8 Best North American Destinations to See the Colors of Autumn

Summer is drawing to a close; kids are back to school and there’s a frosty feel in the air at night. This year’s fall equinox is September 23, marking the official start of the autumn season in the northern hemisphere. One of the most exciting things about fall is the fantastic display in the forests and countryside, as plants turn a myriad of brilliant colors—reds, golds, browns and oranges speckle the vibrant landscape. The following 8 destinations are good viewing points for nature’s radiance; pick a clear and crisp autumn day to get out and enjoy nature’s beautiful hues.

8. Lake Placid, New York

Nestled away in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid is part of the Tri-Lakes area in Essex County, New York. The village is well-known to outdoor enthusiasts; its renowned for its winter sports scene, including skiing and bobsledding. In fact, it hosted 2 Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980). The area is also great for mountain climbing and hiking. The area, much of it now parkland, is the southernmost part of the Eastern forest-boreal transition ecozones, and includes pine, spruce and deciduous trees. Almost 60% of the Adirondacks park is covered in northern hardwood forest. Tree species include sugar maple, white ash, American beech and yellow birch, which make for a spectacular mix of colors, from the showy maple trees to the reliable colors of the ash trees. Take a hike through some of the mountainous trails and enjoy the scenery rolling across the hills.

Lake Placid, New York

7. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton, part of the province of Nova Scotia, is Canada’s 18th largest island. Its geography is widely varied, including plateaus, headlands and glacial valleys, along with mountains and, yes, forests. The northern part of the island, known as the Cape Breton Highlands, is home to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The forests here are mixed between the Acadian forest and Boreal forest, which is found at higher elevations. You can hike the Cabot Trail or the Skyline Trail, which wrap around the park’s coast line. The forests of the area are home to many species of pine and spruce, but their deciduous inhabitants include birches, beeches, maples and oaks. Cottonwood and poplar species turn brilliant yellow in autumn, adding sunny colors to the canvas alongside the deep reds and oranges of maples and oaks. Visit the Beulach Ban Falls in the Aspy Valley for some spectacular fall colors.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Cabot trail fall

6. Aspen, Colorado

The west usually isn’t the first stop on people’s list when they think of fall foliage, but the forests of the Rockies put on a good show, giving the eastern Appalachians a run for their money. Aspen, Colorado, is named after a tree and there are plenty of aspens around. Their foliage turns a beautiful golden-yellow hue in the fall and even seems to shimmer in the breeze. They provide a perfect contrast to the background of the evergreens on the craggy mountains. The biggest problem, however, is that viewing season is short: onset happens mid-September and by the first week of October, most of the trees will have shed their leaves. That means you have about 3 weeks to get out and see the colors. If you happen to be in the area anyway, be sure to take the time to appreciate the splendor of Mother Nature’s palette.

Fall Landscape of Maroon Bells Aspen Colorado

5. Ludlow, Vermont

Vermont is renowned for its forests—they give the state’s iconic Green Mountains their name, after all—so it should be little surprise that there’s a number of great places to view fall foliage in Vermont. Ludlow, in the Okemo Valley, is one of those places. Although it’s often passed over for the Green Mountain Byway, Okemo Mountain provides a 360-degree view of the Green Mountains and the valley. Ludlow is surrounded by prime viewing spots: the Scenic Route 100 Byway will take you to Coolidge State Park and the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site with their mountaintop views. The area shares similarities with the Adirondacks and Cape Breton forests, which means the autumn colors are a splendid mix of reds, oranges and yellows, thanks to the mix of trees like maples, birches and poplars.

Ludlow, Vermont

4. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

It’s hard to go wrong picking a fall foliage destination almost anywhere in New England, but Portsmouth, New Hampshire, might be a good selection. Although it is somewhat famed as a historic seaport (and the end of Paul Revere’s infamous 1774 ride), Portsmouth is like many New England towns—awash in early American colonial history and endowed with ample tracts of northern hardwood forests that offer up the colors of maple, oak, ash, beech and birch in the fall. The town has restored 17th-century buildings along its waterfront district and the 10-acre Strawberry Banke Museum, where you can wander as you take in the fall foliage. By car, you can enjoy the fall colors by cruising down the 18-mile Coastal Byway. You could also hop on an inland river cruise; there are a few dedicated to highlighting the fall foliage.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

