There may be a lot of people out there who are not ready for summer to end, but when it comes to traveling it’s probably the most beautiful time of the year. With the crisp air, the leaves changing colors to the rich reds, deep oranges and vibrant yellows as well as the hot apple cider; autumn inspires travelers to embrace the outdoors.

Now, where are the best places to travel in the fall? We see a lot of our clients taking a cruise on the New England coast, traveling to Napa Valley and taking a train perhaps up to the Canadian Rockies.

july travel story

New England Coast

The entire New England coast in the fall is, without question, one of our favorites and one of the most beautiful places in the world when it comes to experiencing all of this is by taking a New England and Eastern Canada cruise along the northeast coast where you can sail during peak leaf viewing season and get a breathtaking perceptive of the New England region which runs from late September through October. On these cruises, you will see some of the most unforgettable landscapes, including more than 200 lighthouses not to mention, and eat some amazing seafood. The region offers diverse cultural, heritage and nature options in the boating mecca of the New England coast.

You might retrace Paul Revere’s steps along the Freedom Trail in Boston or mountain bike along the rugged coastline in Acadia National Park in Maine. You can enjoy an authentic lobster bake with all the trimmings in Bar Harbor, Maine, or walk cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops and pubs in Portland, Maine. While visiting Newport, R.I., consider a scenic drive of 10-mile Ocean Drive or tour sprawling estates once owned by influential families such as the Vanderbilts, the Astors and the Belmonts.

What a better way to travel than taking a train, especially if you’d like to actually enjoy the views, instead of squinting at Google Maps in the driver’s seat. Taking a foliage train trip could be the perfect solution.

The train is your chauffeur, your tour guide, and your GPS. You don’t have to plan a route, keep your eyes on the road, or even remember to pack snacks. All you have to do is sip on your to-go cup of steaming hot cider or pumpkin spice coffee, sit back and enjoy the ride.

For example, The Rocky Mountaineer route carves through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, showcasing untouched terrain you can only see by rail.

Come discover the most enchanting destinations of Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Each one is memorable in its own way, from vibrant cities and quaint towns to stunning national parks flanked by towering mountains.

Another one of our favorites is the Napa Valley Wine Train in California, although it’s only a few hours long! It is a perfectly restored vintage train that carries you in luxurious comfort past Napa Valley’s most stunning vineyards, all while being served a gourmet multi-course meal. This antique train runs on a 25-mile track in the heart of Napa Valley. The train itself has two engines, three on-board kitchens, and a collection of early 20th century rail cars that are pure Americana. It offers guests great regional food and fabulous, hard-to-find wines.

Taking the train is as much about what you see along the way as where you’re going. During the autumn months, rail passage offers a perfect opportunity to experience some of the best foliage across the U.S.

If you are looking for something closer to home for the fall foliage, you may want to consider the Smokey Mountains. The landscape is populated with sugar maples, hickories, sweetgum, scarlet oaks, red maples and nearly 100 other species of native trees. This colorful show from Mother Nature will last seven weeks or more, depending on temperatures, the length of the day and other factors.

In Bryson City, NC there is the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad that offers day trips. You can dine in their first class cars with a private attendant and breathtaking views or take it all in while riding in an open-air gondola.

Even though it’s just July, we typically start booking customers on fall foliage trips starting in June and July. Fall weather is like Goldilocks’ perfect porridge -- not too hot and not too cold.

Barbara May is owner of Travel Leaders. For help planning your fall foliage trip, contact a Travel Leaders travel adviser at 901-377-6600 or 901-853-6200. Travel Leaders main location is at 2765 Wolf Creek Parkway, Ste. 104 (next door to David’s Bridal), Memphis, TN 38133 and in Collierville by appointment only.

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