The changing colors of fall make the season ideal for traveling around the South. But you don’t have to go far to see this stunning foliage. The fall foliage map spreads across the region, depending on when you want to go. The season typically extends from late September to early November, depending on temperatures. There aren’t many of these trees in Florida and Louisiana, but in many other states, you’ll find fall colors.
Alabama doesn’t get as many of the brightly changing leaves as other parts of the region, but North Alabama is the exception. The charming mountain town of Mentone is the perfect place to base yourself during a trip to see the fall foliage. Rent one of the many cabins in the area or spend the night at Desoto State Park, home to stunning waterfalls.
Another option is the towns along the Natchez Trace Parkway, specifically Florence and Muscle Shoals. Drive along the scenic route, stopping to check out the Native American memorial Tom’s Wall and the recording studios where famous artists performed.
Northwest Arkansas is the highest elevation area in the state, making it the perfect place to enjoy fall foliage. Bentonville is an outdoor lover’s dream, with miles of bike paths for easy riders or mountain bikers.
Fayetteville is home to college football, so check the schedule before booking your trip. Another alternative is the Victorian town of Eureka Springs, with its winding streets, quirky boutiques, and a very haunted historic hotel.
There’s no shortage of North Georgia towns that experience the changing colors every fall. Blue Ridge is a great spot for a visit because you can also visit the nearby apple orchards for the perfect seasonal experience.
Helen’s Oktoberfest continues through the leaf peeping season, allowing travelers to enjoy the scenery by day and German bands and beer by night. Clayton is a charming downtown with great shopping. The Getaway cabin near Blairsville is the best way to disconnect.
The Eastern side of Kentucky has some beautiful fall color, especially in the rolling hills around the horse farms outside of Lexington. The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a quiet place to stay during your trip. If you have time, visit the small towns of the Bourbon Trail and Louisville.
The Cumberland Gap is a famous piece of land that runs along the border with Virginia. The mountainous region has ties to bluegrass music but is also known for its unrivaled views. Visit the national historical park in what was considered to be the “gateway to the west.”
When it comes to leaf peeping in western North Carolina, visitors are spoiled for choice. The towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including Asheville and Blowing Rock, are popular choices, along with Waynesville, home to The Swag, a luxury mountaintop lodge.
But the town of Cashiers has something that sets it apart. Shadow of the Bear is a phenomenon can only be seen at certain times of year. A shadow is cast in the valley as the sun sets over Whiteside Mountain, giving the appearance of a bear.
Western South Carolina sees changes in color, especially in the cities of Greenville and Travelers Rest. Visitors can cycle between the two on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a paved bike and walking path that runs into downtown’s Falls Park on the Reedy River.
If you’re looking for the best view of the mountains, the area to the north of the city has unrivaled overlooks. Caesar’s Head is one of the popular choices, located within the namesake state park, and Pretty Place, an outdoor chapel located at a YMCA camp.
There’s a reason that East Tennessee, and the Great Smoky Mountains, have such a reputation for beauty, especially during the fall. The national park has protected foliage that can be seen during the fall. There are also quieter communities where you won’t experience the crowds, like Townsend and Maryville.
The Ocoee River Gorge, east of Chattanooga, is known for its rafting. But it’s also the perfect spot for a leaf peeping day trip. The byway cuts through the Cherokee National Forest and the surrounding Tennessee Valley.
Virginia’s Skyline Drive is perhaps one of the best parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs from North Carolina. It can easily be accessed from the college town of Charlottesville where you’ll find plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from. Apple orchards and cideries are also nearby.
In the northwestern side of the state, Roanoke and its famous star guide travelers to a lovely place to see the colors. It’s also home to over 400 miles of mountain biking trails. The Southwest Virginia towns of Abingdon, Bristol, and Lynchburg have plenty to see as well.