It's that time of year again when the leaf peepers come out in search of beautiful fall foliage all across the country. Whether from a train car, by zip line or from a race course, there are a number of ways to enjoy the season's changing colors. Here are eight outside-the-box ways to experience fall foliage displays this season.
Take the Train
From Sept. 29 to Nov. 1, you can take in the changing colors from the Great Dome rail car on Amtrak's Adirondack line between Montreal, Albany and New York. The beautiful panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding vistas are incredible. Or, head to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio for a three-hour scenic train ride starting in mid-October when the leaves begin to transform into spectacular shades. Keep your eyes open for trolley rides too, like the Fort Lincoln Trolley in North Dakota, to experience in-town and Fort Lincoln State Park views of the bright leaves.
Ride on a Riverboat or Ferry
Set sail aboard a riverboat to take in the foliage from the Missouri River. The American Queen Steamboat Company offers a nine-day Autumn Colors voyage in October. Explore picturesque areas between St. Louis to St. Paul, Minnesota, taking in wildlife and vibrant colors along the way. Another enticing way to experience the best of autumn: Take a ferry up the Hudson River for a narrated daytime cruise complete with majestic views and gourmet meals. Lady Katherine Cruises, a Connecticut-based line, even offers Fall Foliage Brunch sailings throughout October.
Take a Zip Line
Fly through New Hampshire's colorful fall foliage on one of New England's longest zip lines at Omni Mount Washington Resort. The Bretton Woods Canopy Tour gives leaf peepers unsurpassed views from high up in the trees as they take on a series of zip lines and suspension bridges. Or, head to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, to zip line over the mountains for a birds-eye view of foliage displays. Smugglers' Notch Resort in Vermont also offers colorful canopy tours and a treetop obstacle course.
Run a Race
There are a variety of races of all distances that offer scenic views of the changing leaves. Try the Fall Color 5K Run & Walk in Lisle, Illinois, or the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon & 5K in Waterbury, Vermont, in early October. Or, if you're a long-distance runner, consider signing up for the Fall Foliage Half Marathon and 5K in Rhinebeck, New York. The Great Pumpkin Run Fall 5K is also offered in multiple cities throughout the season, including Indianapolis and Cincinnati, and promises fantastic views of foliage across the race courses.
Enjoy a Family Festival
In fall, family festivals abound, and you'll find quite a few that seek to celebrate the changing leaves and beautiful autumnal colors. The Fall Foliage Festival in Bedford, Pennsylvania, is one to check out for plenty of kid-focused activities, including scarecrow-making and pony rides. Another festive annual event is the Morgan County Fall Foliage Festival in Martinsville, Indiana in October. This annual autumn celebration promises carnival rides, a classic car show, photo contests and a parade through town.
Take a Driving Tour
Sure, you could hop in your car and start driving to revel in fall's bright colors on your own. Or, you could try a self-guided driving tour of covered bridges set amongst the fall scenery. In Lancaster County, the epicenter of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, you can pick from five driving tours to experience some of the best foliage and farmlands in the area while taking in the iconic "kissing bridges" and charming towns along the way. Alternatively, if you'd rather leave the driving to someone else, hop on an all-day charter bus tour from Boston to see the brilliant colors of New England.
Go for a Bike Ride
Hop online and you can browse dozens of suggested bike rides for enjoying foliage season. Bicycling.com features a Fall Foliage Ride Guide by state, touting cities like Aspen, Colorado, and Angel Fire, New Mexico, as great places for exploring fall colors from the behind handlebars. Or, try a guided four- or six-day bike tour in November with reputable outfitter Sonoma on a Bike in California to experience brightly-colored fall vines during the height of harvest season. Meanwhile, Trail's End Cycling Company in Virginia Wine Country offers half-day foliage rides through colorful vineyards.
Get out of your car and into a helicopter, or even onto a hang glider, for soaring views of colorful fall scenery from high in the sky. Take a 30-minute fall foliage helicopter tour with Wings Air Helicopter Charter in Rye Brook, New York, for incredible views of the changing leaves over the Hudson Valley. Adventure-seekers may also want to check in with Virginia Hang Gliding where guests can soar like a bird over the trees. Even better, there's no prior experience necessary and children ages 4 and up can enjoy the sweeping views from a glider.
Erin Gifford is a Washington, D.C.-based travel writer and founder of Kidventurous, an award-winning family travel resource. Her writing can also be found on TravelChannel.com, TravelAge West, FoxNews.com and Fodors.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kidventurous, connect with her on Facebook or get the latest tips and tricks for traveling families at http://www.kidventurous.com.
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