There’s a reason the pumpkin-industrial-complex exists. It’s because people, women specifically, freakin’ love fall. Whatever reminds us of it, like pumpkin-flavored anything, decorative gourds (CAUTION: this link is NSFW, but hilarious), and the like, instantly takes us away to a world of cool and pleasant temperatures, no humidity, good hair, a reason to wear a sweater – or at least a long-sleeved shirt – and boots, drinking apple cider, Halloween, Thanksgiving and LEAVES CHANGING COLORS. This is not a drill, people. Fall is here, and not even 2020 can take that away from us. Get excited.
When you live in a subtropical climate like South Florida, you get NO beautiful, red and orange maple leaves. You get live oaks that drop a bunch of brown leaves and pollen on you in February or March. You also get to gloat about never dealing with snow. Life is all about tradeoffs. Still, the lack of traditional indicators of fall makes those of us in the South yearn for cooler climates, an excuse to wear flannel, and a getaway to somewhere – anywhere – changing leaves can be found.
Last year in October I met up with my Mom, who lives in New Jersey, in Asheville, North Carolina. And before you go accusing us of being a couple of hipsters glomming on to the latest “it city” trend, let me assure you our Asheville bona fides are secure, as the mountains outside of the city were our second home for a good chunk of my childhood, including summer and a week every fall. My parents retired from New Jersey to Florida in the eighties, and, as you do, became what North Carolinians call “halfbacks,” or people who realize Florida summers are hot and get vacation houses in the Appalachians, which are about halfway between Florida and the Northeast. I grew up as a very privileged snowbird and wonder why I lose my mind when I can’t travel to somewhere cooler during the summer.
Neither of us had been to Asheville in a long time, so I did a little investigating. We got a very cute AirBnB basement apartment in West Asheville. We went grocery shopping so we would have snacks and small meals for the apartment. We drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway – the holy grail of fall foliage sighting, met up with our former neighbor at the Omni Grove Park Inn, drove around where we used to live – went to the botanical gardens, and even met up with my work colleague at her family friend’s restaurant, Sawhorse, which I highly recommend – they have poutine, need I say more?! We thought about going to the Biltmore House, but I felt the entry fee was exorbitant and that there were too many people, so we decided against it – plus we’ve both been there before, even if it was years ago. We ate an incredible meal at Curate in downtown Asheville during the trip, on the recommendation of a friend. We went to a great little restaurant near our AirBnB, Sunny Point Cafe, and the old school Tastee Diner, which apparently has since sold to new owners, but is still open. We also bummed around the AirBnB and binge-watched a nature documentary, because when it’s your vacation, you can do whatever you want. It was a nice long weekend and a perfect mother-daughter trip.
If you’re thinking about a fall foliage trip, there’s still time to plan something, depending on where you live and your risk tolerance for yourself and others when it comes to travel in the age of COVID. A trip like ours wouldn’t be hard to safely recreate, even in current circumstances. If not, there’s always next year. There’s something about experiencing fall in all of its glory, in real life. How do you like to experience Fall through travel?