Ah, autumn. The season where we say goodbye to bright evenings and reach for a cosy jumper. It's also the season to see nature at its most spectacular. With that in mind, we've put together a round up of the best places in the world to see the leaves fall.
The last days of summer may be over but don't fret too much. We're inclined to think autumn is the most amazing of the seasons. Think of it as nature's last hurrah before the chill of winter takes hold.
From the golden hues of Kyoto to the crisp, cool air of New England, it's time to don those practical walking boots and head outside to catch a glimpse of fall in action. We guarantee you're going to love the crunch of the leaves underfoot and the most picture-postcard autumnal scenes our little world can offer.
Prepare to fall (sorry) in love.
1. View the Vineyards in Sonoma County, California
From mid-September to November, the 'fall' foliage - both tree and vine - is vibrant in Sonoma County. Multi-coloured canopies of oak and maple line the streets while a trip to Russian River Valley showcase the gold-red hues of the surrounding vineyards. Where else can you enjoy the leaves turning with a glass of wine in your hand on a winery tour? During harvest season, Sonoma County farmers are more than just grapes though; squash, pumpkins, apples, chestnuts, potatoes and more are also ripe for the choosing. We recommend staying in the Country Inn & Spa for a warm Californian welcome and some serious R&R.
2. Experience New England in the Fall
New England is world-famous for its foliage during 'fall' as billions of leaves change from green to a kaleidoscope of colours. With the air crisp and cool, it's the perfect place to hike, bike or fly-drive along the back roads, where you'll pass by farm stalls piled high with apples and pumpkins. We recommend heading to the northern regions of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire around mid-September to mid-October and for the more southern states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island a little later, up until late November. Make a pitstop in Boston on your tour of the area and stay in the quirky Verb Hotel.
3. While away a Weekend in Wester Ross, Scotland
With rare wildlife like the pine marten and mountain hare, fresh locally-sourced produce, a sprawling National Park and world-famous gardens, Wester Ross (no, not Game of Thrones fictional city of 'Westeros') is a loosely defined area in the North West Highlands of Scotland and is the perfect spot for a relaxing, autumnal break. The Torridon Hotel is the perfect place to rest your head after a day's walk in the area. You'll find an abundance of affordable seafood - from smoked salmon in back-garden sheds to tubs of delicious squat lobster - and you can also get involved in some wild mushroom foraging.
4. Take a Grand Tour of Italy
As the ideal place to see mainland Europe burst into autumnal glory, Italy's varying flavours and colours take on a warmth come October. Truffle-hunting is a tradition in these parts so make sure you book a trip around this time to make the most of the abundance of tours on offer. If truffles are your forte, then a trip to Bagnolo Piemonte is just the ticket. If wine's more your thing, you'll need to set up camp on a farm stay in Tuscany at Salvadonica, where prime autumn grape harvesting (or vendemmia) takes place. Breathtaking scenery can also be found in abundance in Lombardy where the native poplars turn bright yellow.
5. A Kaleidoscope of Colours in Kyoto, Japan
With a leaf-viewing tradition (koyo) as popular as their spring cherry blossom customs, one of the best places to see it in all its glory is Kyoto on Honshu island, where vividly-hued leaves are in abundance over temple roofs. We recommend taking a full-day tour to get the most of your visit. Just a short train ride from Kyoto, is the ancient city of Nara which has the best viewing spot to take in the varieties of red, gold and yellow leaves framing the paths up to the Tamukeyama shrine. If you're planning to stay around these beautiful parts, we'd recommend the authentic and stunning Kotono yado Musashino hotel.
6. Go Deep into the Forest of Dean, England
With one of the best cycling routes in the UK, the ancient Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire was once used as Royal hunting ground, while the trees were used to make Tudor warships. Now the only sport is 'leaf peeping' with the mix of beech, oak and sweet chestnut creating a gorgeous spread of yellows and golds. Opt for a treehouse stay for the ultimate forest experience at Golden Oak Treehouse. Just don't go too off-the-beaten-path, in case you bump into the wild boar who have been calling the forest home since 2008.
7. Take a Train through Agawa Canyon, Canada
For some of the best fall foliage on our green planet, hop aboard the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Setting off from Sault Ste Marie on the USA-Canada border, it covers 114 miles of stunning countryside. With some of the most famous landscape artists taking inspiration from this place, you'll be guaranteed a sight for sore eyes. If you want to see the landscape in all its glory, you need to be quick off the mark as the leaves peak around the end of September/beginning of October.
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