Autumn brings a welcoming committee that goes above and beyond: cooler temperatures, cozy coffee flavors — and most notably, a landscape of fiery foliage. Whether you love leaves, festivals, or simply carving a VW-themed pumpkin, here’s how to make the most of fall.
1. First stop: autumn decorating, VW style
Craft-lovers and craft novices alike: Get out your carving tools for these VW-themed pumpkin designs — one with the instantly recognizable VW logo and front grille, the other with the distinctive front of the beloved VW bus.
Try these carving tips to help:
- Use painter’s tape to hold the stencil in place, and a washable marker to trace the outlines.
- For both stencils, carve the cut-out sections (those that are black on the PDF) first. Once you’ve carved those pieces, leave them in place; this helps maintain pumpkin strength while you scrape away other sections.
- Scraped-away but not completely carved through sections are tricky. Start by using an x-acto knife to lightly trace the stencil outline. Then use a small sanding or linoleum carving tool to remove the topmost layers of the real or fake pumpkins.
2. Next stop: foliage
As the days shorten, summer’s brilliant green leaves can’t survive the transition: They lose chlorophyll and transform into a showstopping combo of reds, yellows, and oranges.
Check the fall foliage map for detailed predictions, but find some of these great highlights across the U.S.
Color may show up at the beginning of September, but the beginning of October is the likely peak. By mid- to late-October, the majority of the region may already have passed the prime leaf-viewing time.
Road trip in your VW to: Vermont’s Green Mountain Byway for 11 tree-filled miles through two state forests and three state parks. The northern endpoint is Stowe, known as Fall’s Color Capital.
MidwestThe northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan may see changes in early September, but they’ll probably peak early October. The rest of the region peaks at the end of the month.
Road trip in your VW to: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which boasts more than 20 forested state parks and a vast array of tree species.
With the exception of the Appalachian mountains (higher elevation cause leaves to change sooner), the best showing is likely late October into November.
Road trip in your VW to: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home to more than 100 native tree species and 800 miles of roads and trails. You’ll probably see the best color in early October.
New Mexico may be a mix of gorgeous hues in early October, while its neighbors catch up toward the end of the month. In early November, central and coastal Texas may peak.
Road trip in your VW to: Taos, New Mexico, the start and end point for the 83-mile Enchanted Circle. The loop showcases yellow and dark orange aspens, purple cinquefoil, and red cottonwoods.
The Rocky Mountain Range is one of the first spots in the U.S. to flaunt fall color, with some change in early September. Peak is probably around the beginning of October, when the rest of the region just starts to turn. California may not see much until the end of October.
Road trip in your VW to: Oregon’s 80-mile Columbia River Gorge to see a mix of firs, cottonwoods, maples, Oregon ash, and twisted pines.
3. Last stop: food, fun, and festivals
It doesn’t matter why or where, there are plenty of memory-worthy to-dos that should pack your list. They include:
- Food: Visit a local orchard or pumpkin patch. You’ll likely find everything from corn mazes to carriage rides, as well as homegrown produce. Check your state’s tourism or travel department, which may have a full list of attractions.
- Fun: Host your own backyard fall feast — roasted marshmallows, soup swaps, and cider bars are just a few options. If the weather is warm enough, project a movie from your smartphone outside (a clean exterior garage wall works as a screen, and you can find low-cost projectors at most chain stores), pass around popcorn, and hand out movie-favorite treats for a drive-in done at home.
- Festivals: Swing by one of these standouts (or make a bucket list-plan for a fall-worthy road trip — it’s never too early to plan for next year). Remember: State tourism or travel departments often publicize lists of statewide events such as these.
Dallas, Texas, September 22–November 21
Pumpkin Village boasts 90,000+ pumpkins, squash, and gourds; 4,500 chrysanthemums and 150,000 fall plants are also on display.
Leavenworth, Washington, September 29–30
The main event in this Bavarian-themed town’s annual street celebration is the grand parade featuring floats decked in fall foliage.
St. Charles, Illinois, October 5–7
All you’d expect from a fall festival — crafts, carnival rides, music, and kids’ activities — is centered around more than 100 handmade and mechanical scarecrows.
Wareham, Massachusetts, October 6–7
Cranberry harvesting? Yes, please. Includes cooking demos and bog wading.
Biglerville, Pennsylvania, October 6–7 and 13–14
It’s like a state fair packed into two weekends.
Whiteville, North Carolina, November 3
Whiteville is one of the state’s top pecan producing areas, and the town celebrates with parades, music, arts and crafts, and treats.