The Ultimate Fall Bucket List

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Fall is the magical season that marks the transition between sun-drenched summer afternoons and frigid winter nights. While many plan their adventures in peak seasons, fall has plenty of adventures you can't experience any other time of the year. To celebrate the season of change, start checking off these spirited activities that embody all the autumn vibes.

Go Leaf Peeping

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Take a drive along the open roads of New England to witness the striking colors of fall in a classic road trip. Join the leaf peepers this year on a journey through Acadia National Park in Maine to Stinson Lake in New Hampshire ⁠— some of the region's most popular leaf viewing  spots. Leaves in the New England area begin to change colors in mid-September and peak in mid-October, with color change working its way down from north to south.

Celebrate Oktoberfest

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The world's largest folk festival is hosted in Munich each year with nearly six million visitors descending upon the Bavarian capital between mid-to-late September for over two weeks to celebrate. An essential fall festival for beer lovers, Oktoberfest is also celebrated in German communities across America, like Leavenworth, Washington. Participate in Leavenworth's Oktoberfest festivities over the course of three weekends in October by listening to live music, polka dancing, and gorging on authentic German sausages and pretzels. Don't miss the traditional Keg Tapping Ceremony that takes place at 1 p.m each Saturday in this quaint Bavarian town.

Pick a Pumpkin

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Pumpkin patches spring up across the country as October nears, giving you the chance to pick your perfect gourd. Miami's Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival in particular is a spectacular display with thousands of pumpkins and activities to enjoy. Little ones can enjoy the kid-friendly bumper cars and ferris wheel, while adults hang back at one of the festival's pumpkin beer bars for a cold one by Samuel Adams, Traveler Beer Company, or Angry Orchard. Spend your weekend turning your pumpkin into your favorite fall decoration by carving and painting.

Go Apple Picking

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Apple picking is a classic fall time activity. Come home with a bushel of fresh apples from Bellewood Acres, an hour and 45 minutes north of Seattle and just shy of the Canadian border. As one of America's top apple-producing states, Washington offers thousands of orchards to choose from. The extensive, 62-acre, family-operated Bellewood Acres in Lynden houses a 31-acre orchard, a pumpkin patch, winery, and corn maze. With a number of apples ready to pick around mid August, find yourself among 25,000 trees offering 21 varieties of fresh apples, which are perfect for making mugs of warm cider or classic apple pie.

Take a Hike

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For avid hikers, squeeze in one last hike before the paths become laden with snow this coming winter. Hike Smoky Mountain National Park's Porters Creek Trail to witness the vibrant crimson, orange, and yellow fall foliage that carpets its mountains and valleys. Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Smoky Mountains are home to a variety of trees including maples, golden American beeches, and scarlet oaks — making fall at this national park an exceptionally picturesque time to visit. As a moderate, four-mile, round-trip hike, Porters Creek Trail rewards those who embark on it with historic sites and the tumbling, 60-foot Fern Branch Falls.

Sleep Under the Stars

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Pitch a tent among the multihued fall foliage at one of America's 61 stunning national parks or rent a cozy log cabin for a romantic fall retreat. Thinner crowds this time of year make Grand Teton National Park a more intimate place to visit. Land a campsite at the highly popular tent-only Jenny Lake campground and assemble s'mores around a warm, crackling campfire.

Get Scared Silly

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Get into the Halloween spirit this fall by rounding up your friends and visiting Salt Lake City's Nightmare on 13th. Recognized as one of America's best haunted houses, this 36,000-square-feet attraction has been scaring the pants off its visitors since 1990. Nightmare on 13th promises even more frightening lighting and audio, terrifying costumes, and scream-inducing jump scares executed by trained actors with each successive year.

Spot Spirits on a Ghost Tour

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Get spooked as you discover the origins of Georgia's oldest city, and listen to the stories of Savannah's dark past. Embark on a nighttime ride throughout the historic district on the Trolley of the Doomed, visiting eerie haunted sites like the Andrew Low House and Perkins and Sons Ship Chandlery. It's not hard to understand why paranormal investigators gravitate to Savannah this time of year.

Get Lost in a Maze

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Find your way out of Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois, which is billed as America's largest corn maze. Open throughout September and October, the Adventure Farm prides itself in executing some of the country's most intricate corn maze designs, with popular past themes dedicated to Star Trek and Beatles fans. Some 10 miles of pathways snake across 28 acres of corn with multiple checkpoints throughout. Reward yourself with a fresh donut or hot cocoa on your way out.

Take a Vineyard Tour

Napa Valley Vineyards in Autumn
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Pack a homemade picnic lunch and hit the vineyards for some picturesque views this fall. As grapes are harvested this season, vineyards are at their most plentiful. Sample the delectable cheese plates along with your wine tasting session at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard. With its elegant, 55-acre property situated in the heart of the Hamptons, the vineyard embodies a distinct European feel. Pick up a few bottles for cozying up next to the fireplace in the wintertime.

Start a Bonfire

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In your own backyard or next to the iconic pier at Huntington Beach along the California coastline, a bonfire is a memorable way to commemorate your summer with friends and family. With the feeling of soft, powdery sand beneath your feet and the sound of crashing waves against the shoreline, spend the evening roasting hot dogs and sharing your favorite summer memories until the night sky comes alive with stars. Remember to check local fire restrictions and permit requirements, however, before setting a blaze, and always practice fire safety.

Go Trick-or-Treating

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Proudly recognized as the Sweetest Place on Earth, Pennsylvania's Hersheypark offers families the opportunity to collect Hershey's favorite chocolate bars along their kid-friendly, trick-or-treating trail. With 13 stops throughout Hersheypark, Hershey's Chocolate World, and ZooAmerica, families can trick or treat on any of the three weekends between October 18 and November 3, 2019 during their annual Hersheypark in the Dark event.

Bake a Pie

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Come the end of summer, all of your favorite fall flavors of pie make a sweet return. Gorge on all-American apple pie at Chicago's Hoosier Mama Pie Company and savor expertly crafted, flaky crust. Or instead, go for the Thanksgiving favorite at San Francisco's Devil's Teeth Baking Company, which features a sweet potato pecan pie with a sumptuous, sweet potato filling and a crunchy pecan top. Or, gather your ingredients, put on an apron, and try your hand at whipping up your own masterpiece.

Attend a Fall Fair

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Show your fall spirit by celebrating the season at one of the many fall fairs happening across America. Attend the circus at the Georgia State Fair, wave hi to Big Tex at the Texas State Fair, or take part in an Ohio tradition by attending the Circleville Pumpkin Show, which includes four days of parades, pageants, and competitions dedicated to the pumpkin.

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