8 Best Places in the US to Watch Fall Foliage

How will you travel this fall? If you’re considering a road trip, why not time your travels to coincide with some spectacular fall foliage? No matter how much traveling you’ve done in the states, seeing the United States covered in golds, yellows, oranges, purples, and reds is like seeing a whole new side to your spouse after decades of marriage. If you hit the right locations at the right time, your fall foliage drive will be beautiful, majestic, and breathtaking. Check out the following sites for foliage and have an experience you’ll remember for years and years to come.

8. Napa Valley, California

For fall foliage with a twist, why not visit California’s famous wine region? While many of the trees up in the hills change colors, the best place to witness fiery fall colors is right there in the vineyards. For travelers who have never seen the leaves on a grape vine change from yellows, to golds, to oranges to bold crimsons, it’s a stunning sight – made even better by fabulous bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and vintages that one of the world’s best wine-producing regions has to offer. Silverado Trail is always a great route to take for views of vineyard foliage against the backdrop of the Napa River. Or, book passage on the Napa Valley Wine Train and combine a love of wine, find food, and foliage for one unforgettable trip. Ripening grapes enjoy the crisp, cool evenings, and so will you after an Indian summer day in October.

Napa Valley - Autumn

7. The Driftless Region, Wisconsin

The Driftless Region in Wisconsin provides some of the most breathtaking fall foliage in the Midwest. Twisted oaks and wild hickories are ablaze in oranges and yellows, while basswoods add their own special hue as well. The loop around the Driftless Region provides a soothing 158 mile drive that starts and ends in Mineral Point. Heading north on Highway 23 to Baraboo will lead travelers to sumac and maple foliage. Highway 56, high up on the ridges that run from east to west in the area provides a bird’s eye view of the tops of trees. Choosing Highway 131 takes travelers from north to south through the Kickapoo River Valley for incredible river views. Or, simply take a guided tour of the Driftless Region to see several of these spots. Pinpointing the best time to visit, when the colors pop the most, is difficult, but the first half of October is a good bet.

Photo by: Terry McNeil / Wisconsin Trails
Photo by: Terry McNeil / Wisconsin Trails

6. Aspen and Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

There are so many ways to see the colors change in the mountainous region of Colorado. For starters, the affluent town of Aspen, where the nation’s one percent go to ski, turns into an explosion of oranges and yellows among evergreens and a background of purple-and-white-streaked mountains. Watching the breeze sail down the mountains and through the foliage is like watching a shimmering sea of fall colors. Alternatively, swing down around the south of the Gunnison National Forest to Gunnison, Colorado. Jump on Highway 135 and drive to Crested Butte and meet up with Kebler Pass Road. From there, Highway 133 connects near Paonia Dam. West Elk Loop Byway and Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park are beautiful spots, too. Late September into late October is the best time to visit the largest forest of aspen trees in the country, so don’t miss out!

Gunnison National Park, Colorado

5. Upper Peninsula and Gold Coast, Michigan

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has an incredible 7 million acres of forest, over 100 different species of trees, and views of the vivid blue waters of Lake Superior. Or, if Lake Michigan is more your style, set off on a drive down the Gold Coast. Either way, a gorgeous changing of the seasons awaits. The Upper Peninsula has more than 20 forested state parks to choose from, featuring ash, sycamore, tamarack, beech, birch, aspen, oak, and maple. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is also home to moose, beavers, and white-tailed deer, which can be seen along Lake Superior and nearby areas. Or, take highway 2 to interstate 75 across Mackinac Bridge and head down the Gold Coast. This 100-mile route features charming coves, tiny fishing towns, and soaring sand dunes. Enjoy the bright and fiery maple and oak leaves against the green of fir, spruce, and pine trees.

