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Autumn in the US: Great Drives Await

Travel Advisors weigh in on getting out and where to go this fall

Summer is nearly over and staying home is not an option. Consumers are itching to travel, say advisors at Travel Leaders Network who have fielded inquiries from clients planning trips close to home for travel between now and December. In fact, 50 percent of travel requests submitted through the website are for travel options between Fall 2020 and year’s end.

“For several weeks, we were all staying home per orders from our governors, but now with many restrictions lifted more people are willing to venture out, but still close to home,” said Roger E. Block, President of Travel Leaders Network.

Although travelers are inquiring weeks in advance as they dream about their vacation, we’re seeing shortened booking windows as consumers are waiting until last minute to finalize their plans,” said Block. “They are watching to see if COVID restrictions change and they are also holding out for the best deals.”

A poll of Travel Leaders advisors show that clients are more willing to stay in a hotel, lodge or resort not far from home than they were a few weeks ago. More are also willing to take a flight to uncrowded destinations and engage private tours.

Here are a ten recommended drive options for those seeking a cool weekend getaway or any travel break close to home this fall.


Vermont has 10 scenic byways that will take you past historic homes, villages and state parks, with stunning views of mountains, meadows and forests. Along the Scenic Route 100 Byway, a popular foliage drive in the fall, you can travel nearly 150 miles, or about two-thirds of the length of the state.

New York’s Catskill Mountains is great for adventure lovers, history buffs, families and foodies. On a clear day, you’ll get a panoramic view of the region from the Five-State Lookout. Traveling through the area will take you across four towns, with lots of opportunities to take side trips.


At Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, there are 70 overlooks that offer views of the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont region. Skyline Drive, which runs for 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a popular spot for photographing wildlife. You’ll see wild turkey, deer and bears – just also safely keep your distance from the animals and rely on your zoom lens for the optimal photo.

North Carolina and Tennessee straddle the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here you’ll witness nature’s beauty and remnants of Appalachian Mountain culture. Scenic drives include 32-mile Newfound Gap Road, which passes by the Appalachian Trail.


Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is stunning. Scenic roads include the Brockway Mountain Drive, near Copper Harbor. At several points along the 10-mile route you’ll encounter breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surrounding woodland on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is more spectacular than it seems in a popular TV show, especially along the shoreline. Ha Ha Tonka State Park provides a perfect backdrop for deep ravines, towering bluffs and the ruins of a mansion modeled after a European castle.


Colorado is a fisherman’s dream. The 205-mile West Elk Loop byway covers a diverse landscape flowing rivers and creeks surrounded by gorgeous meadows and canyons.

New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a loop of 84 miles starting and ending in Taos, an art colony flanked by the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge. Along the way, you’ll find dazzling scenery and a glimpse into New Mexico’s history.

A road trip to the Grand Tetons is a vacation option a travel advisor can help you plan, including guided tours and luxury resorts along the way.

“Our travel advisors have received requests from clients seeking RV rentals and luxury lodges and resorts near national parks and other places where they can safely socially distance not far from home,” added Block.


Oregon’s West Cascades Scenic Byway is a 215-mile roadway weaving through forested corridors that turn brilliant colors in the fall. For a two-wheel trip, the 36-mile Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway is a family-friendly route from a historic downtown to a picturesque lake.

Washington State has more than 400 islands in its northwest corridor. Orcas Island is more remote and secluded than other islands that are part of the archipelago that comprises the San Juan Islands. A ferry can get you to this hilly location with curvy roads, which is a dream to drive and a challenge to cycle across.

Drive, don’t drive: here are some other ways to get there or just get out.

Rail Adventures. Traveling by train is another great way to see the country for those who want to venture a little farther from home. A customized package can include accommodations, sightseeing tours, entertainment and dining options. A sample itinerary may involve traveling from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, or from Chicago to the Grand Canyon before ending your journey in Los Angeles. Rail adventures can be booked to be inclusive of accommodations, sightseeing tours, entertaining and dining.

Small Boat Expeditions. Though you can turn almost any adventure in the great outdoors into an active and adventure travel experience, there’s nothing quite like taking a kayak or paddleboard through a quiet cove or hiking to a waterfall or snorkeling along a coral reef. These are guided adventures available in the U.S. and Canada. Snake River in the greater Pacific Northwest winds through Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and the state of Washington.

River Cruises. Lined by major cities and historic river towns, woodlands and agricultural plains, American rivers are fascinating cruise destinations overflowing with history and culture. That’s exciting to travelers who are looking for a great vacation experience within U.S. borders. Riverboats hold fewer than 200 passengers and tend to have large sliding doors to private balconies. The Mississippi, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Southeast and New England offer fascinating adventures for domestic cruisers. A lower Mississippi River itinerary can take one on a journey to New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Natchez, Mississippi.

Luxury Resorts. Travelers seeking to get back to nature or a restorative wellness experience will find a host of luxury resorts in tranquil settings within driving distance of their hometown.