With a chill decidedly in the air most mornings these days, fall is definitely upon us. These lower temperatures usher in the start of jacket and fire pit season, and surround us with breathtakingly beautiful changes in nature.
In the U.S., there are countless places to see autumn at its finest. Lucky for us, prime fall foliage-viewing spots exist all across the country, and – when you can find a good spot close by – it’s both an affordable and memorable way to experience this season’s dazzling natural beauty.
1. Aspen, Colorado: With its awe-inspiring mountains, Colorado is one of the best places to be when looking to witness summer’s shift into fall, and Aspen – especially Maroon Bells, two mountains in the city – is sure to deliver outstanding views.
2. Oakland, Maryland: Last year, Travel + Leisure Magazine dubbed Oakland the best town in the country to see fall leaves, and it’s no wonder why. Swallow Falls State Park is the top spot in town to experience the season’s colors. (If you’re a Halloween fan, the town of Oakland has you covered on that front, putting on a hayride event that passes zombies and ghost scenes along the lakefront.)
3. Stowe, Vermont: This idyllic town, tucked into the base of Vermont’s highest peak, this place lights up with color in the fall.
4. Whitefish, Montana: A gateway to Glacier National Park, the town of Whitefish is a stunning spot to witness the change of the season. Whitefish Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the West, and kayaking or canoeing on the lake is a wonderful way to soak in the area’s natural beauty.
5. Sevierville, Tennessee: Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains is always a treat, and in Sevierville you’ll have a front row seat to the beauty.
6. Sonoma County, California: Get out your hiking boots and lace up for some of the best autumn hikes in Northern California. Or, if you’re less inclined for activities of the mountain variety, you’re in luck: Some of the best autumn views can be spotted from the vineyards in wine country!
7. Cascade Locks, Oregon: Home of the Columbia River Gorge, this part of the country comes alive with autumnal color from September through early November. For maximum enjoyment, plan on incorporating hiking into your visit.
8. Traverse City, Michigan: This Northern Michigan town’s assortment of orchards, vineyards, forests and quaint villages make for an unforgettable collection of orange, red, yellow, and gold leaves just begging to be driven through. [pictured]
9. Asheville, North Carolina: Any place along the Blue Ridge Parkway is bound to deliver stunning fall foliage views this time of year, but the town of Asheville is my favorite spot to check out the view. If you have the time, drive the whole length of the Blue Ridge for one of the longest fall leaf shows in the nation.