3. Lenox, Massachusetts

Lenox is an affluent town nestled away in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. The town was once part of nearby Richmond, but because the mountains pass between the 2, they were eventually divided into 2 towns. The Housatonic River flows through the east side of Lenox, and parts of the Housatonic Valley Wildlife Management Area and the October Mountain State Forest line the east banks of the river. October Mountain rises further east and in the west, Yokun Seat is the highest peak at 2,146 feet. The Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is also in the area, to the south of Yokun Seat. What all of this means is that there are a lot of wilderness spaces around Lenox and a lot of trees. Leaf-viewing season usually starts October 1; the Jacob’s Ladder section of U.S. Route 20, a 35-mile stretch near Lenox, is popular for taking in fall foliage.

Fall colors trees

2. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

Mont-Tremblant, approximately 80 miles northwest of Montreal, is perhaps most famous for its skiing. Long a winter destination for snow bunnies, the area actually hosts a number of sporting events throughout the year and presents great opportunities for activities like hiking, ziplining and cycling. Mont Tremblant, at just under 3,000 feet, is one of the tallest peaks in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. Dense boreal forest in the area promises a mix of evergreens splashed with color from aspens, birches, willows and rowan. Larches, one of the most common trees in the boreal biome, also turn color in the fall, adding a distinctive yellow hue to the forests. Take a tour along the Via ferrata du Diable, which offers a hybrid hiking-climbing experience, in nearby Mont-Tremblant National Park. The path is open until October, making it a unique way to view the autumn colors.

Mont-Tremblant fall

1. Skyline Drive, Virginia

This 105-mile stretch of highway in northern Virginia winds through Shenandoah National Park. It features almost 75 mountain overlooks and forests chockful of colorful sumac, locust, sassafras, scarlet oak, red maple and sweet gum trees—a combination that makes for a brilliant blending of reds and yellows that stretches on for miles. October is prime viewing month for the colors in the park. If you have time, pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway and continue through the southern part of the state, into the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. If you prefer to go on foot, Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park is about 75 miles from Washington, D.C., making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capitol and get back to nature.

Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive

12 Equestrian Places in the US

While Americans have always had a close relationship with our gentle giants, the United States hasn’t always been internationally known for its equestrian culture. After all, the rest of the world had a head start. Once the nation had time to settle down and breed, however, breeders began producing some of the best thoroughbred champions in the world. Whether travelers want to feel the adrenaline of betting on a live race, learn about the history of horse racing, or mount up and go for a ride themselves, they’ll want to check out these 12 equestrian places in the U. S.

12. Rancho Santa Fe, California

In an area just outside of San Diego, America’s Air Conditioned City, Rancho Santa Fe provides an incredible nine or more months of comfortable riding. Daytime temperatures rarely drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and stay in the high 80s or low 90s in the summer, when evenings are still cool. Rancho Santa Fe is the perfect place for a sandy beach ride among other enthusiastic horsemen and women, just a few miles from the bustle of San Diego.

Photo by: Rancho Santa Fe Association
Photo by: Rancho Santa Fe Association

11. Woodstock, Vermont

Not to be confused with the site of one of the nation’s grooviest music festivals in New York, Woodstock, Vermont is a center for equestrian activity. For a beautiful ride among charming settings, horsemen and women can’t go wrong in “The Prettiest Town in America”. Plus, a flurry of horsing events for jumping, driving, and endurance riding provide a platform for showcasing excellence, including Ride for the Cure, the Fall Dressage Show, and a winter sleigh rally.

Photo by: Green Mountain Horse Association
Photo by: Green Mountain Horse Association

10. Nashville, Tennessee

While Nashville is more known for its music culture – it is, after all, nicknamed “Music City, USA”—there’s plenty of horse culture here as well. In fact, its equestrian culture includes being the place where United States first asserted itself as a contender for championship horse racing. Here, for the first time, an American born-and-bred horse (an Iroquois) won the English Derby. The breeder was Belle Meade, whose plantation and stables are open for tours today. The city also hosts the annual Iroquois Steeplechase race and attracts more than 25,000 attendees each year.