Porcupine Wildness State Park, Michigan

4. The Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The Cascade Mountains form a natural border between the states of Oregon and Washington in the Northwestern United States. The Columbia River cuts into them like a slithering snake, forming an 80-mile long gorge that’s home to some incredible fall colors, all with views of tumbling waterfalls, white rapids, and bubbling streams. Take in the bronze and golden hues of cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, twisted pines, Oregon ash, and firs – an incredible array of species, all with their own artistic interpretation of fall. Travelers can drive along the Columbia River on Interstate 84, or choose more adventurous and up-close ways to view the colors. Hike on gorgeous trails along the river’s edge or grab a kayak or raft and jump right in for some adventure. All-in-all, visitors only have about a month to watch the colors change, so planning trips from mid-September to mid-October is best.

Columbia River Gorge

3. The Adirondacks, New York

The Adirondacks is the largest natural wilderness region in the Eastern US and it consists of 6-million acres of beautiful forest made of both evergreen and deciduous trees. The area is home to oaks, maples, birch, and beech trees, so the combination of reds, oranges, and yellows is simply stunning. There are 13 scenic byways in the Adirondacks, but the Olympic, Adirondack, and Central Adirondack Trails are the most popular. The Olympic Trail connects Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario, but not before passing by the gorgeous Lake Placid along its 170 miles. The Adirondack Trail winds through 188 miles through the center of Adirondack Park. The Central Adirondack Trail consists of the 153 miles between Rome and Glen Falls. Head to the Adirondacks in mid-October to enjoy a hike through the foliage in the mountains, or stay in lower altitudes to pick your own apples and join harvest festival celebrations into late October.

Adirondack Mountains

2. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico

When it comes to watching the colors of the leaves change each fall, most people think of New England as the place to be, or perhaps the northwest. They don’t think of New Mexico, but forests to flourish in the northern part of the state. Deciduous trees like purple cinquefoil and golden cottonwoods are everywhere. Even the aspens in this area turn a darker orange than anywhere else in the U.S. For an atypical autumn scene, the 85 mile trek around Wheeler Peak, a 13, 161 foot mountain and the state’s highest point. Travelers would do well to begin in Taos, New Mexico and take Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway to Eagle Nest for the best views of the mountain. Continue on to Angel Fire and back into Taos to complete the loop. It might just be the most uniquely colorful way to spend the autumn season.

Photo by: Angel Fire Chamber
Photo by: Angel Fire Chamber

1. The Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains are a subrange of the Appalachians and stretch from the southwestern corner of Virginia and down along the North Carolina and Tennessee border. Peaks rise to a height of 6,600 feet. There are hundreds of species of trees in the mountains, so gazers can enjoy the yellows of the American beech, the oranges of maple and sassafras, and the reds of pin cherry and ash as they populate the mountainside. Travelers who start their color-changing trip in Virginia can jump right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and catch fall foliage on dogwoods, sourwoods, and black gums as early as the end of September. Then, if you slowly make your way through the mountains into October and November, you’ll catch all the best colors as they pop. The best drives also include Newfound Gap and Cades Cove for views of foliage among streams, waterfalls, and panoramic views.

Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains

7 Best Places To Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride

A hot air balloon ride can be quite an adventure! When you don’t want to go sky diving but you want to enjoy the view from up above, you can get the weightless feeling by going up in a hot air balloon. Depending on the company you go up with, it can be an intimate affair or a large group – perfect for any occasion.

There are many great destinations to visit and take a hot air balloon ride over the landscape. You won’t be able to go hot air ballooning just anywhere because of the weather as well as because of the various things around, but there are many places in the world where you will be able to go up in a hot air balloon and the view is absolutely spectacular.

1. Orlando, Florida

When you take a hot air balloon ride in Orlando, you are able to soar high above all of the theme parks, getting a unique glimpse of Disney and Universal that few are able to see in their lives. It is the theme park capital of the world, after all. You will also be able to soar over farm land and other beautiful scenery that many do not expect to find in Florida. Because of the hot weather and storms in Orlando, hot air balloons will only launch at sunrise, not sunset.
Hot Air Balloon Florida

2. Napa Valley, California

A hot air balloon over Napa Valley allows you to have an intimate view of the beautiful vineyards as well as the many wineries and homes within the area. This is a perspective that few will be able to take advantage of. The balloon is likely going to provide you with some ideas as to where you want to go once you land.
Napa Valley Hot Air Balloon

