It's our favorite time of year again. The air is cooling (finally!), the kids are back in school, our favorite sweaters are coming out of storage, and all the trees are starting to change color. We love it -- with one, crucial caveat. We're city dwellers, and access to the vividly color-changing outdoors can sometimes be... well... limited. Luckily, the gorgeous outdoors are often no more than a car rental away. Here, five of our favorite places to see the colors change, and all of 'em no more than a couple of hours drive away from your urban-dwelling doorstep. Remember to pack a camera!
1. Upstate New York
There may not be another place in the world that is more famous for it's changing leaves than the northern reaches of New York state. Heralded in films and literature alike, the vibrant layers of orange, red, and yellow are nearly impossible to beat. Our favorite route? Highway 97, from Hancock to the sleepy little enclave of Port Jervis.
Not only is Vermont home to some of the sleepiest, prettiest small towns in northeastern America, it's also one of the most singular Fall landscapes in the country. We recommend cruising out to Burke for their annual Foliage Festival, where you much apples, catch live music, and play "cow plop Bingo" like a true local.
3. Québec, Canada
Come for the maple syrup, but in September -- stay for the gorgeous, yellow-leaved landscapes of seemingly endless trees. For culture-hounds, stay in the scenic little city of Montreal, but for the ski fanatics, head to Mont Tremblant. It's a picturesque, mountaintop ski resort that affords stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Whodathunk? One of the best places to see beautiful fall foliage is right smack in the middle of the country, where the scenic Ozarks have gained the well-deserved reputation of having some of the densest, most brilliantly-colored fall foliage there is. "Peak" season is usually in October, so you'd even have time to catch some fall festival annuals in the northeastern Kingdom before heading this way. Great driving tours can be recommended via Branson.
No surprise that Oregon, a country famous for its greenery and environmentally-minded populace, would be one of the most beautiful places to watch the leaves change color. Hiking enthusiasts will find tons to explore just inside and outside of Portland, from the nearby Multnomah Falls to the centrally located Japanese Gardens.