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 from Tampa
It’s fairly easy to get to nearby destinations with beautiful foilage on a fall road trip from Tampa. Just keep in mind that the further south your destination is, the later in the year it takes for leaves to change color.
Fall Road Trips to Georgia
You can get to these fall road trip destinations in Georgia in about 6-7 hours drive from Tampa. Leaves change color around mid-to-late October and early November.
- Stone Mountain Park
- Tallulah Gorge State Park
- Blue Ridge
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).
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.
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.
Helen, Georgia is also home to a Timberline glamping site. Check out our experience with Timberline Tampa to get an idea of what to expect.
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.
Distance: 566 miles north
Hiawassee is right along the border of Geogia and North Carolina. Situated along Lake Chatuge, it’s a picturesque town with mountains, waterfalls, and amazing scenic views. It’s also home to Georiga’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald. Enjoy the fall colors while hiking up one of Hiawassee’s many mountain trails, such as Bell Mountain, or sitting outside at one of their mountainside wineries.
Fall Road Trip to North Carolina
You can get to these fall road trip destinations in North Carolina in about 9-10 hours drive from Tampa. Leaves change color around mid-October and early November.
- Blowing Rock
- Grandfather Mountain
- Banner Elk
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.
Fall Road Trips to Tennessee
You can get to these fall road trip destinations in Tennessee in about 10-11 hours drive from Tampa. Leaves change color around late September and especially early October.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Cades Cove
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.
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.
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.
Feature image credit: Brie Gorecki