3. Australian Outback

The Australian Outback holds a lot of mystery and intrigue. As you float above the area, you will be able to set your sights on such things as Ayers Rock and even a pack of kangaroos hopping through an area of the Outback. This is a view that many people dream of and you will only be able to see it from inside of a hot air balloon.
Hot Air Balloon Australia

4. Queenstown, New Zealand

There are stunning mountains and lakes throughout this area of New Zealand you cannot truly appreciate them until you are soaring high above them in a balloon. This will be picturesque, so you cannot forget your camera. Many of the sights in Queenstown you see will remind you of The Lord of the Rings as this is where the movie was filmed.
Hot Air Balloon New Zealand

5. Maasi Mara, Kenya

If you have ever wanted to go on an African safari, you have the ability to do so high in the sky with a hot air balloon ride. This area is a game reserve in the southwestern part of the country. You will find gazelles, wildebeests, zebra and many other wild animals traveling through the park and you can have a thrilling view of nature at its best. The best time to go each year is between July and October.
Hot Air Balloon Kenya

6. Cappadocia, Turkey

This part of Turkey is one of the most famous places to go hot air ballooning and it is all because of the unique landscape. You will find a sandy brown desert as well as breathtaking limestone rock mountains. Scattered throughout the area you will also find green olive groves, cave churches and chimneys that look like they came from fairy tales.
Hot Air Balloon Turkey

7. Paris, France

Paris is the city for lovers and there may be nothing more intimate than going up in a hot air balloon. You will be able to go up at sunrise or sunset and see the beautiful countryside. This will send you over forests, castles and even provide you with a unique view of the Eifel Tower. It’s possible to go up at sunrise or sunset depending upon the time of year that you go.

Hot Air Balloon France
ostill / Shutterstock.com

I Do! 10 Best Places In the World to Elope

Weddings can be beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but they can also cost thousands of dollars and be a major headache to plan. By eloping, you can leave these worries behind and add a sense of adventure to your wedding. There are many amazing spots around the world where you can exchange vows, but here are ten of the best.

1. Florence, Italy

Italy is home to a number of romantic locales, but Florence may be the best spot for elopement because it is easy for foreigners to obtain a marriage license The city’s stunning architecture creates a romantic atmosphere unlike anywhere else on earth. Florence is also home to a wealth of historic churches, so this is a great place to go if you want a religious wedding.

Florence Italy

2. Niagara Falls, New York

The Falls will make a spectacular backdrop for your wedding, but you can also say “I do” in a helicopter flying over them. Obtaining a license for a Niagara wedding is simple. United States citizens should head to the New York side of the Falls, but couples from overseas can also get one from the Canadian side.

Niagara Falls 1

3. British Virgin Islands

Getting a marriage license in the British Virgin Islands is easy, and the warm weather and tropical setting will create memories to last a lifetime. You’ll find a number of resorts that offer packages specially designed for eloping couples.

British Virgin Islands

4. Florida Keys

Florida is an ideal spot for elopement because they don’t require out-of-state couples to undergo a waiting period or blood test before they can tie the knot. The Keys are filled with gorgeous scenery, and nothing is more romantic than getting married on the beach at sunset.

Beach Wedding 1

5. Scotland

The Highlands of Scotland will provide a perfect romantic background for your wedding ceremony. This is an ideal spot for lovers of the outdoors, as you can go golfing, hiking, and horseback riding on your honeymoon. Marriages in Scotland have historically been informal affairs, and it’s easier for foreigners to obtain a marriage license here than in other European countries. However, documents and fees need to be submitted at least fifteen days before your ceremony.

Scotland

6. Costa Rica

This Central American country is super friendly to visitors, and to obtain a marriage license you only need a passport and two non-related witnesses. There are plenty of secluded beaches that are perfect for a ceremony, but if you want a really unique spot, you can get married under a waterfall in the rainforest.

Costa Rica 1

7. Reno, Nevada

Las Vegas might be the place to go if you need to get married quickly, but Reno is the much more peaceful and romantic option. Just imagine your wedding taking place on the shores of Lake Tahoe with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background. Marriage licenses are easy to access in Nevada, and there’s no waiting period.

