Travelling? You may be Eligible for Fall Foliage!
I live in a country with approximately 1.5 seasons and I have to say that I really miss the colors of fall. That being said, I’m on a budget like the rest of you and, unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the money to take a trip devoted exclusively to fall foliage. So, in the spirit of doing more with less, here’s a selection of five big cities (OK, six big cities and one train ride), on three continents, with plenty for a budget traveler to do. And, as an added bonus, they’ll be bursting with fall color!
Take the Train from New York City to Montreal
It’s an oft repeated cliché that ‘it’s about the journey, not the destination’. In this case, the whole trip is amazing! New York and Montreal are two of the best cities on the planet and bookend one of the most beautiful train rides you’ll take in your life.
Amtrak’s Adirondack train departs every morning from New York’s Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan and will have you in Montreal in time to enjoy dinner and a night on the town.
You’ll want to press your face to the window to marvel at the scenery any time of the year. Simply put; the Hudson river valley is spectacular. The Adirondack takes you right along the shores of the Hudson and the forested cliffs and bluffs that rise dramatically from its shores. In peak foliage season the normally green, lush canopy of the trees burn with the reds, yellows, and golds of fall.
The train passes Lake Champlain right before it crosses into Canada and, voila, instant postcard-worthy photo, or at least some good social media fodder.
London has an abundance of parks to transport you to an idyllic, bucolic setting within the bustling city. Don’t miss Hampstead Heath, a giant green oasis that’s only six kilometres from Trafalgar Square. Stroll along the paths, enjoy the view of the skyline, and take in the rich colors of the leaves as they signal winter’s imminent arrival. Travel a little further from London’s centre and you will arrive at Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks. Established by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer hunting grounds, the park today is a preserve and another excellent place to enjoy the sites and colors of fall.
Tourist flock to Japan every spring to see the cherry trees bloom with sakura, brilliant white flowers. But what most don’t realize is that the scenery is equally impressive in the fall. Japan’s many Maple trees burst into a fiery red providing a stunning backdrop to Kyoto’s numerous temples and castles. Whether you want to visit the magnificent Tofuku-ji Temple or Kyoto’s iconic, golden Kinkaku-ji Temple there really isn’t a wrong way to go about seeing fall in Kyoto.
If fall colors and temperate weather sound like your thing, then Milan is your destination. If you can swing a day trip to the local Lombardy countryside you’ll be rewarded with great food, wine, and a real show as the native Poplars turn a bright yellow. Or, stroll through Milan’s Porta Venezia and Villa Reale gardens to get the fall foliage experience without leaving the chic, sophisticated confines of the city.
OK, stop for a moment and play MegaMillions online right now. If you win, congratulations, and I’m not above accepting a generous token of gratitude for the good advice. Also, treat yourself and take a trip to the Great Wall. If there’s a word that means ‘sublime and then some’ that’s what you’ll see at the Great Wall in autumn. If you don’t win, well, sorry about your luck but keep trying, maybe next time. Since you’ll still be a budget traveler you’ll probably want to stick to what’s reachable by public transit from Beijing. The good news is that there’s plenty to see and do. Fragrant Hill is about 20 km from the city and accessible by public transit. A bit of a schlep, yes, but worth it. Badaling Forest Park is another site within reach of public transit. There are about 50,000 maples within this historic national park that will be ablaze with color come fall.