15 Must-Take Fall Trips
Fall turns the South into a canvas, painting it with more colors than Pollock had at his disposal. From the Ozarks to the Lowcountry, here are the best places to visit for your fall escape. Find complete weekend itineraries and editors' favorite picks for these great fall trips and city destinations.
Drive North Carolina's Scenic Byways
Wake up to stunning mountain views from your front porch at pet-friendly Engadine Inn and Cabins. On the north edge of Nantahala National Forest, the property is just 20 miles west of Asheville and blissfully uncrowded. Don’t miss The North Carolina Arboretumor the Southern Porch (a few miles from the Engadine Inn), where you can sit outside and enjoy live entertainment with your meal.
Explore Bernheim Arboretum in Louisville
Located just outside Louisville, Clermont is home to theBernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, where you can roam through more than 15,000 acres of formal plantings and collections or hike some of the 40 miles of trails under a colorful canopy of oak, hickory, beech, and maple trees. Book a room in downtown Louisville at the city’s grande dame accommo- dation, The Brown Hotel, to indulge in a luxurious stay and sip rare amber-colored whiskeys or fall cocktails at the Lobby Bar. Then have dinner at Decca, where chef Annie Pettry creates delicious fall-centric meals.
Ramble in the Mountains Around Hot Springs
Starting at the Louisiana border, Arkansas Scenic Byway 7 meanders for around 290 miles through the center of the state by the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. Check into the historic and opulent1890 Williams House Inn,which is just a few blocks fromQuapaw Baths & Spa. Pack a picnic to go from Mueller’s Bistro & Bakery, and then rent a bicycle. The Hot Springs area o ers everything from easy 1-mile loops to more chal- lenging adventures throughOuachita National Forest.
Enjoy the Unique Palette of South Carolina's Lowcountry
You won’t see showy red and orange foliage here. Lowcoun- try color is subtle. Spartina, a perennial cordgrass grown in salt marshes, provides habitat for sh and shell sh. Over time, it morphs into feathery yellow-gold blades that ripple in waves when the wind blows. From summer to fall, the owering stalks, which look like wheat, produce seeds that entice migratory birds and waterfowl. Along the marsh edge, look for sweetgrass, which shows o brilliant purple and creamy white plumes when days shorten. Clusters of vibrant purple berries appear in fall. Charleston Outdoor Adventures o ers a boat tour to see Morris Island. Stay at Charleston’s Zero George,where you’ll nd rooms in three historic homes and two carriage houses. At Parcel 32,chef Shaun Brian showcases Lowcountry heritage with Oysters Rock’D—a tasty ri on oysters Rockefeller.
See Miles of Mountains in Maryland
Miles of deciduous trees in the mountains of western Maryland are red up with vibrant shades of gold, orange, and red in fall. Starting near the borders of Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, I-68 meanders east through Green Ridge State Forest and Savage River State Forest. The drive alone is an easy scenic road trip, but go all out and board the Frostburg Flyer.The train passes through an array of hardwood trees that burst into an umbrella of color. Stretch your legs with a hike on the towpath along the C&O Canal in Cumberland. Then check in for a rustic stay at the Savage River Lodge, a collection of cabins and yurts. The circular tentlike struc- tures feature comfortable beds, private decks, and upscale bathrooms. The property also has a mountain- top lodge with a massive stone replace and a wraparound porch ideal for relaxing.
Walk Across the New River Gorge Bridge
With the help of an experienced guide, families can walk across this 3,030-foot bridge. Be sure to pause and take in the breathtaking views of Fayetteville, West Virginia. But be warned: this one isn’t for anyone who’s scared of heights. You’ll see all those deep reds and bright yellows from more than 875 feet over the New River.
Hop on the Blue Ridge Railway
Hop aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and ride through the Chattahoochee National Forest just in time to see the leaves change. The train brings families on a 26-mile loop, which takes about four hours and stops in McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee, before heading back to Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Drive Along the Pig Trail
This 19-mile stretch of Arkansas Highway 23 winds sharply through the Boston Mountains, a region of the Ozark National Forest. The twisty road often has a speed limit of just 5 m.p.h. and is peppered with viewing stations. It’s just a short drive from the mountainous Eureka Springs or the college town of Fayetteville.
Hike the Greenbrier River Trail
Also in West Virginia but for the heights-adverse, this 78-mile trail is flanked by the Greenbrier River and offers consistently beautiful views of a Southern fall. Rent some bikes or a couple of horses, or just tie up your hiking boots, and wander through three national forests from Lewisburg to Slabtown, West Virginia.
Church Viewing in Cumberland
The skyline of this small Maryland town is spotted with steeples of its many churches, most of which were built in the 1800s. Once the second-largest town in Maryland, Cumberland’s filled with historical knickknacks. But the best thing to do is take in that skyline with its colorful Appalachian background.
Visit the Horses of Lexington
The sugar maples of Lexington turning deep hues of orange and yellow should be enough to draw any autumn lovers to the city. The horses roaming the pastures of various farms are an added bonus, a beautiful, almost ethereal added bonus. Take a drive through the countryside and take in fall in horse country.
Chomp on an Apple in a Virginia Orchard
You’ve never tasted apples like these before. Take a trip to Lynchburg, Virginia, to experience the very best of fall. Yes, the beautiful colors painting the fields and a trip to historic Monticello are contenders. But we’re talking about our Southern apples, more than 100 varieties that are grown in the region with names like ‘Grimes Golden.’
Camp in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains turn vibrant colors as autumn falls across them, and there’s no better place to enjoy them than Bryson City, North Carolina. From there, you can hop on the Appalachian Trail, one of the country’s longest hiking trails, to take in the dusky mountains. Bring a tent, and enjoy the cool weather.
Listen to Tunes in Floyd
It’s argued that the early origins of country music can be found in the small town of Floyd, Virginia. The hamlet of 425 flushes with deep autumn colors come October, and its residents gather at the Floyd Country Store to do the two-step that they arguably helped invent.
Get Pampered in Hot Springs
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is known for long days spent rejuvenating in its many spas. But take some time to visit Hot Springs National Park and Lake Hamilton to take in fall’s charms.