Saying goodbye to summers warm months is always hard, but falling into fall is the time vivid reds, bright yellows, and deep browns take over the green leaves and brings blockbuster of color. See a selection of destinations that are the best for fall foliage below.

Cashiers, NC (Jackson County)

In the mountains of Western North Carolina, visitors can experience one of the most unique leaf-looking experiences in the country – the Shadow of the Bear. This naturally occurring phenomenon makes an appearance for just 30 minutes on sunny days at 5:30 p.m. mid-October through early November just outside of Cashiers, North Carolina in Jackson County. It starts with a small dark shadow at the bottom of the valley and grows until it finally evolves into the bear as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain – what many geologists deem to be the oldest mountain in the world.

Outside of this special event, which also occurs in late winter from mid-February through early March, Jackson County is the best destination to view fall foliage due to its unique location tucked between the Nantahala National Forest and on the edge of the country’s most-visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fall in Jackson County is more eye-popping than your average autumn escape and beckons leaf peepers from across the nation.

Marquette, MI

On the shores of Lake Superior, Marquette, Michigan is a community where nature’s assets are on display through scenic vistas, rugged trails and rushing waterfalls. With 30% of Michigan’s land mass and only 3% of its population, the Upper Peninsula town of Marquette is nestled in dense forests that turn a combination of fiery reds, golden hues and pops of orange – there is no better Midwest destination to explore the outdoors while enjoying the bounty of Fall colors.  Outdoor activities range from hiking to fat tire biking on the city’s many trails to fly-fishing.  From unique dining experiences, award-winning craft breweries and a thriving art scene, Marquette embraces a culture anchored in artisanship and ingenuity.

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe National Forest, just 15 minutes from Santa Fe Plaza, is a site to behold year-round; however, in the latter half of September, the Aspen trees that dominate the forest turn a bright gold color that makes it especially beautiful. The peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tower above the high desert offering a breathtaking vantage point of Santa Fe’s natural landscape. Ahead of ski season, Ski Santa Fe opens its main ski lift exclusively on weekends and holidays in September for visitors to take in a birds-eye view of the foliage throughout the valley.For those who prefer to stay within the downtown area, the cottonwoods and other deciduous trees along the Alameda Street walking path and Santa Fe River also turn gorgeous autumn colors by mid-October.

Sacramento, CA

Known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sacramento, California, is a culinary force featuring bustling restaurants, a thriving public art scene, and interesting Gold Rush history. What some may not realize is that the typography and climate in the region creates impressive opportunities for vegetation – from grapes to apples – and in autumn, vibrant trees. Visitors traveling east on US-50 through Folsom will soon arrive at the perfect place for flannel shirts, cider, and Instagram-worthy scenery. Comprised of over 50 orchards, the Apple Hill region offers vibrant foliage and impeccable fall vibes for visitors pursuing leaf-peeping, apple picking, and pumpkin patches. Surrounded by Sycamores and oaks, Apple Hill remains one of the most popular fall destinations in Northern California. Due to the more temperate climate, harvest typically begins around Labor Day and can run until the beginning of December. The changing colors can be enjoyed on nature walks, or while taking advantage of the local activities including golfwine tasting, and shopping from the local farm-to-table vendors.

White Mountains, NH

With fall quickly approaching, New Hampshire is gearing up for another epic season of leaf peeping. Known for its picturesque landscape that becomes increasingly beautiful with the arrival of autumn, the Granite State has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Visitors can experience the ultimate road trip as they uncover glorious views of New England’s famous foliage from the comfort of their car. Within the White Mountains, the most popular scenic drive is the Kancamagus Highway, commonly referred to as “the Kanc”). From Conway, the Kanc offers 34.5 miles of stunning mountain scenery through the White Mountain National Forest. In Lincoln, you can either turn north onto I-93 through Franconia Notch State Park and its soaring mountain peaks, or continue west on Route 112 through Kinsman Notch to Route 302, which heads to Bath, Lisbon, Littleton, Bethlehem, Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods, home of the Mount Washington Hotel. Rt. 302 continues east through Crawford Notch and past some of the most spectacular scenery in the East. Additional scenic drives can be found here. 

Cliff House Maine (Cape Neddick, ME)

Nestled across 70 oceanfront acres atop Bald Head Cliff on the southern coast of Maine, Cliff House Maine offers guests unrivaled experiences that are accessible, exceptional and spectacular. One of America’s most celebrated coastal resorts, the 186 guest rooms and 40 luxury suites, in addition to a classically restored New England cottage with a front porch overlooking the ocean, are an ideal spot for fall leaf peeping. Within a short drive from the resort (less than an hour), Maine’s natural tapestries can be enjoyed at: Rachel Carson’s Wildlife Refuge in Wells: Established in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of 11 divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. Laudholm Farm: Trails feature signs to help you find your way, identify plants and animals, understand the natural and cultural history of the site, and explore the changing leaves. Parson’s Way: A serene and somewhat secluded environment, featuring sweeping views and picturesque landscapes of fall leaves juxtaposed against the blues of the ocean. Fort Williams Park: Beautiful free park with walking paths with the nearby Portland Head Light – the most photographed lighthouse in America, and also the oldest in Maine. Mt. Agamenticus: Scenic vistas, fragile habitats, and distinctive trail system. Mt. Agamenticus is unlike any place else on earth and contains a very Authentic East Coast environment.