5 fall foliage road trips through New York State
So now, it’s a good time to jump on a road trip. Here are our suggested itineraries for a four-day road trip throughout upstate New York. However, read up on CDC and statewide COVID-19 mandates before heading out.
For reference, I Love New York, the state’s tourism board, puts out a weekly fall foliage map report on their website.
Road trip 1: The Adirondacks
Where to Stop: Lake Placid tells about the 1980 Winter Games with present-day restaurants and attractions and is close to the High Peaks Wilderness. Its challenging 46 Peaks will reward you with sweeping foliage views. Eight miles from Lake Placid, Saranac Lake has a buzzing downtown with shops, galleries and restaurants, or see Saranac Lake 6ers, a close-by collection of six beautiful peaks.
Or jaunt along the scenic route to Tupper Lake and to the Wild Center, whose Wild Wild platformed trail heads across the treetops. The Tawahus Road leads to the Upper Works Trailhead, which provides an alternative route to traditional northern or eastern access to the High Peaks Wilderness. Trails at the Crown Point State Historic Site, on the shores of Lake Champlain, lead to two Revolutionary War-era fort ruins.
In Bolton Landing, Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course is the largest aerial tree-top adventure park in the U.S. The Lake George area is a premier hiking destination with unparalleled beauty of the Adirondacks. Some hikes, such as The Pinnacle, jaunt along wooded trails with a switchback or two to ease the climbing burden.
Where to eat: In Lake Placid, Golden Arrow’s restaurant, Generations, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with grown and raised locally menu. Up the road from Crown Point State Historic Site, Gunnison's Orchards & Bakery serves up fresh-baked pastries, bread, cookies, pies, and their cinnamon cider donuts. End your day at Ledge Hill Brewery, for handcrafted ales and lagers mindfully brewed in Westport.
Road Trip 2: Capital-Saratoga
Where to stop: Starting from the Helderberg Hilltowns, John Boyd Thacher State Park in Voorheesville is perched atop the Helderberg Escarpment, with panoramic views of the Hudson-Mohawk valleys and the Adirondack and Green mountains. After hiking along the park’s Indian Ladder Trail, take a nine-minute drive to Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont. Kids can pick apples and pet farm animals and parents can unwind at the cidery and brewery tasting room. Lastly, at Falls View Park, marvel at Cohoes Falls, New York State’s second largest waterfall.
Where to eat: Nine Pin Cider, New York's first farm cidery, has a tasting room in Albany’s Warehouse District, with a rotating selection. Find a traditional or a new flavorful spin on the apple cider donut at Cider Belly Doughnuts, in the heart of downtown Albany.
Road Trip 3: Hudson Valley
Where to stop: From New York City, first explore the lower Hudson Valley river towns, beginning in Tarrytown at the Lyndhurst Mansion along the Hudson River. Next, drive north to Garrison to see the Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center, the former home of industrial designer Russel Wright. Then, Dia:Beacon is a contemporary art museum in a Nabisco box-printing factory, whose exterior grounds were designed by artist Robert Irwin.
Head to the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge connecting Poughkeepsie and Highland. From Highland, drive north approximately 25 minutes to Kingston to check out the historic waterfront district. Pumpkin and apple picking can be done at Samascott Farm Orchard and Golden Harvest Farms in nearby Valatie.
Where to eat: In Tarrytown, stop by the Sweet Grass Grill for a local and seasonal focused meal. In Kingston, Outdated Café has a range of salads, egg dishes, and more; purchase antiques too. For drinks, hot spots include River Outpost Brewing (Peekskill), Wolf & Warrior (White Plains), Decadent Ales (Mamaroneck), Sing Sing Kill (Ossining) and Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (Elmsford).
Road Trip 4: Central New York
Where to stop: From the North, the Scenic Byway - Route 20’s scenery offers unique of shopping experiences. Lake Classic Outfitters will fit the bill at Sam Smith’s Boatyard and The Blue Mingo Grill overlooking Otsego Lake. In Cooperstown, find not only the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but also the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum. Main Street is the visitor hub with baseball-themed shops, eateries and the home of Doubleday Field.
