Summer is great and all but there’s a secret thrill to feeling the first chill of fall in the air, bringing with it the thought of cozy jumpers, big boots and crunchy leaves. When the trees start to turn leaf-peeping becomes a national pastime but where else is worth exploring aside from New England? Across the globe nature is putting on autumnal shows, so check out these ten places to treat your eyeballs to the burnished hues of fall…
Coloradans knew what was up when they named this town. Aspen trees are big old show offs come fall, when their leaves turn gold and they make the mountains glow. The trees at higher elevations start to change around the beginning of September and by the end of the month the whole place is a riot of color. The days are still warm but you could catch sudden flurries of snow up high and it’s these dramatic changes in temperature that can create one of the most autumnal displays of color in America.
The cherry blossoms of spring steal the tree-focused spotlight in Japan but autumn provides some spectacular sights all around the country. In Kyoto, famed for its temples (there are over 1,600!) the parks and gardens are full of Japanese maples, cherries and golden gingko trees that put on a magical show. Any temple you visit will be beautiful but for something extra, Kodaiji Temple uses illuminations to light up the leaves at night and it is all reflected back in a mirror-like pond.
Denali National Park, Alaska
6,000 acres of Alaskan wilderness is going to provide some fall color, and with a backdrop of spectacular snow-capped mountains this is a special place to be in autumn. It’s not only the leaves but animals are ready to party too- it’s moose mating season, the bears are feeding before winter and caribou are migrating. It’s even possible to see the northern lights before the bitter cold of winter kicks in.
Yorkshire dales, UK
Never has a place more suited the coming of fall than Yorkshire in the north of England, a land of rugged moors, stony ravines and cozy traditional pubs. Hike through golden and orange leaves in the crisp fall air then join the locals for pints of beer next to roaring fires. Bolton Abbey, in the heart of the dales, is an atmospheric 12th century abbey next to the raging River Wharfe and is often shrouded in mist during the fall months.
Fall is the perfect time to visit southern Germany and not just because Oktoberfest sits bang in the middle of it. The German Alps are spectacular at any time but in autumn the colors explode making hiking an almost psychedelic experience. Misty forest paths lead to fairytale castles framed by the steep rocky mountains. Munich also has beautiful parks to wander around and there is even the world's largest pumpkin festival- it seems Bavaria has the potential to out-fall New England.
Trees usually get all the attention but grapevine leaves also turn beautiful golds, crimsons, even purples as autumn kicks in and the air gets cooler. This means miles and miles of colorful rolling vineyards, punctuated by Tuscan villas and the tall cypress trees so emblematic of this region.
Scottish Highlands, UK
The weather of the Scottish Highlands is rarely predictable but one thing is certain- fall brings beautiful colors to the forests, mountainsides and lochs in this wild region. It is also the best time of year for sunsets and stargazing and you can often see the milky way stretching out into the night.
On the border of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is one of the most spectacularly wild areas of South America. Huge jagged mountains jut out of the earth, white with snow against bluebird skies. Throw in the golden browns and reds of the lower forests and you get an incredible fall experience. As it's below the equator you can experience all of this in March and April.
Douro Valley, Portugal
When the summer ends in Portugal and the temperature starts to drop, chestnut sellers start to appear on the cobbled streets of Porto, ready to sell you a hot bundle of nuts to warm up your hands. These are the perfect travel snack to take as you board a river cruise up the Douro valley, one of Portugal's biggest wine producing areas. In fall the vine-lined hillsides slope down to the river's edge and seem to glow red, yellow, gold and brown as you make your way to vineyards to sample their wines.
Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como never looks bad but autumn dresses the surrounding mountains in beautiful colors that are reflected on the water all around. The weather is still mild, the summer crowds are gone and the hiking trails are quiet so you can get up close and personal with the beautiful trees. Fall is also harvest time and you’ll find delicious chestnuts, wild mushrooms and truffles on the menu everywhere.