By Alex Leviton
Once the football refs’ whistles start to blow and the Halloween decorations pop up in store windows, trees across the country start to put out the (red) alert: Fall’s a-comin’.
As thousands upon thousands of cars head to Vermont and New Hampshire to drive far, far too slow in front of you, Gogobot wants to offer up a few alternative spots in which to join in the autumnal ritual of admiring the beauty of death, decay and a lack of deciduous arboreal chlorophyll. Just two hours from Washington, D.C. but as bucolic as the Appalachian Mountains come, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia combines leaf-peeping and history. Visit New England fall colors with a collegiate twist in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit the artistic mountain utopia of Asheville, North Carolina. Or, go west, young reader, to Aspen, Colorado, or cross the northern border into Ontario, Canada.
Though it lies less than two hours away from bustling Washington, D.C., the charming town of Harpers Ferry feels worlds away. Many may know the town best for its historical significance during the Civil War. Its history, though, only underlies its natural beauty in large part because it lies at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet.
The small town offers a collection of charming B&Bs, including the wonderful Laurel Lodge, which provides a great staging ground for enjoying the fall foliage. Just across the river, off the C&O Canal, lies the entrance to the Maryland Heights trail at the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. The five mile trail meanders along stunning tall trees and ends with a gorgeous overlook of the town of Harpers Ferry, and an aerial view of the rivers joining together.
See Alex’s Harper’s Ferry passport collection
By Margaux Avedisian
Whether you are one of the 28,000 students in the five-college consortium, a professor, resident, or visitor in the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts, the leaves changing during fall is remarkable to witness for all. There aren’t many places in the world where you can see vibrant red, yellow, green and orange leaves fill the sky this dramatically. Walking around the lake at South Hadley’s Mount Holyoke College, the first women’s college in the US, is like stepping into a real-life postcard. To experience the color overload firsthand, pick apples from Atkins orchards in Amherst, where generations of families, couples and friends sip on apple cider and snack on the famous apple donuts. Northampton is a bustle of activity, where a great respite to look at foliage is at Paradise Pond on Smith College’s campus. The dramatic setting was named rather appropriately by a 19th-century opera singer.
See Margaux’s Massachusetts passport collection
In 1889, business scion George Washington Vanderbilt wanted to build a little summer home in the most beautiful mountain location in the United States. He chose Asheville, North Carolina, and today, the Biltmore Estate, the largest home ever built in the US, sits atop 8000 acres of fall’s most scenic colors. Stay in the middle of the trees at the Crooked Oak Mountain Inn, minutes from downtown but surrounded by forests full of reds, oranges and yellows. Head out of Asheville to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The most visited national park unit in the US with between 15 and 18 million visitors each year, the two-lane road meanders for hundreds of miles past approximately 500 trillion trees. Check the Asheville website for their weekly fall foliage report to track the changing colors.
See Alex’s Asheville collection for more recommendations!
Maroon Bells is one of the prettiest places in the west to see the changing of leaves. Located outside of Aspen, Colorado in the White River National Forest, the Bells are two ‘fourteeners’–mountain peaks above 14,000 feet—that tower over (and are reflected on) crystalline Maroon Lake. Visitors enjoy access to this gorgeous glacial valley on over 100 miles of trails–golden aspens framed by immense evergreens, fall flowers, and wildlife sightings make it a photographer’s dream site. Overnight visitors can choose from three campsites, while those looking for creature comforts (and high end digs) can head back to swanky Aspen or Snowmass Village. Private vehicles are not allowed into the park on September weekends. Instead, shuttles transport visitors from Aspen Highlands to Maroon Bells’ parking lot ($6/4 per adult/child); on weekdays, and throughout October, cars can enter for $10/vehicle.
See Liza’s Maroon Bells collection!
Described as ‘the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world’ by Sir Winston Churchill, Niagara Parkway is a scenic 34-mile-long road that meanders along the Niagara River. It passes 18th century forts, leafy parks and nature trails, award-winning wineries, and dramatic Niagara Falls before ending in the charming and historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. In the autumn, the roadway is painted a thousand colors: maple and oak trees draped in brilliant foliage, late-blooming flowers decorating the myriad gardens, and beautifully manicured lawns overlooking the tumbling white waters of the river. It is Canada at its best. Niagara-on-the-Lake has numerous upscale inns and cozy B&Bs; visitors can spend the day reveling in Niagara Parkway’s autumn glory, and in the evening, catch a show at the world class Shaw Festival, a late dinner at one of many fine restaurants in town, or even hit the slots at a casino in nearby Niagara Falls.
See Liza’s Niagra collection!