Where to eat: Grab a bite to eat and an ice cream with a life-sized Elvis statue at Jerry’s Place just before reaching Cooperstown. Brooks’ House of BBQ is how to fill your belly when traveling from Oneonta in the south, or try a Bohemian-feel, experiential meal at Origins. In Cooperstown, Alex’s Bistro is a local favorite with flavor concoctions unmatched.
Road Trip 5: Finger Lakes
Where to stop: This trip takes you from Canandaigua along Routes 5 and 20 and down to Naples, home of the grape pie. County Road #12 Scenic Overlook, Kershaw Park and Onanda Park in Canandaigua offer scenic vistas and fresh lake water. In Naples, go to Artizanns for NY made souvenirs and stop by any of the local stands for Grape Pie. In Canandaigua, there’s a cute Main Street with all kinds of shops and a couple of roof top bars. Take a fun farm diversion to go to Lazy Acres Alpacas in Bloomfield.
Finger Lakes National Forest, the only national forest in New York State, is located on a ridge between Seneca and Cayuga lakes with over 30 miles of interconnecting trails. They include the 12-mile Interloken Trail, which is part of the Finger Lakes Trail Association network. The Keuka Lake Outlet Trail lies between the villages of Penn Yan and Dresden and measures nearly seven miles of wooded trail and along waterfalls.
Where to eat: Ethnic diversity is noticeable in Canandaigua’s restaurant scene or check the craft breweries in the area. In Naples. Monica’s Pies is known for its grape pie and Brew and Brats at Arbor Hill has locally made sausages, pies, wine and beers.
The ultimate New England fall foliage road trip
Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Trip length: 5–7 days; 424 miles (682km)Best time to go: Late September to mid-OctoberEssential photo: Kent Falls set against a backdrop of autumnal colorsTop experience: Ziplining through the tree canopy in Bretton Woods The brilliance of fall in New England is legendary. Scarlet and sugar maples, ash, birch, beech, dogwood, tulip tree, oak and sassafras all contribute to the carnival of autumn color. But this trip is about much more than just flora and fauna: the harvest spirit makes for family outings to pick-your-own farms, leisurely walks along dappled trails, and tables groaning beneath delicious seasonal produce. Lake Candlewood is the perfect place to start a New England fall foliage road trip © Alan Copson / Getty Images1. Lake Candlewood With a surface area of 8.4 sq miles, Candlewood is the largest lake in Connecticut. On the western shore, the Squantz Pond State Park is popular with leaf-peepers, who come to amble the pretty shoreline. In Brookfield and Sherman, quiet vineyards with acres of gnarled grapevines line the hillsides. Visitors can tour the award-winning DiGrazia Vineyards or opt for something more intimate at White Silo Farm Winery, where the focus is on specialty wines made from farm-grown fruit. For the ultimate bird’s eye view of the foliage, consider a late-afternoon hot-air-balloon ride with GONE Ballooning in nearby Southbury. The drive: From Danbury, at the southern tip of the lake, you have a choice of heading north via US 7, taking in Brookfield and New Milford (or trailing the scenic eastern shoreline along Candlewood Lake Rd S); or heading north along CT 37 and CT 39 via New Fairfield, Squantz Pond and Sherman, before reconnecting with US 7 to Kent. The Litchfield Hills of Connecticut have possibly the best fall colors in the world © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images2. Kent Kent has previously been voted the spot in all of New England (yes, even beating Vermont) for fall foliage viewing. Situated prettily in the Litchfield Hills on the banks of the Housatonic River, it is surrounded by dense woodlands. For a sweeping view of them, hike up Cobble Mountain in Macedonia Brook State Park, a wooded oasis 2 miles north of town. The steep climb to the rocky ridge affords panoramic views of the foliage against a backdrop of the Taconic and Catskill mountain ranges. The 2175-mile Georgiato-Maine Appalachian National Scenic Trail also runs through Kent and up to Salisbury on the