I have to be honest: I used to hate fall. I’ve always been a summer person, sunshine, ice cream, hot weather, swimming, being outside. Then September would arrive and I’d start feeling sad. Maybe it was that “back to school” vibe, or the knowledge that cold weather was coming, I don’t know. I just didn’t like it.
But in the last few years I have really started to love autumn. I finally realized that so many things I enjoy happen this time of year. I still feel that twang when September rolls around but I start to get excited about the fall.
Here are 5 things to love about fall.
Yeah, you knew that would be the first one. It’s pretty obvious. However, I grew up in sunny southern California, and for me fall wasn’t full of golds and reds, it meant horrible hot and dry Santa Ana winds. And if I thought about plants I pictured brown, dessicated and dried up tumbleweeds. Cheerful, right?
But the last few years I have gotten to experience fall color and boy oh boy it is awesome! Hiking or driving through a tunnel of golden leafed trees is just marvelous.
So – if you are from the desert or the tropics, or somewhere else that doesn’t do fall color, make your way to the forests and get a good eyeful this autumn.
Minnesota is my favorite place to explore in the fall. If you are looking for a beautiful destination, check out my guide to leaf peeping along Lake Superior.
Time to Travel
As I said above, fall to me means “back to school” and has a negative connotation that the fun is done. But you may know that “back to school” also means it is an excellent time to travel. The kids have to be at home and so the parents do too, and that means destinations will be less crowded. The shoulder season is also a great time to get deals on flights and lodgings. Or rent an RV or camper and take a road trip around Central California or explore Oregon’s State Parks.
For all my hating on autumn, I’ve always said September and October are my favorite times to take a trip. The weather is usually still great, not too hot or cold. Spain and Portugal are excellent options, as places like Andalusia and Madrid will be cooling down. Here are 10 ideas for weekend trips in Europe this autumn.
Maybe a foodie tour in Morocco is the ticket this fall. Autumn is an especially great time to visit the U.S. National Parks as they are a lot less crowded. Of course you can always go on an adventure to look at the fall colors too. Just think carefully about planning a trip to the hurricane regions, as we have seen this year in particular.
As I said above, I grew up in sunny SoCal, but I escaped when I was 18 and ran off up north. I loved the rain and fog, the beaches and the forests. And it was there that I discovered my obsession with mushrooms. No no, not the magic kind, the ones you find in the woods!
I hunted for mushrooms all the time. Usually just to look at them, but sometimes I would pick them to eat for dinner. My roommate was horrified and was sure I would poison her. That was fine, more deliciousness for me.
When I go for a walk in the woods I am always looking down, on the hunt for fantastic and curious mushrooms. Autumn is mainly their favorite season to sprout after rains. I love to look at them and photograph them, and sometimes ID them and then gobble them up at my next meal.
Well, this one is rather odd for me to mention, because to be totally truthful I have never tasted a pumpkin spice latte. Or really anything “pumpkin spiced” other than actual pumpkin products like pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie.
But autumn does scream out for squash and for warm and cozy spices like cinnamon, clove and ginger. I say have a delicious chai (and not those gross ones that come from a mix – make the real tea from scratch!) or a spicy hot apple cider. Or, go with my next tip and try adding those spices to some ….
Autumn is harvest season and harvest season means grapes. Right? Ok ok, maybe only in my boozy brain, but fall is definitely a great time for some wine or beer tasting. In September and October you can find wine festivals in all the grape growing regions around the northern hemisphere. Santa Barbara has an awesome one! If you are more into beer, maybe you’ve heard of one of the biggest beer fests in the world? What is it called? Oh yeah, Oktoberfest! And it happens in September! But never mind that.
Breweries around the globe produce special autumn beers like Bock, Märzenbiers and craft brews made with fresh-off-the-vine green hops. There are now also tons of pumpkin spiced varieties too but I say give most of them a miss.
Another boozy autumn tradition is hard cider. It’s made from apples, which are of course a wonderful fall fruit. Be sure to also sample perry or poiré, made from pears.
Lots of cocktail recipes are fabulous for fall. Add some of those warm spices to make a hot toddy, gluhwein or mulled cider on a cool October evening. Check out these cocktail concoctions from Saveur.
We hope you also find things to love about fall. What are your favorite things to do in autumn?
Don’t miss our 10 places you should visit in Europe this fall!