Touring Fall Foliage Without Being Touristy

fall foliage
Ah, autumn, those magical months of cool days, crisp evenings, and bright and brilliant fall foliage gracing the bows of countless New England and Appalachian trees. Every year, droves of visitors flock northward to take in the gorgeous colors of transition from summer’s green toward winter’s gray-brown. The red, orange, and umber of those slowly wilting leaves is not be missed… but for Christ’s sake, remember that some people live year-round in the areas you’ll be visiting, and what you see as beholding nature’s grace, they see as you gawking at their yard.

Douching Through the Forest!

But never fear, with a bit of careful planning and a dash of social grace, you can do your Leaf Peeping (also known as “Leafing” or “Counting Coup,” except that maybe that second one there is totally unrelated, we should fact check that, probably) and also not come across as a boorish city dweller who doesn’t know an elm tree from an acorn. (Hint: one is a tree, the other is an acorn.)

Related: Stowe, VT (It’s lovely, FYI)

Here are a few helpful hints to help you see dazzling fall foliage, minimize your contact with other Leaf Peepers, and not be a goddamn hypocrite who tries to avoid tourists while acting like a total tourist himself:

Take the Roads Way Less Travelled

fall foliage

Did you know there are thousands of miles of unpaved roads in Vermont? Well, most out-of-towners don’t know that, and furthermore, when they see one, they treat it like a dirt path as opposed to a perfectly viable roadway. So head north on I-91, but once in the state, consider seeking out the roads others are avoiding. Just remember that for many locals, these are their main thoroughfares, so pull way over when you stop and always let people pass you by.

Head North of the Border

Canada’s colder climate curtails chlorophyll creation (now THAT, m’friends, is solid alliteration) several weeks before foliage colors begin changing in the states, so consider a drive through the forests of Quebec or Ontario in September for a jump on the season. Added bonus: population density in America is around 90 persons per square mile; in Canada, it’s more like…8.

Hit the Rails

The Historic Maple Leaf Train: Toronto to NYC
The Historic Maple Leaf Train: Toronto to NYC

Booking a train ticket that will take you through swaths of New England is one of the best ways to see the leaves: railroad tracks often cut through totally uninhabited areas, you don’t need to watch the road, and you can drink without the risk of an accident (well, a traffic accident… what you say or to whom you make advances? That’s your problem). Consider the historic Maple Leaf train, by the way.

Enjoy Beer & Leaves

Ah, Oktoberfest. Who Can Resist Its Siren Call?
Ah, Oktoberfest. Who Can Resist Its Siren Call?

If you can’t beat the crowd, join it! The annual Acadia’s Oktoberfest in Southwest Harbor, Maine takes place in early October, a premium time for leaf looking. The festival is largely outdoors, and the grounds are surrounded by stunning fall foliage. You can take in the colorful beauty while also taking in samples of dozens of different brews. And don’t worry, it’s OK to be a tourist when you’re at a beer-themed festival (yes, because everyone will be drunk).

Take to the Sky

After the summer biking and hiking season but before the winter snowfall, you can use the cable cars and chair lifts of New England’s many ski resorts to elevate yourself above the trees (and above the crowds). Hop on a lift for a one-of-a-kind view of dazzling foliage and consider hiking back down (or up, of course) for some added exercise. Or… I mean… go ahead, just ride the lift down again, ya tourist….

Food & Drink

A Brief History of Oktoberfest and Why You Should Celebrate in 2018

How did a Bavarian wedding in the 1800s turn into the biggest beer celebration in the world?
Food & Drink

9 Fall Cocktail Recipes to Enjoy with Cooler Weather

Get ready for cooler weather and deeper, darker flavors.

Fall Foliage Forecast: Where and When to See the Leaves Change in 2018

Leaf-peeping isn't just for fanny-pack-wearing Midwestern housewives.
Food & Drink

How to Eat Your Way Across Texas Barbecue Country

Brisket, brisket, and more brisket. Here’s how to eat it like a king in Texas barbecue country.
Food & Drink

Ohio Is Home to the World’s First Brewery Hotel (with In-room Taps!)

In-room taps and well-stocked shower fridges? Sign us up!
Food & Drink

Win a Luxurious Travel Cocktail Set In Honor of The Manual Spirit Awards

Only two can win. Will it be you? Enter to find out.

Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road from People Who Get Paid to Drink

Though spirits brand ambassadors have pretty much the coolest job ever, constant travel can take a serious toll. Here's how some of the best stay balanced on the go.

The View of an American Road Trip from the Back of a Motorcycle

When I was in architecture school I bought a small 250cc Honda Rebel a) because it was a cheap way to get around town and b) because it allowed me to explore the mountains near my university in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Mountains…

You Can Play Real-Life Mario Kart on the Streets of Tokyo

Banana peels and red turtle shells are strictly forbidden, but Mario mustaches are encouraged.
Fashion & Style

Peak Design’s Travel Line Is the Kind of Compartmentalized Luggage Bag We love

This bag has pockets inside pockets inside pockets!

5 Best Cities to Celebrate Oktoberfest Outside of Germany

Munich isn't the only place that loves lederhosen, märzen, and oompah bands.

Burstner Harmony 3 Is One of the Sexiest Camper Concepts We’ve Ever Seen

Sometimes "roughing it" should include an espresso maker and a rainfall shower.

Japan Gears Up for the World’s Largest Tug-of-War Festival

You can finally put all your childhood tug-of-war skills to good use.