In some parts of the Northeast, we're already seeing some subtle color changing, perhaps due to the somewhat dry summer many of us have experienced. We usually bring you a fall foliage story, but rather than provide an exhaustive list to all things leaf peeping, we've looked at select places to spend your time this fall. For a more comprehensive look at the changes, check out the updates from the Weather Channel (www.weather.com) as the season progresses. In addition to those we've covered here, many state tourism websites, such as Maine (www.state.me.us/doc/foliage), Pennsylvania (www.fallinpa.com), Tennessee (fall.tnvacation.com) and Michigan (www.michigan.org) have their own dedicated fall pages.
If you're ready to jump in the car now, Vermont is a good place to start. New England destinations typically peak in late September and early October, although I've been in Maine, for example, during Columbus Day weekend and seen beautiful color, so it really varies year by year. Vermont (tel. 800/VERMONT; www.vermontvacation.com) predicts a great season and the foliage reports began on September 16 and will be released on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In fact, it's so popular that state tourism officials have made a point of trying to convince people to come out during the midweek, where accommodations are more plentiful in what it's calling its "Midweek peek Specials." In Northern Vermont, the Governor's House in Hyde Park has a special for two midweek stays (Sunday through Thursday) and receive a half pint of maple syrup from a local provider. Or in Ludlow, central Vermont, the Okemo Mountain Resort is offering a rate of $311 for two mid-week (Sunday-Thursday) stays in a one-bedroom condo that sleeps four. The accommodations have a fireplace, complete kitchen and access to a fitness and aquatic center. The special starts September 28 and is valid through October 10.
New York (tel. 800/CALL-NYS: www.iloveny.com) is a big state with lots of diversity in its travel offerings, and it too boasts its own foliage map and upstate, near Lake Placid, the Mirror Lake Inn (tel. 518/523-2544; www.mirrorlakeinn.com) offers what it's calling a "Park your car and Leaf it" package. Priced from $245 per night, it includes accommodations, breakfast, and a $50 credit for the spa or one of the inn's three restaurants. It's valid for stays Sunday through Thursdays, through select dates starting September 14 through October 30, and the price is based on double occupancy. The accommodations are a classic room with private balcony with private lake and mountain views, and downtown Lake Placid is within a five-minute walk.
Elsewhere in the Empire State, in Bolton Landing in the Adirondack Mountains, The Sagamore's (tel. 866/385-6221; www.thesagamore.com) By Land and Lake Getaway includes two nights of accommodations, daily breakfast, and luxury luncheon cruise along Lake George. The lodge-style room contains a kitchen, living area, fireplace and balcony, and rates start at $255 per room per night, but there is a two-night minimum. The price is valid through October 20.
Further west, Montana (tel. 800/847-4868; www.visitmt.com), the land of the Big Sky Country, has ample opportunities for fall foliage. Most of the summer tourists are gone, and the temperatures are in the 60s; the river valleys are especially picturesque during late September and early October. The tourism board recommends five drives in particular, ranging from a tour through Paradise valley along the Yellowstone River toward Livingston, an artsy community. Check into Chico Hot Springs Resort, which offers a variety of lodging options. The Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Loop, a 63-mile route that goes via Route 1 through small mining towns, such as Phillipsburg, which incidentally is situated among several river valleys. You can overnight in Phillipsburg at the Broadway Hotel (tel. 406/859-8000; www.broadwaymontana.com), a recently renovated property dating to 1890s updated in colorful, kitschy fashion. With prices that range from $79.50 to $140, you hardly need a package deal to make it affordable. Your stay comes with continental breakfast.
In Oregon, there's a whole host of great fall events and activities involving everything from beer and pumpkins and apples and wine to, of course, the hanging leaves themselves. The state's Fall Foliage Hotline (tel. 800/547-5445; www.traveloregon.com) that may be of some assistance. The state is replete with not only evergreens but deciduous trees, too and the color usually lasts through October. The tourism site, like others, recommends routes and stops along the way, particularly hikes, drives and train rides in Willamette Valley. For more specifics, including accommodations, visit (tel. 800/547-5445; www.visitlanecounty.com). The charming Campbell House (tel. 800/264-2519; www.campbellhouse.com), in Eugene, advertises last minute specials, along with packages that would enable you to enjoy the foliage and the outdoors -- horsing, bicycling and fishing for example. The Apple Inn (tel. 800/942-2393; http://appleinnbb.com/specials-and-gifts), located in Cottage Grove, will create customized packages upon inquiry, but in general one of its Oregon bounty packages includes a one-night stay is priced from $185 and includes a five-course gourmet breakfast, a bouquet of flowers, Oregon wines and chocolates. The inn itself is located near trails for hiking, on the edge of a forest, in a quiet location.
Down South, in Arkansas (tel. 501/682-7777; www.arkansas.com), foliage peaks don't occur until later in October, depending on the region; the state's tourism site explains what you can expect -- and where -- with its updates. It also lists dozens of different packages and deals depending on your interest. Under the outdoors section, camping, birding, and hiking deals are listed, activities that enable you to take in the environment. The Cliff Cottage Inn in Eureka Springs, situated in the Ozark Mountains, (www.arkansas.com/hotdeals/details.asp?id=466&cat=13) has been named one of the most romantic inns of the south and is a national historic registered site. It's advertising a special of $400 for two nights in a queen Jacuzzi suite with free parking, a complimentary bottle of wine or Champagne, full gourmet breakfasts -- served room service style by "elves." The package is valid for stays through December 1, but only on Sundays through Thursdays and not on holidays.
Some properties affiliated with Rentalo (www.rentalo.com) are offering special rates for fall leaf peeping activities in some of the states we've mentioned here. The Little Brook House (http://rentalo.com/103007/littlebrookhouse.html) in Ludlow, Vermont, situated in the Green Mountains, is a five-bedroom property near Echo Lake and Okemo and Killington Mountains. Rates are available from $225 per night on weekends through November 13, with a two-night minimum required. In North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, the Grand View Lodge (http://rentalo.com/1328/grandviewlodge.html) is available from $175 per night through September 30; after October 1 the rates are $195. The cabin boasts panoramic views and has three bedrooms each with its own bathroom and is not far from Asheville (tel. 828/258-6101; www.exploreasheville.com).