At Our Whole Village, we plan meaningful vacations for families who want to create lifelong memories and show their kids the world in a more conscious and intentional manner.
We help families take meaningful vacations so that they can escape everyday life, show their kids the world and make lifelong memories - with care, confidence and peace of mind.
Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
Nothing beats the breathtaking splendor of autumn. The air fills with the crisp freshness of changing seasons as leaves turn gorgeous scarlet, copper, and amber shades. Delicious seasonal treats reappear, from pumpkin spice lattes to candied apples. And there’s nothing like the coziness of trading in tanks and shorts for soft sweaters, flannel, and jeans. There are also many fun, family-friendly activities to indulge in. Chief among these? Scoping out fall foliage at picturesque destinations.
But where’s the best place to catch this year’s fall colors? Here’s what you need to know about where to see fall leaves in America.
Few road trips prove more scenic than tackling the 34-mile McKenzie River Scenic Byway, which connects the forests of the Cascade Mountains to the Willamette Valley’s wine country. You’ll enjoy incredible views of the Pacific Northwest’s most gorgeous landscapes showcased against a background of reds and golds. Besides scoping out the fall colors and exploring Oregon’s wine country, you’ll enjoy chances to try your hand at fly fishing, an activity your kids will love. The McKenzie River offers some of the best fly fishing in the state, with chances to catch cutthroat and redside rainbow trout.
Highlights of a trip? A visit to the historic Old McKenzie Fish Hatchery in Leaburg. Don’t forget to scope out Vida’s Goodpasture Bridge in Lane County, the second-longest covered bridge in the state and one of the most photographed. Other fantastic activities include hiking to waterfalls, whitewater rafting, and stops at quaint farm stands. The best time to plan your trip? Mid- to late October when the colors of the season reach their peak.
Nestled in the hills of Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana, you’ll find the French Lick West Baden. A resort community, it boasts some of Indiana’s most beautiful autumn foliage. Adventures abound in the region, from biking and hiking to horseback riding, letting you soak in the vibrant changing colors. And when you want to sit back and relax? No visit to the area would be complete without a kid-friendly ride on the French Lick Scenic Railway.
Or consider a Fall Foliage Wine Cruise on Patoka Lake. Departing from Patoka Lake Marina, your kids will love the exhilaration of heading out on the water while you sit back and sip a glass of wine. You’ll also want to check out the French Lick Resort, featuring a stunning atrium at the West Baden Springs Hotel. The atrium spans over 200 feet and took 100 years to build. Once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” your family will be amazed by this engineering marvel. When’s the best time to visit? Late October through early November when the air turns crisp and the leaves breathtakingly vibrant.
Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, shelters the idyllic New England village of Stowe at its base. There are few places along the Eastern Seaboard affording better views of the changing colors. Seventy-five percent of Vermont is forested with concentrations of sugar maples, renowned for their showy displays of color throughout October and into November. Where should you go to get the best views? Take a drive along Smugglers’ Notch Pass through the state park of the same name. Along the way, scope out the autumnal foliage of the Green Mountains.
Activities abound for every age, including a ride on the Gondola SkyRide, horseback riding, and renting a canoe. The gondola brings you to the summit of Mount Mansfeld for expansive regional views. And when you’re ready for some brews and eats? Check out one of Stowe’s many incredible breweries. Great places to start include Alchemist Beer or Von Trapp Brewing. Check out this Vermont Craft Beer Pilgrimage for more inspiration.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, is known as the “Scenic City,” and with good reason. Of course, this gets magnified in the fall when local trees turn fiery hued. The city sits on the Tennessee River between the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains, which translates into endless opportunities for leaf viewing. Whether you’re after a leisurely stroll through Chattanooga or a hike along the Rainbow Lake Trail on Signal Mountain, you’ll be amazed by the brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds. Check out this sample itinerary for more regional inspiration.
What to do in Tennessee? Don’t miss out on a trip up the incline railway to the summit of Lookout Mountain for expansive panoramas of the area. And a riverboat excursion on the Tennessee River via “The Southern Belle” remains unmatched when it comes to soaking up local culture. Families who can’t get enough of the eye-popping fall colors should book a night at Treetop Hideaways’ boutique treehouses near Lookout Mountain. What’s the best time to visit? Early November.
Located at 4,118 feet, the cozy mountain town of Highlands sits in Nantahala National Forest’s Highlands Plateau. It features a temperate rainforest filled with lush vegetation and picturesque waterfalls. You’ll also find many rivers and lakes inviting exploration in and around the area. Activities in the region include fly fishing, golfing, and hiking. You’ll also want to spend some time checking out Highlands’ incredible cultural arts scene. Excellent places to scope out local entertainment include the Highlands Performing Arts Center and the visual arts center, The Bascom.
When’s the best time to visit? For optimal seasonal color, book your reservations for late October or early November. Not only will you fall in love with the natural scenery, but you’ll also enjoy spending time exploring the town’s local boutiques and restaurants.
If you’d like to mix American history into your fall foliage explorations, there’s no better place to do this than Maryland’s Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway. Stretching for 38 miles along Route 15, the drive connects Emmitsburg to Point of Rocks. Along the way, you’ll visit an admixture of stunning natural landscapes and significant Civil War sites. Highlights include iconic Camp David and Catoctin Mountain Park.
What else should you put on your family’s itinerary? Don’t pass up a stop at Cunningham Falls State Park. (Here’s more about planning outdoor getaways your whole family will love.) There, marvel at the park’s 78-foot-tall waterfall and gorge. Then, spend some time in the nearby historic town of Frederick, chock full of cute shops and charming inns. What’s the best time to see Maryland’s fall foliage? Optimal viewing of the area takes place in late October through early November.
From battling wild elk bulls to multi-hued leaves, fall in the Ozarks comes with incredible sights and sounds. Besides optimal views of autumn’s colorful palette, you’ll enjoy exploring the region’s quaint mountain towns. Highlights include the small town of Ponca located near the Buffalo National River region, a pristine wilderness destination providing access to many fantastic outdoor activities. There’s no better place for an unplugged family vacation.
Exploring the area around Ponca comes with many opportunities for adventure. Hiking trails for every age and activity level prove plentiful, and they afford chances to see local wildlife. Excursions down the river provide another way to scope out local animals, including elk. Autumn proves a busy time for bull elks who battle it out to become head of the herd. Local cabin accommodations allow visitors to get back to nature, and your family will enjoy opportunities for stargazing as well as catching stunning sunrises and sunsets.
Where to see fall foliage in the US this year? As you can see, your family has many incredible options, from the rolling hills of Vermont to the wine country of Oregon. The top seven spots mentioned above are best viewed between mid-October and early November, which means you still have time to plan a gorgeous getaway.
Not sure where to start? We can help. We specialize in family vacations, and we’d love to help you create the perfect itinerary for your family’s fall adventure! Contact us to get started.
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