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Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley, California

The U.S. ranks in the top five of wine producing countries, and California leads the way among the states. There are 12 distinct wine regions, and each one is worth a weekend visit. However, first-time visitors should start with the world-famous Napa Valley, part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Napa is a wine-soaked paradise with more than 400 wineries, many of which do Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay particularly well. Start with the Silverado Trail, since it has a more manageable 40 wineries, and includes heavy hitters such as Robert Mondavi. Venture off the trail for the iconic Castello di Amorosa.

For something different, explore one of Napa’s oldest wine caves at Schramsberg Vineyards, which is beloved for its sparkling wine. You can also take a wine class at the Culinary Institute of America, and stomp grapes during harvest season. Barrel blending, where you can create your own blend, is also available year-round at many wineries, including Conn Creek, one of the first to offer it. Hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, which combines a gourmet meal with (of course) wine. It also runs bus tours to some of the best estates, including an after-hours tour of Grgich Hills Estate. Wine festivals can be found year-round. Flavor! Napa Valley is a five-day food and wine pairing dream.
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Hoberman Collection / Contributor  

Sonoma County, California

Sonoma County, California

About an hour away from Napa, Sonoma County is considered more low-key and spread out. However, it holds its own with an equal number of wineries, and the region excels at Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Standouts include the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, owned by the famous movie director. Not only does the estate produce more than 40 wines at its on-site facility, but the grounds also include two eateries, two swimming pools, a movie gallery and bocce ball courts. Add ongoing wine tastings and wine experiences, and you might not have a chance to visit anywhere else. Korbel Winery is a must stop for sparkling wine lovers; 50-minute winery tours cover its wine cellars and conclude with a tasting at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.

Bike tours are another great way to experience Sonoma’s bucolic countryside: Wine Country Bikes offers single and multi-day tours. For the ultimate wine country experience, check out Sonoma County Grape Camp—three days worth of harvesting grapes, blending wines and eating farm-to-table fare.

Take your pick of ongoing festivals, but if you have to choose, the Harvest Fair draws wine aficionados from around the country for a weekend of wine tasting, grape stomping, seminars and more.  

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George Rose / Contributor  

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California

About 90 miles north of Los Angeles, picture-perfect Santa Barbara is perhaps best known for its beaches, but it produces high quality wines as well, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir. In fact, you may remember the region from the movie Sideways. You can even recreate it by following the Sideways wine trail, which includes wineries from the movie. Among those featured are Firestone Vineyard, which was founded in 1972 and is now an institution; Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard, founded by the actor who played Davy Crockett; and Foxen Vineyard & Winery, which provides a more personable experience at “The Shack.” If the movie trail isn’t your thing, there are more than 100 other wineries to explore. Be sure to attend the Celebration of Harvest Weekend if possible.  960 1280

George Rose / Contributor  

Finger Lakes, New York

Finger Lakes, New York

The state’s largest wine region, located upstate, is packed with more than 100 wineries. The area is best known for Riesling, but it also produces Gewürztraminer, ice wine and sparkling wine. Choose from three different wine trails: The Cayuga Wine Trail is considered the first organized wine trail in the U.S. Keuka Lake Wine Trail is the smallest of the three, but the birthplace of the Finger Lakes wine industry. The Seneca Lake Wine Trail boasts the largest wine trail—not just in the area, but in the state—with more than 30 wineries.

Dr. Frank Wines (also known as Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars) helped launch the local wine industry when he planted vinifera vines, a type that originated from Europe; you can find it along the Keuka Wine Trail. Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard was another early pioneer, and has since built a reputation on its Rieslings. For something different, Sheldrake Point Winery and Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars are good stops to try the region’s ice wines. 
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Finger Lakes Wine Country  

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Oregon has a handful of wine producing centers, but the action centers around the Willamette Valley, which is known for its Pinot Noir. The region counts more than 300 wineries and five wine trails, including one geared toward cycling enthusiasts: Pedaling for Pinot. Whether or not you follow a trail, many wonderful wineries abound. For example, Silvan Ridge Winery was one of the first in 1979, and has since become one of the most beloved. While in its tasting room, also try the 2013 Malbec.


