It’s only natural to venture outside when the air turns crisper and the humidity of the South begins to ease. Whether it’s taking in the fall foliage by foot or biking through hills and canyons to enjoy the autumn air, there are numerous Southern fall weekend getaways for almost any interest or locale. Ten of the best Southern fall weekend getaways are listed below.
10. Caprock Canyons State Park, Texas
Take advantage of falling temperatures and explore the multicolored sandstone cliffs found in this scenic canyon. Pick your poison: by foot, by mountain bike, by horseback or by car.
9. Bryson City, N.C.
Take a moment to get out of your car and take in the changing leaves up close on one of Bryson City’s 800 miles of hiking trails. The sleepy, small town is located on the south side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers a unique peak into the season, as well as an escape from urban life with a population of 1,500.
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is based here and operates scenic rail excursions through tunnels, across rivers and lakes, through mountain valleys and into a deep river gorge.
8. The former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, W. Va.
There are numerous cities throughout the South known for their spooky history or sights, but if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, visit the former West Virginia Penitentiary. The former maximum-security lock-up has a bloody undercurrent that coursed throughout its history, including many prisoner uprisings.
Today’s guests can take guided tours of the prison and the adventurous can spend the night and try their hand at ghost hunting.
7. North Georgia Mountains and Blue Ridge
Georgia State Parks offers www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/leafwatch for an overall look into the leaves turning each fall within the state. However, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is one of the highlights of the area and offers fall leaf excursions each October on the historic railway.
Ride in a vintage rail car on an excursion that begins at the historic depot in downtown Blue Ridge and winds along the Toccoa River as you observe a plethora of bright autumn colors.
6. Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn.
Walland is a culinary destination located in the foothill of the Great Smoky Mountains where visitors can take in the mountain views, as well as a variety of events, such as Smoky Mountain Table and Glorious Cheese. These culinary events offer a step outside the kitchen and into the fields with Blackberry Farm artisans to showcase the earth-to-table philosophy of the farm.
5. Lost Maples State Natural Area in Texas Hill Country
There is actually a turn of colors in leaves in Texas and this is the spot to check it out. Outdoor recreational opportunities include hiking, birding, fishing, paddle sports,and mountain climbing. However, Lost Maples’ biggest draw is the changing of the leaves each fall, attributed to the high concentration of maple trees within the area.
4. Grandfather Mountain
Picturesque views are available 5,946 feet up from this North Carolina mountain playground. Take advantage of the Mile High Swinging Bridge where you can admire 360-degree panoramic views. It’s America’s highest suspension footbridge and was built to give visitors easy access to Linville Peak. The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation.
3. Middleburg, Va.
Located in Loudoun County, northern Virginia’s horse country, Middleburg offers visitors 18th century buildings and antique shopping on top of memorable excursions at horse farms and wineries. For those looking for more of a luxury experience, the city’s Salamander Resort & Spa offers carriage rides that include champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries while you take in the lush fall foliage of the area.
2. A Circle of Colors in Alabama
Follow the curves of Alabama’s byways for this unique scenic adventure. Start at Oak Mountain State Park on AL 119 near Birmingham and make your way through numerous small towns and forests, including the Bankhead National Forest in Double Springs, Russell Cave and Gadsden and Noccalula Falls.
1. Asheville, N.C.
With 100 species of deciduous trees, the Blue Ridge Mountains are known as having one of the the most vibrant foliage seasons in the country. Take a scenic drive through multi-colored forests, celebrate the harvest with corn mazes and cups of warm apple cider, and you’ll come to understand why this season lures leaf peepers to Asheville each season. A must-see stop is the Biltmore Estate, an 8,000-acre grand estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC.