The slow pace of summer has come and gone, and now the fast-paced flurry of the winter holidays is just around the corner.
But there’s still time to take break and enjoy the beauty and wonder of fall, nature’s most dramatic season. Here are my five favorite picks for an autumn adventure.
Fall is my favorite time of year in my favorite city on earth – San Francisco. The City by the Bay is notorious for cool summers, but by fall, sunny skies and warm weather make Frisco a most magical destination.
Check out San Fran’s distinctive architecture on a trolley car ride through the hills or stroll through the charming Fisherman’s Wharf on foot. To take in the crisp air and see the sun sparkle off the water, rent a bicycle for the day. Pedal over the Golden Gate Bridge and you’ll witness the majestic meeting of incredible natural beauty with one of mankind’s most inspiring engineering feats. Stop for an outdoor lunch in Sausalito, then take a relaxing ferry ride back to the city.
While you’re in the Northern California neighborhood, head down from San Francisco to Napa Valley for a classic tour of wine country. This time of year, Napa wineries begin harvesting their grapes – which makes it the perfect time for wine connoisseurs to get a sneak peek of what’s to come. After a day of wine tasting and gourmet food, pamper yourself with a massage and facial at one of Napa’s world-known spas.
Of course, the real autumn action is 3,000 miles away, in a part of the country practically synonymous with fall foliage: New England. The best way to see the changing colors is to get in the car and drive through the windy roads of New Hampshire or Vermont. Or take a hike through a state park in southern New England (Rhode Island, Connecticut or Massachusetts), where the leaves don’t start changing until later in the fall, around mid-November. If you’re feeling really adventurous, take in nature’s spectacular show from above – in a hot air balloon.
If you live in the south and are looking for an autumn adventure a little closer to home, the Great Smoky Mountains are your best bet. Nestled between Tennessee and the Carolinas, the Smokies boast over 100 varieties of trees which offer dazzling leaf changes through mid-November. Camp for the night at Great Smoky Mountains National Park or take a weekend-long hike through part of the park’s 800 miles of trails.
For a cosmopolitan fall experience, there’s nothing on earth like autumn in the Big Apple. This is New York at its best, with blue skies and cool, fresh air. Put on a sweater and head to Central Park for a picnic or head to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks game. And there’s no better excuse to cuddle than a horse-drawn carriage ride on a cool autumn night in the city that never sleeps.
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