How to Plan Your Fall Vacation
Foliage tours are popular throughout October.
The hot weather has very few of us thinking about fall, but if you’re wanting to go away in October or November, then beginning your planning now is important. Early planning is essential if your trip has you visiting places where fall foliage is the main attraction, locations where a brilliant show of bright oranges, flaming reds and dazzling yellow leaves is the order of the day. Before you book that hotel room or cottage, there are a few things that you will want to consider.
1. Know the leaf change dates — Wouldn’t it be just terrible if you were to travel to your destination and learn that the leaves had already turned or that you’re too early to enjoy fall’s splendor? In some places, leaves begin changing in late August reaching peak fall colors as early as Sept. 15. For other places, you won’t see peak colors until the first or second week of November. Typically, however, if you want to take a vacation in October, you can find peak activity in more than one place in the United States.
To find peak times where you’re planning to travel, you can contact that state’s department of forestry. For example, in Virginia, peak colors can be seen from around Oct. 20 to the mountainous west to Nov. 15 to the coastal plains east. The place you would like to stay may have precise information when leaves typically reach peak. Yes, climatical variations can hasten leaf changing in some years while pushing it back in other years.
2. Plan to visit local attractions — Leaf viewing may bring you to a particular area, but there is more for you to view than maple, oak, poplar, ash and beech trees in all their glory. Many communities plan festivals to coincide with autumn foliage changes, with street fairs, pumpkin picking, art shows and other family-friendly activities included.
When you find a place to stay, ask the proprietors about local attractions. Museums, a historic site, a playhouse and antique shops may be nearby. Learn what parks, roads and trails you can take while you’re visiting.
3. Consider an alternative way of touring — You might reach your destination by car or tour bus, but if you’re looking for a whole different adventure, then bring along or rent some bikes. If your children are especially small, they can safely ride on your back or if a bit older help you with a bicycle built for two.
Some locations rent out all-terrain vehicles, a delightful way to tour deep into the woods and back out again the same day. Most states allow anyone to drive an ATV even without a driver’s license. Younger drivers may need adult supervision with an adult riding with them. Of course, bring your helmets and dress for cool, crisp days in the forest.
4. Book as soon as possible — Once you know what days you can take off from work, then book your hotel or cottage stay. You can search for hotels online or call your favorite hotel and ask about a local place to stay.
Many smaller communities offer family-friendly cottages or couples-only bed & breakfast stays. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find someone willing to rent out a room in a private home for a long weekend. Ask about cancellations if your destination books early. Come up with “Plan B” and “Plan C” if you find that “Plan A” just isn’t work out.
If you can make your trip an extended weekend, leave early on a Friday and come back late on a Monday. You’ll see more and have time to plan your days better by tacking on a few hours here and there.
If grandparents or other relatives can watch your children for a few days, then let husband and wife head out for a few days of respite, to allow for love to kindle in a setting that is both idyllic and romantic.
Lastly, bring ponchos or rain jackets — if the weather turns wet you can still enjoy the leaves as long as you are dressed for it.