Going for the Gold: Fall Vacations

See nature’s Technicolor show while exploring legendary homes and hotels in the American South during a fall vacation.

The Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina

Photo: iStock

It’s that time of year. Devout leaf peepers are getting ready to bask in the gold, crimson and scarlet extravaganza that takes over much of America every autumn. For this year’s fall vacations, ditch the crowds and experience an intimate escorted tour that not only captures leafy fireworks but also delivers unparalleled hospitality at America’s greatest estates and grandest hotels, along with plenty of small-town pleasures along the way.

You’ll be traveling along one of the prettiest roads in the United States: the Blue Ridge Parkway, a ribbon of highways and byways surrounded by rugged mountains and wildlife that peaks over 6,000 feet. Designed to appeal to aficionados of art, architecture, history and the finer things in life, this weeklong itinerary for fall vacation explores the homes of presidents, captains of industry, literary giants and famous country crooners.

Against a backdrop of autumnal splendor, rejuvenate at the historic Omni Homestead Resort, a storied hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia, celebrating its 250th birthday. Spend time during this fall vacation in artsy Asheville, where you’ll take a private candlelight tour of the largest home in the country—George Vanderbilt’s antiques-filled Biltmore Estate. Stroll through gardens designed by America’s father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, then soak up downtown Asheville, which is renowned for its art deco architecture, craft breweries and lively arts scene. You’ll have the time of your life during an elegant, Southern-inspired dinner at the Lake Lure Inn, where parts of Dirty Dancing were filmed.

The Marshall House in Leesburg, Virginia

Photo: Alamy

Tour The Marshall House (formerly Dodona Manor) in Leesburg, Virginia, once the home of George C. Marshall, a soldier, statesman and peacemaker and author of the Marshall Plan. Reflect on classic American art at Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art, which spotlights the works of Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam and Thomas Eakins.

Every detail is taken care of, so lavish in true Southern hospitality. Indulge in regional cuisine, wine and craft beer, and listen to local lore. Just relax, breathe the fresh mountain air and soak up the sights along the way, letting the brilliant hues of orange, gold and crimson revive both mind and spirit during this fall vacation.

Conway Scenic Railroad in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

Photo: Rail Pictures

More Fall Vacations

Leaf-peeping by train combines an iconic American form of transportation with a stress-free chance to enjoy the New England scenery on a fall vacation. All aboard for the escorted “New England Autumn Road & Rail Adventure,” with rail and coach excursions through the lush wooded hillsides of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, which are dotted with towering yellow birches and scarlet maples.

Head west for another slice of America, a seven-day escorted adventure through the “Canyonlands of the Southwest.” This journey takes you through six national parks—including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon—for landscapes both mighty and monumental.

Originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of AAA Traveler.

AAA Travel offers a variety of trips to some of the most scenic spots in America. Click here to contact a AAA Travel Counselor or call 877-396-7159.

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Rose Stadt, AAA Travel Counselor, Vallejo, Calif.

More and more people want to customize their escorted trips with longer stays in certain cities or visits to specific sites. I make sure the independent pieces fit seamlessly with the tour.

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