Massachusetts border. Unlike much of the trail, the Kent section offers a mostly flat 5-mile river walk alongside the Housatonic, the longest river walk along the entire length of the trail. The trailhead is accessed on River Rd, off CT 341. The drive: The 15-mile drive from Kent to Housatonic Meadows State Park along US 7 is one of the most scenic drives in Connecticut. The single-lane road dips and weaves between thick forests, past Kent Falls State Park (currently closed due to COVID-19) with its tumbling waterfall (visible from the road), and through West Cornwall’s picturesque covered bridge, which spans the Housatonic River. The picturesque covered bridge in West Cornwall, Connecticut © Jeff Hunter / Getty Images3. Housatonic Meadows State Park During the spring thaw, the churning waters of the Housatonic challenge kayakers and canoeists. By summer, the scenic waterway transforms into a lazy, flat river perfect for fly-fishing. In the Housatonic Meadows State Park, campers vie for a spot on the banks of the river while hikers take to the hills on the Appalachian Trail. Housatonic River Outfitters runs guided fishing trips with gourmet picnics. Popular with artists and photographers, one of the most photographed fall scenes is the Cornwall Bridge (West Cornwall), an antique covered bridge that stretches across the broad river, framed by vibrantly colored foliage. In the nearby town of Goshen is Nodine’s Smokehouse, a major supplier of smoked meats to New York gourmet food stores. The drive: Continue north along US 7 toward the Massachusetts border and Great Barrington. After a few miles you leave the forested slopes of the park behind you and enter expansive rolling countryside dotted with large red-and-white barns. Look out for hand-painted signs advertising farm produce and consider stopping overnight in Falls Village, which has an excellent B&B. The Berkshires turn crimson and gold, making for a spectacular fall, in the hills of Massacusetts © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images4. Berkshires Blanketing the westernmost part of Massachusetts, the rounded mountains of the Berkshires turn crimson and gold as early as mid-September. The effective capital of the Berkshires is Great Barrington, a formerly industrial town whose streets are now lined with art galleries and upscale restaurants. It’s the perfect place to pack your picnic or rest your legs before or after a hike in nearby Beartown State Forest. Crisscrossing some 12,000 acres, hiking trails yield spectacular views of wooded hillsides and pretty Benedict Pond, Further north, October Mountain State Forest is the state’s largest tract of green space (16,127 acres), also interwoven with hiking trails. The name – attributed to Herman Melville – gives a good indication of when this park is at its loveliest, with its multicolored tapestry of hemlocks, birches and oaks. The drive: Drive north on US 7, the spine of the Berkshires, cruising through Great Barrington and Stockbridge. In Lee, the highway merges with scenic US 20, from where you can access October Mountain. Continue 16 miles north through Lenox and Pittsfield to Lanesborough. Turn right on N Main St and follow the signs to the park entrance. Driving to the summit of Mt Greylock in autumn is a sensory overload © PM 10 / Getty Images5. Mt Greylock State Forest Massachusetts’ highest peak is not so high, at 3491ft, but a climb up the 92ft-high War Veterans Memorial Tower rewards you with a forested panorama stretching up to 100 miles, across the Taconic, Housatonic and Catskill ranges, and over five states. Even if the weather seems drab from the foot, driving up to the summit may well lift you above the gray blanket, and the view with a layer of cloud floating between tree line and sky is simply magical. Mt Greylock State Reservation has some 45 miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Frequent trail pull-offs on the road up – including some that lead to waterfalls – make it easy to get at least a little hike in before reaching the top of Mt Greylock. The drive: Return to US 7 and continue north through the quintessential