The specific promotions described in this article have now passed, but it remains online so that the resources named will be of future use to travelers.
Picture this: It's the first cool day, and you take out your favorite sweater, pull on a pair of socks for the first time in months, and pour some hot apple cider. That chilling (in a good way) thought may inspire you to plan a weekend getaway in October, but it may already be too late to get reservations in New England somewhere at a cute B&B for "leaf peeping." (The term does sort of make one chuckle—it's one of those silly tourism words.) We've corralled together these resources, deals, and packages, designed to get you out to enjoy the seasonal splendor and spectrum of color that is fall. And, in order to do justice to the entire country, we're breaking this report into two sections: New England/Northeast, and everywhere else.
There are some good general resources out there, including our list of state tourism departments (www.frommers.com/articles/853.html). Those looking for packages oriented around a specific type of accommodation -- namely, a bed and breakfast, can try www.bedandbreakfast.com, which is an extensive site that ranks small and large cities and advertises tons of deals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service has a fall foliage hotline (tel. 800/354-4595; www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors), with links on the web site to national forests in various parts of the country. Right now the links go to sites with reports for 2004; the hotline out going message says call them back in September. So much for prior planning! Try the Foliage Network (tel. 518/347-0149; www.foliagenetwork.com), which tracks the northeast, southeast, and midwest for foliages updates twice a week between September and November. You can even sign up to become a "foliage spotter" for the site. There's a listing of places to stay, listed by state (www.foliagenetwork.com/places_to_stay).
The travel and tourism section of the Vermont State web site (tel. 800/VERMONT; www.travel-vermont.com/seasons/forecaster.asp) has a fall foliage forecasting map that shows approximately when the colors are at their peak; generally, the state's inns and hotels and bed and breakfasts are jammed the first two weekends of October. Woodford State Park in Vermont, located near the Massachusetts border, is a prime spot for fall foliage and outdoor activities.
Also in New England, New Hampshire's foliage site (tel. 800/258-3608; www.foliage.visitnh.gov) suggests visitors check back in September to call or visit this web site for continuous updates. Some places have started listing specials, though, if you search for "flora and fauna" packages.
While perhaps some of the state web sites are not totally up and running with their packages, some independent travel companies are. Cosmos Travel (tel. 800/276-1241; www.cosmosvacations.com) is running their hugely popular "New England Fall Foliage" trip, which originates in Boston. It's a seven-night/eight-day tour that takes you around the heart of New England during peak season, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine. Accommodations at economy class hotels are included, so is a professional tour director. You'll need to get to Boston on your own.
In New York, the peak time is a little bit later in October. At press time, the tourism department didn't have any material available on specials or packages, and a tourism representative suggested checking the site in August. Visit (tel. 800/CALL-NYS; www.iloveny.com) and click on tourism -- they should have fall foliage maps, forecasts, packages and suggestions for trips in the Catskills, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes -- you name it. However, Cosmos Travel is running an "Autumn Colors of New England" tour that starts in New York City, and goes through Connecticut, through the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts to Boston, Newport, Rhode Island, and then hugs the coast to Mystic, CT and back to New York. This too, is a seven-night, eight-day trip, and tours run from September 16 through October 21. Only two of the ten weekends are unavailable, and this trip is a little bit less expensive -- from $979-$999 per person. Again, you'll need to find your way to New York City.
Finally, the recently redesigned web site for Pennsylvania travel (tel. 800-VISITPA; www.visitpa.com) has an entirely separate autumnal site (www.fallinpa.com), with maps by zone, live foliage cams, and reports. Generally, the northern part of the state reaches peak in early to mid October, and the central and southern peak in late October. Currently on this site last year's information is still up. But click on travel packages and you can search by a range of dates or type of activity; a keyword search on "fall foliage" reveals four pages' worth of various activities.. In the north-central town Renovo, Flaming Foliage Festival has been held since 1949 during the second full weekend in October; this year's takes place October 15-16. There are links to various hotels and restaurants in the town, with descriptions and contact information -- no packages are listed. Further east, in the picturesque Victorian town Jim Thorpe, there's a "Fall Foliage Float Trip" run by Pocono Whitewater from October 8-10 that includes viewing the fall colors from a whitewater raft, with free lunch at a river side barbecue joint, for only $26.95 per person.