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As the last whispers of summer fade away, the air turns crisp, filled with the smell of cool mornings and pumpkin everything. It’s that time of year when you break out your flannel, eager to venture outside. This year, go beyond the usual corn mazes, hayrides and apple picking and plan a fall leaf peeping trip that lets you explore the natural beauty of the changing leaves in every corner of the country—from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.

RELATED: Road trip! 19 ridiculously fun things to do this fall

leaf peeping in Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Northeast – Acadia National Park, Maine

There is no better place to go fall leaf peeping than… you guessed it—a forest. So if you live on the East Coast, make a trip to coastal Acadia National Park, about a three-hour drive north from Portland, Maine. Mid-October is generally the best time to see the changing colors in this region, and there is plenty of hiking and exploring to boot. Sign up for a horseback riding tour to get the most out of your trip or pop into the historic Jordan Pond House to warm up with afternoon tea enhanced with beautiful views. To stay close to all the action, book a stay at the nearby West Street Hotel.

Huron Manistee National Forest, Michigan, fall-foliage

Photo: Courtesy of Huron Manistee National Forest, Michigan / Flickr

Midwest  – Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Midwest is full of great places to view the changing leaves, but the colors in Grand Rapids are simply breathtaking. If you are feeling really adventurous, drive through Manistee National Forest for a scenic drive from Grand Rapids up to lakefront winemaking enclave Traverse City. Driving the roughly three-hour route is a great way to enjoy the scenery and the perfect excuse to make a long fall leaf peeping playlist. While in Grand Rapids, check out the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and then treat yourself at the Great Wolf Lodge on the other end of your drive.

ALSO: Here’s another bright idea: Sign up for Orbitz Rewards to earn towards your next vacation!

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

Southeast –  Asheville, North Carolina

In the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville‘s a bastion for outdoor adventure. Because North Carolina is a little farther south, visitors are less likely to face the kind of cold snap that might turn a northern weekend getaway into a freezefest. Asheville has tons of cool eventsto celebrate the fall, but plan ahead and snag tickets to CiderFest, the state’s biggest hard cider tasting. There are plenty of hotel options, but book a stay at Princess Anne Hotel for a combination of small town charm and amenities.

Maroon Bells, Colorado

Maroon Bells, Colorado

West – Maroon Bells, Colorado

Composed of two mountain peaks 10 miles west of Aspen, Maroon Bells has picturesque views you will never get tired of. It is a remarkably beautiful place to stare in awe as the leaves morph into vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red. Don’t forget your camera and hiking boots because there is no passing up a stroll around Maroon Lake. Stay at the nearby Pokolodi Lodge to take in the colors just outside your window, and get a taste of life in the Wild West by exploring the nearby Ashcroft Ghost Town.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Northwest – Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Just 20 minutes outside of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is right on the Washington State Line and is a great destination for anyone looking to get their fall leaf peeping fix without venturing too far outside the city. Make sure to stop at Vista House observatory for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The 1917 spot doubles as a comfort pit stop and memorial to Oregon pioneers. Spend the day outdoors and reward yourself with a local beer and tasty lunch from Full Sail Brewing along the river, then continue the woodland adventure with a stay at Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel.

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Tagged: Destinations, Family time

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Kristen Mitchell

Kristen Mitchell

Kristen is a writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida
Kristen Mitchell

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