college town of Williamstown. Cross the Vermont border and continue north through the historic village of Bennington. Just north of Bennington, turn left on Rte 7A and continue north to Manchester. Manchester's architecture looks even better shrouded in fall colors © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images6. Manchester Stylish Manchester is known for its magnificent New England architecture. For fall foliage views, head south of the center to 3828ft-high Mt Equinox, the highest mountain accessible by car in the Taconic Range. Wind up the 5.2 miles – with gasp-inducing scenery at every hairpin turn – seemingly to the top of the world, where the 360-degree panorama unfolds, offering views of the Adirondacks, the lush Battenkill Valley and Montréal’s Mt Royal. If early snow makes Mt Equinox inaccessible, visit 412-acre Hildene, a Georgian Revival mansion that was once home to the Lincoln family. It’s filled with presidential memorabilia and sits nestled at the edge of the Green Mountains, with access to 8 miles of wooded walking trails. The drive: Take US 7 north to Burlington. Three miles past Middlebury in New Haven, stop off at Lincoln Peak Vineyard for wine tasting or a picnic lunch on the wraparound porch. Go out on Lake Champlain for a leaf-peeping adventure and you might run into a mythical sea creature © Larry Gerbrandt / Getty Images7. Lake Champlain With a surface area of 490 sq miles, straddling New York, Vermont and Quebec, Lake Champlain is the largest freshwater lake in the US after the Great Lakes. On its northeastern side, Burlington is a gorgeous base to enjoy the lake. Explore it by foot on our walking tour. Then scoot down to the wooden promenade, take a swing on the fourperson rocking benches and consider a bike ride along the 7.5-mile lakeside bike path. For the best off-shore foliage views we love the Friend Ship sailboat at Whistling Man Schooner Company, a 43ft sloop that accommodates a mere 13 passengers. Next door, ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center explores the history and ecosystem of the lake, including a famous snapshot of Champ, Lake Champlain’s mythical sea creature. The drive: Take I-89 southeast to Montpelier passing Camels Hump State Park and CC Putnam State Forest. At Montpelier, pick up US2 heading east to St Johnsbury, where you can hop on I-91 south to I-93 south. Just after Littleton, take US 302 east to Bretton Woods. The Bretton Woods have leaf-peeping as well as high adventure just waiting to be explored © thrmylens / Getty Images8. Bretton Woods Unbuckle your seat belts and step away from the car. You’re not just peeping at leaves today, you’re swooping past them on zip lines that drop 1000ft at 30mph. The four-season Bretton Woods Canopy Tour includes a hike through the woods, a stroll over sky bridges and a swoosh down 10 cables to tree platforms. If this leaves you craving even higher views, cross US 302 and drive 6 miles on Base Rd to the coal-burning, steam-powered Mount Washington Cog Railway at the western base of Mt Washington, the highest peak in New England. This historic railway has been hauling sightseers to the mountain’s 6288ft summit since 1869. The drive: Continue driving east on US 302, a route that parallels the Saco River and the Conway Scenic Railroad, traversing Crawford Notch State Park. At the junction of NH 16 and US 302, continue east on US 302 into North Conway. Wrap up your fall foliage road trip in North Conway, a scenic finale © Nils Winkelmann / EyeEm / Getty Images9. North Conway Many of the best restaurants, pubs and inns in North Conway come with expansive views of the nearby mountains, making it an ideal place to wrap up a fall foliage road trip. If you’re traveling with kids or you skipped the cog railway ride up Mt Washington, consider an excursion on the antique Valley Train with the Conway Scenic Railroad; it’s a short but sweet roundtrip ride through the Mt Washington Valley from North Conway to Conway, 11 miles south. The Moat Mountains and the Saco River will be your scenic backdrop. First-class seats are usually in a restored Pullman observation car.
