I have to admit, I was being very narrow-minded. You see, I grew up in California where autumn is really only a concept. Californians try, but only really succeed in conjuring up fall by decorating excessively. Then I moved to New England with its spectacular bursts of colors! Some would say I now live among the best of fall beauty anywhere in the world. It is my favorite season. I generally choose not to leave New England during this fabulous season, but instead do my travel locally. Then a couple of year’s ago, I visited Iceland in the fall because I wanted to see the northern lights, but not have to deal with winter’s weather. And fall in Iceland was also fabulous! Going through my Instagram feed over the last couple of weeks has been visual treat. Here are some of the best places to see fall colors around the world including, but also beyond, New England.
Fall in Asia
Japan is known for its cherry blossom season but it is also magnificent in autumn. No matter where you turn in October and November you will be able to see beautiful acres of Japanese maples turning from green to brilliant crimson.
The big cities, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, have plenty of open parks where you can seek sanctuary from the hustle and bustle and walk amongst the fall colours. Outside of temples you will also find seasonal displays of chrysanthemums in yellow, orange and purple.
I found the greatest concentration of colours in the gardens at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, a town in the mountains north of Tokyo. The Shrine itself is a World Heritage site and worth visiting in any season, but the carefully kept gardens were ablaze with colour and quite simply breathtaking.
Korea really shines in the fall. With a ton of mountains spread out throughout the country and a strong hiking culture, it’s very easy to find somewhere to admire the fall foliage. The warm reds, oranges, yellows, and greens seem almost in harmony with the earthier tones of Korea’s more traditional architecture, and one visit to any temple area will feel a bit more magical. I highly recommend getting on one of the hiking trails to really take in the views. The further away from major cities, the better the sites! My favorite by far has been Naejangsan, a mountain down south near Jeongeup.
Korea is a smorgasbord of fun come autumn. What with the lights, food and of course the fall foliage. Traditional lanterns light up the night along the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul and apple festivals like the one in Cheongsong allow visitors to pick to their delight and crunch and munch along the way. Changdeokgung Palace in the capital is famous as one of the best place to see the beautiful leaves in all their glory. Mountaintops like Bukhansan, Namsan and Gwanaksan allow for a trek to see Mother Nature dazzle from above. All of this and more should be enjoyed with some persimmon or hoddeok, a cinnamon rice bun of sorts, in hand to really appreciate autumn Korean style.
Read Autumn Favorites in Korea to Fall For, Oh and Foliage too! or visit Hallie’s Instagam account.
Autumn in Europe
Whether for its smallness or lack of self-promotion, Belgium is often overlooked by visitors to Europe. I think it’s impossible not to fall for Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city. This port city’s attractive architecture is a startling contrast of medieval, Flemish Renaissance, neo-Gothic, industrial and modern buildings. You can get two reactions about Antwerp from people. Those who’ve never been there roll their eyes. Those who have, often claim it’s one of their favourite cities.
Where to go for autumn colours?
They are everywhere: in the streets and in parks, even rabbits in parks wear colourful outfits, and MAS museum wears autumn colours all year around.
What other interesting activities are there in autumn?
Rubens house is a must for Antwerp visitors. Antwerp is the world’s diamond capital. More than half of the diamonds sold around the world pass through this sparkling city. So visit the Diamond Pavilion to learn more.
Try Belgian waffles! Belgian waffles are popular throughout Europe and the rest of the world, but nowhere do they taste better than in Belgium itself. For beer drinkers, I recommend trying cherry beer, along with any of the other 800 beer types.
If there’s anywhere on Earth more beautiful than Paris in the fall, then please can someone let me know! Think burnt oranges, maple leaf reds and a whole load of beauty. Take your time to wander along the Seine and enjoy the scenery from one of the most iconic rivers in the World. Alternatively, head up to one of the city’s many viewpoints to see Paris unfurl below your feet… Pictured below: Place des Vosges- a chic and trendy square that real Parisians visit. It also happens to be the perfect place to pick up a hot drink in one of the many cafés that line the square.
Munich is truly a unique European city. Resting at the foothills of the mighty Alps, it enjoys the best of 4 seasons. In the Spring, the trees bud with bright green. In summer, the days are long and warm and in the winter, ample amounts of snow fall on cheery Christmas markets. Then there is autumn in Munich, which deserves its own special praise. The trees filling the glorious parks simply radiate bright orange and golden yellows. Just a short distance outside of Munich the Alpine mountains are filled with dense decaying foliage carpeting the ground. Back in the city the smell of freshly roasting chestnuts begins to fill your nostrils and with every deep breath you can taste the crisp clean fresh air.
Read about The Wandering Chocobo’s Adventures in Munich!
Fall is the perfect time to visit Iceland. The weather is still temperate, the crowds are fewer and the roads are still passable. Best of all the scrub is brightly colored and the Northern Lights are out! You can read more about my Fall Iceland Road Trip for more details.