Reno Nevada

8. Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii has a number of stunning islands, but Maui is the most popular destination for eloping couples. The beautiful beaches and clear blue waters make it a perfect spot for an intimate wedding ceremony.

Maui Hawaii

9. Napa Valley, California

Napa is one of the most romantic destinations in the United States. You can have your ceremony in a secluded vineyard with the Valley’s beautiful hills in the background. As a popular spot for eloping couples, there are several resorts in the area that offer elopement packages.

Napa Valley California

10. Bermuda 

This Caribbean island is home to pink sandy beaches and breathtaking ocean views. The island also has a large number of beautiful and historical churches where you can hold your ceremony. To get married in Bermuda, you must submit a notice of intent to one of the country’s newspapers fifteen days in advance.

Bermuda 2

7 Best Places to Travel Before You Have Kids

The clock is ticking. You have decided to take the plunge into parenthood. Well, almost. What about the things you wanted to do first, and the places you wanted to go? When the babies arrive, footloose and fancy free will not happen while you’re carrying a diaper bag, bottle, and stroller. Hmm . . . we need to do this now, before it’s too late!

Here are 7 fantastic places you need to travel before you have kids:

1. The Maldives

An intimate, secluded tropical setting, the Maldives has the perfect backdrop. These mystical islands, located in the Indian Ocean, are made up of 1,190 coral islands surrounded by a coral reefs in the lagoon. Various underwater creatures and colorful coral reefs can be seen under the sparkling, turquoise-blue waters, with swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and sunset boat tours. Travel to an uninhabited area of the island, enjoy a sunset tour, dinner under a starlit sky, visit a nightclub or enjoy a spa treatment in your own private bungalow, surrounded by waters of the lagoon.

The Maldives

2. The Isle of Jura, Scotland

The Isle of Jura is one of the Inner Hebrides Islands off of the southwest coast of Scotland, near Glasgow. Jura is a sparsely populated island of about 200 people and 5,000 wild, red deer! Jura is famous for its distillery where award-winning Scottish Whisky is made. With only one shop, one hotel, and one pub, it is a great way to be a part of the local culture. There are two places to dine out, and only one church on the island. Tourists may travel to the mainland via passenger ferry or private water taxis. Public transport is scarce. However, a bus does run several times a day, but the speed limit cannot exceed 40mph due to the number of curves and hills and wildlife meandering down the roads. Craighead Village Hall houses the Ceilidh dance event. The Jura Music festival is held in September.

The Isle of Jura, Scotland

3. Disney World

If you really want to see the sights at Disney World, the best time is before you have children. Tons of romantic, unique, adult-oriented experiences await with luxurious resorts and hotels such as Waldorf Astoria, Ritz Carlton, and Marriott, five-star restaurants, and exceptional nightlife.

DIsney World
Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

4. New Zealand

New Zealand is the new hot spot to see, and is worth every minute of a long, 13-hour, flight. This is one expensive trip that children would not be able to comfortably endure. Travel to Auckland to the Sky Tower to see a view 610 feet high from a 360 degree angle; attend wine tasting at the wineries; sail or hike at the Bay of Islands; watch the blue penguins march back to their nests in the city of Oamaru. Bunjee jump off the Kawarau Bridge, skydive, or enjoy exciting white water rafting over grade five rapids.

New Zealand

5. Moshi, Tanzania

Are you ready for a serious thrill by hiking 19, 341 feet up Mount Kilimanjaro? Would you like to camp in a wildlife sanctuary of Serengeti National Park? Go to the Maasai Manyatta homestead for a cultural experience with tribal dress, beaded necklaces and handcarved walking sticks.

Moshi, Tanzania Serengeti National Park

6. Alaska

Ready for a chilly destination? Alaska offers bumpy bush plane rides, mining adventures, flying over the alpine-like tundra, granite gorges, and glaciers around Mount McKinley. Heli-ski down the powdered slopes, visit a sled dog kennel, and take magnificent photographs at the Denali National Park and Preserve.