7 Most Amazing Under-the-Radar Road Trips in the U.S.
This article was written by Jimmy Im and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel. According to AAA, one in four Americans take a road trip every year, and with good reason. It's cost effective (especially with falling gas prices), enriching, and utterly nostalgic, and just plain fun. While plenty of iconic routes snake across our nation (like the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66) we rounded up under-the-radar routes that should definitely be on your bucket list. They're just that amazing. So get your favorite driving playlists ready and check out these hidden-gem road-tripping adventures. 1. The Route: Boston to Rockport, Massachusetts The Vibe: The Massachusetts coast is alluring, dotted with historic fishing towns. Along the Way: Start by taking in Boston's best sights, from shopping on Newbury Street, to a Red Sox game in Fenway Park, to The Freedom Trail, to Faneuil Hall Market Place, to eating in the North End. Then head to Salem on MA-1A North. Salem is steeped with history: It's home to the infamous Salem witch hunts but it's also quaint and beautiful. Be sure to check out the Peabody Essex Museum, The House of the Seven Gables, and Old Burying Point Cemetery. Just outside of Salem, you'll also want to visit Marblehead, a charming, coastal village with roads and buildings dating back to the 18th century and a harbor filled with yachts. Wander the streets and visit Old Burial Hill, Castle Rock Park, and the Marblehead Lighthouse to stretch your legs. Drive north on I-127 to Gloucester, a fishing town home of the book and movie The Perfect Storm about the doomed Andrea Gale (and, incidentally, where the concept of frozen food was born; it was developed there in America's oldest working fishing port!). Good Harbor Beach and the Fisherman's Memorial are worth seeing, and you can also go whale-watching. End up in Rockport, a boho art colony where artists are inspired by, Motif #1, a 150-year-old red fishing shack on Bradley Wharf. Or check out Halibut Point State Park. Related: Smackdown: Boston vs. Seattle 2. The Route: Kohala Coast to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii The Vibe: Think of it as an alternative to Maui's Road to Hana ride, except on this one is on the Big Island, known for its exciting outdoor adventures. Perfect for nature lovers. Along the way: Start at Kohala Coast, home to the island's best resorts like Four Seasons Hualalai and The Fairmont Orchid. First, take a dip at Maniniowali Beach, known to locals as Kua Bay, one of the most pristine beaches on the island. People also love to bodyboard there, but be careful and check to see that the waves are small enough to be manageable. Next head south on Highway 19, taking in the natural environments, from the coast to rain forests (there are actually 11 of the world's 13 climate zones on this one island). At Highway 11, after mile marker 108, stop at Coffee Shack, a beatnik cafe on the edge of a cliff, sporting breathtaking views of the coast. Have a strong cup of locally produced Kona coffee, then continue on to the 180-acre Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park, home to a well-preserved, ancient Hawaiian royal residence. It's a beautiful drive along old lava fields and tropical forestry for about 40 miles. Stop in the town of Naalehu for Punalu'u Bake Shop, the southernmost bakery in the United States, famous for their doughnuts. Hop back in to the car until you reach Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which made headlines last year with several eruptions. There are lava caves to explore, and visit the Kilauea Visitor Center and learn how to safely view the active lava flows in the park. 3. The Route: Reno Loop, Nevada The Vibe: If you've conquered Route 66 or just want something a little different, try the Reno Loop, with tons of activities for sporty and adventurous types. Along the way: Kick off the drive with rock climbing at Whitney Peak Hotel, a new property sporting the largest artificial rock-climbing wall in the world. You can't miss it - the wall is on the side of the hotel. Next, take Nevada State Route 431 to Incline Village on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Stop and get in a hike (or go skiing in the winter), play some tennis, or go sailing. For those feeling more frisky, there's an unofficial nude beach just south of the area. Jump back in the car and take Nevada State Route 28 to Stateline, where Heavenly Mountain Resort's activity center at the top of the gondola includes a zipline and rope courses. From there, head to the town of Genoa from State Route 207 to Route 206. The tiny town is home to Genoa Bar, one of the oldest in the state, where an iron safe is filled with a collection of decades-old bras. Continuing to U.S. 395 through Carson City until U.S. 50, take State Route 341 (which turns into 342) to Virginia City. Mark Twain once lived here as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper. The 19th-century mining town still retains wooden boardwalks and Victorian-era buildings - hop on a rail tour to get the full retro effect. Virginia City is also chockfull of ghosts, so check out haunted sites like The Washoe Club Haunted Museum, Piper's Opera House, or the Silver Queen Hotel. 