When one thinks of fall foliage on the East Coast, it’s likely of unforgettable places in New England, such as The Berkshires in Massachusetts or the Green Mountains of Vermont. Yet by November, the entire northeast region can no longer offer its spellbinding canvas of fall colors. Fortunately, for those who still wish to see the traditional fall foliage colors of rich, vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow on the East Coast, they would just have to travel to destinations further south. In fact, some Southeast areas like Tennessee and Virginia are now reaching its peak fall foliage, while others may not peak for another week. Here are five of the best East Coast destinations to catch the last glorious days of the fall foliage season.
Asheville-Great Smoky Mountains
Situated within the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Asheville is blessed with possessing one of America’s longest foliage seasons, beginning in September and extending into November. A perennial favorite to view the changing colors of autumn, Asheville is literally surrounded by the famous mountains noted for its blue color yet in November, should continue to be sprinkled with multiple shades of yellow, orange and red, along with dashes of green. Asheville is also one of the most prominent stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where this time of year, the lower elevations provide the best views of the changing colors, such as in North Asheville and the North Carolina Arboretum, south of the city. An added plus to visiting Asheville is its proximity to the renowned fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains, which reside along the border separating North Carolina and Tennessee.
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Consistently named one of America’s best and friendliest cities, Charleston becomes even more charming and beautiful in the fall. Graced with antebellum mansions, mystical gardens and lush surroundings, South Carolina’s second largest city is awash with fall colors well into November to complement the flowing groves of magnolia trees, azaleas and Spanish moss. Visitors hoping to marvel in the remaining colors of fall should take time to visit Historic Downtown Charleston, particular to places like Rainbow Row, Washington Square and White Point Garden. However, the most breathtaking examples of the city’s natural beauty can be found on the outskirts of the city, such as Boone Hall Plantation, the gardens at Middleton Place and perhaps most important of all, the breathtaking Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
A canopy of all the colors of autumn can be viewed at several spots across Northern Georgia, most notably in Tallulah Gorge State Park and Red Top Mountain. But when November arrives, visitors may likely have a better opportunity to view fall colors a bit further south to F.D. Roosevelt State Park or even to Savannah, the state’s oldest and most beautiful city. Also frequently described as one of America’s most romantic cities, Savannah is world renowned for its historic structures, the ever present Spanish moss and enchanting parks. November may be just past the peak foliage period for this extraordinary city, but radiantly colored leaves are expected to take an even more magical appearance in popular spots like Forsyth Park, Morrell Park and Bonaventure Cemetery, made even more famous for its depiction in the 1994 novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”.
Shenandoah National Park
One of the best times of the year to visit Virginia is in the fall, particularly at scenic spots like Shenandoah National Park. Located 75 miles southwest of Washington D.C., the enormous national park encompasses more than 300 square miles, occupies sections of eight counties and extends more than 100 miles south to Waynesboro, with its easy access to the legendary Appalachian Trail and the must-see Blue Ridge Parkway. The best spots to view the final splashes of fall colors are near this southern end of scenic Skyline Drive, running along the crest of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, particularly at places like Sawmill Run Overlook, Calf Mountain Overlook and McCormick Gap Overlook. Although the peak foliage period was expected to last until late October, the vibrant colors from the ash, beech, dogwood, red maple and other trees may still be on display through mid-November. In all, there are more than 75 overlooks along Skyline Drive, offering breathtaking vistas of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont region to the east.
Torreya State Park
Florida may seem like an odd choice to view a rustic rainbow of late fall colors. But in reality, the Sunshine State has the latest fall foliage season than any other state on the East Coast and might be the only spot with peak fall colors through mid-November. Of the few recommended spots in Florida, Ocala National Forest and Torreya State Park are among those mentioned the most often, with the latter being the top choice of the Florida State Parks. Located on the southern end of the Appalachians in the Florida Panhandle, the park named after the rare and endangered Torreya tree, may be able to present a palette full of autumn colors from maple, hickory, magnolia and other trees and shrubs a few weeks before the first hints of winter.