ALL POSTS IN [Fall]

Fall is officially here, and we couldn’t be happier to start enjoying a few of our favorite things: sweater weather, heart-thumping adventures and pumpkin-flavored food galore.

There’s no shortage of things to do in fall, but we whittled down our list to 6 of our favorite seasonal musts. There are only 90 days in fall, so get crackin’.

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Pat Weber of San Diego Surfing Academy with Robin, 9, of Boston area, at S. Carlsbad Beach. (Photo: Lori Hoffman)

Can someone learn to surf in just 1 day? How about learn to surf and participate in a surfing competition in 2?

If your teacher is Travis Long, the answer may be yes. At least that’s what this tandem-surfing pro and surf instructor with San Diego Surfing Academy has been saying ever since I touched down in Southern California a couple hours ago, and before then, when we were emailing coast to coast. Who could pass this up?

There’s just one small thing: Forget not knowing how to surf, I barely know how to swim. And come to think of it, I don’t own a bathing suit. Plus, I have a bad lower back. Other than that, this sounds like one great idea.

At least Travis thinks so. He’s even got us booked in a tandem-surfing competition, slated for the very next day. Swami’s 19th Invitational Surf Contest is an annual event put on by Swami’s Surfing Association at Cardiff Reef, CA. As the guardians of “sun, sea and surf since 1964,” this is one of the oldest surfing clubs in all of California, and … I’m starting to freak.

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The “Day of the Dead,” or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is often compared to Halloween due to its celebration the day trick-or-treaters hit the streets. But it has a much different purpose. The occasion is a national holiday on Nov. 1 and 2 in Mexico and centers on the gathering of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is held in connection with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

If it seems to you like the holiday often goes uncelebrated in the United States, you might just not be in the right place. Below are 5 “Day of the Dead” events that honor those who have died. Find a complete list of the nation’s events here.

1. Dia de Los Muertos in Los Angeles, CA 
When: Nov. 2 from noon to midnight
The celebration is held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and is the largest of its kind in California. The festival features an altar-decorating competition as well as live music and costume contests for the best Calaca (skull or skeleton) costume.

2. Bare Hands Dia de Los Muertos, Numero Once Festival in Birmingham, AL 
When: Nov. 2 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Bring a small altar or memento of remembrance and dress up in bones for this energetic cultural celebration. The festival attracts thousands of visitors and is sponsored by Bare Hands, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for community involvement and promotes cultural dialogue.

3. All Souls Procession in Tucson, AZ 
When: Nov. 3 at 4 p.m.
The All Souls Procession brings more than 35,000 people together to the streets of downtown Tucson for a 2-mile-long walk that culminates with the burning of a large urn filled with hopes and offerings from the public for those who have passed. The procession is organized by non-profit arts collective Many Mouths One Stomach.

4. Dia de Los Muertos Street Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas
When: Nov. 1 and 2
This festival brings a large art exhibition, artist workshops, and entire day-long dancing and concert events to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.” The event promotes cultural tourism by drawing artists, musicians and vendors to the area each year.

5. Dia de Los Muertos 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico 
When: Nov. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This annual celebration is held at San Jose de Armijo Cemetery and features sugar skull painting, costumes and music organized by the Atrisco Heritage Foundation. The foundation works through the event to promote and preserve the ancestral and cultural heritage of Albuquerque.

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A year after Hurricane Sandy: The Jersey Shore is open for business. (All Photos: Jersey Shore)

The Jersey Shore is open and ready for business. A year after Hurricane Sandy, the 270 miles of shoreline along New Jersey’s coast have seen a resurgence in visitors. This past summer, most of the Jersey Shore’s shops and restaurants were open to travelers. In Monmouth County alone, which saw the brunt of Sandy’s wrath alongside neighboring Ocean County, nearly all the waterfront restaurants have reopened, with new ribbon cuttings almost weekly, attended by the likes of New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

“We have to celebrate that we’ve come this far,” says Bob Hilton, executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. A big reason for the Shore’s revitalization has been the arrival of 40,000 new travelers, from places like Virginia, New York, Ohio, Philadelphia and as far north as Canada, who’ve come out of a mixture of curiosity, support and travel discounts. Travelers are finding that, despite the number of displaced families and business that have yet to resettle in the area, the majority of the Shore’s tourism attractions are back up and running. In fact, some areas, such as Atlantic City, saw minimal damage and were open the day after Sandy’s touchdown.

