orchards to pick your own apples, and then stop by the bakery for some post-pickin' apple cider donuts.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Can you say "off-season"? Now's the time to pack your bags (and your gals) into that VW bug and drive to the coast. September still provides enough warmth in Alabama that you'll be able to lay out on the beach, and the lack of crowd in the fall months will make picking a prime ocean spot a whole lot easier (and cheaper!). Try Bill's By The Beach for Happy Hour and enjoy the fresh catch of the day.
Welcome to Creole Country! This Louisiana city has a little something for everyone, whether you and your gals are into food, music, architecture, flowers, or breweries. For a unique Saturday, try taking a swamp tour or visiting Cypress Lake to see if you can spot a few gators. In the evening, head over to the Blue Moon Saloon for a little honky-tonkin' at one of the friendliest watering holes around. Before you leave the city, be sure to pick up some boudin.
Van Buren, Arkansas
For something new, spend a weekend exploring historic Van Buren with your girls. Start by taking a trip on Arkansas Missouri Railroad’s excursion train to tour the Ozarks in a plush passenger car, which departs from the Old Frisco Depot. If you're visiting in mid-October, you'll be privy to Van Buren's annual Fall Festival. Shop for art, antiques, and hand-crafted pieces from local vendors; listen to live music; and even enjoy a few old-fashioned carnival rides. The historic downtown, with its unique architecture and oh-so-friendly feel, will make you feel as though you've stepped into Stars Hollow.
Aiken, South Carolina
There's a reason that readers named Aiken the South's best small town. With stunning live oaks and a 2,100-acre urban forest, this equestrian town is full of charm and fresh air. Book the gals a room at The Willcox, Aiken's stunning (and impressive) hotel and enjoy a luxurious spa day with deep tissue massages and facials. After relaxing, enjoy pimiento cheese wontons and crème brûlée cheesecake at Trio Bar & Kitchen.