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Though Florida benefits from having warmer temperatures year-round, the change of seasons, like fall, can be nice to experience -- especially around the holidays.
Despite Florida’s lack of seasonal color change, there are a number of easy weekend-getaways that have vibrant seasonal colors. The Southeast’s best time for seeing trees with a mix of ruby red and amber colored leaves is usually between the third week in October through November, but it varies each year.
Below are a couple destinations that you can drive to in under seven hours.
Photo Credit: The Biltmore Company
Since Jacksonville is the northernmost metro in Florida, getting to North Carolina by car is easy, and some of the best fall colors of North Carolina can be found in Asheville. North Carolina takes great pride in their fall colors, and Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is one of the best places for fall colors because they have a large variety of trees and a long season for changing colors. Asheville is also connected to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a road designated an All-American Road for it’s scenic and memorable drive.
Travel Details: 456 miles or 6 hours and 19 minutes
Stay: Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown
See: Blue Ridge Parkway and The Biltmore Estate
Drink and Eat: 12 Bones Smokehouse for some Southern barbecue and Jack of the Wood for drinks
Cheaha State Park. Alabama Tourism Department and Tad Denson, MyShotz.com
The longest drive on the list is from Daytona to Montgomery, Alabama. Unlike the laid-back beachy vibe of Daytona, Montgomery is known for its excellent Southern food, rich Civil Rights history and offers guests a genuine feel of Southern hospitality. Montgomery is the hometown of jazz legend, Nat King Cole, and rhythm and blues singer, Big Mama Thornton, so be sure to make the drive with a playlist of jazz and blues. Located two hours north of Montgomery is Cheaha State Park.
Travel Details: 457 miles or 7 hours and 11 minutes
Stay: Red Bluff Cottage
See: Montgomery Zoo and Freedom Rides Museum
Drink and Eat: It’s oyster season so be sure to check out Wintzell’s Oyster House. For some fine Southern cooking at Southern Comfort Restaurant in Hope Hull.
Photo Credit: AARP
Known for being the home to The Masters, one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments, Augusta, Georgia is also known for Southern charm and history. A popular spot for locals and tourists is the Augusta Riverwalk located on the Savannah River, which is especially scenic and enjoyable during the cooler months.
Travel details: 396 miles or 6 hours and 10 minutes
Stay: Queen Anne Inn
See: Augusta National and Augusta Riverwalk
Drink and Eat: Drinks are always better with some dancing, we recommend, Soul Bar.
Photo credit: Atlanta.net
If you leave Tampa and travel north on I-75 for a few hours, you’ll hit the Southern hub of Atlanta. Known for having great barbecue and a variety of nightlife options, the autumn leaves in Atlanta typically have their peak colors between late-October and early-November. During the peak time-period for colorful leaves, Atlanta has a variety of free weekend festivals ranging with focuses on art, food and music, so be sure to check one of them out.
Travel Details: 456 miles or 6 hours and 20 minutes
Stay: The Artmore Hotel
See: Skyview Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Drink and Eat: Park Tavern for eats and Six Feet Under for drinks. If you want to eat where the locals eat, try the Varsity Drive-In.