TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF As the chill of fall sets in, leaves across the U.S. are turning crimson, gold and orange. This year the fiercest foliage in much of the country will be found from mid- to late October. Here are some of the best ways to get the most out of the season before the hues begin to fade.
The 22nd Annual Chatsworth Cranberry Festival cranfest.org in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey takes place at the peak of the harvest period, on Oct. 15 and 16. The New Jersey cranberry harvest is the third largest in the country, and this festival offers tours of the cranberry bogs, music, antiques and crafts exhibitions, and a feast of cranberry-infused foods, including cranberry cakes and pies, cranberry pepper spread, cranberry ketchup and cranberry wine.
AUTUMN GLORY FESTIVAL
Oakland, Md., in the Allegheny Mountains, celebrates the season with the Autumn Glory Festival (Oct. 12 to 16). Traditional Appalachian music is featured with banjo, fiddle and mandolin competitions, along with arts and crafts, parades, a 5-km race and an appearance by Cooter's Garage Band, led by Ben Jones of Dukes of Hazzard fame.
GRAPE HARVEST SEASON
Fall is also grape harvest time, and grapes in the lower 48 states are ready for stomping. Check with state tourism boards for local crush and wine-tasting festivals like the Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon & Wine Festival, Oct. 14 to 16, or the Loose Goose Wine Festival in California's Santa Clarita Valley.
Keene, N.H., takes its pumpkins seriously. It fell short of its usual record-breaking display of jack-o'-lanterns last year when the townsfolk gathered a mere 27,584 carved pumpkins (1,368 below their 2003 world record). They'll be going for the gold again on Oct. 22, amid pumpkin-carving, pie-eating and seed-spitting contests, orange fireworks and lots of pumpkin soup and cookies. --By Lisa McLaughlin
FREE GAS FOR FALL TRIPS
With gas prices so high, cut-rate fueling stops have become a seasonal draw; bedandbreakfast.com and bbonline.com list fall gas promotions and reduced rates, such as 20% "gas relief" discounts or gas cards at inns nationwide. You can earn a gallon of gas for every bag of leaves collected from the lawn at the Hummingbird Inn in Goshen, Va. (up to a five-bag limit). The Kingsley House Bed & Breakfast in Fennville, Mich., is offering 2 gal. of gas (6 gal. maximum) for every gallon of apple cider or half bushel of apples you purchase at nearby Crane's apple orchards and Pie Pantry restaurant. And from November to March, the Inn at Cedar Falls in Logan, Ohio, will refund the price of a tank of gas (Sunday to Thursday) when guests fill up at a local station.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST FOLIAGE
Want to know when the trees will be at their peak? Check out these leaf-tracking sites:
The U.S. Forest Service's official site tracks colors in the national forests
Yankee magazine offers interactive maps, driving tours and podcast foliage reports
This site collects data from 567 volunteer foliage spotters across the U.S.
A weather forecast website lists peak foliage dates for 38 states