4. The Route: Napa Valley to Mendocino, California The Vibe: The famed Pacific Coast Highway is the most visited route for road trippers (from families to honeymooners), but Northern California touts an amazing drive, too. Just sober up before you get back in the car after all the wine tasting! Along the way: Hit a few wine tastings and tours in Napa Valley, like Beaulieu Vineyard, one of the oldest in the area; family-owned Buehler Vineyards for great value; or Cade Estate for especially awe-inspiring views. From Napa, take the 101 to 128. During the drive you'll stop in several towns with breathtaking landscapes, like Sonoma and Healdsburg. In Sonoma, of course there are more wine tastings, and Francis Ford Coppola's winery is equipped with an outdoor pool and exciting gift shop with film memorabilia. You can also check out the Boyes Hot Springs at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. In hipster-laden Healdsburg, you can stop to soak up some of the wine with fresh, crafted cupcakes at Moustache Baked Goods, which uses simple, organic ingredients for their sweet treats. But make sure you're sober for the drive, because this part of the trips is all about embracing the beauty of the region, and take the windy, two-street roads slow and easy. Through small towns, tree-lined streets, and plenty of open sky, you'll end up on Highway 1 along the rugged coast, until you reach the rustic town of Mendocino. It's embellished with Cyprus forests and scenic cliff sides, many that overlook blowholes and sea caves. Check into Elk Cove Inn, a hidden gem that's just as rustic as the region. There are only 16 rooms, all of which tout breathtaking views of the coast. Related: Making the Most of a Wine-Soaked Weekend in Sonoma 5. The Route: From Austin to Marfa, Texas The Vibe: While we love the classic Texas BBQ and Hill Country Hideaways, a new emerging route is a hipster favorite: the road to Marfa. Along the Way: From Austin, take U.S. 290 to I-10. This stretch is more of a meditative drive; there's not much along the way. But about an hour and a half from Austin, the small town of Fredericksburg woos tourists for its quaint, small-town feel with family-run shops on Main Street. It's also known for Enchanted Rock, a former spiritual holy ground for Native Americans favored by hikers. After six hours, travelers will arrive at Marfa, a quirky, trippy town run by an artist colony. It's wildly famous for it's stand-alone Prada store that's more of an art concept. Famous movies like Giant in 1956 were filmed in Marfa, and retro legends Liz Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson all stayed at the famed El Paisano Hotel. Keep your eyes out for mysterious lights in the town, floating glowing balls of white, yellow, and red light, spotted since 1883 and, to this day, remain a mystery. There's even a viewing area located nine miles east of town on Highway 90. 6. The Route: Denver to Telluride, Colorado The Vibe: There's nothing like slope hopping out west, but spring/summer is the best time to see the small towns of Southwest Colorado; they're culturists' dream destinations. Along the way: The drive from Denver to Ouray on I-70 West is through some breathtaking landscape in the mountains and national forests. Ouray is a famous ghost town that's quirky and well preserved - it looks like a film set for a Western. If you're driving during cold weather, the claim-to-fame in Ouray is the ice climbing at Ouray Ice Park. As the largest ice park in the world with 200 climbing routes, it's one of the best places in the U.S. for this recreation. Take US-550 South to Durango, a charming town that's home to cute cafes and old-school saloons. You can also take in the great views with an old-timey train ride from Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum or at San Jaun National Forest. From here, via CO-145 North, it's only two hours to Telluride, which is home to Butch Cassidy's first bank robbery. Travelers can visit the original safe in what's now a sunglass store. Nearby highlights also include Ridgway, where True Grit was filmed; Sawpit, the smallest town in Colorado with a gas station and one street lamp (Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise own homes here), and the protrusion of Wilson Peak, the iconic mountain on every Coors Light beer can. 7. The Route: Zion National Park Loop, Utah The Vibe: Most discerning travelers/road trippers have seen the Grand Canyon. In the same region, Southwest Utah is getting more interest with its scenic drives embellished with red rocks, unspoiled landscapes, and a whole 'lotta sky. It's like landscape porn. Along the way: Start at Zion National Park, Utah's oldest national park with 69 types of wild animals living here (including mountain lions). A two-hour scenic drive takes road trippers to Lake Powell, a manmade reservoir surrounded by sandstone walls (water sports, like paddleboard yoga, are offered here). Lake Powell is a stone's throw from Amangiri, one of the most luxurious resorts in the U.S. Have lunch on the outdoor terrace and you may spot a celebrity or two. Go onward to the beautiful Highway 12 (Utah's "All American Road") to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, home to million-year-old canyons for canyoneering, then Bryce Canyon National Park where you can pitch a tent for some major overnight stargazing. Nearby Boulder is known for Hell's Backbone Grill's pumpkin enchiladas and other farm fresh produce in the middle of scenic nowhere. From here, you can take on a three-hour drive to Canyonlands National Park to experience more surreal, natural scenery. Related: This Amazing Utah Canyon Hike Comes With a Rescue Dog
Here’s how to take a California road trip inspired by the state’s festivals.
