“Won’t you miss the seasons?” several friends inquired when I told them I was moving to San Diego.
At first I thought they were joking. “The seasons” were my reason for leaving the Midwest. Winter snow, spring monsoons, and summer heat — I didn’t have to think twice about trading those seasons for beaches, an ocean, and year-round good weather.
Having said that, about this time of the year, I do sometimes miss seeing trees covered in red, yellow, and orange glory and walking along trails carpeted in crunchy leaves. If, like me, you’re in need of a fall color fix, here are some great destinations.
Brown County, Indiana
Located in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana, an hour south of Indianapolis, Brown County is home to the state’s most popular park. When I was a student at nearby Indiana University, my favorite off-campus outing was a walk in Brown County State Park — especially when fall foliage was at its peak and vivid colors were reflected in Ogle Lake. Where to stay? I really like the pet-friendly Hotel Indigo in nearby Columbus. (www.browncountystatepark.com)
This time last year, my husband and I were scouting the Northern Lights in various locations around Interior Alaska. The lights never showed up, but I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful display of golden leaves that lined our route to Chena Hot Springs Resort, about 60 miles outside of Fairbanks. I loved soaking in the large natural hot pool here and sleeping in the comfort of Moose Lodge. (www.chenahotsprings.com)
Closer to home, I will always be grateful to Greg Stevenson, founder of The Hike House in Sedona, for suggesting we go for a hike in Oak Creek Canyon. After staggering around hot, dry Sedona, we relished the cooler temps in this area and were positively gob-smacked by the scenery. In shady Oak Creek Canyon, we walked the 6.4-mile West Fork Trail, which wound among trees covered in red, orange, and yellow leaves and crossed a meandering creek 13 times. Where to stay? L’Auberge de Sedona. (www.lauberge.com, www.thehikehouse.com)
Cooperstown, New York
Best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Village of Cooperstown (about an hour west of Albany) is a charming, culturally rich repository of Americana. The Otesaga Resort Hotel — located on the southern shore of Lake Otsego — opened in 1909 and regularly receives the AAA Four Diamond Award for exceptional accommodations, fine dining, and elegant atmosphere. Guests enjoy the hotel’s challenging 18-hole Leatherstocking Golf Course, a heated lakefront pool, and lake swimming and canoeing. Travelers can take in breathtaking fall foliage from the hotel’s veranda. (www.otesaga.com)
If you go to Cooperstown, be sure to allow time to view American folk art at the Fenimore Art Museum, sample 19th-century village life at The Farmers Museum, and taste autumn ales at Ommegang Brewery.
Rhode Island may be our nation’s smallest state, but it offers many miles of leaf peeping opportunities. Wondering if you’re too late to see the best colors? Because it’s at the southernmost tip of New England, Rhode Island’s blazing glory often lasts until the end of October.
Newport, RI was once the summer playground for New York socialite families such as the Astors and Vanderbilts. They built grand mansions and surrounded them with the best trees that money could buy. Today, trees are still a really big deal in this community. The Newport Arboretum offers guided “trees walks” and an interactive map of Newport’s Urban Forest. You’ll see lots of trees and many mansions on Newport’s Ten Mile Drive, which ranks as one of the most popular drives in the country. Where to stay? The Chanler at Cliff Walk and Vanderbilt Grace, both historic boutique hotels, are the best in town. (www.newportarboretum.org, www.thechanler.com, www.gracehotels.com/vanderbilt)
I have wonderful memories of an October roadtrip through England’s Cotswolds district. The lanes were lined with colorful foliage as far as my eyes could see, and I wandered about in my rental car stopping at random places for photos and copious cups of tea. I mostly just stayed at cute B&Bs that caught my eye, but I also splurged on a couple of nights at Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter. It was heavenly. It was fall. And I felt like the Queen. (www.lordsofthemanor.com) Elizabeth Hansen