Don't tell Massachusetts, but North Carolina in October may have the Berkshires beat for fall colors. From the Charlotte airport, take the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway into the High Country, an autumn wonderland with rolling hills of brilliant copper, ruby, and gold. Hike up Grandfather Mountain, down into Linville Gorge, or along the famous Appalachian Trail. Raft the white-water rapids of the Nolichucky River. And take the kids on the steam locomotive at Tweetsie Railroad, a Wild West theme park with a monthlong Halloween festival. Western North Carolina is full of tiny mountain towns with old-fashioned general stores, ice-cream parlors, and antiques shops. And on Saturday nights, the Mountainhome Music concert series in Blowing Rock offers an Appalachian version of A Prairie Home Companion with banjo players, storytellers, and occasional celebrities like Doc Watson. Hotel rooms during mid-October weekends sell out fast, but Hound Ears Club, a rustic, secluded resort tucked between Boone and Linville, usually has rooms.
DETAILS Hound Ears Club, 828-963-4321 (doubles start at $270); Mountainhome Music concert series, 828-264-8118 (tickets $10); for general info, call 800-438-7500.