3 Destinations for Fall Colors and Fun (That Aren’t New England!)
Written on August 18, 2021
Each year, New England’s glorious fall colors beckon tourists to visit its quaint towns and scenic parks. But other regions of the United States also boast a beautiful autumn season.
If you yearn for crisp air, crunchy leaves underfoot, and dazzling displays of nature at its best, plan your getaway to one of these destinations for fall colors and fun!
Aspen draws skiers and snowboarders to its snowy peaks in the winter, but it’s also one of the USA’s most beautiful destinations for fall colors. With fewer tourists, reduced lodging rates, and awe-inspiring pops of color against the blue sky and snow-capped mountains, this mountain city is worthy of an autumn visit.
Stay: Aspen is full of luxury hotels, so consider splurging on either The Little Nell or The St. Regis Aspen for a memorable five-star experience. For a more budget-friendly stay, nearby Snowmass has several options, from Pokolodi Lodge to Stonebridge Inn.
See: Drive the scenic twelve miles of Castle Creek Road, stopping at its numerous lookout points to ooh and aah at the leaves. Hike along Hunter Creek Trail to a lovely meadow, spotting old miner cabins along the way. Get up close and personal with the fall foliage as you fly along the zipline or conquer the challenging ropes course at Lost Forest.
Eat: Chefs Club, located in the St. Regis hotel, was named one of the nation’s 100 Best Restaurants by Time Magazine. It features a rotation of visiting chefs who take over the space for several months at a time and serve changing menus. For a more casual meal, The Stew Pot ladles out a variety of stews and soups alongside hearty salads and sandwiches—perfect after a long morning of hiking!
Taos, New Mexico
An artist’s haven in northern New Mexico, Taos welcomes visitors with its thriving music scene, delicious local cuisine, and world-class skiing in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Stay: For a boutique experience, book a stay at Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast or Blue Sky Retreat at San Geronimo. A quaint, cozy stay pairs perfectly with the charm of the town.
See: Hop in the car and explore one of two famous routes for stunning scenery, The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway or The High Road to Taos from Santa Fe. If you prefer for someone else to do the driving, The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad chugs through canyons and desert, snaking between the borders of Colorado and New Mexico. In town, festival season draws visitors who want to take in the art scene or nosh on delicious food.
Eat: Small local eateries are where it’s at when visiting Taos. La Cueva Café dishes up tasty Mexican dishes, including huevos rancheros and enchiladas. A hearty, homestyle platter of eggs, potatoes, and meats pairs nicely with a cup of steaming coffee at the Farmhouse Café. For a unique combination of Latin-French cuisine, Gutiz offers crepes, tartines, and croque madames alongside New Mexican staples topped with a variety of chile sauces.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May has long been associated with the bustle of summer tourism, but when crowds return home and the temperature cools, fall provides a delightful backdrop for a new season of fun.
See: Guided trolley tours give visitors a glimpse into the maritime and cultural history of Cape May, known as America’s first seaside resort. Spend a relaxing, romantic weekend exploring the grounds of local wineries or breweries, sipping wine or beer, and nibbling on cheese and fruit with your sweetheart. For a bit of spooky fun, ghost and mystery tours help get tourists into the spirit of fall and Halloween.
Stay: Victorian bed-and-breakfasts are abundant in Cape May, and guests at properties like The Mason Cottage or The Harrison are immersed in the décor and history of the town. Quaint hotel accommodations like those at Heritage Inn or Carroll Villa Hotel provide traditional hotel amenities while preserving the feel of historic Cape May.
Eat: Serving up seafood caught from its own fleet of fishing boats, The Lobster House serves lunch and dinner to hungry patrons in five dining rooms overlooking Cape May Harbor. For creative farm-to-table cuisine, reservations at the swanky Ebbitt House restaurant in The Virginia Hotel are a must. Stuffed sandwiches, boardwalk fries, salads, and mac and cheese are served at Cape May’s surfer beachside café, The Rusty Nail, affectionately nicknamed “The Nail” by locals.
While New England has deservedly earned its status as the premier fall destination for leaf-peeping, these destinations for fall colors also offer travelers a special seasonal experience. Don’t wait to book your autumn retreat!