The folk in my home state of New Hampshire will be grumbling. It seems that peak leaf peeping adventures are no longer considered to be in New Hampshire and Vermont or even in New England. Yes, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont are part of the top 10, but North Carolina tops this year’s TripAdvisor list after a survey of 2,300 travelers.
Wait a minute! Tennessee, Michigan and Wisconsin all ranking above New Hampshire and Maine? And what about the brilliant golden aspens glistening in the Rockies? Go figure. then again, it all depends on when travelers are planning to visit. The colors in the north tend to peak prior to those in the south. So, in defense of my New England heritage, everything is somewhat relative. Here is the TripAdvisor listing and their justifications.
1. Auburn Awakening: Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled in the foothills region of western North Carolina, Asheville is a spectacular location for leaf-peeping. Travelers can enjoy the beautiful views by peddling through the Appalachian Mountains on one of many biking trails, or hop in the car for a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One traveler said, “We stopped multiple times for the breathtaking views. We will be going there again.” Peak foliage-viewing is from mid to late October.
2. Mass Appeal: Boston, Massachusetts
Travelers visiting Boston this fall can stroll along the Charles River, enjoy a ride on the Swan Boats, or simply relax in the Public Garden for a glimpse of autumnal color. Lush foliage, sprawling grass, and sounds of nature in these serene spots allow travelers to forget they are in the midst of a bustling city. A traveler said, “One must always stroll through the Public Garden while in Boston. The city serves as a backdrop to the tranquil scenery of the park.” Peak foliage-viewing is from late September through the middle of October.
3. Peak Views: Gatlinburg , Tennessee
Leaf enthusiasts visiting Gatlinburg can enjoy the city’s small-town charm in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. With over 600 miles of hiking trails, there is plenty of room for exploration, including the Newfound Gap Road from which travelers can observe a brilliant tapestry of foliage at 1,400 feet above sea level. As one traveler noted, “There are incredible views and the road is a winding fun time.” Peak foliage-viewing is from mid October to early November.
4. Champlain Wishes: Burlington, Vermont
A short walk from Church Street Marketplace lies Waterfront Park, where travelers can enjoy a stroll along the shores of Lake Champlain and become lost in the reflection of golden leaves with the mountains in the distance. As one traveler noted, “This is a must-see for any visitor to Burlington – it was made for relaxation.” Peak foliage-viewing is from the middle of September through the middle of October.
5. A Show in Stowe: Stowe, Vermont
Sparkling with shades of orange, gold, and crimson, it is not surprising that Stowe calls itself, “Fall’s Color Capitol.” View the brilliant display of leaves from the comfort of a car while driving the scenic Mount Mansfield Auto Toll Road. One traveler said, “When you get to the top the view is glorious. You feel that you are on the top of the world.” Peak foliage-viewing is from the middle of September through the middle of October.
6. Total Tranquility: Traverse City, Michigan
Visitors can enjoy the crisp fall air with Traverse City’s warming foliage and venture down Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive for seven picturesque miles of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A traveler said, “Everytime I visit the area, I always go. There are multiple look-outs, some of the stops involve a little walking on boardwalks.” Peak foliage-viewing is from mid September through October.
7. Open Door: Door County, Wisconsin
Whether travelers are up for hiking, biking, or relaxing on a beach, nearby Peninsula State Park has it all. Spanning nearly 4,000 acres, travelers will be sure to get their fill of stunning foliage. One traveler said, “It’s a great park you HAVE to visit if you are in Door County.” Peak foliage-viewing is from late September through November.
8. Placid and Pristine: Portland, Maine
Travelers can view exceptional foliage throughout Portland, as well as visit exquisite boutiques within the Old Port District, watch fishermen as they return with a fresh catch, or head over to Portland Head Light. A traveler said, “A trip to Maine would not be complete without stopping at this treasured landmark. It is truly an awe inspiring sight.” Peak foliage-viewing is from mid September through October.
9. Mountain Magic: North Conway, New Hampshire
Buried within the White Mountains National Forest lies the Kancamagus Highway and with more than 26 miles of roadway to meander, leaf-peepers will be captivated by the stunning blaze of color. A traveler said, “Fabulous! Words can’t describe adequately!” Peak foliage-viewing is from late September to mid October.
10. Awesome Acadia: Bar Harbor, Maine
Travelers can experience the dazzling hues of fall while driving along the 40-mile stretch of the Acadia Byway and stop to enjoy the rocky coastlines, crisp foliage and evergreens at Acadia National Park. One traveler commented, “From the earth to the sky, from the ocean to the forests, from the boats to the wildlife and sea life, from sunrise to sunset, it’s a magical place with very friendly locals.” Peak foliage-viewing is from mid September to mid October.
“The survey revealed that viewing fall foliage is a favorite activity for 43 percent of American travelers,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “Leaf-peeping is an exciting and affordable way for travelers to enjoy the great outdoors and some of the spectacular scenery that is unique to the U.S.”