So as news reports on Sandy’s 1-year anniversary saturate your newsfeed, we’ve sifted through the hysteria and the hype — here’s what travelers can really find in visiting the Jersey Shore’s 4 counties:

Monmouth County
Home to 27 miles of oceanfront beaches, and 26 miles of bayfront beaches, Monmouth County encompasses Jersey Shore’s northernmost tip. Visit Monmouth’s 3 working lighthouses, including the oldest one in the US, Sandy Hook Lighthouse; enjoy a round of golf at 8 courses; and horse racing at Monmouth Park Racetrack. Popular restaurants in Highlands, NJ, include Bahrs Landing and Inlet Café (both on the waterfront), as well as Windansea, Chilangos and Havana Tropical Café. Plus stroll the revitalized Spring Lake, Belmar and Asbury Park boardwalks.

Ribbon-cutting: One of the many businesses in Monmouth County reopening.

Ocean County
Despite a dip in its beach rental market, and the recent Seaside boardwalk fire, Ocean County has been coming back strong thanks to a packed festival season — October sees about 60 events happening throughout Ocean County, including, for the Halloween-minded, Fright Fest at Great Adventure and Haunted Seaport, as well as lively parades such as Toms River Halloween Parade — the biggest Halloween parade in the country, on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Cape May
On the Jersey Shore’s southernmost tip, Cape May was largely unaffected by Sandy. Attractions include the Physick Estate, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, and come Christmastime, the decoration of local bed-and-breakfasts, like the Queen Victoria, with different holiday themes. For New Year’s, the boardwalk will see 70 different entertainment venues, spread over 2 days, with plenty of fireworks and a New Year’s Day plunge into the Atlantic.

Jersey Shore’s boardwalks: This past summer, most shops and restaurants reopened to travelers.

Atlantic City
Everything is open in Atlantic City – it’s been that way since the day after Sandy hit shore. Among the highlights is the new Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex, which opened this past summer, as well as new stores in The Pier Shops at Caesars including Bare Feet Boutique, Shoe Be Do, Cellairis, BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar, Auntie Ann’s and Cinnabon. Plus, you’ll find Empire Burger takeout on the Boardwalk, operated by Phillip’s Seafood. In addition, 5 new dining outlets opened at Tropicana’s Marketplace (on the boardwalk side). In Tropicana’s The Quarter, Broadway Burger Bar also opened.

New addition: Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex opened this past summer.

What’s your favorite Jersey Shore attraction? Tell us in the comments box below.

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Haunted houses, costume parties, and trick-or-treating are often seen as the “traditional” Halloween events that many Americans participate in each year. But one of the increasingly popular attractions taking over fall includes a stroll through real creepy crawlies, bats and “unnatural mysteries” at one of the nation’s zoos.

Coined as a “boo at the zoo,” the events attract people of all ages and offer a twist to the standard neighborhood trick-or-treating. As you prepare to make your Halloween plans, take a look at these 5 popular October zoo events:

1. Oakland Zoo  (Oct. 26 and 27)
Children get a free ride on the “spooky boo train” as well as access to exclusive trick-or-treating among the animals at this zoo-wide event at the Oakland Zoo in California. The event is included with admission and offers participants a chance to make treats for the zoo’s animals and explore monster myths through educational stations.

2. Smithsonian National Zoo (Oct. 25, 26 and 27)
Collect candy while visiting the animals and Halloween decorations at the Nation’s historic zoo in DC. While it’s not exactly cheap (tickets are $30 for non-members), the event sells out and benefits the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) foundation.

3. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Oct. 25, 26, 27 and 31)
Watch hippos play with pumpkins, rhinos explore ghosts and birds fly above your head at the Cheyenne Mountain “Boo at the Zoo” event. The “creatures” of the zoo are “let out” at this annual event as zoo keepers put on multiple educational Halloween-themed shows.

4. Bronx Zoo (Now through Nov. 3)
Encounter a dinosaur safari and creepy craft workshops at the Bronx Zoo’s annual Halloween bash. Visit the “winged icons” of Halloween, including bats, owls and vultures, before embarking on a trip back in time through a dinosaur safari during the annual New York tradition.

5. Tampa’s Lowry Park (Oct. 24 through 27)
The Halloween zoo event at Tampa’s Lowry Park is so frightening that there are “skull ratings” for the attractions. Features include “Pharoh’s Tomb of Revenge” where artifacts come alive and the scariest ranked attraction of all, “Tangled Terror,” which features a “failed experiment” with carnivorous plants.

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When we announced our Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips for 2013, we wanted to hear from our fans. We asked you what we missed on our list and for you to tell us your favorite fall foliage road trip. It was a landslide – The Great Smoky Mountains won out! Behind the Smoky Mountains, fans picked the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Virginia and North Carolina, as another popular spot for a leaf-peeping drive.

Unfortunately, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed due to the government shutdown, but you can’t let that stop you. Hop in your car and take in the scenery as you drive around Gatlinburg, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the scenic Smokies. Now is the perfect time — fall colors peak here in mid-October.

Gatlinburg offers more than just a spectacular autumn show. See what else there is to do in this boot-stomping town … other than ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the foliage, of course.