Heading out on a road trip across the glorious state of California? Unfortunately, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of the state's summer and fall festivals have been canceled or delayed. Those that are still scheduled, for now, are probably best to skip as California is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases making it important to avoid crowded areas. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the aspects of California culture the festival’s celebrate. You can go on a socially distanced California road trip inspired by the state’s festivals. But, before you head out on the road be sure to pack proper PPE, be conscious of how many ICU beds are available in the towns you’ll visit, have a game plan for meals, book accommodations with hygiene protocols, and triple check your car is ready for a road trip. Here’s how to take a California road trip inspired by the state’s festivals. There are over six festivals in California dedicated to lavender. This California road trip itinerary goes from the South to North and hits up spots for everything from BBQ, kites, wine, and garlic. Instead of the Vista Strawberry Festival get fresh strawberries at local markets Vista Strawberry Festival in San Diego celebrates one of the most delicious berries. Vista was once the strawberry capital of the world in the 1960s and 1970s. There are fewer strawberry fields in the area today but you can still get freshly picked berries from local vendors at the Vista Farmer's Market every Saturday morning. You must wear a mask while browsing the stalls and maintain a distance of six feet. You don’t have to go to the Festival of Whales to see whales Festival of Whales, during the migration of the California gray whales, isn’t the only way to enjoy the majestic aquatic creatures in Dana Point, California. The area is known as the whale watching capital of the world as whales can be spotted off the coast of Dana Point year-round. The destination is home to one of the largest concentrations of blue whales on Earth. Many other species of whales also migrate past Dana Point. ©Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images/Getty ImagesInstead of the Vans US Open of Surfing check out the largest surfboard in the world Vans US Open of Surfing competition in Huntington Beach, California is the largest surf festival on earth. The 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 but you can still enjoy the town’s surf culture. Watching surfers take on swells at the beach and then take in the glory of the world’s largest surfboard which broke two Guinness Book of World Records. The surfboard held the most people at once and is the largest surfboard ever made. Skip the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival and enjoy a boysenberry pie at a local diner Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park is the birthplace of the boysenberry. Knott’s Boysenberry Festival usually takes place every spring. Even without attending the festival, you can get your boysenberry fix. Enjoy a boysenberry pie, a boysenberry churro sundae, or a boysenberry funnel cake at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner. Make a reservation in advance to snag one of the outdoor tables on the patio. Be sure to pick up boysenberry salad dressing and preserves for a tasty souvenir. Pass on the Santa Maria BBQ Festival and go for take-out Santa Maria barbecue is a regional culinary tradition. While visiting the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County be sure to taste some of the award-winning BBQ in the area. You don’t have to go to the Santa Maria BBQ Festival to indulge in a flavorful meal. Instead, grab take-out from the many BBQ restaurants in Santa Maria including Woody’s Butcher Block or BBQ Land. You don’t have to attend the Morro Bay Kite Festival to fly a kite Morro Bay Kite Festival was canceled this year but you can still partake in a socially distant activity by flying a kite at Morro Rock Beach. The breathtaking surroundings and windy location make for the perfect kite flying environment. Bring a kite and fly it on the beautiful bay at a safe social distance from other folks on the beach. ©CAN BALCIOGLU/ShutterstockTake a selfie next to a 20-foot-tall artichoke instead of the Artichoke Festival Artichoke Festival in Castroville may have been canceled this year but it’s still worth making a stop at the artichoke center of the world. Taste some of the local delicacies such as fried artichokes and snap a selfie next to the 20-foot-tall artichoke at the Giant Artichoke Restaurant. Marilyn Monroe was crowned the first Artichoke Festival Queen in 1948. Go to Garlic World instead of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Gilroy is the “Garlic Capital of the World” and celebrates with an annual festival. The Gilroy Garlic Festival was canceled this year. Don’t fret as you can still enjoy garlicky food at the family-owned Garlic World roadside grocery store. ©Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/ShutterstockNosh on Himalayan cuisine in Berkeley rather than attending the Himalayan Fair Himalayan Fair is the largest Himalayan festival in North America but has been postponed until the fall. You can still support the Himalayan culture and people in the Bay Area by enjoying delicious Himalayan cuisine at Berkeley restaurants such as Mount Everest. Taste of Sonoma is canceled but Sonoma County wine is not Taste of Sonoma showcase was meant to be held at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens this year. Even though the festival was canceled, travelers can still enjoy the best wine country has and visit Kendall-Jackson in Santa Rosa, California. Make a reservation to enjoy the top-selling Chardonnay in the States at the winery’s outdoor patio.