King Estate Winery produces the most pinot gris in the country, and its pinot noirs, cabernet sauvignons and syrahs also receive high marks from wine professionals. Willamette Valley Vineyards and Sokol Blosser Winery are other don’t misses for pinot noir. However, the International Pinot Noir Celebration is the ultimate pinot noir mecca known the world over. The three-day event, now in its 30th year, features tastings from more than 70 of the world’s best pinot noir producers, vineyard tours, and drinking and dining under the stars.

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George Rose / Contributor  

Walla Walla, Washington

Walla Walla, Washington

Although Walla Walla’s wine industry didn’t start until the late ‘70s, it’s rapidly built a reputation as one of the top wine regions in the country, and even earned comparisons to Napa. Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are among the wines it does well, and there are more than 100 wineries, spread across four wine regions, in which to try them. The Walla Walla Wine Alliance provides a thorough rundown to get oriented. Leonetti Cellar was the region’s first commercial winery in 1977.

Woodward Canyon Winery was another early pioneer—not just in wine production, but in sustainable wine production at that. Pop into its tasting room to sip its acclaimed 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. Pepper Bridge Winery excels at Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and its tasting room, housed in a small yellow structure straight out of a storybook, is the perfect setting to try them. If you enjoy being the first in the know, Spring Release Weekend provides the chance to explore new releases while learning about them directly from the winemakers.

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Pepper Bridge Winery  

Hill Country, Texas

Hill Country, Texas

In between Austin and San Antonio, the rolling green landscape of Hill Country is home to 46 wineries producing excellent Viognier, Tempranillo and Syrah. The Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 is a good place to start, with 15 wineries along this wine trail. Among them, Pedernales Cellars represents the old guard, and creates award-winning Tempranillo and Viognier.

Becker Vineyards
 is another institution; the 46-acre estate includes a German-style stone barn and lavender fields. Book ahead to visit its Reserve Wine Library for the chance to sample the owners’ private collection and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the production facility. In addition to wine, Hill Country is also famous for its bluebonnets, which spring to life in April. Enjoy the best of both with tickets to the 2016 Wine and Wildflowers Trail, which includes free tastings at all participating wineries. 
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Pedernales Cellars  

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

Virginia counts at least 250 wineries and 17 wine trails around the state, and each trail offers something to recommend it. However, Monticello, located in scenic central Virginia, has Thomas Jefferson to thank for its origins. While Jefferson’s attempts weren’t fruitful, it’s still considered the birthplace of American wine. The area now numbers about 30 wineries, and produces a wide assortment, including Orange Muscat, although it excels in Viognier and Cabernet Franc.

The Monticello Wine Trail provides a helpful guide, and naturally Jefferson Vineyards is the best place to start. The winery’s owners aren’t descendants of the Founding Father, but the current vineyard was established on land that Jefferson gave to Filippo Mazzei, a grape grower from Italy. Fast-forward to today, where it produces award-winning wines, such as the 2013 Viognier. 

Barboursville Vineyards is another property with historic roots, as a friend of Jefferson’s owned this land too. You can easily spend the day here, from wandering the extensive grounds, which are anchored by an 18th-century estate, to taking a guided winery tour. Don’t leave without trying Octagon, a world-class red wine that’s considered its signature. Other notable wineries along the trail include Blenheim Vineyards (which was founded by musician Dave Matthews).
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Barboursville Vineyards  

Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania

Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania

The bucolic Brandywine Valley resides about an hour west of Philadelphia, and is perhaps best known as the birthplace of famed painter Andrew Wyeth and home to Longwood Gardens. Wine production in this region might be under the radar, but it’s where you’ll find award-winning Chaddsford Winery, one of the largest wine producers in the state. Its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are among the wines it does well. Tastings are available in its 17th century barn, and tours are also offered.