Fall in Canada
Before my trip to Canada in 2015, I had thought that only the East Coast of this country is blessed by the phenomena of the ‘Indian Summer’. But I got taught differently when I traveled around Alberta and saw amazing colours in the woods around Banff and close to Calgary. The contrast of the blue sky and the yellow and red coloured leaves are simply gorgeous. Whoever gets the chance to travel to this part of beautiful Canada, should definitely pay it a visit during fall. Yet, my mission for the future is to compare it with the Indian Summer in Montreal to see if it’s possible to find even more beautiful scenery over there…
Read about A Fall Road Trip Through Ontario.
Autumn in the United States
Don’t blink or you’ll miss the spectacular autumn in Alaska! This short-lived, but breathtaking time of year is cherished by tourists and locals a like. Families bundle up in scarves and drive out to the Alaska State Fair, with red trees and golden grass blowing in the soft breeze along the highway. If you’re lucky you’ll spot one of the many wildlife from bears to moose, fattening up on bright ripe berries, in preparation for winter. Mushrooms and other fungi slowly up creep through the layers of dead leaves. The best part about autumn in Alaska is almost every living plant, save for the evergreens, turns a warm color. Everything appears to be on fire. If anyone asks me when the best time to visit Alaska is, I always say autumn. (Which for us is late August)
The Southern US
Louisville, Kentucky is where I was born and raised, and although I’ve traveled all over the world, I’ve never found anywhere quite as special. Louisville is more than just a world-class city brimming with art, culture, food, bourbon, and the friendliest people you’ll meet anywhere. It’s a big city with a small town feel, as the locals like to say. And fall is my favorite time to visit Louisville! It’s not just the crisp autumn air and crunchy colorful leaves that brings me back year after year. It’s also fall horse races at Churchill Downs, bourbon tasting on the Bourbon trail, museum touring, art festivals, walking through miles of flickering expertly carved pumpkins, haunted houses – and one haunted sanatorium -and a theatre scene that rivals New York City.
The breathtaking Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains provide a natural backdrop to the town of Asheville, North Carolina, and its many charms. The perfect combination of Asheville’s stunning location and its bountiful restaurants have helped the city attract more people than ever. Pack your granola and hiking shoes, and discover the highlights of the “Land of the Sky.”
The Pacific Northwest
As fall hits in Seattle, the warm weather still lingers but crowds begin to disperse and the city quiets down a bit from all the cruise ships in port as locals begin to hunker down a bit for the drizzly of winter. It’s still a lovely time in Seattle as there are pumpkin patches, apple picking and activities galore to celebrate the fall. One of my spots just outside of downtown to get maximum fall colors for the drive is the Seattle Arboretum, especially the Japanese Gardens…you feel like you’ve flown over the Atlantic yet it’s just in the cities backyard. Strolling through here with coffee and yes, the necessary rain jacket, is the perfect way to soak in fall and all the gorgeous earthy colors that come with it.
Check out more of Becca’s incredibly colorful pictures at Habitat Nine’s Instagram account.
The Hudson Valley
Just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of New York City, you find the charming towns of the Hudson Valley. A few of my favorites are Beacon, Kingston, Woodstock, and New Paltz. Beacon is home to a great contemporary art museum, DIA. The Hudson Valley is also a great area to do some apple picking and have apple cider donuts while you are at it. You will see plenty of fall foliage just by driving from town to town but I would encourage you to get out of the car and explore. For active travelers, you may want to try one of the great hikes in the area including Breakneck Ridge and Overlook Mountain. If you are not a hiker, you can drive up Bear Mountain for stunning views of the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain bridge. You can find more details to help you plan your fall trip to the Hudson Valley here.
Check out Two Traveling Texans’ Instagram.
Bucks County in southeast Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful places to experience fall in all of its glory. A tour of the covered bridges is a perfect opportunity to see the area and enjoy the scenery from a by-gone era. Whether by car or bicycle, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Pennsylvania has more covered bridges than other state (213) and 12 are in Bucks County. They were built in the 19th century and range from 56 to 150 feet long. Most of the self-guided tours begin in Washington Crossing State Park where visitors also have a chance to learn the history of George Washington and Valley Forge.
I will end our journey with one of the quintessential places to experience fall. New England embraces fall from within with mountains ablaze, apple trees heavy with fruit and pumpkin patches waiting patiently for the Great Pumpkin. We decorating our colonial villages with scarecrows and hay bales and fairs and festivals abound! Check out 19 of New England’s Best Fall Activities to read about all the possibilities.
New Hampshire is the perfect place to experience the natural beauty of fall. This state is full of ample opportunities to take a long walk through its mountains, sitting by a waterfall and enjoying a picnic lunch. The color of the granite rocks is an ideal compliment to the autumnal leaves. Tall peaks and winding country roads allow for ample chances to leaf peep, a popular New England fall pastime of driving through its foliage and covered bridges. Any town you decide to stay in is going to be full of New England charm, so darn cute in this season!
Read about My Favorite New Hampshire Hikes or a Fall Family Weekend in Lincoln, NH. Don’t forget to visit my Instagram account where you will find many fall photos as I enjoy my autumn living in New England.
I would love to hear about fall near you and what you love about it. Please tell me in the comments!