Plan a Trip to the Best Place to See Fall Foliage

What can be more beautiful than nature itself changing its green into a wide array of warm, bright colors? Whether you take a long scenic drive through a forest of crimson and gold, or relax in a cozy chair by the fireplace looking out the window, the beauty of the season is best enjoyed in places that can showcase it in all its glory.

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If you live on or near the eastern seaboard of the U.S., you have an abundance of destination choices for every budget, both to the north and to the south. You could head to the magnificent Omni Mount Washington Resort, which sits right in the midst of the New Hampshire woods and overlooks the White Mountains. Or you could choose to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee to enjoy the beauty of autumn in its full display.

While it would be extremely hard to name a single best place to see fall foliage, here are a few good options to consider.

Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Northeast

The White Mountains is one of the very best places in the country, not just the northeast, to enjoy fall foliage.

New Hampshire’s 34-mile Kancamagus Highway, also known as “The Kank” by locals, is known to be one of the most spectacular drives in New England during the fall. The views are stunning, and there are many pull offs where you can admire an abundance of fall foliage. This 34-mile drive is one that you can take your time enjoying during your trip.

Not sold? Check out this stunning drone video of the White Mountains foliage, and perhaps you will be.

Another fine choice, next door in the Green Mountains of Vermont, is the city of Manchester near Mount Equinox. It’s famous for its great foliage views, fine dining and beautiful accommodations. For a quieter, more pristine location, head to the Northeast Kingdom and Peacham, Vermont, population 731, which is rumored to be “the most-photographed town in New England.”

Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Southeast

In eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains offer amazing foliage views along with fun outdoor adventures. Some prefer driving through the mountains to watch the colors of autumn, while the many hotels and cabins nearby are for those who want to engage in a multitude of fun activities or relax in the midst of natural wonders.

Want a hiking tip? Southern Living has one. In Bryson City, North Carolina, “Hike or bike the ‘Road to Nowhere’ named after Lakeview Drive, an unfinished road that takes visitors eight miles into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and ends at the mouth of a tunnel.”

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, combines fall foliage with an artsy twist. It has a number of historical buildings and art galleries, and this year hosts the Piedmont Craftsmen’s 54th Annual Craft Fair. This year, the fair will be held November 18 – 19 2017, which is fortunate, because the foliage season in the area lasts well into mid-November.

Which Location Is Best Suited for You?

To save money on travel expenses, you can choose the location that is closest to you and simply head out for a one-day scenic drive. Keep in mind that foliage season dates are affected by temperature and humidity, which differ from one year to another.

There are a number of websites and phone apps that can help you decide, like Leaf Peepr or Fall Foliage Map. For 2017, peak of foliage season will be happening until mid-October in the northeast, and will conclude by the end of the month. The southeast should be in its most magnificent state from mid-October to mid-November, yet it’s a good idea to look at the foliage map of the precise place you wish to visit.

Remember that the southeast climate is more humid, while northeast weather can also be temperamental, to say the least, so always check your local weather forecast along with a foliage app or website of your choice. And don’t forget to check other local activities, too. The northeast foliage season, for example, is famous for its pumpkin festivals and farmers’ markets.

Do You Have to Spend Big Bucks for Your Travel?

In a word, no. Of course, a hotel package can run you $150 – 700 a night or more, but you do have other options. You can always find an inexpensive, but comfortable roadside chain hotel for less than $100 a night, or just use one of the numerous vacation rental sites. You’ll have to budget in dining and whatever activities you want to include, but certain elements, like the views and walks, are free.

Use Miles, Points or Cash Back to Stay Under Budget

If you have a rewards credit card, consider using your miles or cash back rewards to see the foliage this year. Discover cards, for example, offer a very easy way to redeem cash back (Discover it® Card) or miles (Discover it® Miles) for travel expenses, so there is no reason for your rewards to collect virtual dust.

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