Grab your camera and best wooly sweater – we’re going to soak up the magic that is autumn with this official leaf peeping guide from our fall issue.
Image via berkshires.org.
New England offers the quintessential leaf peeping experience. Instead of Vermont, start in Boston to see the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, modeled after a Venetian palace, to get your fill of John Singer Sargents and Titians before heading to the Institute of Contemporary Art, which just opened the Watershed, a new satellite location that was formerly a condemned warehouse. From Boston, head north to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. One of the most scenic drives is along the Kancamagus Highway, known locally as the Kanc, to reach Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, for sweeping foliage views. For a more low-key trip, head to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, home to MASS MoCA, one of the largest centers for contemporary visual art and performing arts in the United States. History buffs will love Chesterwood, the former home and studio of Daniel Chester French, the creator of the Lincoln Memorial, as well as Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, which she designed herself. Nearby North Adams celebrates the fall with a Fall Foliage Festival, or hike to the top of Mount Greylock to enjoy the views.
Mont Tremblant. Image via tremblant.ca.
Autumn comes early in Canada, so get a jump-start on leaf peeping by starting in Quebec City, whose Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The classic architectural icons include the Château Frontenac, which dominates the skyline, and the Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Québec, which dates back to the 17th century. The city also showcases its modern side with the new Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, as well as smaller art galleries such as L’Espace Contemporain and Brousseau Inuit Art Gallery, which sells sculptures crafted from bone, ivory, musk ox horns and caribou antlers. The Maison de la Littérature highlights the city’s literary history and has a serene, Scandinavian inspired design. One of the best places to see the blaze of colors from sugar maple trees, birches and beeches is Jacques Cartier National Park, which is just 30 minutes from Quebec City and has more than 60 miles of hiking trails. Mont Tremblant hosts an annual Symphony of Colors where visitors can take in the views by ziplining or gondola.
Komyo-ji Temple. Image via kyototourism.org.
Although Japan may be famous for its spring cherry blossoms, plan a visit here in the autumn to see the blazing colors of the maple trees. Leaf peeping in Japan is called Koyo or Momiji-gari, and one of the best places to see changing leaves combined with
a culture fix is Kyoto. Japan’s oldest city has a rich design heritage and is a must-see for its temples, zen gardens and imperial villas, as well as its geishas. Don’t miss Katsura Rikyū Imperial Villa, one of the finest examples of traditional Japanese architecture. Stop by the Kyoto Handicraft Center which showcases everything from fans to swords, and offers hands-on workshops. Comic book fans should make a pilgrimage to the Kyoto International Manga Museum while fans of contemporary art should stop by the National Museum of Modern Art. The gardens at the Ginkaku-ji Temple are home to moss gardens, a waterfall and a pond, and it’s a tranquil spot to see the maples turn red. For even more koyo, head to Mt. Takao to see the crimson leaves among the temples and valleys, or Komyo-ji Temple, known as the Temple of Maples; see hundreds of centuries-old maple trees, and the paths that are carpeted in the bright leaves.
Porto, Portugal. Image via visitporto.travel.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Europe as the crowds have thinned
out and prices have dipped, and there’s no shortage of prime leaf peeping spots. Start off in Porto. This historic Portuguese city offers much more than its namesake wine. It’s also an architectural hot spot, with a mix of rich Baroque churches and contemporary buildings. Carve out time to visit the white concrete and glass Casa da Música, designed by Rem Koolhaas, and stroll past the Vodafone headquarters building, which has an undulating design to reflect the company’s motto of life in motion. Don’t miss Porto’s smaller contemporary art galleries, such as Galeria Fernando Santos, which showcases international artists and is located on Rua Miguel Bombarda, where you’ll find a cluster of galleries. Galeria Pedro Oliveira offers views of the Douro River and showcases works by established as well as emerging artists. For your leaf fix, head out to the Douro Valley to see the terraced vineyards transform into waves of red, yellow and orange leaves.
See more from ASPIRE’s Travel editor, Christina Valhouli, here.
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