While it’s the best known, Chaddsford isn’t the only winery in the area. Penns Woods Winery is nearby, and produces a range (Merlot, Rosé), from Pennsylvania-grown grapes. There’s also the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, which includes four wineries. Or time your visit to also squeeze in the annual Brandywine Food and Wine Festival in order to experience the best of the region in one place.
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Chaddsford Winery  

Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

Just north of Traverse City, the Leelanau Peninsula is a scenic spit of land jutting out into Lake Michigan. The area has become a foodie destination in recent years, and don’t be surprised if you spot chef Mario Batali around town—he owns a summer home on the peninsula. The area has also attracted notice for its wineries, and Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Franc are among the wines to try here. The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail numbers 25 wineries dotted along three trails: Sleeping Bear Loop, Northern Loop and Grand Traverse Bay Loop. L. Mawby, is considered the gold standard for Michigan sparkling wine, and its tasting room offers the first two pours for free.

Black Star Farms is another standout when it comes to Michigan wine. It offers three locations, but its flagship is on the peninsula. You could easily spend an entire weekend here, since the farm includes an upscale inn, dining options and several tasting areas. If your time is limited, hop on a wine tour: numerous companies, such as Grand Traverse Tours, cover the highlights. For something different, participate in the annual Harvest Stompede and race through vineyards—literally.
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Black Star Farms  

blue ridge parkway, road trips, fall, foliage, virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

A meandering 469 miles across North Carolina and Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway is an American favorite made even more spectacular by a breathtaking display of fall colors. It's home to Mother Nature's longest-lasting show of fall foliage, and with thousands of feet in elevation, there are no shortage of scenic overlooks. 960 1280

Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images  

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Worried you'll miss the leaves? Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain change color in early October while areas like Chimney Rock hold out until early November. 960 1280

Tim Fitzharris, Getty Images  

Michigan's Upper Peninsula Day Drive

Michigan's Upper Peninsula Day Drive

The Mitten's Gold Coast gets most of the attention when people talk about fall colors, but the somewhat untamed beauty of Michigan's Upper Peninsula shines in the fall as well. This short 5-hour loop leaving from Newberry, MI packs in everything you could want in a fall color tour… Trees, beers, and even bears. 960 1280

nameinfame, Getty Images  

Michigan's Upper Peninsula Day Drive

Michigan's Upper Peninsula Day Drive

Snap some pictures at the Crisp Point Lighthouse, Tahquamenon Falls State Park (pictured above) and Michigan's only historic cranberry bog, the Centennial Cranberry Farm. 960 1280

Danita Delimont, Getty Images  

Columbia River Highway

Columbia River Highway

America's oldest scenic highway traverses the cliffs of Oregon for 75 miles of some of the best views this grand old land has to offer. Constructed in the early 1900’s to give travellers up-front-and-personal access to Mother Nature in all of her glory, Columbia River Highway boasts the title of America's first scenic highway and dons its fall hues in mid-October, when its signature cottonwood, ash, and maple trees begin to turn. 960 1280

Bob Pool/Getty Images  

Columbia River Highway

Columbia River Highway

Starting just east of Portland, the drive is also home to several waterfalls including Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Fall. 960 1280

David Cobb/Visuals Unlimited, Inc., Getty Images  

Mid Mitten State

Mid Mitten State

The middle of October is the best time to check out the leaves in the middle of Michigan! Grab some pumpkins and apples at a farm, snap a few perfect photos at a covered bridge (may we suggest Fallasburg Covered Bridge, Pioneer Village & School?) 960 1280

JOHN_McCORMICK/Michigannut, Getty Images  

Mid Mitten State

Mid Mitten State

Take a walk through one of the gorgeous parks along this route that loops around central Michigan -- seriously, it doesn't get more autumn-y than that! See our trip itinerary here. 960 1280

Dean Pennala, Getty Images  

Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway

Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway

Winding through the southern Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway follows the rivers that brought Native Americans between the Connecticut and the Hudson River valleys. At just 35 miles, this foliage drive is perfect for slowing down and taking it all in. 960 1280

DenisTangneyJr, Getty Images  

Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway

Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway

Drive this stretch of New England, straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting before the cold sets in and witness the landscape’s change from summer's green to autumn's golds, reds, and scarlets. If you prefer some time outside the car, this route stretches alongside a chunk of the Appalachian Trail. 960 1280

