The leaves, they are a-changing — and not just in New England. Check out these five alternative leaf-peeping destinations for an autumn to remember.
Think Americans invented leaf-peeping? The Japanese have been at it for centuries, only it’s called Momijigari (red-leaf hunting) there. The ancient capital, Kyoto, turns vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red in November, thanks to the hundreds of varieties of maple, offset by golden palaces and dark-wood teahouses. Giggly geisha and canoodling couples stroll the leafy Philosopher’s Walk temple trail and the tree-lined Kamo River, wearing kimono decorated with autumn-themed scenes. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/quoi)
For gastronomes, Kyoto is like Mecca — you have to try hard to have a bad meal here. But save up for at least one kaiseki feast of Kyo-ryori cuisine. These beautifully presented multi-course meals are served in traditional tatami-mat rooms by kimono-clad staff, with plates, garnishes, and ingredients reflecting the season. Most have views onto gardens filled with petite, colorful maples. Try Nishiki restaurant and stay at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto.
A Real Corker
Maples might get all the leaf-peeping glory, but the autumn vistas in California’s Napa Valley are hard to beat, with hills covered in russet-red vine leaves. This time of year is called “Crush” by locals, and not just because it’s harvest season. The social whirl is in full swing, so there’s plenty to do when you’re not ogling the foliage, including the Flavour! Napa Valley food and wine festival, taking place November 17 to 20, 2011.
But whenever you come, pack a picnic, pick up a bottle from William Hill Estate Winery’s tasting room and have a sunny lunch amid 140 acres of red vines. Later, plump for a dinner of organic, Tuscan-inspired food by chef Michael Collins at Siena at The Meritage Resort & Spa, and splurge on a stay among the trees in woodsy Calistoga Ranch, or opt for the more wallet-friendly Hennessey House B&B in downtown Napa.