The summer heat and the summer crowds are gone, and you’re ready for a fall vacation. Do you crave the spectacular sight of autumn foliage, or a return to summer with a few days in the sun? Or would you like to beat the crowds and start your holiday shopping while enjoying a new city or revisiting an old favorite? No matter what your preference, there’s a weekend getaway that’s just perfect for you.
You can enjoy the foliage from inside your car, while riding your bike, or even on a cruise. For fall foliage, the journey really is the destination. Fly to a place that appeals to you, and then set out by car, bike, on foot, or all of these.
New England and New York
Several destinations get you close to the best foliage in the northeast. From either New York or Albany, head for the Adirondacks. Or from New York City, take a foliage cruise up the Hudson. From Boston, go north to the White Mountains of New Hampshire or the Green Mountains of Vermont, or go west to the Berkshires. Check local websites for back roads; they have less traffic and more interesting views. Once you’ve had your foliage fill, you can enjoy gourmet restaurants, galleries, concerts and shopping in the area.
The Southern Appalachians
For a slightly later fall, both Atlanta and Charlotte are just a few hours away from the magnificent foliage displays in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Or you can fly even closer, to Asheville or Knoxville. Hike a part of the Appalachian Trail, or ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Then take in a Blue Grass or folk music concert, shop for local crafts, and enjoy southern cooking and hospitality.
The Great Lakes
The Great Lakes region — on both the Canadian and U.S. sides — rivals New England for beautiful fall color. Fly to Minneapolis, rent a car, and spend a fall weekend exploring Prairie Home Companion country. Or fly to Ottawa or Quebec, and view the magnificent scenery in the luxury of a St. Lawrence River cruise
Kouyou in Japan
The season of Kouyou — fall foliage — is a favorite time for the Japanese to travel to the countryside or the mountains. Consider joining them for a fall foliage vacation you’ll never forget. This getaway lets you combine the urban sophistication of Tokyo and the beauty of the Japanese landscape.
Return to summer
Prefer somewhere warm? In the fall, you can avoid the peak-season crowds and prices in a number of different places. Or go a little less extreme and enjoy the mild temperatures of Portland, Seattle or Vancouver.
Charleston and Savannah
If you’re looking to get more of that southern hospitality, then look no further. Take carriage tours or spend some time on the beach getting some last-minute color. The two southern cities offer plenty to do and lots to remember as you wave goodbye to summer. Consider making this an educational trip, as these two cities are jam packed with history. From Ft. Sumter, the site of the civil war, to the statues in Savannah’s historic public squares, there is so much to see.
Looking for less relaxation and more fun before the cold winter months hit? Pay a visit to Mexico’s infamous party cities. Visit Mexico for warm weather, nice people and amazing food, as well as some very interesting architecture. Get to Tulum and see the Mayan ruins or Teotihuacan for some of Mexico’s pyramids. Rather spend your time at the beach? Head to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, and see some of the whitest sands and bluest water in the world. The peak season runs from December to April, so making Mexico your fall getaway destination makes perfect sense; beat the crowds and find cheaper flights and accommodations.
Arts, music and fine dining are what make Santa Fe a must. For travel at this time of year, it’s best to pack some rain gear. Monsoon season is slowly but surely coming to an end come late-August to mid-September, but don’t let that stop you. There is so much to do here: from visiting the New Mexico Museum of Art where classical and folk concerts are often held to golfing. Santa Fe offers a number of festivals in the fall so there’s never a dull moment.
Pre-rush holiday shopping
Start your shopping early and avoid the crowds. Whether it’s Fifth Avenue or SoHo, New York is a shopper’s paradise. Or what about a quick trip to Chicago? Combine fall foliage and sophisticated shopping in Montreal, or return to summer in Los Angeles and shop on Rodeo Drive. And think of the people on your list who would be thrilled with a gift from London, Paris or Rome.
When it comes to shopping, New York is top notch. The Big Apple is the epicenter of fashion, so if you’re looking for clothes, you’ve picked the right place. There are a number of retail outlets in New York where you can buy your trendy designer clothes without spending an arm and a leg. Head to Century 21 or Filene’s, where most New Yorkers go when they want to look good without breaking the bank. As you’re walking, you may notice that the city is covered with street vendors. Though we wouldn’t suggest trying to get your high-priced Louis Vuitton bags from here, there’s nothing wrong with buying some smaller items. Carry cash with you, as most of these vendors won’t accept anything else. The city boasts an unmatched range of department stores, boutiques and specialty shops – you’re bound to find whatever you need for under the tree.
Chicago is most certainly emerging as a heavy hitting fashion hub. Head downtown for shopping, tall buildings, theater houses and other major attractions. The weather in Chicago during the fall is generally mild and pleasant, especially in comparison to the brutal winters and painfully humid summers. So maybe you’ll catch some sun and get your shopping done at the same time. Chicago’s most famous shopping area on Michigan Avenue is referred to as The Magnificent Mile. There, you’ll find a number of designer boutiques as well as multi-story malls, such as Water Tower Place. If you’re looking to shop off the beaten path, consider some other Chicago neighborhoods: Lincoln Square, Wicker Park or Bucktown.
Even though Quebec City is the capital of Quebec, Montreal is considered its major cultural and economic center. The stores in Montreal range from small and budget-friendly to high-end. Be sure to get to Saint Catherine Street for all the major department stores and malls. And don’t miss Boulevard St. Laurent, a prime shopping area where just about anything can be found.
Is Rodeo Drive just calling your name? Get a leg up on your Christmas shopping and maybe run into some stars. Hollywood and Highland mall is popular with tourists because of its proximity to the Walk of Fame. The Beverly Center, a multi-level mall that offers an amazing view of L.A from its food court, is another place to be. If you’re looking for specific items like flowers, jewelry, fashion or toys, there are specific districts in the downtown area that offer that one specific thing. Someone will be quite pleased with what Santa brought them.
One of the fashion capitals of the world, you’ll have no problem finding the Christmas gift for that special someone in Rome. Find clothing, jewelry, art and antiques in Rome’s department stores, boutiques, outlets, shopping centers and specialty shops. Some of the main shopping areas are Via del Corso, and Via Condotti and its surrounding area. Via del Corso offers more affordable clothing, for the traveler with a budget, but Via Condotti is where you’ll find all the expensive, high-end fashion items. The Euroma2 has over 230 shops if you’re interested in spending your time at a large mall more than small shops.
Whether you’re interested in watching the leaves change, getting some last-minute sun or shopping ‘til you drop, a metropolitan destination awaits.