Nashville Tennessee 1

9. North Salem, New York

North Salem has a long timeline of equestrian history, full of farming and the preservation of a”country” way of life. The perfect distance from New York City, North Salem is close enough to be a quick weekend escape from the city, and far enough to provide a peaceful and charming ride. The area has an incredible 100 miles of protected trails, which is good because nine months of comfortable riding gives horsemen and women plenty of time to explore them with their favorite gentle giant. North Salem also offers world-class equestrian facilities, a high density of horse farms, and equestrian hunts.

Photo by: Chris Burke via Flickr
Photo by: Chris Burke via Flickr

8. Middleburg, Virginia

The small town of Middleburg has only 700 residents, but some of them have some pretty big names. For example, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Onassis, and the DuPonts have all enjoyed horsing in Middleburg over the years. Anyone who has ridden along the English countryside will recognize that country’s twin in the lush fields and stonewalls that wind around Middleburg. Plus, the town hosts the oldest horse show in America – the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. The show was first held in 1853, and was one of the first horse shows in the United States. If attending a horse show isn’t your style, however, then enjoy the mild temperatures in Middleburg, which provide an incredible nine months of comfortable riding.

Photo by: Schuyler Knapp via Upperville Colt & Horse Show
Photo by: Schuyler Knapp via Upperville Colt & Horse Show

7 . Ocala, Florida

There are only five cities in the globe – and only two within the U.S.—permitted to use the term “horse capitol of the world”, to describe themselves, and Ocala is one of them. What makes Ocala so special? To start with, the area has over 1,200 horse farms and counting. It’s also a great place to enjoy comfortable riding, especially in winter months, when the average daytime temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While nearby Wellington has incredible equestrian events, Ocala has a thriving riding culture that can be experienced in a more casual way.

Photo by: City of Ocala Municipal Government
Photo by: City of Ocala Municipal Government

6. Aspen, Colorado

If you’re looking for some rocky, mountainous riding, there’s no place quite like Aspen. As a second home for many international jetsetters, the town is a great place to enjoy spectacular scenery from horseback year round. Temperatures in the winter reach down below freezing, but summer days are often a perfect 77 degrees Fahrenheit. All-in-all, riders have eight comfortable months to enjoy riding, while skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking can entertain them when it’s just a bit too cold to take a horse out. Located between the Colorado cities of Denver and Grand Junction, Aspen itself only has around 6,600 residents, but equestrian enthusiasts who want to buy a horse farm here better start saving. The average ranch price is around $18.9 million!

Aspen, Colorado

5. Southern Pines, North Carolina

For riders looking for a great experience year-round, Southern Pines  might be just the place. With a minimum of nine months of comfortable riding (and often 12 months), there’s great riding to be had no matter what time of year. Plus, the terrain is about as ideal as it could be for sandy footing and a smooth ride. The area has been given the name Horse Country for many reasons, a few of them being The Carolina Horse Park, with is steeplechase harness track, and the Sandhills Preserve, which boasts 900 acres and numerous trails.

Photo by: Carolina Horse Park
Photo by: Carolina Horse Park

4. Woodside, California

How long does it take to develop a thriving equestrian culture? Well, the affluent San Francisco community of Woodside, California has been working on it since the 1800’s. Horseback riding can be quite an expensive recreational activity, and Woodside happens to be one of the wealthiest small towns in the nation. The community has worked hard to preserve equine-friendly policies, and horse farms and equestrian facilities are connected to each other by an elaborate riding trail system that weaves throughout the area. Plus, the bay area’s mild climate allows for comfortable riding during all 12 months of the year.

Photo by: William Murphy via Flickr
Photo by: William Murphy via Flickr

3. Wellington, Florida

Coming in at number three on the list is Wellington, Florida. This city is world famous for its equestrian and polo events, such as the U.S. Open, the Gold Cup, and the Whitney Cup. It also hosts both the National Horse Show and the Winter Equestrian Festival which draws more than 250,000 equestrian enthusiasts to the city each year. Visitors who are horsemen and women themselves love the climate which provides more than seven months of comfortable riding, especially in the winter – no surprise since Wellington is the southernmost city on our list.

Photo by: Andy via Flickr
Photo by: Andy via Flickr

2. Lexington, Kentucky

While several cities in the nation claim to be “The Horse Capitol of the World”, Lexington comes closest to earning that title. Just 80 miles from Louisville and the lure of a championship win, Lexington is home to some of the best breeders in the world. Many swear the heart of the Bluegrass Region is the perfect environment for raising and training the world’s best horses. Lexington is also the best place to learn about horsing from a “behind-the-scenes” perspective with the Kentucky Horse Park museum and tours of actual running horse breeding farms – many of which have produced champion thoroughbreds.