#VanLife: how a pandemic affects life on the road
#VanLife. It’s been all the rage for a while now. Living in your van or car can provide freedom. Freedom from rent, freedom from the mundane, and often most importantly, freedom to travel the country. But what happens when a pandemic hits, bringing travel to a grinding halt? What happens when you’re ordered to stay home but your home is a van? I spoke with two people for whom van life is the norm and learned some of the ways COVID-19 has impacted their community. Jen Nielsen, @jolly_jen, in the 2009 Toyota Matrix she calls home six months out of the year. Where to Go? When COVID-19 hit the fan in March 2020, going “home” to parents or friends was an option for some vanlifers, but not all. For many, traveling across the country to stay with friends or family would do more harm than good because they would be putting not only themselves at risk but every person they came in contact with along the way. Additionally, those who normally have someone to go to might not have that option anymore if those individuals are at a high risk of being seriously harmed by the virus. Then there’s the fact that some people don’t have friends or family they can stay with at all. So what were vanlifers to do? Well, many of them chose to self-quarantine by camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or National Forest land. It was something they knew how to do safely, it stopped them from traveling, and it meant they would only be close to other people when they went into town for food or gas. There were a few problems, however. One of these was time limit restrictions, usually 14- or 16-day limits in these areas. To make matters worse, some locations even closed down for people who were from outside the county. Halle Homel, a full-time vanlifer, summed up the situation in a blog post on her site: “We rely on public lands to be able to live in our homes when we have no other options [...] But lately, BLM and Forest land has been threatening closures too, and for those of us who live on the road, I have to ask the question: where are we supposed to go?” A part-time vanlifer named Jen Nielsen experienced this problem first-hand. She quarantined in Utah on BLM land for a while before receiving an order to leave. Then she packed up her car and headed next-door to Colorado where she quarantined on more BLM land until she had to leave after 14 days. The constant need to move clashed with her desire to be responsible, shelter in place, and come into contact with as few people as possible. Harrassment Being a vanlifer during this time had other negative effects, one of those being in-person harassment. For example, Jen was yelled at by a local for having out-of-state plates while in Colorado. Cyber harrassment was also a problem for many vanlifers who document their adventures. Halle was active in sharing her experiences online during this time and faced backlash. On Instagram, she would post photos of her secluded campsites and in exchange received negative messages from people telling her to go home. Halle Homel, @halleswanderingsoul, sitting on top of her van in California.Tips for Van Life Travel Moving Forward As restrictions now let up and tensions regarding the pandemic subside, vanlifers are starting to move again. With assistance from Jen and Halle, I gathered a few tips for helping vanlifers do so safely. 1.Plan ahead: Do your research to make sure campgrounds, roads, and recreation areas are open before you head there. Also, utilize apps like iOverlander, a community-based tool, to find a place to sleep before moving. 2. Seek out unpopular areas: Many national parks are being slammed with visitors as they reopen, which makes it difficult to social distance while exploring these locations. Focus your travels on less well-known areas of the country. 3. Avoid bad roads: As there are less people traveling than normal, there are also less people going down remote, unpaved roads. Therefore, if you get stuck on one of them, there’s a smaller chance that someone will pass by and help you out of the mud. Furthermore, these roads are often in no-service zones, so being unable to call for help may leave you stranded. 4. Consider your route, not just your destination: Routes leading you through large cities should be avoided. Not only does this allow you to evade the crowdedness that’s synonymous with these cities, but it also gives you the opportunity to support the economies of smaller communities. Finally, I want to encourage you to share your own tips for traveling safely during this time in the comments below! This new environment is a tricky one to handle, but if we all help each other out, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. Martha Anderson is a Budget Travel intern for summer 2020. She is a graduate of Kennesaw State University.