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This Fall, Leaf Peep your way across the USA! As the leaves change color, the air becomes chillier, and the last rays of summer dip below the horizonÖ itís time to pack your bags for a weekend away!

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For decades autumns crisp cool air and stunning colors have inspired travelers to embrace the great outdoors. With the heat of summer gone, itís the ideal time to get out and about to admire the foliage - and in the USA there is no shortage of beautiful fall scenery to explore. The autumn months also bring harvest season; so travelers can combine leaf peeping adventures with wine tastings at vineyards, visits to farmers markets, and the sampling of seasonal fresh produce or goodies like pumpkin pie & apple cider. For families, autumn across the USA plays host to many kid friendly festivals, hay-rides, corn mazes and so much more.

Itís a season for exploring; and with fewer crowds and lower prices Ö some would even say itís the best time to travel. From rugged mountain ranges, to steam train rides to NYC, below are our picks for the best locations to spend some time this Fall!

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Durango & the Million Dollar Highway
For an easy autumn getaway, take a visit to Durango, Colorado. With its lavish display of fall colors, this small town comes to life in the autumn. Enjoy a crisp outdoor walk by the Animas River, hike through the golden aspens of the San Juan ranges or just stroll through the historic downtown. Lodgings range from traditional hotels to comfortable cabins, memorable guest ranches and unique bed and breakfasts. There are dining options for every tastebud and budget.. and for the beer connoisseur, one word Ė microbreweries!

Durango is also a wonderful jumping off point for the infamous Million Dollar Highway. Winding itís way from Durango, via Silverton and Ouray to Ridgeway, this 25 mile stretch of road is a feast for the eyes. No matter the season, this section of the San Juan Skyway will take you through some of the most breathtaking scenery the USA has to offer. Known across the world for its spectacular views and breathtaking twists, turns, peaks and valleys, this incredible drive humbles travelers with itís dramatic panoramas. The Million Dollar Highway delivers jaw-dropping scenery at every (hairpin!) turn, and during the autumn months the landscape becomes a kaleidoscope of red and gold. It is a sight to behold!

The Durango-Silverton Train
But the drive can be a little hairy, letís face it Ė not everyone likes a road that has sheer cliff drop-offs a few feet from the car. So if driving isnít for you, try the Durango-Silverton Train instead. An unforgettable trip in any season, this train journey takes on a special glow during Fall as a blanket of golden aspens covers the land. With a gentle sway and puffs of coal smoke, the train winds its way through areas that are inaccessible by road. Hugging cliff edges and traversing valleys, the route passes from the remote wilderness of Durango to the historic mining town of Silverton. All passengers are required to do is sit back, relax and enjoy a rare view of the pristine back-country of the San Juan Mountains.
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North Carolina
Over on the East Coast, Fall vacationers can be spoiled with yet another spectacular autumn train ride. Each year the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina showcase a beauty pageant of autumn colors, and the best way to see it is with a steam train ride on the Great Smokey Mountains Railway. Based in Bryson City, the GSMR is comprised of 53 miles of track, two tunnels and 25 bridges, and takes passengers on an unforgettable journey across valleys, through river gorges and tunnels carved out of the majestic mountains.

As the train winds itís way around the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers, you will be treated to views of buttery yellow, burnt orange and shades of red as the trees display their autumn colors. When crossing Fontana Lake, the rich autumn colors are mirrored to perfection on the picturesque water, and finally, the train reaches itís destination at Nantahala Gorge, where spectacular Appalachian panoramas form a stunning view. With a one hour layover, thereís time for lunch and exploring the gorge, or even an open air gondola cruise (donít forget to rug up against the autumn chill!).

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New York City & Surrounds
While Autumn may bring to mind images of hills, valleys and the wide open spaces of the countryside, many cities in the USA boast stunning autumn views. And the greatest city of all Ė New York City Ė once again shows its grandeur by bursting into a kaleidoscope of rich autumn colors.

To really take in the magnificent foliage the city has to offer, jump on a boat and travel the tree-lined lengths of the Hudson River. Depending on how you feel, you could ride the New York Water taxi while enjoying the foliage and live jazz. Take an all day trip with the Circle Lineís Bear Mountain cruise where you can enjoy the crisp autumn air with a picnic, view the foliage from a rowboat on the lake, or even hike or bike your way through the autumn leaves. Other options for viewing the foliage on the Hudson include sailing on schooners, taking brunch on a yacht, or a classic dinner cruise at sunset. However you choose to travel the Hudson in autumn, you will be treated to an ever changing view of the fiery red, glowing orange and golden yellow foliage that makes the Hudson River an internationally known Fall destination.

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San Francisco & The Napa Valley
Although the Napa Valley may bring to mind exclusively one thing - wine, Fall in the Napa Valley is an unexpected delight. With the high tourist season gone, the grapevines explode into every color of the rainbow, while the elm, birch and liquid amber trees add colorful trimmings to the edges of town and boundaries of the vineyards.

For those in the know, Fall is actually the best time of year to visit Napa, with itís vibrant colors and perfect temperatures, you can explore the region without the hustle and bustle of the high season. Enjoy leisurely tours through the vineyards and stop in for a tasting, many of the cellars have outdoor seating where you can sample your favorite wines while gazing upon the exquisite color palette of the surrounding country. With so many wineries and seasonal delights to choose from (and nibble on or sip upon), you could easily spend several days exploring Napa, all while enjoying the near perfect autumn weather and magical autumn vines.

No matter what style of vacation you take, all across the country Autumn is most definitely a beautiful time to travel. And with ĎLeaf Viewingí being one of the easiest (and least expensive!) ways to experience the natural beauty of the USA, now is the time to get out the maps and start exploring!

We wish you a great Fall season, and Happy Leaf Peeping to you!
 

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