Photo by: Anthony via Flickr
Photo by: Anthony via Flickr

1. Louisville, Kentucky

The number one place for equestrian culture in the United States is Louisville, Kentucky. It’s home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby which the Queen of England has attended. The Derby takes place at the Churchill Downs track and is the first event in the Triple Crown (the other two are the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes). The track’s famous town spire grandstand has also hosted the Breeder’s Cup eight times. After watching a race and enjoying one of the track’s signature mint juleps (served since 1875), horse enthusiasts can learn more equestrian history by visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum. For visitors who can’t make it to Louisville during derby season, Churchill Downs also features simulcast racing, where you can watch and bet on live races around the globe.

Photo by: Ken Lund via Flickr
Photo by: Ken Lund via Flickr

10 Great Winter Vacation Ideas

Whether you love winter or hate the cold, there are many destination choices available to you rather than going into hibernation mode. Hate the cold and snow? Then tropical destinations are out there just waiting for you to enjoy and leave the winter blues behind. Sandy beaches, tropical rain forests and warm sunshine are just the medicine you need for what ails you. Migration is much more enjoyable than hibernation. Or, maybe you can’t wait for winter snowy weather. The world is your playground with many places to go and play in the great outdoors. Winter blues are in the past if you go where you can get away from it all and just have fun. Below are a few suggestions for some winter fun that can be adapted to just about anyone’s budget and desires. You don’t need to travel far to have a great relaxing and therapeutic vacation alone or with your loved ones.

10. Jackson, Wyoming

The town of Jackson is located in the Jackson Hole valley and has a population of around 9,600. It’s in close proximity to many ski resorts and a gateway to well-known national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton. In 2009, the town was designated as a Preserve America Community -meaning it’s recognized as a place to preserve and celebrate their historic assets and heritage.

Jackson is rich in culture and natural beauty. Take a tour of the National Museum of Wildlife Art which looks like a natural outcropping, Images of Nature by Thomas Mangelsen featuring nature photographs, The Brookover Gallery, Wild Safari at Spring Creek Ranch, Laurance Rockefeller Preserve, Jackson Hole Tram Rides, Town Square, or the National Elk Refuge. Of course there are also great places to ski like Rendevous Mountain – the most challenging mountain to ski in the country, and Snow King Resort. Other activities could include Teton Ice Park which offers ice climbing lessons for all skill levels. Fun and adventure never cease in Jackson…a little town with loads to offer.

Grand Teton Jackson Wyoming

9. Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, Thompsonville, MI

Located in Thompsonville, MI, Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa is the ultimate destination for anyone looking to enjoy winter with or without their children. You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy this resort because there is plenty to do whatever your age or interest while vacationing. There are condos and cottages on site as well as rooms in the resort itself.

For a romantic getaway with your special someone, Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa offers couples’ massages, an outdoor hot tub and indoor pool. A great way to unwind and relax those tired, tense muscles after a long week at work. There are great meals and amenities and the staff caters to all your needs. For a family vacation, there is cross-country skiing, nighttime laser tag, dog sledding and many other family friendly events. You can also enjoy some snowmobiling through the groomed trails and enjoy the amazing northern scenery all around you.

Photo by: Crystal Mountain Resort
Photo by: Crystal Mountain Resort

8. Ogden, Utah

Ogden is a city of a little over 82,000 people and is located about 10 miles (16 km) from Salt Lake City. Serving as a major railway hub, it’s a convenient location for manufacturing and commerce with large amounts of freight rail traffic. It is also well-known for its closeness to the Wasatch Mountains, its many historic buildings and Weber State University. The city was named Ogden after Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson’s Bay Company who was known for trapping in the area.

There are museums to visit featuring different interests such as Hill Aerospace Museum for anyone interested in military and aeronautic history, Treehouse Children’s Museum which is a hands-on museum focusing on literature and arts for children, and Dinosaur Park & Museum for a quick trip back in time to explore prehistoric times. For some family fun, you can stop at The Salomon Center a sports complex and gaming center, Kangaroo Zoo for a clean, safe place for your children to let loose and play together, and so many other attractions, outdoor adventures and natural wonders, you’ll leave with memories to last a lifetime.

