It’s October, and your lady friend keeps dropping hints about how much she’d enjoy a romantic weekend away, just the two of you, to see the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of the annual fall foliage miracle. She has visions of a secluded bed and breakfast in a small Vermont village. You have visions of long lines of traffic snaking by outlet malls. She sees you snuggling in front of a fire. You see sky high prices for a shabby room. What’s an accommodating boyfriend to do?
Think different. While the crowds always head north in search of fall views, Vermont isn’t the only place leaves change color. Here’s a roundup of some counter-intuitive places to see beautiful fall leaves, perfect places to enjoy a weekend away, just the two of you.
From Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to Central Park in Manhattan and every townhouse-lined street in Greenwich Village, the five boroughs of New York City are home to some 5.2 million trees, according to the US Forest Service, and because New York is situated in the Northeast, home to the wildest displays of fall color, you are just as likely to see a tree flame out in shades of orange and red as you are to see an investment banker. Best bet: Look for an AirBNB apartment in the West Village, and stroll the streets under yellow maples. Then head to the High Line, the urban park where indigenous plants will be changing colors, before seeing the annual displays of yellows and oranges in Central Park.
Natchez Trace Parkway
The 444-mile highway connecting Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, built on an historic path that linked Native American communities, is lined with hickory and Cyprus trees that mix nicely with a few maples to create a surprisingly colorful palate for a location so far south. If you don’t have time to drive the entire route, work the section between Tupelo and Natchez, and stop off in Jackson for oysters and, this being the south, college football viewing.
Best known as a summer vacation spot, the Cape is essentially a large sandy spit that separates Massachusetts Bay from the broader Atlantic Ocean. That means it has an ample supply of swamp maple trees, the most ostentatious of all foliage trees. And because it’s such a tourist mecca, the Cape has no end of hotels and restaurants, most of which will be offering off-season rates at this time of year. Best bet: set up shop on the outer Cape, in Chatham or Orleans, then rent bikes and enjoy the sites on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a rec path that stretches the length of the Cape and runs through forests and wetlands.
And you thought the only thing going on in B’mo in the fall was the Ravens. Like New York City, Baltimore’s urban landscape changes color this time of year, but the city’s main appeal is as a base camp from which to head an hour west to drive the foothills of the Appalachians and take in the color. At night, Baltimore’s bars and restaurants await you. We’re partial to the crab cakes at Koco’s Pub and the pit beef sandwiches at Chap’s.
California gets a bad rap when it comes to fall color, but that works to your advantage because you’ll leave the crowds behind. SoCal and the Bay Area may not see much change in color, but the closer you get to the mountains, the more likely you are to see some yellow. Set up in Sacramento, where the stunning peaks and yellows of the Sierra Nevada are just two hours to the east. Not feeling adventurous? Stay close and enjoy the views just outside the city at El Dorado National Forest and Antelope Creek Park. El Dorado’s wildflowers turn a spectacular shade of white and yellow in the fall, while Antelope Creek has some of the state’s best fly-fishing.