DenisTangneyJr, Getty Images  

The Rugged and Wandering

The Rugged and Wandering

For the hardcore leaf peepers among us, there’s no better place to take your jeep to experience the changing foliage than Montana. Montana’s backcountry offers the ultimate scenes of America's rugged beauty. See the trip itinerary here. 960 1280

Danita Delimont, Getty Images  

The Rugged and Wandering

The Rugged and Wandering

Take the road less traveled on the Big Sky Backcountry Scenic Byway of Montana or cross the Continental Divide stopping at vistas on Going-to-the-Sun Road. 960 1280

Alan Majchrowicz, Getty Images  

Wisconsin Fall Foliage and Frank Lloyd Wright

Wisconsin Fall Foliage and Frank Lloyd Wright

There's a region in Southwestern Wisconsin that the glaciers never touched, deemed the "Driftless region." Stop along the way in Spring Green, Wisconsin and grab a book and coffee before you tour Wright’s school, Taliesin. 960 1280

Matt Anderson Photography, Getty Images  

Wisconsin Fall Foliage and Frank Lloyd Wright

Wisconsin Fall Foliage and Frank Lloyd Wright

Beyond the beautiful tree-lined roads found on scenic autumn drives, a drive from Madison, WI up to La Crosse, WI through the Driftless is chock full of fall harvest stands and believe it or not … Frank Lloyd Wright iconic architecture. 960 1280

UniversalImagesGroup, Getty Images  

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

The Skyline Drive is a 105-mile National Scenic Byway that twists and winds through the over 200,000 pristine acres that makes up Shenandoah National Park. 960 1280

Oscar Gutierrez/OGphoto, Getty Images  

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, namely the park's Skyline Drive, is one of the nation's premier fall RV trips for people who want to see fall foliage. In addition to the stunning scenery, Shenandoah offers plenty of other outdoor activities as well. 960 1280

Louise A. Heusinkveld, Getty Images  

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail is a scenic highway located around the rugged, northern coastline of Cape Breton Island. Locally referred to as "Trunk 30," it passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Margaree River Valley and along Bras d'Or Lake. Highlights of the drive include the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, whale watching in Pleasant Bay, quaint fishing villages such as Belle Cote and Dingwall, and the North Highlands Community Museum in Cape North. — Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer
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Thinkstock  

Maryland's Eastern Shore

Maryland's Eastern Shore

While the Delmarva Peninsula is a regular summer getaway for residents of the mid-Atlantic, I personally love it best in the fall. Filled with farmers markets, local festivals and regional parks, the area always has plenty to do this time of year. Entertain the whole family by picking pumpkins at a roadside stand, or get lost in the Breckenridge corn maze. For a more adult venture, tease your taste buds at the Good Beer Festival or Autumn Wine Festival on your way through Salisbury. Then, make the short drive down to Assateague Island to see the wild ponies gallop along pristine coastline. And of course, no fall trip to the Eastern Shore would be complete without one last crab feast along the Wicomico River. — Matt Dewhurst, Interactive Producer 960 1280

National Park Service  

Minneapolis-St.Paul

Minneapolis-St.Paul

You haven't lived until you've seen the Twin Cities in the fall. Take a scenic leaf-peeping drive along Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis or Summit Avenue in St. Paul, or head down River Road to see the leaves on both sides of the Mississippi River. Go hiking and biking in nearby Fort Snelling State Park and Afton State Park. Sports venues are popular spots in the fall, too. Watch the season wind down for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field; catch a Minnesota Vikings or University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football game at TCF Bank Stadium; and cheer on runners in the annual Twin Cities Marathon. For shoppers looking for a new fall wardrobe, take advantage of the tax-free shopping on all apparel. — Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280

Meet Minneapolis  

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The crowds on Cape Cod, like the summer heat, begin to fade in the fall. It's a great time to explore the cape and enjoy the crisp weather by the sea. I recommend checking out the sites by foot or bike and soaking in the weather on walks along the dunes. While the beach may not be the top priority to visit during the fall, you can enjoy everything from a Cranberry Harvest Celebration to the OysterFest to a Haunted History Tour. While you're there, check out the Wellfleet OysterFest, a 2-day, family-friendly festival that celebrates the oysters, clams and shell-fishing traditions that the town is famous for. — Kristen Kochanski, Photo Editor 960 1280