Wasatch Mountains Utah

7. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, Colorado is located in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains’ Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains. It was originally founded as a mining camp during the silver boom, and the name was eventually changed to Aspen for all the aspen trees in the area. The White River National forest serves as a summer complement to the four ski areas in the vicinity making it a four season playground.

The John Denver Sanctuary features rocks carved with songs written and sung by the iconic star. Most can be seen in the winter as well as the summer. Aspen Mountain is the prime destination for avid skiers and snowboarders having earned the reputation as “the athlete’s mountain”. Wheeler Opera House offers an intimate setting for a great show and a little culture. Buttermilk Mountain is a great place for skiers of all skill levels or to just sit back and absorb your incredible surroundings. While visiting this winter wonderland, you can also take a snowmobile tour through the White River forest or enjoy some pampering at one of the resorts.

Aspen, Colorado

6. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, China

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival is an annual winter festival hosted in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China and is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Though it started off primarily with Chinese participants, it has since become an international celebration and includes the world’s largest ice sculptures. The month-long festival begins January 5 each year, however many exhibits can be viewed earlier weather permitting.

The festival is comprised of ice and snow world, the international snow sculpture art expo, the ice lantern art fair, winter swimming watching, ice hotels, dog sledding and safari-style Siberian Tiger watching. You can go snowmobiling, ice skating, skiing or enjoy a beautiful relaxing sleigh ride. There are several ski resorts in Harbin as well if downhill skiing or snowboarding is more your style. The scenery is awe-inspiring with the mountains and countryside you’d never expect to find in such a populous area. Take your own tour or book yourself on one of the many guided tours available.

TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com
TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com

5. Cuba

Cuba is an island country located in the Caribbean. It’s the largest island in the Caribbean with a population of over 11 million. The country rates very high in human development and high in measures of health and education. The largest city in Cuba is its capital, Havana. In the last decade, Cuba has invested highly in tourism and tripled their share of the Caribbean tourism market with the growth rate expected to continue. Due to the country’s proximity to the Tropic of Cancer, the climate is tropical and warm all year.

Old Havana is a world heritage site preserving the beautiful architecture from 200 years ago. Veradero is a popular beach destination featuring beautiful white sand beaches, caves, flower gardens, restaurants and hotels. The cobblestone streets of Trinidad will take you back in time to colonial times with the incredible architecture. Other beach destinations worth visiting are Guardalavaca, Playa Paraiso, Cayo Largo del Sur, and Cayo Coco. The many cities there have historical significance and beautiful buildings and sculptures that will keep you in awe during your vacation.

Anna Jedynak / Shutterstock.com
Anna Jedynak / Shutterstock.com

4. Miami, Florida

A common destination in the winter is the state of Florida…a tropical paradise. Miami in particular caters to tourists all year-round with plenty to see and do. Located on the Atlantic coast of the United States, there are numerous sandy beaches where you can sunbathe under the hot sun or enjoy a dip in the crystal clear waters. The beaches aren’t the only thing to see and do in Miami however; all of the available attractions are too numerous to mention here though we’ll give you just a taste of what’s to be had…

Some of the attractions you can check out while in Miami, include a Biscayne Bay Sightseeing Boat Cruise, Miami Seaquarium, Zoo Miami, Jungle Island, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Coral Castle Museum, Lion Country Safari and the Key Largo Glass Bottom Boat Cruise to name just a few. There are many incredible resorts to stay in with all the amenities you could ever imagine. You’ll want to take advantage of every moment you spend in Miami and forget the winter while you bask in the warmth and beauty it has to offer.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com
Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com

3. Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is part of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean region. It’s the second largest nation in the Caribbean region after Cuba with a population of nearly 10 million. It is the most visited destination in the Caribbean because of its golf courses which are open year-round, not to mention its warm inviting climate, breathtaking scenery and the cultural uniqueness.

The area is picture perfect, inspiring many a postcard with the lush sandy beaches, crystal clear water, amazing waterfalls, and tropical forests. Parque Nacional del Este offers Saona Island beaches and tropical forest, Bavaro Beach of Punta Cana offers the most popular resort vacations, the Marinarium exhibits off-shore reefs and marine life where you can go on a snorkel tour and get up close and personal or perhaps you’d like to go zip-lining or horseback riding at Scape Park at Cap Cana. Whether you are the adventurous type or more laid back, the Dominican Republic always has something incredible to experience.

