The following road trips are going to help you make the most of autumn. They lead you down the country’s most famous highways, to some of the most beautiful fall foliage destinations, and into some of the country’s most serene forests. Who says summer is the best season for travel? Fall has it all: breathtaking scenery, exciting activities, and a car full of your favorite people.
A Few Things to Consider Before Hitting the Road:
Clean your car before you hit the open road. You want to make sure your glove box holds only important documents and isn’t overflowing with inconsequential rubbish. Speaking of important documents, you need to make sure your driver’s license and insurance are up-to-date and intact. If you’ve had difficulty securing insurance, acceptanceinsurance.com recommends an SR22 policy, which can provide you with proof of insurance until such a time that you can secure regular coverage again.
Even if you have GPS, bring a map. You may end up without GPS on some remote country road, and that map will come in handy. You’ll also want to have a loose plan for making stops, gassing up, and noshing on local grub. Before setting out, sit down with your travel buddies and create a loose itinerary. This will help you make good time, but it won’t stop you from enjoying a bit spontaneity when the situation calls for it.
Fall on Pacific Coast Highway
Autumn on the Pacific Coast Highway is well worth the 1,800-mile drive. The drive starts south of San Diego and finishes north of San Francisco (redwood country).
Along the way, you can visit the vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma, the cliffs of Big Sur, and the amusement park and boardwalk in the seaside towns of Pacifica and Half Moon Bay.
CNN Travel reports, “Human-made attractions along the PCH are no match for the natural beauty. When you stand on a Big Sur cliff, with a misty forest behind you and the sea crashing on rocks hundreds of feet below, it’s hard not to be awed.”
The Spectacular Redwood Trail
If you’re a fan of hiking, check out the Redwood Trail in the fall. Start your road trip at home by packing the car with all the gear you’ll need, then park somewhere along the trail.
You can’t camp in the forest, but you can hike all the way from California to Washington State. The trees here are some of the tallest in the world, and the fall colors are vibrant and beautiful. Hope back in the car, and finish your road trip by heading north into Washington State.
Mid-September in Aspen, Colorado
“Aspen season is short,” warns Fodors. “It kicks in during mid-September and peaks at the end of the month.” You’ll need to plan your road trip so you arrive sometime during this short window. If you don’t, you may miss out on the beautiful fall foliage clinging to the branches of the town’s namesake trees, tall Aspens.
The scenery is awe-inspiring; the colorful foliage clings to tall trees with mountains in the distance. “Aspen leaves turn a rich yellow hue in the fall and literally shimmer in the breeze when the sun hits them. The goal tones of aspens in autumn make for a picture-perfect contrast with the evergreens and craggy mountain peaks.”
Fall in the Adirondack Mountains
Don’t worry east coasters, there’s plenty of places where you can witness the splendor of color in the treetops too. Take a trip to Lake Placid in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. The maple, birch, aspen, oak, and beech trees line the Olympic Trail and reflect on the calm surface of Lake Placid.
The drive is about 170 miles, but if you want you can park and ride the Fall Foliage Train instead. Travel + Leisure says the best time to visit is early to mid-October, “which conveniently coincides with the Lake Placid Brewfest.”
Fall travel is appealing because it’s beautiful, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. Each destination has a lot of activity and good times to be had, so stay awhile and explore. When you’re ready to, you can get back in the car and continue the journey.