It’s fall in the Northern Hemisphere – the perfect season for dusting off the suitcase and hitting the road. Stuck for ideas? Look no further than these 10 top-quality stops to enjoy the best of autumn in the United States and around the world.
1. NORTHERN ONTARIO, CANADA
Northern Ontario puts on an incredible show as the leaves turn into a beautiful tapestry when their natural colours emerge before they fall to the ground readying for winter. It is the perfect time to take a road trip through some of the beautiful, winding countryside. There are many rustic farms and vineyards that dot the countryside offering tours and tastings as the season starts to wind down.
We love to escape the city and often head to the Collingwood and Georgian Bay areas to hike the Bruce Trail. But, truth be told, any road trip through any part of Northern Ontario would be well worth your time. There is an abundance of fall events at this time of year, but the Apple Pie Trail through Ontario’s apple country is not to be missed. The Apple Pie Trail is a culinary adventure trail in and around the Georgian Bay area, with several delicious stops along the way. There are several tours to choose from, depending on what interests you the most.
Although we have not driven it in over a decade, Highway 17 from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa is rated as one of Canada’s most spectacular drives. The scenic drive winds along the shoreline of Lake Superior. Between the reflection off the water, the incredible fall colors, and some of the amazing rock formations in the area, it is an incredible drive. And, of course, the giant Canada Goose has to be seen!
Rossana Wyatt, lifeisfullofadventures.com
2. KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Kansas has a lot of offer within the sporting, culinary and fine arts worlds. Not only is it home to Major League Baseball’s Royals, the National Football League’s Chiefs and Major League Soccer’s Sports, it’s also known as the BBQ Capital of the World. In mid-October, when I’ll be there, Janelle Monáe — originally from KC — will perform alongside The Roots and Vijay Iyer as part of the new two-month-long arts festival called Open Spaces. Another great plus: Kansas City International Airport offers direct flights to and from most major American cities.
Darren Paltrowitz, paltrowitz.com
3. BOLOGNA, ITALY
Bologna is such a terrific Italian city—it’s filled with history, of course, as it’s played such an interesting role as a crossroads of the Italian peninsula, with evidence dating back to pre-Roman times. Today it’s the most left-leaning corner of the country, and there’s a relaxed openness and tolerance here that is often missing in other parts of Italy. It’s also got one of Italy’s healthiest economies and a young, educated population, and this combination imbibes it with vitality and positivity.
Visit the Medieval Museum, the Sette Chiese (Seven Churches), the richly decorated Basilica of San Petronio, and people-watch on Piazza Maggiore, one of Europe’s grandest squares. And of course, eat! Bologna is the culinary capital of Italy, and even food-proud Italians from other regions will consent that the best cuisine and foodstuffs come from Bologna and its surrounding hills and fields. Head out for evening aperitivo along cozy Via Pescherie Vecchie, then to dinner at one of the city’s authentic trattorias. Fall weather may be warm and sunny or chilly and rainy, but you’ll mostly be walking under the city’s miles of covered arcades. There’s no need to race around checking museums and attractions off your must-see list: just chill out and soak in the vibe of this most vibrant and fascinating city.
Elizabeth Heath, elizabethfheath.com
4. KYOTO, JAPAN
Kyoto is widely known for its magnificent temples and shrines. Travelers in the know go to Kyoto for some of the best fall colors in Japan. Visit Kozanji Temple and peek at blazing maple trees through windows with no glass to distort the view. Horinji Temple is located inside the Kyoto city and holds the Garden of Jugyu with spectacular stonework and multi-colored foliage in the fall.
Ryoanji Temple is most famous for its rock garden. In November, visitors can reach a zen-like state staring at the layers of maple tree boughs attempting to compete with the rock garden for attention. Try the rock garden first then wander the grounds admiring the living part of the garden. Take a hike on the popular Philosopher’s Walk and enjoy reddish-orange leaves drifting silently to the water. Find a lesser known shrine called Otoyo, dedicated to the timid mouse that guards the shrine. See statues of mice in and around this curious shrine as you walk the Philosopher’s Walk. With over 2,000 temples and shrines in Kyoto, it’s likely you will find a favorite. Take the bullet train from Tokyo or Osaka and enjoy this historic city.