Saona island, Dominican Republic

2. Los Angeles, California

The City of Los Angeles, also known by its initials L.A., is a bustling California metropolis and the second largest city in the United States. It’s well-known for its inviting warm climate, ethnic diversity, film and television industry and of course…the celebrities. With all the entertainment, culture, shopping, fashion and media around, Los Angeles is a city of endless possibilities. If you can’t find something to see and do there, you aren’t opening your eyes.

Take a walk down to Union Station on N. Alameda St or stroll down Olvera Street where you can shop for your souvenirs and take in all the cultural displays. Not far from Union Station you can go to the Los Angeles City Hall, which you’ll probably recognize from many movies in which it appeared, and go up to the observation deck for an incredible view of downtown L.A. For a little cultural nourishment, you can visit Walt Disney Concert Hall for some classical music or Jazz or perhaps the Performing Arts Center, one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the U.S. There is so much to see and do in LA, you can spend months here and never see the same thing twice.

Marco Rubino / Shutterstock.com
Marco Rubino / Shutterstock.com

1. Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, appropriately called “Hawaii’s island of Discovery”, is the oldest and fourth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It’s known as the “Garden Isle” and measures 105 miles (169 km) across. The highest mountain on the island is Kawaikini at 5,243 feet (1598 m). The island is home to thousands of wild chickens which were brought there by Polynesians for food. Having few natural predators, the chickens have thrived there and have since mated with European cock-fighting chickens that have broken free.

The Waimea Canyon often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” though not as big, is 14 miles long, one mile wide and 3,600 feet deep – a geological wonder in its own right. The Napali Coast with its emerald green pinnacles, panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and cascading incredible waterfalls offers boat tours, kayaking, challenging trails and incredible adventure. Zip-lining, kayaking, whale watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and mountain tubing are some of the activities waiting for you on this tropical getaway. The natural wonders on the island are one of a kind and must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Waimea Canyon Kauai Hawaii

12 Great American Food Festivals

It’s no secret that Americans like good food and while there are a few all-American classics, the food across this great nation is largely diverse.  Asian, European, South American… no part of the globe stands unrepresented and no dish goes untouched in the land where food is celebrated at every opportunity. There are so many ways to enjoy the diverse cuisine of America but one of the best ways is to visit one of these great food festivals. Festivals offer you a chance to sample small bites from big places and try a lot more than you probably could than just visiting a restaurant for a full meal, so read on, take your pick and plan to visit these amazing food festivals soon.

12. Taste of Buffalo Festival

While you may be surprised to find the Taste of Buffalo on this list, you may also be surprised to know this festival is actually the largest 2-day food festival in the whole country. People from all over western New York and beyond flock to the streets of downtown Buffalo to sample more than 200 culinary specialties and beverages. With all items priced between $1-4, you can bring the whole family and afford to sample till your heart’s content. Just be prepared to deal with some crowds at this festival as it currently attracts almost 450,000 patrons annually.

Nicholas Piccillo / Shutterstock.com
Nicholas Piccillo / Shutterstock.com

11. Maine Lobster Festival

When you think of east coast specialties, Maine lobster is probably one of the first things to come to mind and it’s being celebrated in every way thinkable at the annual Maine Lobster Festival which takes place at the end of July. The festival runs for 5 days and features a carnival, arts and crafts vendors, art show, a parade, live entertainment and of course lobster! Over 20,000 pounds of these crustaceans are served up during the festival so if you’re a lobster lover this is the festival for you!

Maine Lobster

10.  Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

The annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival heads into its 7th year in 2015 and celebrates one of the country’s best cheesemaking regions. The one day festival takes place in July and highlights the award winning cheeses, wines and artisan foods of the area. There’s cheese themed workshops, cooking demonstrations by local chefs and of course lots of cheese to be sampled. Children under 3 get in free and regular priced adult admission is $50 but this gives you access to the workshops, cheesemaking and cooking demos and of course lots of samples!

