We dug deep into all Opal destinations in Florida, Maine, and New York to build this list of top fall events and seasonal vacation ideas.
Take Advantage of Newly Opened Trails [Bar Harbor, ME]
While Acadia’s 155 miles of trails are beautiful regardless the time of year, casual hikers tend to forget the benefits of hiking in cooler weather. For one, the amount of people sharing the trails plummets, and, secondly, you get access to some additional trails that close down in the spring and summer seasons on account of nesting and fledgling peregrine falcons. Since these birds start migrating in August (you can see them soaring overhead yourself during the annual HawkWatch program), you can expect the Precipice Trail and Jordan and the Valley Cove cliffs to open back up to hikers.
Catch the King [Clearwater, FL]
There are actually two peak seasons for kingfish: spring and fall. But the latter season is when you’ll find true behemoth versions of the species roaming these waters. That’s because it’s the season when they migrate back down south for the winter, after they’ve spent the summer getting fat off squid, anchovies, and jack. By the time they make it back to the Clearwater area, these fish weigh an average 20 pounds. The best way to find kingfish is by taking a charter like Scales and Tails off the coast and casting your line into the deeper waters of the Gulf.
Take a Scenic Fall Foliage Drive [Camden, ME]
If taking in the crimson-dappled canopy of autumn leaves at a more leisurely pace is more your style, a scenic drive from Rockport to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is a slower but no less spectacular way to enjoy Maine’s fall foliage. On the hour-long drive to Pemaquid Point, you’ll travel along some of the area’s prettiest stretches of coastal road before arriving at the lighthouse, which has been guiding sailors since 1827. On your way to and from Pemaquid Point, you’ll pass through Damariscotta, a quaint fishing village with an eclectic variety of shops, pubs, galleries, and more – the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat.
Where to Stay Samoset Resort
Leaf Peep like Never Before [Lake George, NY]
Driving down the winding routes of the Adirondacks is practically a national pastime come fall. And while there are plenty of gorgeous drives and hikes, consider leaf peeping from a new perspective: above. North Country Heli-flite out of Fort Ann (15 miles east of the southernmost tip of Lake George) offers two-hour tours above the Adirondacks that are rife with photography potential as you cruise over lakes and mountains from the safety and comfort of a Robinson R-44.
Where to Stay The Sagamore Resort
Find a Farmers’ Market (Out of 15!) [Naples, FL]
While most farmers’ markets around the country are preparing to call it quits as the warm weather begins to fade, Florida is just starting to roll theirs out. And Naples is no exception, offering over 15 different farmers’ markets (yes, 15!), starting in October and running until April. A few we suggest you seek out: Third Street South Farmers’ Market, overflowing with fresh produce, grass-fed beef, seafood, pastries and baked goods, prepared foods, jams, relishes, and more behind Tommy Bahama in the Neapolitan Parking Lot; St. John Farmers’ Market, with 40 vendors that set up shop alongside a scenic lake; and the Vanderbilt Farmers’ Market, said to be the largest in Naples with more than 80 vendors
Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel
Mingle with Some Manatees [Delray Beach, FL]
Because manatees do not have thick blubber layers, they seek refuge in natural and man-made warm water areas during the late fall and winter months (usually mid-November through March), migrating to areas from the Indian River Lagoon and southward. While manatees have been spotted in the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach during this time of year, if you want a surefire opportunity to see them, head 20 miles north to Manatee Lagoon in West Palm. Why Manatee Lagoon? Because it’s home to a warm-water outflow, generated by the Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center, that these gentle giants love to huddle and snuggle in.
Hang Ten [Jupiter, FL]
Florida’s Atlantic coast is known for its good surf year-round, but the pros know the best time to hit the waves is in the fall. That’s the time when tropical storms hundreds of miles away hurtle massive waves against the coast, even on the mildest of days. If you’re a seasoned waterman, rent a board at Ocean Magic Surf Shop; if not, sign up for a lesson at Locals Surf Shop – both conveniently located in Jupiter.
Where to Stay Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa