Get Excited for Fall With This Interactive Peak Foliage Map

Kirkikis/iStock via Getty Images
Kirkikis/iStock via Getty Images

The season of scarves, sweaters, and pumpkin spice everything is almost upon us. No matter how you feel about the end of summer, it's hard not appreciate the colorful foliage when it reaches its peak in autumn. Those red, orange, and gold leaves may be visible outside your window sooner than you think; the interactive map below from SmokyMountains.com shows you exactly when to expect them.

Fall foliage normally peaks sometime after the autumnal equinox, which falls on September 23 in 2019, but exactly when depends on variables like rainfall and temperature. Each year, the tourism website SmokyMountains.com looks at weather forecasts and historical trends from NOAA and puts together an interactive map showing when foliage is predicted peak across contiguous U.S.

Warmer temperatures have led to peak foliage occurring later in the season. In 2019, Northern New England, a place famous for its leaf-peeping, will see the brightest leaves around October 5. Peak foliage won't reach the rest of New England until October 12. Around October 26, parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, and Illinois will be treated to the most spectacular leaves of the season, and in Southern states like South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, peak foliage won't begin until November 9. By November 30, the fall foliage will have passed its peak everywhere but along the Gulf coast.

By sliding the scale beneath the map, you can see when foliage is expected to peak in your part of the of the country. You can also use the tool to plan trips around the changing leaves.

"We believe this interactive tool will enable travelers to take more meaningful fall vacations, capture beautiful fall photos, and enjoy the natural beauty of autumn," Wes Melton, the site's data scientist and CTO, said in a statement. "Our nationwide fall foliage prediction map is unique—it is one of the only fall leaf tools that provides accurate predictions for the entire continental United States."

If you can't pick just one destination to take in the foliage this fall, you don't have to—a train ride or a road trip are some of the best ways to see as much of it as possible.

The Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Each State

Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Greg Meland/iStock via Getty Images

In 2018, Americans took about 1.8 billion trips for leisure purposes alone, the U.S. Travel Association reports. But what types of attractions do they visit during those trips? Thanks to new data from Groupon and Viator, a TripAdvisor company, we now have the answer.

Map of the Northeast of the United States, showing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in that region
Groupon

Groupon mapped out each state’s most popular travel experience and classified them according to price, type, and region. Tourists in the northeast United States tend to gravitate toward what Groupon describes as “exploration and discovery” activities, like the Founding Fathers Tour of Philadelphia, Maine's Portland City and Lighthouse Tour, and the day trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard.

Map of the Midwest region of the United States, listing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in those states
Groupon

The Midwest is by far the cheapest place to vacation, with the cost of attractions in the region averaging about $48. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and North Dakota are great states to visit if you’re looking for a top-ranked food tour, while South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois offer plenty of educational tours and experiences (including a movie site tour for Field of Dreams fans).

Map of the Southern region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist attractions in that area
Groupon

Experiences in the South are fairly varied. Visitors have plenty of options, whether they’re looking for a historic tour of Asheville, North Carolina's Biltmore Estate (the largest privately owned house in the United States) or a day of thrills at Virginia’s Busch Gardens amusement park. Tourists in the South do seem to prefer watery activities, though—the region is popular for dinner cruises and dolphin watching.

Map of the Western region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist destinations in the area
Groupon

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West is easily the most expensive region for visitors, averaging about $176 per attraction. Tourists in this region tend to gravitate toward experiences like helicopter tours and hot air balloon rides, all of which push the region toward the pricey end of the scale. Still, if you’re looking for astounding natural beauty, there are few places with more variety than the American West.

The Most Famous Mythical Creature in Each State

CashNetUSA
CashNetUSA

The widespread popularity of fantasy franchises like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones suggests that, on some level, we all wish that dragons, giants, and other magical creatures actually existed.

While Nifflers, Thestrals, and Blast-Ended Skrewts may only be found within the pages of a Harry Potter novel, plenty of other mythical beasts have allegedly been spotted a lot closer to home than you might think. CashNetUSA's SavingSpot blog created a map highlighting the most famous magical monster in each state—an American edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, if you will.

Some slither, others skulk, and pretty much all of them have the potential to take your nightmares to the next level. You’ll probably recognize some of the better-known ones: New Jersey is home to the Jersey Devil, Texas claims the fanged Chupacabra, and Washington boasts Bigfoot, who seems downright charming compared to others on the list.

new jersey's jersey devil illustration
CashNetUSA

However, the majority of these creatures are rather obscure, and therefore all the more terrifying. The emaciated Wendigo from Minnesota kills with a glance, smells like a dead body, and will not hesitate to gobble you up. And good luck trying to outrun Illinois’s hissing, three-legged Enfield Horror, which can cover 25 feet in a single leap.

minnesota's wendigo illustration
CashNetUSA

Pennsylvania’s Squonk, on the other hand, is almost too pathetic to be scary. Apparently, it’s so ashamed of its saggy skin and wart-covered face that it can cry itself into a pool of water and simply slip out of any cage. If you see it, maybe just compliment its twinkling eyes and send it on its merry way.

pennsylvania's squonk illustration
CashNetUSA

The Loch Ness Monster lives all the way out in Scotland, of course, but she’s definitely inspired a few Nessie-wannabes right here in the States. Nevada has Tahoe Tessie, an 80-foot-long possible plesiosaur, and Maryland’s Chessie calls the Chesapeake Bay home.

nevada's tahoe tessie illustration
CashNetUSA

If you pay close attention to the details of SavingSpot’s accompanying online bestiary, you’ll see some clues about how these tall tales arose from fairly normal occurrences. Eyewitnesses first described Idaho’s aquatic dino Sharlie as a huge log, North Carolina’s Beast of Bladenboro resembles a bear, and Rhode Island’s vampire Mercy Brown was once a real woman—locals declared her a vampire after digging up her grave and realizing she hadn’t decayed at all. (For the record, she had only been dead for two months, and the winter temperatures likely preserved her body.)

mercy brown illustration
CashNetUSA

Find out which mythical beast hails from your home state here.

[h/t CashNetUSA]

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