Leaving the cares of the work and back-to-school mayhem behind you, let the colors of fall drift past your open window and take your family on an autumn road trip. Stop at a quaint roadside stand and sample the fresh cider, take a hayride, or find that perfect scenic overlook and enjoy a quiet family picnic. Go armed with a map and specific locations in mind, or just take off and see what you might find.
Now is a great time for young, curious nature collectors to choose their favorite leaves and sticks for elaborate collages to make after the ride, and it is also a wonderful time for parents to snap candid pictures of their children, capturing their youth with nature's palate as an amazing backdrop.
To help send you in the right direction, here are a few recommendations for the best fall drive routes and fall destinations from some of BabyZone's Regional Guides.
All summer, the attention of folks looking for fun in NC is aimed at our beautiful beaches, but every fall those same eyes turn to the western half of the state, where the glorious autumn display never fails to please. Scenic drives and historic towns can be found on almost every western NC road, but there is one that shines above all others; NC Guide, Mariel, recommends that you don't deprive yourself of the most amazing fall drive in this country: the justifiably famous Skyline Drive. The Drive winds its way through to VA and the spectacular Shenandoah Valley, and is so beautiful that literally hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world flock there each year. To avoid the crowds, try going mid-week. For weekend fun, don't pass up a chance to visit Asheville, or consider a day at Grandfather Mountain. The most peaceful experiences can be had exploring the Falls of Brevard County, around which you can find tranquil pools of still water reflecting colors only nature could have dreamt up.
Virginia and Maryland
Washington DC BabyZone offers even more information on the fabulous fall drive alternatives in Virginia and Maryland. From the Skyline Drive to Luray Caverns to Cacotin Mountain, there are fantastic farms and orchards perfect for picnicking, stopping for that fresh pressed cider, or that home-baked, old-fashioned apple pie as you wind your way through color and sights that have inspired poets and writers the world over. Historic towns and sites offer places to stretch your legs and appreciate the glorious area in which we live. The Blue Ridge Mountains are looking more red, gold and yellow every day, but it doesn't last long, so make your plans today!
So what if the Jersey Turnpike isn't known as a pleasant drive? NJ Guides Karen and Christine know that there are so many more places you can sit back and relax as you drive past a gorgeous New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania fall extravaganza. Consider exploring NJ's river towns from Montague to Trenton. Another spectacular destination is High Point State Park, where you can see a breath-taking panorama including New Jersey's Kittatinny Ridge, New York's Catskills and Pennsylvaniaï¿½s Poconos.
New York is rich with fabulous autumn drives. New York Guide Lisa has a few she is sure you and your family will enjoy. One of the best weekend fall getaways is spent relaxing in Montauk. While there, check out the famous lighthouse or do some whale watching. Fall is the best time to visit Montauk—traffic is light, and the chill in the air seems to bring out the whales. Stop by the Montauk Lighthouse information center for details or call the Montauk Chamber of Commerce.
Another favorite trip recommendation is Prospect Mountain Veteran Memorial Highway and 100 Mile View. From I-87 Exit 21, travel one mile north on Rt. 9, turn left at state highway entrance. Marvel at the 100 mile view from 2,021 ft. summit. This 5.5 mile highway leads to the parking lot. Along the way, you'll be able to experience gorgeous views of Vermont's Green Mountains, New Hampshire's White Mountains, and New York's Adirondacks. From the parking lot, a "viewmobile" will take you the rest of the way to the summit. Be sure to check out the remains of the world's largest cable railroad and the fireplace of once-thriving Prospect Mountain Hotel.