 

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Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. When we compiled our list of Things to Do in October, we sure were betting on Acadia National Park and the Grand Canyon as 2 great spots to spend quality travel time this month. Then a little matter called the government shutdown occurred, and soon enough what seemed like 2 really cool travel ideas turned into one big letdown.

We’re sorry, guys, and for what it’s worth, we’re as bummed as you as we watch the news reports. Since Tuesday’s shutdown, Grand Canyon visitors have been turned away en masse, ditto for Acadia National Park. In fact, all national parks, which “belong to the American people, and the American people should have the right to come in,” are now closed until further notice. We can’t even check out their websites, including the adorable panda cam at DC’s National Zoo.

You don’t have to plan a big trip out West or along the East Coast to realize the impact of this shutdown. Something as simple as a jog around a favorite local park is now off-limits, if it’s under National Park Service stewardship – and lest you think of even trying to set foot on NPS ground, you could face arrest. We wouldn’t want that. But we don’t want you to idle your month away, either.

So in the spirit of American resilience — and because, well, we can’t let the good ole boys and gals in our nation’s capital get us down — we propose these travel alternatives. You will have fun this month – government shutdown or not!

Let’s start with the Grand Canyon. As you drive away, grumbling under your breath that the great off-season trip you were hoping for won’t happen as planned, take heart: The Hualapai people have you covered. This Native American tribe oversees a swath of land to the west of the Grand Canyon – and that includes the part where you’ll find the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Check out Hualapai Tourism (yep, their site is up!) and get Skywalk info.

As for Acadia, well, we’re not going to lie: Its closure is a major blow to leaf-peepers everywhere. But Main’s office of tourism suggests that visitors enjoy the fall colors other ways. “While Acadia National Park is one of our featured attractions, there are so many other things to enjoy in Bar Harbor and on Mount Desert Island,” says Chris Fogg, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “The area’s brilliant fall foliage will be at its peak over the next few weeks, businesses are open, and there are many ways to enjoy some of Maine’s most beautiful coastline,” he adds.

And let’s not forget the state parks – they’re all open, coast to coast, and they could help save your vacation. Everything from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Red Rock State Park, are open to visitors – check out Wiki’s full list of state parks.

Government shutdown or not, let’s make this a month to remember!

Photography by Jeff Folger

Fall is here. And that’s means one thing – it’s time to get outside and photograph fall’s spectacular colors.  To help you on your way, we caught up with Jeff “Foliage” Folger, a New England fall foliage photographer and sage for over a decade, to get his tips and tricks for capturing autumn’s stunning scenes year after year.

An expert adviser on our Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips 2013, Folger has a passion for fall foliage and loves photographing autumn’s seasonal show. Folger also writes his own blog, Exploring New England’s Fall Foliage, where, in addition to showcasing his photography, he shares tips on planning and locating foliage, as well as tracking down peak times.

Check out our Q&A with Jeff:

Traveling Type: How did you become a “fall foliage sage” and photographer?
Jeff “Foliage” Folger:  The photography started when my father gave me a small camera back in the late ’60s and taught me how to develop black and white film in our basement. I kept up with cameras through the next 30-odd years, but only as a hobby. Then, when I retired from the Air Force and settled in Salem, MA, I set out to explore the fall foliage season — making all the rookie mistakes. Over the next 10 years, I would be on the road from late September until the end of October, and Yankee magazine asked me to be their first foliage blogger. My job was to drive all over New England and tell folks where I found the best fall colors.

And how did you get your moniker — Jeff “Foliage” Folger?
During my first year blogging with Yankee, my editor started calling me Jeff “Foliage” Folger during podcasts. A few years down the road, a local radio talk show host added the title “Foliage Sage” (and “Arboreal Oracle” which is my favorite).

Where is your favorite place to go leaf peeping?
My favorite place? Any place that I haven’t been before! I love discovering new places and sharing them with my readers. The most honest answer is a bit sappy, but when I have Lisa, my wife, with me and I can share a new place with her, that makes it special. My website lists locations by state. It will never be finished, but I load a few new places on that website each year.

What’s the biggest misconception about fall foliage?
There are so many misconceptions. Where to start? First: “peak fall color” … everyone comes looking for the “peak.” Most people would be so much happier if they never heard this term. You see “peak” is more an ideal, and it rarely happens – it’s when every tree in sight changes at the same time and at the same rate. In reality, if you see 80-90% of the trees in their fall colors, you will be blown away.

Photography by Jeff Folger. Route 112, New Hampshire.

You mention in your blog the art of getting lost” while leaf-peeping. What do you mean by this? 
The art of getting lost is nothing more than getting off the well-known routes, like the Kancamagus Highway. Everybody (including me) loves to travel Route 112 between I-93 and Conway, NH. But not many think to take Route 112 west away from the “Kanc,” where you’ll find Lost River Road and Kinsman Notch. From there you can travel up Route 16 and find red barns surrounded by sugar maples. I don’t want anyone to get lost, but I want you to look at a good map and look for interesting features and see where it takes you.

