Travel with Terri
Story by Terri Marshall
Autumn has arrived and it won’t be long before cooler temperatures follow and the brilliant shades of orange, red and gold will take over the landscape. But not in Florida. It will still be hot, the leaves will still be green. And, if you put that pumpkin outside, it will rot in less than 24 hours. Wouldn’t you like to get away for a long weekend? I thought so. Here are 5 great autumn getaways that even a Floridian can appreciate.
Basin Harbor Resort, Vermont
In Vermont, the typically summer destination of Basin Harbor located on the shores of Lake Champlain transforms into a haven for leaf-peepers each autumn. Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the resort invite you to sit, sip a glass of wine and soak in the vibrant colors of autumn mirrored in the reflection of the water. Cooler temperatures may deter you from swimming in the lake, but kayaking, canoeing, or a narrated cruise aboard the Escape extend the water activities into the fall season. To immerse yourself in nature, opt for a guided hike of the Adirondack Mountains across the lake. Or make use of the resort’s bicycles for a leisurely ride through bucolic countryside vistas. Nearby, Vermont’s oldest city, Vergennes, offers antique shops, craft boutiques, art galleries and quaint restaurants.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
The heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country delivers a wealth of color, pumpkin patches and corn mazes to satisfy all of your autumn cravings. Take a ride on the Strasburg Railroad through the countryside past Amish farms blanketed in the colorful quilt of autumn. Be sure to stop at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. In 1996, Jack and Donna Coleman joined the corn maze craze by opening one of the first “Amazing Maize Mazes” and now it’s voted as one of the top 10 in America. Cherry Crest has numerous special events through the season including the Pumpkin Madness Festival with activities like the Pumpkin Smash, Pumpkin Bowling, Pumpkin Putt-Putt and Pumpkin Chucking.
The Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina
One of the country’s most famous scenic drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway begins at the edge of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and winds 469 miles south to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It’s lovely in any season, but in autumn it is breathtaking.
Along the way split rail fences, historic structures, and old farmsteads tell the story of days gone by. Scenic overlooks yield views of majestic mountains and deep ravines. Stretch your legs on one of the many hikes just off the parkway or explore the intriguing communities nearby. Don’t miss Grandfather Mountain one mile off the parkway at milepost 305. You may recognize the road up—it’s the last stretch of Forest Gump’s cross-country run.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
One of the best ways to soak in the fall foliage in the Lake of the Ozarks region is with a hike through Ha Ha Tonka State Park where 14 walking trails cover more than 15 miles throughout the park. The park is home to a variety of geological formations including tunnels, caverns, springs, sinkholes and a large natural bridge. It’s also home to the Park’s iconic castle ruins. Built at the turn-of-the-century by Robert McClure Snyder who died in one of the state’s first automobile accidents before finishing the castle. His sons finished it but it was later destroyed by fire in 1942 leaving only the ruins still in place today. The ruins are an unexpected sight in the midst of the natural beauty of the park and offer impressive views of the Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka Spring.
For a true autumn treat, take the Metro North train out of Grand Central to Croton-Harmon. Grab a taxi to Van Courtlandt Manor where you’ll find the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. This elaborate display of over 7,000 pumpkins carved into shapes like the Headless Horseman and even the Statue of Liberty is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Wander along the “main street” Pumpkin Promenade and stroll across the Pumpkin Zee Bridge. There’s even a Pumpkin Planetarium with a memorizing color-changing star show.
Meanwhile, back in New York, a stroll through Central Park will cap off your autumn experience. Architecturally distinguished buildings surrounding the park peek through the red and golden leaves of nature’s handiwork. You’ll understand why the poet William Cullen Bryant called autumn “the year’s last, loveliest smile.”