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Top 18 places to Admire the Beautiful Colors of Autumn

September 7, 2015

Nearly all of us can relate to L.M. Montgomery’s character Anne Shirley when she says, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!” There is something about the autumn colors and crisp air that makes us all fill with wanderlust and an insatiable desire to head outdoors and explore the world all over again.

Even if you don’t live where Octobers are filled with color, there are plenty of beautiful spots around the world where autumn colors fill the horizon, from the most remote national park in the United States to the train tunnels of Ukraine. Before you grab your scarf and passport, check out our list of the top 18 places you can enjoy Autumn’s beauty for yourself.

Top 18 places to Admire the Beautiful Colors of Autumn

1. Door County, Wisconsin

Situated on a remote peninsula sticking out into Lake Michigan, Wisconsin’s Door County is a haven for fall activities and color. The shoreline is covered in trees which turn bright shades of every color imaginable. The county is known for its produce, thanks to its mild climate thanks to the lake effect,  and there are plenty of roadside orchards and stands where you can pick apples, pumpkins, and run through corn mazes. The primarily agriculturally landscape is filled with fall color, and you can hop from each small fishing village that dot the county’s harbors.

One of my favorite ways to see the color is to catch the ferry that bridges the mainland to Washington Harbor for views of some of the island’s fall colors from the water; it’s gives you a different perspective on fall’s beauty and there’s nothing quite so awakening as a cold ferry ride across Death’s Door. For the best complete saturation of color, go to Peninsula State Park in between Fish Creek and Ephraim for great hiking and biking trails among the woods and color laden meadows.

2. Kyoto, Japan

The best time of year to fall in love with Kyoto (pun intended) is during the fall, when the entire city is swamped in beautiful saturation of fall colors. While the cherry blossoms charm the city during the spring months, the fall’s colors make the entire city seem laden with enchantment around every corner. The colors peak around the middle of November, but you can visit anywhere from October to December and enjoy some of the splendor of the fall season.

The city’s many temples are some of the best places to enjoy the autumn foliage, as they are often surrounded by acres of natural landscape and Japanese style gardens. The Okochi-Sanso Villa has gardens that are specifically designed to bloom throughout different times of year, and walking through the fall garden is a perfect way to experience Japan’s beautiful horticultural diversity.

3. Holmes County, Ohio

If you love being surrounded by rural landscapes, then Holmes County is the perfect place to visit. The entire county is dotted with farms and agricultural landscapes, thanks in part to the large Amish community that resides in the area. The result is one of the most romantic fall settings you can experience, with horse drawn buggies and gravel roads surrounded by brilliantly colored maple and oak trees.

There are plenty of roadside vendors and stands that sell autumn season produce, and you can easily spend hours driving around and exploring the different farms and views. One of the best ways to experience the county is by bicycle; you get a closer look at the colors and landscape, and the rolling hills make the ride interesting but suitable for all athletic abilities.

4. Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska

If you want to escape civilization and truly get away from it all, you can’t do much better than visiting the nation’s most remote national park. Located on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska’s Bering Land Bridge National Preserve seems to come to life during the fall, when the entire undergrowth of native shrubs pop full of deep, rich color.

The Alaska Willows and the Dwarf Bush create a seascape of red and orange waist deep against the beautiful, snow capped mountain peak backdrop. There are no roads leading into the park, so you’ll have to access the beauty via foot, boat, or airplane. But once you get there, you’re in for some of the best untouched autumn beauty you can find in the world.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The mountains in Tennessee are a perfect place to see fall colors during the autumn months because the elevation causes trees to start changing at both earlier and later times in the year. The result is a much longer window of time to view the colorful foliage, and you don’t have to worry about a time crunch or possibly missing the leaves changing altogether.

The peaks of the mountains are the first to change, and the fall colors slowly work their way down the mountains to the valleys over the course of close to two months from the middle of September to the middle of November. There are over 100 different varieties and species of trees, which means the landscape is a complete array of different shades and colors rolling up and down the mountains.

6. De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Netherlands

Some of the Netherlands’ best fall foliage can be seen at within the 21 miles of De Hoge Veluwe National Park. The landscape within the park is quite varied, and you can see autumn colors touch peat bogs, sand dunes, forested pathways, and open meadows. The best way to view the scenery is by bicycle; the park has 1,700 free white bicycles for park users to use and enjoy, and you can bike for nearly 30 miles along trails inside the park to be completely surrounded by fall landscapes. The sculpture gardens inside the park is one of Europe’s finest, and the best time to see it is at fall, when the sculptures sit against a background of color.

7. Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

The fairytale-esque train track three miles outside of Ukraine’s Klevan is one of the world’s most surreal and romantic places on earth during every season, and fall is no exception. Trains still run through the tunnel 3 times a day, but for the rest of the day and night the train belongs to lovers; it is said that couples who visit the tunnel can make a wish and it will become true. The 2 mile long tunnel makes the perfect fall afternoon hike, when you can walk completely immersed in a cave of colors.

8. Acadia National Park, Maine

Fall colors against a backdrop of ocean shoreline, rocky boulders and cliffs, rushing streams and mountains; what more could you wish for in a fall landscape? Acadia National Park offers all of this and more to those who make the trek up to Maine from September to October, when the colors are at their best. Thanks to the back to school crowd, fall is the perfect time to not only enjoy the colors but also escape the crowds so you can really enjoy the park without wandering through hordes of New England tourists.

If you really want to enjoy the colors in solitude, head over to the eastern side of the park for some hiking among the mountains while the rest of the visitor’s gravitate toward the seaside. Head out for an early pre-dawn hike up the summit of Cadillac Mountain and be the first person in the United States to see that day’s sunrise.

9. Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Iceland is a country filled with beautiful landscapes, impressive geological features, and breathtaking vistas. The entire country seems more suited to the setting of a fantasy novel of another world than a small island tucked in between North America and Europe. Thingvellir National Park is the best place to view some of Iceland’s most impressive and varied features all in one place without visiting the entire country, especially in the fall, when the colors are out in full bloom. The lava fields, lake, and rocky cliffs from fault line shifting has created a surreal landscape that bursts into color in the autumn months.

10. Hiawatha Highlands, Ontario

My hubby and I discovered Hiawatha Highlands by accident, when we were roaming around Sue Saint Marie on Ontario’s shoreline during a rainy weekend in late September. We were in the mood for some hiking but didn’t want to spend the rest of our bank account on gas, so we headed up just a few minutes north of town to a dot on the map marked Hiawatha Highlands.

Little did we know we would stumble upon one of Ontario’s most beautiful corners for fall colors, complete with cascading waterfalls, wooden bridges, beautiful hiking trails, and gorgeous swampy lakes surrounded by fall colors. The best way to experience the colors is to hike right beneath it, when the leaves seem to pop right out at you. There are plenty of miles of paths to discover and hike, so feel free to spend as little or as much time as you like.

 

11. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

One of my favorite places to see fall foliage and color everywhere around you in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is at Burggarten. The Castle Gardens come alive with color, and you can walk around the trails and lose yourself for hours gazing up at the colors set against the ancient medieval town. Walk to the very edge of the walled garden for beautiful Bavarian scenery and views from the city down into the valley and the forests that surround the Tauber as it flows through the valley fully aflame in autumn color.

My favorite hike back into town isn’t by going through the Castle Gardens but by hiking the trails down into the valley and around back into town; you’ll pass perfect little wooden bridges, beautiful river scenes, and get to see the entire town light up in color from the bottom of the river valley.

 

12. Moscow, Russia

The dominating Soviet capital is anything but cold during the autumn months, when vivid fall colors surround the city in warm shades of red and orange. A huge portion of the city is dedicated to parks and persevered land which all burst forth in color around September and October. Some of the best areas to admire fall colors are places with beautiful architecture housed among the foliage; make sure you visit places like Kuskovo Estate and Kolomenskoye to enjoy beautiful Russian architecture against a sea of color. Make sure to pack layers when you visit; Moscow weather can drop from comfortable and cool fall temperatures to winter cold snaps in a day.

 

13. Braşov, Romania

Transylvania’s autumn landscape is one of the best places to enjoy fall colors in town and outside of town. Head to Braşov for a town that is just as colorful as the autumn colors that surround it, and where the cobblestone streets are lined with blue, yellow, red, and orange buildings that perfectly compliment the same hues on the mountains surrounding the city. There’s also plenty of natural landscapes and scenery to enjoy in the foothills around the rest of Transylvania, where gorgeous lakes rest among mountains and valleys covered in autumn colors.

14. Queyras National Park, France

Located in the French Alps, it doesn’t get much more breathtaking than Queyras National Park in the autumn. You’ll definitely want to make sure to bring your camera; the sight of the Queyras Castle standing tall over the sea of fall foliage is one of the most beautiful sights in France. It’s also one of France’s best kept secrets, so while everyone else is flocking to the Eiffel Tower, you and only a handful of others will be enjoying the natural beauty and glorious vistas of the autumn colors in the mountains.

15. Llanrwst, Wales

Llanrwst, Wales is the perfect place to enjoy both indoor and outdoor fall activities and scenery. The rolling Welsh hills become covered in flaming colors during the fall months, and the town’s charming houses and streets make the perfect cityscape to enjoy fall colors in town. There’s plenty of cozy pubs to explore when you’re ready to head inside, and when you want to venture back out there’s plenty of old stone walkways, bridges, and buildings covered in fall color to explore.

 

16. Prince Edward Island, Canada

Home to the wonderful Anne of Green Gables characters, Canada’s PEI is gorgeous year round, with plenty of red roads, dune filled beaches, grassy shorelines, and lighthouses enough to captivate any viewer into a state of blissful romance. One of the best times to visit the island is in fall, when the colors come out and the summer tourist crowd goes away.

The island’s landscape blend of forests, seascapes, and farms all right on top of each other gives you a great chance to experience fall’s beauty in all three environments right next to each other. The mild effect from the ocean’s waters create an extended fall foliage season so you can visit anytime between September and October to enjoy hiking, boating, and driving through beautiful autumn colors.

17. Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan Province, China

One of the most beautiful national parks in the world, China’s Jiuzhaigou Valley holds beautiful lakes, endless waterfalls, and mountain landscapes all within its 180,000 acres. During the fall months the mountains burst forth into color and transform the landscape into a sea of red, orange, and yellow hues. China is a large country, but the park is without a doubt one of the best places to enjoy autumn weather and colors. The best time to travel is later in the fall, from October through November.

18. Inyo National Forest, California

California may bring images to mind of palm trees and sand beaches, but the Golden State has much more diversity to offer visitors, including some of the most gorgeous fall scenery in the United States. The best place to visit is Inyo National Forest, where you can explore over 2 million acres of mountain landscapes, beautiful lakes and endless colorful forests. The vivid hues in between the colder snow capped mountain peaks offers some of the most stunning views you can experience in fall.

Getting ready to wrap up in layers and head out to experience the beauty of fall colors? Go to Trekeffect to plan your perfect fall adventure, complete with brilliant colors, perfect weather, and plenty of new places to explore!

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Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.