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There are certainly reasons to avoid leaf peeping in its usual incarnation. You could easily overdose on quaintness while choosing the plumpest pumpkin or dearest antique. If you shy away from scores of children wielding candied apples while running wild through cornstalk mazes, you may want to skip the season altogether. Understood.

But you’d be missing some glorious sights, whether you go simply for the visual treat or allow the colors to enhance a trip with an entirely non-related agenda. Don’t allow the scarecrows to chase you away. Indulge. Here are some places we wouldn’t mind visiting during the autumn months. We may even enjoy a crisp apple or some pumpkin ice cream along the way.

Take the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway up the Hotake Mountains, near Nagano, Japan. From both the double-decker gondolas and the observation deck, you’ll enjoy a glorious view.

hotake japan



Explore the monasteries of Echmiadzin, Armenia. Perhaps sight a few khachkars, outdoor stone slabs carved with detailed motifs, which can still be found although many have been destroyed.

khachkars armenia



Drive the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway through the beautiful Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. This National Scenic Byway, which runs through Virginia and North Carolina, is bordered with deciduous trees, such as oak, dogwood, hickory, buckeye and ash.

blue ridge parkway



Skip Paris in the springtime and visit in autumn. The fall foliage in Jardin du Luxembourg easily rivals its colorful May blooms.

jardin du luxembourg paris



For more lovely landscapes in autumn, don’t miss the Butchart Gardens, just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. You’ll find a serenity impossible to locate in a corn maze.

butchart gardens




Eight Unique Ways to Experience Fall


Where will you take in the fall foliage this year?

– written by Jodi Thompson

Every Monday, we’ll post the answer to the previous week’s Photo Friday quiz. Play along with future photo guessing games by subscribing to our blog (top right).

The correct answer to last Friday’s photo guessing game is Montreal! The building with the green roof is Montreal’s 1870′s-era city hall, located in the part of town known as Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal). Nearby is Place de Cartier, a popular square that bustles with street performers and sidewalk cafes in the summertime. Learn more about the city in Montreal Essentials.

Check back this Friday for another photo guessing game!

– written by Sarah Schlichter

camping canada When I realized just how cold it was going to get in the Canadian wilderness that night (less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit after the sun set), I layered on nearly everything I had packed. My makeshift camping pajamas consisted of leggings, yoga pants, sweatpants, several pairs of socks, a T-shirt, a flannel shirt, a sweatshirt, a fleece, gloves and a hat. Were a wild animal to sink its teeth into my leg as I waddled to the bathroom in the dark that night, I wouldn’t feel a thing.

Despite my armor of cotton and fleece, I woke up in shivers more than once throughout the night. I had gone to bed with wet hair, my head soaked from a full-moon whitewater rafting excursion on the Ottawa River. Curled up on a cot in a tent at Horizon X base camp in Bryson, Quebec, I dreamed of hair dryers and warm laundry. This experience was, I had been told, “glamping.”

Like “staycation” or “tourist-tastic,” the term “glamping” is one of those awkward pop culture word fusions that people either love to state or love to hate. Clearly, it means “glamorous camping.” But beyond that, its definition is vague. Does it involve butlers? Gourmet meals in deluxe heated cabins? Pedicures under the stars?

My luxuries at Horizon X included cots, tented cabins with wood floors, hot showers in non-potable water (which could be no longer than four minutes or there wouldn’t be enough water for the rest of the camp!), and, thankfully, a Jacuzzi. There were beds in a few of the tented cabins, but I was not ruthless enough to claim one. This was a step up from conditions at some other campsites, many of which don’t even offer tents or cabins. Was I glamping?

I looked into some luxury camping options to compare. Tour company Abercrombie & Kent houses travelers on African safaris in mobile tents with king-size beds and en-suite private bathrooms that have running water. Multi-course meals are served to guests in a candlelit dining tent. Global Expeditions in Arizona offers tents with queen beds and daily turndown service in the Rockies and other U.S. destinations. Turndown service in the great outdoors — surely this is glamping.

Spending a night in the bush on a fancy king bed sounds amazing, but I wouldn’t trade my stay at Horizon X for a thing. A hot, albeit short, shower, a cot and good company were sufficient for me. The campsite was rugged and beautiful. The full-moon whitewater rafting excursion was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And after spending two chilly nights in the remote Canadian wilderness, my own bed at home, my private heated bathroom and that leftover slice of pizza in the fridge never looked so glamorous.

–written by Caroline Costello

boston fall New England and Canada are immensely popular autumn destinations — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fall deals to be found in these parts of the world. You just have to know where to look. We did some travel deal detective work and unearthed several exceptional bargains in harvest-time havens from Maine to Montreal. Travelers can look forward to blazing foliage, crisp autumn weather and fun fall festivals when visiting these regions in September and October.

Third Night Free on Maine’s Coast
This October, get a free night’s stay at Cedarholm Garden Bay Inn, an oceanfront property located in the Camden, Maine area. The inn’s guest cottages, which start at $225 per night, all have private decks overlooking the water. Guests wake up to a complimentary Continental breakfast served each morning.

7-Night Canada/New England Cruise from $549
Pay less than $80 per night — that’s roughly half off standard fares — for a week-long Caribbean Princess cruise sailing roundtrip from New York on September 18. This leaf-peeping cruise stops in scenic ports including Halifax, Bar Harbor and Newport.

Save 25% in Montreal
Receive 25 percent off weekend stays at the Hotel Omni Mount-Royal, a centrally located Montreal hotel set in the city’s popular Golden Square Mile neighborhood. Discounted nightly rates start at $104.25 CAD for travel before December 30.

U.S. Fares from $44 OW
AirTran‘s latest systemwide sale includes low-priced flights to fabulous fall destinations like Boston; Portland, Maine; Rochester; and Buffalo. These sale fares are valid for travel through mid-December, and must be booked by August 24.

Save 25% on Northeast Regional Train Travel
Travelers departing from New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia can get discounted Amtrak tickets to lovely New England towns like Providence, New Haven and Stamford. Discounted tickets start at just $10 each way when booked 14 days in advance.

Save 30% on Boston Hotels
For a limited time, travelers heading to Beantown this autumn can take advantage of reduced rates at dozens of local hotels. Book with Hotels.com by August 30 and save up to 40 percent on accommodations in Boston. This deal features nightly rates as cheap as $58 (for the Westgate Hotel and Conference Center), plus discounts at upscale properties including the Copley Square Hotel and the Langham, Boston.

Find more bargains in our Discount Travel Deals.

Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc, which also owns Hotels.com.