Though the air is starting to take on a little bit of a chill, those of you planning a Skyline Drive trip should know that the Virginia Department of Forestry’s latest update on the local fall foliage says the leaves won’t be acquiring their brilliant fall hues in the mountains until mid- to late October. As for parts of Northern Virginia, from Leesburg to Arlington — it’s looking like they’ll peak even later, from late October and early November.
Don’t want to make the drive to Shenandoah? Here are some spots closer to home. Don’t forget your cameras.
The Arboretum is a lush mix of green forest and gorgeous lawn in the summer, but it’s also pretty come fall. The colors are just hitting their peak, so the Oct. 15-16 weekend is a great time to go, says Scott Aker, head horticulurist for the Arboretum. The sugar maples are a fiery mix of yellow, orange and red (and sometimes, a unique, in-between sort of coral, says Aker); and the green ash and white ash have turned golden yellow. The Japanese maples and black gums will turn very red between now and the end of October.
This Middleburg winery is nestled between rolling hills and boasts stellar views at sunset, a pond on the estate and picnic grounds. It happens to be part of the Oct. 15-16 self-guided Farm Color Tour in Loudoun, a good way to take a trek through the country. The winery staff expect the colors to really be a sight by the Oct. 22-23 weekend.
Come for the cherry blossoms in spring, stay for the changing colors in fall. Those same trees by the Jefferson Memorial — most notably, the autumn flowering cherry trees — turn brilliant shades of orange, yellow and brown when the weather turns cool. Last year’s colors stayed strong well into mid-November.
The George Washington Parkway
For a view from your car, turn onto the George Washington Parkway and head south. The scenic roadway is at its most beautiful in any season between Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon, but it’s a particularly stunning area when fall colors are at their fullest. Pick up a picnic lunch in Old Town (we recommend Grape and Bean or the Butcher’s Block) and take advantage of the many parks and scenic stops along the way. The Mount Vernon bike trail also runs along that entire stretch of road, and if the weather cooperates, it provides a wonderful and active way to enjoy the seasonal display.
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