Why do certain places in the country, like the Northeast, have more vibrant fall foliage?
I’ve talked to the forestry officials and they tell me it’s because there are over 70 varieties of deciduous trees. And then the fact that New England has the highest concentration of sugar and red maples in the country. These 2 types of maples provide the most vibrant yellow/orange leaves and scarlet red leaves.

What’s your forecast for this fall — the best place and best spot to see fall foliage?
The best place to see fall color is wherever you find yourself. Just being out in nature and exploring the wonders of our world is the prize. If you happen to find a path with golden maple leaves above and a carpet of colors on the ground to go with it, then you have really found the best place.

Jeff “Foliage” Folger in his element photographing New England’s fall foliage.

How do you keep it fresh (photographing fall foliage every year)?
For me, there are places have become old friends that I like to stop in and see how they have changed. Also, New England is really a big place and every year I find new places to explore. Every turn of the wheel brings something I’ve never seen before. Until I have explored every road, it will remain fun for me. Plus, I get to meet great people working the land or in small stores and they all have great stories to tell.

What are the most essential tips for any aspiring photographer to know?
Shoot to make yourself happy. If you are shooting but it’s just a job, then you’ll learn to hate the photography after a while. I take the shots that make me happy and if I’m lucky, a few other people will like them, too.

What are the biggest gaffes you’ve made photographing fall foliage?
Not using a tripod and thinking that if I hold my breath I can hold the camera still enough to not blur the image. It doesn’t usually work.

 

What’s your favorite photo of fall foliage that you have taken?
There are so many favorites and all of them are tied to memories of traveling with my wife. One that sticks out in my mind was our first time to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. It’s a 1730s village brought to life by actors. Lisa and I took a boat ride on their little pond and it was cloudy and misting but the colors were so perfect.

Jeff Folger’s favorite fall foliage photograph, taken in Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts.

What are the top places you have yet to capture – that you want to?
This one is easy. I want to spend a lot more time in Maine looking for moose and other scenes. Then, I’d like to more completely cover Rhode Island and Connecticut. Not to mention the Berkshires and western Massachusetts. In 10 years I’ve only scratched the surface.

****

Get more tips in Jeff “Foliage” Folger’s Fall Photography Tips.

We want to see your photos of fall foliage! Take your best shot and submit your favorites in our community gallery.

Before you plan your leaf-peeping drive, check out Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips.  And don’t forget to vote for your favorite spot to see fall colors!

What’s not to love about fall? Crisp cool air, beautiful fall foliage, spooky sites and pumpkin-flavored food galore. There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate fall, but we whittled down our list to 7 of our favorite fall to-dos.

1.     Eat pumpkin … everything.

Ah, America’s favorite gourd — pumpkin! It’s everywhere and in everything this fall — pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin fro-yo, the list is endless. If you’re gaga for this gourd, plan a day for picking your own pumpkins. Perhaps a 1,000-lbs. pumpkin will provide enough filling for your dishes this fall?

2.     Get lost in a corn maze.

Ever just want to get away … in a massive field of cornstalks? Now’s your chance to get lost in the coolest and creepiest corn mazes in the US. Can you make it all the way through 45 acres of twists and turns in the world’s largest corn maze? Just call us if you get lost.

3.     Get spooked at a vampire haunt.

The zombie fad may be passé this year, but the undead superstar that will never lose its appeal? Vampires. Sink your teeth into these vampire haunts around the world or follow the trail of literature’s greatest bloodsuckers with a vampire vacation.

4.     Take a leaf-peeping drive.

Nothing says fall more than leaf peeping, and what’s the best way to take in Mother Nature’s spectacular autumn show? On a road trip, of course. Get inspired with our favorite fall foliage drives and don’t forget to check the peak times before you go.

5.     Raise your steins for Oktoberfest.

Can’t make it to Germany for this annual beer-fueled fall festival? Get your brews and bratwurst at these Oktoberfest celebrations in the US or raise your steins at beer gardens around the world.

6.     Go apple picking.

If you gorged yourself on pumpkin and are craving another harvest favorite, head to these apple-picking farms.  Fun for the whole family, apple picking lets you enjoy the fruits of your labor at home with fall treats like apple pie, apple butter, cider and more.

7.     Make a campfire.

Instead of spending your nights staring at the TV (Breaking Bad is over after all this Sunday), take in a campfire. Fall is a perfect time for camping with its crisp, cool weather. Tell ghost stories and toast pumpkin s’mores over a raging fire (that you will safely put out before you go to bed, of course).

Tell Us: What’s on your fall to-do list?

 

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