One of the things people who have moved from a northern area to South Florida may miss is the obvious change in seasons, as evidenced by brightly colored fall foliage. Whether a vacation is specifically timed for a fall view or takes advantage of the public school’s fall break schedule, fall foliage is not as far away as one might think. There are quite a few places in the Southeast to enjoy fall colors, see historical sights and take in local ‘color’ unique to each state.
Northern Alabama has later peak fall color times, from late October to early November, but is worth the wait. Fall colors begin to show in Northern Alabama in early October in the mountains. Visit the
Circle of Colors Trail, which extends from Oak Mountain State Park to Joe Wheeler State Park and Lake Guntersville State Park, to see unusual rock formations, covered bridge country and log cabins. Other interesting things to see include antique shops and historical sites.
There is both a civil war trail to explore (
alabama.travel/trails/civil-war-trail), which includes Fort Morgan and Fort Gains, and the war’s final major battle at Fort Blakeley, and the Civil Rights trail, ( alabama.travel/trails/alabama-civil-rights-museum-trail) from the Edmund Pettis Bridge to Kelly Ingram Park. The Civil Rights tour includes Brown Chapel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. launched the voting rights movement, Tuskegee University and black aviation history at Moton Field. Gosoutheast.com recommends checking the states’ home page for updated fall foliage reports. Depending on schedule, combine tours for an optimal experience.
In North Carolina, the best time to see fall colors varies by area. In western North Carolina, the typical season is from early to mid October. This is due to the higher elevation of many of the North Carolina mountain ranges. Central North Carolina’s peak foliage is mid October to early November. To add some educational sites to the itinerary, visit the Biltmore, America’s largest home, or Carl Sandburg’s home. Historical sites include a range of interests such as the Reed Gold Mine, where gold was first discovered in the United States; Tyrone Palace, the first permanent capitol of North Carolina; and the Neuse Interpretive Center, home to remnants of a Confederate ironclad. For pirate fans, there is the city of Bath, the state’s oldest town and an old pirate stomping ground. North Carolina’s official website is
visitnc.com, adding /fall will supply needed information for a fall colors tour.
There are several colorful options for visitors to South Carolina including a suggested tour starting at the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway, off I-85 at the Georgia/South Carolina border. The low, soft hills provide a brilliant view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in full color. Continue through the heart of Sumter National Forest and experience a zip line canopy tour, a restful canoe trip, or the excitement of a mini white-water rafting trip on the Wildwater Scenic River. All of these will not only give a great South Carolina experience, but also provide a great view of the fall foliage. A three- day suggested tour is found at
discoversouthcarolina.com/articles/fall-itinerary-through-the-upstate. For history buffs, view the homes of four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the site of the Battle of Cowpens, (a decisive victory for the Patriots in the Revolutionary war), and other sites. The link for the sites that can be seen along the Cherokee Foothills is discoversouthcarolina.com/articles/historic-sites-to-explore-along-scs-cherokee-foothills-scenic-highway. The tour of homes belonging to the signers of the Declaration of Independence can be found at discoversouthcarolina.com/articles/visit-4-historic-homes-of-south-carolinas-declaration-of-independence-signers.
Famous for Dollywood, Tennessee has much to recommend for a fall tour. Typical peak periods for fall foliage are in the Northeastern Mountain Ranges the last two weeks in October. Color across Tennessee peaks from east to west and can be seen from mid-October to late-November, making the western part of the state great for a Thanksgiving tour. After taking a drive through the Great Smoky Mountains, visiting the historical steam engines of the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad is an educational experience. Children ride free, and the rides can be booked on-line at
gsmr.com. For more places to see near Dollywood, visit tripadvisor.com and explore Pigeon Force, Tennessee. A tour through these states in the Southeast provides great opportunity to see the fall colors, local color from historical sites, unique shopping experiences, amusement parks and national parks. The journey in these cases can be just as enjoyable as reaching the destination!
Penni Bulten is a homeschooling mom who is fascinated with the Founding Fathers and their faith. She can be reached at [email protected].