Peter Lee  

Fontainebleau, France

Fontainebleau, France

This forested region south of Paris is a magical bouldering area that everyone should visit at least once. It has enough rock climbing to last a lifetime, and you can spend hours wandering through the forests playing on the amazing sandstone boulders. During this season, you can see the beauty of the fall foliage, which could rival the best locations in the US. I recommend starting each day at a local bakery to enjoy a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), and be sure to grab a baguette, some foie gras and a bottle of Bordeaux to snack on at the boulder fields. On rest days, visit the town of Fontainebleau or take the train into Paris for some sightseeing. — Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280

Moment Open / Getty Images  

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

For me, the ideal vacation day ends with sore muscles, dirty hiking shoes and a warm drink while watching the sun set over an alpine lake. That's why my fall getaway is Jackson Hole, WY. Combine stunning vistas of the Tetons with exciting outdoor activities, take out the tourists, and you have a perfect place to forget that you have to be back at work the next week. — Josh Levin, Digital Operations Manager 960 1280

National Park Service  

Lewes, Delaware

Lewes, Delaware

This quaint coastal town quiets down a lot after Labor Day, making fall the perfect time to stroll the scenic trails and beaches at Cape Henlopen State Park without the crowds. Enjoy the cooler weather, a canal view and some seafood and pub fare with an outdoor table at Irish Eyes, followed by some window-shopping in the local boutiques downtown. My husband always likes to get in a round of golf at nearby Baywood Greens, after which we settle in for a few cocktails on the clubhouse deck overlooking the lush landscape of the 18th hole. If beer is more your style, take the 20-minute drive to Milton, DE, where you can tour the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and visit its tasting room. — Hannah Prince, Digital Copy Editor 960 1280

Baywood Greens  

New Orleans

New Orleans

Spend 1 weekend in New Orleans during the fall, and you will quickly understand why visiting the Big Easy in autumn is a must. This city keeps locals and visitors busy with countless of events from late September through November, including Oktoberfest, the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, the Louisiana Seafood Festival and the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience, a 3-day Halloween weekend concert series. New Orleans also hosts costume events, such as Boo at the Zoo at Audubon Zoo, and fun street events on Bourbon and St. Ann Streets in the heart of the French Quarter. — Rani Robinson, Director
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Kevin Donnigan  

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Seems as though everyone knows someone who's moved to Austin these days, and Austin City Limits is the perfect excuse to crash at their place. The 2-weekend music festival inspired by the PBS concert series has become increasingly popular in its own right, featuring 100-plus impressive acts, an art market and some of the best Austin eats, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, of course. If you're looking to detox after 3 days of nonstop bands and BBQ, pick up a Green Light smoothie from JuiceLand before Zenning out in BFree Yoga's beautiful studio space. — Sara Gilliam, Senior Interactive Producer 960 1280

Getty Images Entertainment  

New York

New York

My favorite time to visit New York is early autumn, when the air is crisp and you can spend all day outside without melting. People-watch at High Line Park, stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge, or take the East River Ferry to Brooklyn with spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and the wind in your hair. End the day at Frying Pan, a multilevel, historic floating bar at Chelsea Piers, for prime sunset viewing with a backdrop of the Hudson River.— Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280

E+/Getty Images  

Chicago

Chicago

It's understandable why it's called the Windy City, because once winter rolls around, Chicago turns cold, unpleasant (temperature-wise) and very — you guessed it — windy. But if you're lucky enough to book a flight for the fall, you're in for a real treat. Take in a Bears game at Chicago's famed Soldier Field, or join in the family fun picking pumpkins at nearby Heap's Giant Pumpkin Farm, a 30-acre pumpkin patch where you can cut your favorite straight off the vine yourself. And if you happen to find yourself in town in mid- to late October, take in a few of the upcoming year's best new movies during the Chicago International Film Festival. — Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Getty Images Sport  

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