8 Best Scenic Road Trips from Tampa to See Fall Leaves

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8 Best Fall Road Trips from Tampa to See Fall Leaves

Florida has some amazing sights to see, but the bold colors of fall are unfortunately not among them. Luckily, there are plenty of nearby destinations where you can experience the changing seasons. Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina are all easily accessible for a quick fall road trip.

To help you plan your travels, we're sharing the most scenic spots for couples and families who want to hit the road this fall.

Tip: Many of these spots are also perfect for camping or traveling by RV! Sites like RVshare give those who want to experience the great outdoors the option of renting a camper.

Fall Road Trips to Georgia

Stone Mountain Park

Distance: 460 miles north

Stone Mountain Park (pictured above in feature image) is located just outside of Atlanta. The actual mountain itself is made up of quartz monzonite. The park has over 3,200 acres of natural beauty to explore and offers a variety of activities. There are campsites, RV spots, and an onsite hotel. Activities such as the Summit Sky Ride, historic village, and miniature golf are available year-round. In the fall and winter, guests can enjoy the beauty of fall at the Pumpkin Festival (October) and Stone Mountain Christmas (November – January).

 

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Distance: 535 miles north

Tallulah Gorge is a sprawling park home to a 2-mile long, 1,000-feet deep canyon. Certain overlooks, including a suspension bridge, provide spectacular views of the fall foliage. This Victorian Resort town's main attractions are its six waterfalls, which create a stunning backdrop against the colorful leaves. Campsites are available within the park.

Fall road trips from Tampa - Tallulah Gorge
Image credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

 

Helen

Distance: 540 miles north

Just outside of Blue Ridge sits the small town of Alpine Helen. This German-themed town is known for it's Bavarian Village, providing a glimpse of Germany and stunning views. Visitors can check out the scenery while taking a ride down the Chattahoochee River, ziplining across a mountain, or from above in a hot air balloon. Unicoi State Park is the ultimate spot for surrounding yourself with the beauty of fall. Oktoberfest, Helen's biggest celebration, takes place throughout the month of October.

 

Related: Drivecation Ideas for a Florida Getaway by Car

 

Blue Ridge

Distance: 550 miles north

The mountains of North Georgia are an ideal location for experiencing breathtaking views. Blankets of red, orange, and yellow leaves cover the mountains along the Toccoa River. Amicalola Falls State Park offers some incredible fall scenery and boasts a 729-foot waterfall. The Blue Ridge Parkway spans the southern and central Appalachians and makes for an extremely scenic drive through Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

 

Fall Road Trips to Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Distance: 615 miles north

Straddled between the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. The Appalachian Trail passes through the center of the park, creating the perfect opportunity for hikers wanting to surround themselves with the colors of fall.

For those who prefer scenic drives over hikes, taking a drive up Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or Foothills Parkway will reward you with breathtaking views. At 31 miles long, Newfound Gap Road is the lowest drivable pass in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Starting in Gatlinburg, it goes up and over the mountains into Cherokee, NC. Because of its elevation, Newfound Gap Road tends to be about 10 degrees cooler than the lowlands, even during the summer months. Mingus Mill, visitor's center, and the Mountain Farm Museum are a few of the stops to check out along this scenic roadway.

Image credit: Smokymountains.com

 

Gatlinburg 

Distance: 650 miles north

Gatlinburg makes for a great base to explore the mountains and trails of eastern Tennessee. The Gatlinburg Space Needle is the perfect spot for those who want to take in colorful fall views without having to hike or drive through the mountains. A glass elevator ride up the 407-foot tower provides a 360-degree panoramic view of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Space Needle also has a 25,000-square-foot playground, an arcade, and a live-entertainment theater.

Fall Road Trips from Tampa - Gatlinburg, TN
Image credit: Gatlinburg Space Needle

 

Cades Cove

Distance: 675 miles north

Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains, located about 45 minutes from Gatlinburg. Known for its immense population of wildlife such as black bears, coyotes, and white-tailed deer, this 11-mile, one-way loop circles the cove and makes for an incredibly scenic drive or hike. Three historic churches, a working grist mill, barns, and log houses are scattered along the trail for visitors to explore.

 

Fall Road Trip to North Carolina

Asheville

Distance: 630 miles northeast

Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the perfect spot to take in the vibrant hues of fall. Grandfather Mountain and Pisgah National Forest are two of the most sought-after spots to take in the colorful scenery. The historic Biltmore estate is also a unique spot to experience fall leaves in all of their splendor. Asheville is also known for its arts district and abundant craft breweries.

Check out Asheville Date Night Guide ahead of your fall road trip for tips on the best restaurants and things to do.

Image redit: Biltmore

 

Feature image credit: Brie Gorecki


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