Jeffrey B. Banke / Shutterstock.com
Jeffrey B. Banke / Shutterstock.com

9. Savannah Food and Wine Festival

The Savannah Food and Wine Festival is one of the newest and hottest food festivals in the country. 2014 marks the return of this celebration of the south after much success after their inaugural festival last year. Taking place in the fall, the festival runs for 1 week and features events of all kinds including cooking classes, farm to table dinners, celebrity chef tour, wine tastings, riverboat dinner cruise, and of course the main event: Taste of Savannah. Taking place on the Saturday, the streets are closed as patrons sip and sample some of the best the city has to offer.

Cupcakes Savannah

8. The Taste: Los Angeles

Presented by Los Angeles Times and Citi, The Taste is a weekend food festival highlighting the best of west coast cuisine. Featuring several events including opening night gala, field to fork, Sunday brunch and flavors of LA, The Taste provides supporters with a local food experience that’s authentically LA. Sample the best from local restaurateurs all looking to boost their restaurant street cred in a city where culinary competition is fierce and innovation is key. The Taste happens annually on labor day weekend.

Small bites

7. Austin Food and Wine Festival

Austin’s culinary scene has been steadily growing over the years and the Austin Food and Wine Festival proves this city deserves a spot right up with the culinary giants like New York and South Beach. The weekend festival takes place in the spring and includes some notable celebrity chef faces. There are events happening the entire weekend including cooking demos, chef showcases and feast under the stars. The grand tasting event is where you’ll get to try the best bites from the Austin culinary scene.

tacos

6. Taste of Chicago

Since 1980, Chicago’s lakefront Grant Park has been closing to play host to this 5 day food extravaganza celebrating everything that makes Chicago cuisine so unique.  This festival has something for everyone and is perfect for families with the kids zone and live music featuring notable performers each year. Of course there’s also the food…and it comes in the form of food trucks, 5 day festival restaurants and pop-up restaurants; keep an eye out for these short opportunity shops because they’re only around for a day or two!

Photo by: Taste of Chicago
Photo by: Taste of Chicago

5. New Orleans Food and Wine Experience

It’s safe to say the people of New Orleans enjoy good food and drink…in fact they’re downright passionate about it! From beignets to po’ boys, The New Orleans Food and Wine Experience showcases the best of the Big Easy. Not only is food celebrated at this event but this festival goes above and beyond to incorporate another Louisiana passion into the agenda; live music! With hundreds of wineries and restaurants participating each year, it’s easy to see why the festival is currently in its 22nd year.

Shrimp and grits

4. Taste of Vail

Rated among the best food and wine festivals by many media publications, we agree that Taste of Vail is an experience like no other, and should be high on any traveling foodies list. Each April, Vail Colorado hosts this 4 day culinary celebration highlighting the unique Vail lifestyle and renowned Colorado cuisine. While it may not be the biggest food festival in the country, each of the 30+ participating restaurants places a focus on quality ingredients with local flair.

Photo by: Taste of Vail
Photo by: Taste of Vail

3. NYC Food and Wine Festival

The New York City Food and Wine Festival presented by The Food Network and Food and Wine is a party with a purpose. 100% of the net proceeds from the 4-day fall festival go towards Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and the NYC Food Bank. With over $7 million raised in its six short years it’s clear to see this city supports both food and wine as well as community support. At this event you’ll find lots of recognizable Food Network celebrities but event tickets aren’t cheap so save up before visiting this one.

Cheese plate

2. South Beach Food and Wine Festival

Also presented by The Food Network and Food and Wine, The South Beach Food and Wine Festival (or SOBEWFF as it’s known) has been delighting diners in Florida for over 13 years. The event began as a 1-day festival at the Florida International University campus and was moved to South Beach in 2002 and as they say; the rest is history. South Beach is widely known as the premier celebration of celebrity chefs, exceptional wines and south coast dining. If you’re looking for a great food experience in a beautiful setting SOBEWFF is your spot.

South Beach

1. Aspen Food and Wine Classic

Celebrating its 32nd year, the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen is like the pro-bowl of America’s culinary scene. It’s a star studded affair with big name chefs like Tyler Florence, Giada De Laurentiis, Marcus Samuelsson and many more. The Classic allows chefs to demo their best new recipes, wineries to pour their finest drops, and attendees to enjoy all the best of these culinary geniuses…all surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the mountains.

Aspen Food and Wine