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VOL. 132 | NO. 178 | Thursday, September 7, 2017


Lance Wiedower

Top US Fall Destinations

Lance Wiedower

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Fall is my favorite time of year. The cooling temperatures, changing colors and football season all combine to make for a fun time of year.

It’s also a great time to travel. Fall means shoulder season in many top destinations, making travel a bit more affordable. But there also are some destinations that just seem to make more sense from Labor Day to the start of the holiday season at Thanksgiving. Here are my top U.S. fall destinations on my radar for travel this year.

Shenandoah Valley: Enjoy Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, a 105-mile scenic byway with picturesque views of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Highlights include Staunton’s artsy Red Brick District, numerous bed-and-breakfast inns, hiking Old Rag Mountain and a top-notch fishing scene in Waynesboro.

Katy Trail, Missouri: The Katy Trail runs along the Missouri River for 225 miles, connecting much of Missouri’s wine region west of St. Louis. There are more than 30 trailheads along the route. This rails-to-trails path mostly follows the northern bank of the Missouri River and provides great opportunities for cyclists, joggers and hikers.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Dutch Country means apple orchards, corn mazes, farmers markets and what’s known as Antiques Capital, U.S.A. in Adamstown with more than 3,000 antique dealers. This has fall written all over it.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Wyoming’s low population means less light pollution, so stargazing is top-notch in Wyoming. The aspens are turning colors, the fall crispness is in the air and summer crowds are long gone. Relax in Jackson Hole or venture out to the nearby national parks, Grant Teton and Yellowstone. This is an early fall adventure; winter comes early and some roads will close for the season starting in early November.

Portland, Maine: Catch all the great local fall foliage with a quick hike up Bradbury Mountain, just outside town. Highlights include October’s Harvest on the Harbor food and spirits festival, and Portland Beer Week is in early November.

San Francisco: If you want summer in San Francisco consider the fall when the weather typically is warmer and sunnier than the chilly and foggy summer months. San Francisco has plenty to offer the whole family – or add on a couple of days and drive south to Monterey and Big Sur, check out the Muir Woods redwood forest north of town, or visit wine country in Napa and Sonoma.

Santa Fe/Albuquerque: Flights into Albuquerque are more frequent and affordable than into Santa Fe, about an hour drive north. So combine the two cities, specifically if you can catch the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October with a few days in beautiful Santa Fe, where you can see the golden aspens along the mountain above the city.

There are so many other great fall destinations to consider: leaf peeping in Vermont or New Hampshire, Boston before the winter sets in, Chicago, Denver or Sedona, Arizona. And if you want warmth, consider the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. They have a low probability of a direct hurricane hit, and shoulder season is a great time for low prices in the Caribbean.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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