8 Affordable Fall Leaf-Peeping Trips
One of the most gorgeous things about fall is the beautiful foliage. However, taking trips simply based on changing leaf colors can feel a little extravagant, not to mention the crowds of people you’d run into once you’re there. Your best bet is hitting one of these lesser-known, yet still picturesque destinations so you can feel fall vibes to the fullest without running into massive costs and crowding.
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Idaho is known for its white winters, but McCall boasts idyllic autumn leaves. Take a walk on one of the many wildlife trails and stare in awe of the trees while spotting some deer along the way. For a full vacation experience without the full vacation cost, check out the mineral water hot springs and camp overnight in Ponderosa State Park.
This Kentucky is built entirely in a meteorite impact crater! In addition, it has fantastic foliage from sugar maples, beech, birch, and basswood trees, plus a cute downtown where you can check out historic sites. The best time to experience Middlesboro in the fall is mid-to-late October.
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New Paltz, New York
Though the Catskills might be the tried and true leaf-peeping spot, New Paltz offers a breathtaking view of all things fall. It’s about 80 miles north of New York City, and in addition to great foliage, New Paltz is home to Mohank Lake, a dazzling body of water for you to feast your eyes on. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails so you can stay in town and make a super affordable and fun weekend out of it. Visitors recommend early to mid-October for optimal fall feels.
Go 3 hours west of Denver and you’ll discover one of Colorado’s best kept secrets for dreamy fall vacations. Carbondale has golden aspen trees that are absolutely glowing at sunset. After strolling through the foliage, stop at one of Carbondale’s art galleries and finish the night at one of their charming and inexpensive cabins.
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Not only is Sevierville Dolly Parton’s hometown, but it’s an exquisite place to catch the leaves change. Check out one of the driving tours where you can easily view miles of stunning foliage, then rest at night in one of the cozy log cabins. People say mid-October to mid-November is the best time to visit this lovely Tennessee town during the fall.
It might seem like taking trips to see foliage is an East Coast tradition, but California has some great places to see the leaves, too. Julian is a little mining town about an hour away from San Diego with plenty of pear and apple orchards for you to visit and pick through. Taste these ripe flavors at the Julian Cider Mill and grab a tart for yourself and a few to bring home. Experience the ultimate in fall foliage on the West Coast on one of the hiking trails and at the nearby Lake Cuyamaca.
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Door County, Wisconsin
Door County has it all: beautiful bodies of water, excellent views of the changing leaves, affordable cabin stays and delicious cherries to bring home with you. You can even take a horse-drawn wagon ride around town to change up how you see the foliage. Make sure you stop by the roadside stands and farmers’ markets selling hot apple cider.
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Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is great because the leaves continually change, giving you ample time to soak them up. Forest tree leaves start to change their color from early October and last to mid-November. While you’re there, you can also take a hike on the astonishing Hickory Nut Falls Trail which is accessible to all levels of hikers. Once you complete the trail, you’ll be greeted by the magnificent Hickory Nut Falls.
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Last updated: Oct. 15, 2021