Glacier Bay National Park Alaska

7. Napa  Valley, California

Chardonnay, Merlot, and Pinot Noir can be sampled in the more than 400 wineries surrounding Napa Valley. Enjoy the local bounty from the outdoor markets, or have dinner at a quaint bistro. Vineyard tours are offered, along with bike rentals and a lot of walking.

As you can see, these destinations would be more fun and appropriate before the children arrive. But when they do, you will have exciting and fulfilling memories that will last a lifetime.

Napa Valley, California

The Grestest Quick and Easy US Weekend Escapes

The United States offers weekend adventures that suit any type of temperament. Relaxing after a busy week at work is best handled by a change of scenery and one of the following quick weekend getaways. Many of these weekend vacation spots also offer some adventurous opportunities for active weekend escapes.

1. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas offers a lot more than one-armed bandits and smoky casinos these days, and many weekend visitors just want to experience the amazing buffets (every casino has a legendary buffet) and the headliner shows along the Strip. All the casinos offer terrific hotel packages for a fun weekend stay, and a great way to spend an evening is to catch one of the city’s Broadway-caliber shows.

Las Vegas Nevada
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

 

2. San Antonio, Texas

A lot of people associate Texas with cowboys, horses, and tumbleweeds, but San Antonio doesn’t offer that sort of picture of Texas. Offering a marvelous balance between old fashioned Texas history and entertaining modernity, one of San Antonio’s best features is its famed River Walk for walking and dining relaxation.

San Antonio Texas

3. Nashville, Tennessee

From emerging music stars to down-home honky-tonk bars, Nashville is a friendly and inexpensive way to experience nightlife and harmonious entertainment. The region also has a strong reputation for specialty beers, and a whole culture of microbreweries has sprung up around the town’s live music venues.

Nashville Tennessee 1

4. Sedona, Arizona

Sedona offers visitors views of amazing red rocks and fascinating geologic formations. Spending a weekend hiking around the miles of trails around this desert southwest town offers hours of scenic beauty and photo opportunities. Kitschy stores selling all sorts of Indian jewelry make for some fun shopping excursions, and the hotel prices tend to be affordable for the budget conscious.

Sedona Arizona

5. Catalina Island, California

Just a few hours away by ferry from the Los Angeles coastline, Catalina is an amazing little island that offers a perfect ocean escape for a few hours or a weekend. The locals drive around in golf carts, and there are as many scenic overlooks on the island as there are boats in the harbor. During the ferry ride to Catalina, boaters pass some of the deepest parts of the ocean near the California coastline.

Catalina Island California

6. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Long popular with the locals as a weekend destination, Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts is a charming island that will inspire more than one weekend trip. For adventurous travelers, the Aquinnah Cliffs on the far side of the island are stunning and are definitely worth a look. Another spot not to be missed is the Edgartown Lighthouse, the top of which offers a marvelous view of the bay.

Edgartown Lighthouse

7. New Orleans, Louisiana

Known for an exceptionally artistic and musical populace, New Orleans has been rebuilt in the wake of a devastating hurricane and has retained much of its long-favored charisma. From classy southern music venues, such as the Davenport Lounge, to the raucousness of the French Quarter, New Orleans offers an experience for travelers of any disposition.

New Orleans Louisiana
pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

8. Savannah, Georgia

The history of the South is alive and well in Savannah, and this beautiful Georgia town is popular for walking tours. A number of centuries-old homes offer tours, such as the Davenport House Museum, where visitors can see the elegance and grace of 19th century southern living.

Savannah Georgia

9. Napa Valley, California

Taking a tour of California’s amazing Napa Valley is a must for anyone who enjoys wine tasting and the amazing Mediterranean-like climate of this picturesque area. There’s no better way to relax than taking a tour of the area’s local wineries. The Napa Valley Wine Train is a tranquil way to take in the sights.

Each of these fantastic locations around the United States offers unique charm and a chance to experience the local history and culture of the region. Whether a relaxing weekend or an adventurous few days are on the menu, these weekend getaways will satisfy any type of traveler.

Napa Valley California