With summer now behind us, the natural inclination is to break those sweaters out of mothballs, get those fantasy leagues in order and start planning that oh-so-perfect Halloween costume. And if you’ve got an MX-5 Miata, perhaps you’re lamenting having to “batten down the hatches” until spring.
The good news is that fall, in much of the United States, is an exceptional time to keep the top down for a little while longer — depending on your proximity to the Sun Belt. Here are our top “topless” destinations within the lower 48:
1. New England
There are plenty of mini heat waves that roll through southern New England well into November. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont all can see temperatures reach the low 80s for up to a week at a time in the fall, making it the perfect time to put your shades back on, drop your top and take in the stunning fall foliage. Whether spending a quaint weekend at a Vermont bed-and-breakfast, apple picking in New Hampshire or taking a drive out to Cape Cod for authentic New England clam chowder, New England can provide the perfect backdrop to your topless weekend.
The ultimate no-brainer. Aside from the usual south Florida showers that can come any time of year, the weather in fall is noticeably more tolerable than the intense humidity of summer. The beaches are still buzzing and the nightlife never stops. Whether sticking strictly to the world-class people watching of South Beach, or exploring the cuisine and ambience of older neighborhoods like Little Havana and Little Haiti, Miami remains one of the most international cities in the southern United States. If you’re feeling like letting your hair down, take the stunning drive to Key West on the Intercoastal Waterway and visit the house where Hemingway produced some of his greatest works.
3. The Blue Ridge Parkway
Unfurling over 469 miles between Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway has long been featured as an “All American Road” for its stunning vistas high above the Smoky Mountains. In fall, when the leaves are turning, the Smokey Mountains become an explosion of colors that stretches as far as the eye can see. Cell phone service at points of the drive is non-existent, so fair warning if you’re someone who can’t bear to be unreachable. However if you’re looking for a leisurely, world-class drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway is well worth your time.
4. Texas Hill Country
Texas isn’t usually thought of as a destination for fall foliage but the Hill Country surrounding Austin is positively bursting with colors. The legendary big maples in the Lost Maples State Natural Area and the lofty cottonwoods in the Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro Canyon provide unique colorations not found in traditional northern climes. For night life, Sixth Street in downtown Austin offers numerous restaurants and clubs with authentic Texas barbecue, as well as world-class music any night. If you’re a football fan the University of Texas Longhorns play every other weekend on the campus.
When fall rolls in and the oppressive summer heat starts to fade, it’s time to take that trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always promised yourself you would. As the days shorten and the sun begins to set lower in the sky, the colors late in the afternoon and into sunset take on shades and hues that aren’t present in the summer months. And if you love golf, there are more than 300 courses in the state, so you’re never far from a round where jackets aren’t needed.