Kurt Jacobsen, tasteoftravel2.com
5. ASCONA, SWITZERLAND
Known as the playground of the rich and famous, Switzerland has also become a destination that hits all the right notes for travellers wanting to experience something outside the normal realm. As the Mediterranean soul of Switzerland, Ascona is all about relaxation and capturing the la dolce vita (the sweet life) state of mind. Epicureans will enjoy dining in Ascona’s many grottos where the culinary offerings are truly spectacular and the views of the lakes and mountains make you understand why everything in this region is about tranquility and taking pleasure from the most simplest of things. Wanderlust lovers will be seduced by Ascona’s joy of sharing the treasures of local producers. Whether you indulge in sailing, swimming or merely people watching, Ascona will put you in la dolce vita.
Brigitte Hasbron, thefoodtease.com
6. MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN
Milwaukee offers beautiful fall colors along with unique cultural events and festivals. 2018 highlights range from the fine arts to polka and beer. Take in an evening performance at Milwaukee Repertory Theater to see Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights or enjoy an outdoor performance by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at Collectivo Café with views of Lake Michigan. If eating, drinking and dancing better suits your taste – then Octoberfest is a must. Honoring Milwaukee’s cultural heritage, the three-day event brings the spirit of the holiday to life with beer, German food, live polka music and contests such as Brat Eating and Stein Hoisting. Mark your calendar for Milwaukee October 2018!
Joy Steinberg, givejoy.me
7. ORLANDO, FLORIDA
On my travels to Europe, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying various food, wine and beer festivals, so when I moved recently to the Orlando, Florida, area, I never expected to be able to continue getting that same kind of international food fix. Was I wrong!
I can literally eat my way around the world this fall at Walt Disney World Resort’s 23rd Epcot Food & Wine Festival, going on for 75 days from August 30 to November 12, 2018. Not only are there food and beverages from around the globe, but I can pleasure my palate by trying out a slew of tasting and cooking activities—like a Ghirardelli chocolate experience, cheese seminars, tips and tricks from the pros, as well as signature dinners and five Party for the Senses events, which showcase creative dishes by acclaimed chefs and vintners. At a Sunday Brunch, I could even meet one of a variety of celebrity chefs, including the likes of Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.
Diane Dobry, gettinghungary.tumblr.com
8. HIMACHAL, INDIA
Places like Bir and Billing, nestled in the Kangra district of Himachal, have to be among the top destinations to visit this fall. Bir and Billing are considered spiritual retreats and are ideal for bird watching, paragliding, and walking the region’s gardens. It’s here you’ll find important Buddhist centres like Dharmasala and Mcleodganj. The beautiful Barot Valley is also accessible from Bir and Billing. For me, the flowering plants of the region are a highlight, and planted by locals to showcase their real colour during the fall.
Somnath Roy, facebook.com/TravelCrusade
9. SAINT AUGUSTINE
It’s hard to top Saint Augustine for a fall destination. The weather has lost its steamy summer heat. There’s something for everyone. Start at The Spanish Quarter for a glimpse of how it all began. Then on to Castillo de San Marco, which helped protect the city from pirates. Pirate and Treasure Museum tells more about those guys. The Fountain of Youth offers a drink of water that’ll refresh you but unfortunately not make you young again. Flagler College, once Henry Flagler’s Ponce de Leon Hotel, offers a glimpse of how wealthy travelers lived in that era. Step across the street and visit the Lightner Museum, once a less-upscale Flagler hotel. The Casa Monica Hotel rounds out his lodging holdings in the Ancient City. Don’t miss Villa Zorayda, the Old Jail, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, and dozens more. There’s even a museum dedicated to cruelty, The Medieval Torture Museum.
Of course, you want to enjoy water fun. There’s kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding on Salt Run (look for dolphins), the Matanzas River, Guana River or Moses Creek (possible manatees spotting). Take a cruise on either a eco-tour boat or a sailing vessel. Or even pretend to be a pirate on The Black Raven. Venture out north to Marineland to meet the dolphins. Or just enjoy sunning and surfing on the beach. There are parks to please all, Fort Mose, the original Underground Railroad stop, two state parks for camping and daily use, Anastasia and Favor Dykes state parks. St Augustine knows how to entertain visitors. They’ve had a lot of practice. No other city in the country has been around for over 450 years.
Kathleen Walls, www.americanroads.net
10. PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Prague has become a hot tourist destination, as well as a wedding destination. During the Communist regime, Prague had 1 million visitors a year. Now the Golden City gets 1 million tourists a month. The Czech Republic will celebrate its 100th anniversary as a republic on October 18, 2018. One of Europe’s best Christmas markets takes place in the Old City Square near the famous astronomical clock beginning on December 1.
Mary Ann DeSantis, maryanndesantis.com