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Rake it all in — from New England leaf peeping to Germany’s Oktoberfest

With the highest percentage of maple trees in the country, Vermont has declared itself home of the World’s Best Foliage.Crisp, cool weather. Brilliant foliage. Fewer crowds. And lively harvest festivals. Autumn is the ideal time to get away from it all. From California’s wine country to New England’s majestic leaf pageantry to Germany’s lively Oktoberfest, here are three tours just perfect for the season.

Wine Harvest in California

Fall is harvest time in California wine country, which allows visitors to witness the process of grape pressing and wine bottling amid the brilliant yellow of the vineyards. Discover the glorious wine counties of Sonoma and Napa on a six-day biking trip from VBT, “ California Wine Country & the Pacific Coast.”Cycle the lowlands and gently rolling hills that hug the dramatic Pacific coastline. Stand in awe amid stately redwood groves. Pedal through the famous Alexander Valley, the realm of pinot noir production. Stop to taste award-winning pinots, chardonnays, and other vintages at the wineries for which the region is famous. Savor picnic lunches and contemporary farm-to-table meals, based on a movement that originated in California. Have breakfast on the wharf at The Tides Restaurant, made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds. Explore the lively towns of Sonoma and Healdsburg with their charming shops, galleries, and restaurants. Stay in historic inns with postcard-worthy views of vineyards or bays. And drink a toast to your good fortune.

Leaf Peeping in Vermont

Enjoy New England’s grandest of spectacles — the autumn leaf-turning pageantry — on a six-day tour with Country Walkers, “ Vermont: Fall Foliage.” There’s no better way to experience the essence of Vermont’s rural charm than by hiking its gentle hills, scenic lakes, and picturesque towns with names like Norwich, Woodstock, and Stowe. Slow down and enjoy the quiet splendor of the state’s famous maple trees (syrup on everything, please!) and its working family farms. And exult in the artist’s palette of flaming reds, buttery yellows, and blazing oranges as the maples shed their leaves. With the highest percentage of maple trees in the country, Vermont has declared itself home of the World’s Best Foliage.Highlights of the small-group tour include visiting a dairy farm in the same family for more than a century; exploring the manicured grounds of Shelburne Farms, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame; walking a stretch of the nation’s first long-distance hiking route, the Long Trail; hiking Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon” — the 165-foot-deep Quechee Gorge; ascending Mt. Mansfield to the highest point in Vermont with 360-degree vistas of the Adirondacks, White and Green mountains, and Canada’s Mount Royal; and learning about the art of maple sugaring.Vermont is Country Walkers’ home state. Who better to show it off to you?

Oktoberfest in Germany

There’s nothing quite like celebrating Oktoberfest in its country of origin, Germany. Austin Adventures seven-day biking tour, “Germany: Romantic Road,” takes you from Munich, the festival’s birthplace, to Frankfurt along a classic medieval trade route.On this small-group tour, you pedal through the thick forests, storybook towns, and dramatic mountain passes of the beautiful Bavarian countryside. Roll through the towns of Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl, Langenburg — some with 14th-century crooked streets and half-timbered houses. Along the way, explore stately castles, historic cloisters, and quiet gardens. Watch a falcon flight show. Visit a quirky criminal museum. Accompany a night watchman on his rounds through Rothenburg (oh, the stories he tells!). At night, stay in centuries-old hotels and inns right in the heart of town. And, of course, make time to taste the famous locally brewed beers along with the signature regional cuisine (bratwurst, potato dumplings, and apple pancakes, anyone?). It’s Oktoberfest, after all. Prost!

How to Explore

By Bike

A leader in both family and adult active vacations, Austin Adventures has been recognized as one of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Tour Operators multiple times. Most well known as the leader in national park vacations, they travel to 80 destinations spanning all seven continents. For more information on Austin Adventures, visit or call 800-575-1540.VBT is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. VBT offers more than 55 deluxe, small group bicycling, walking, and barge and bike vacations in 26 different countries and 11 U.S. states. For more information on VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, visit or call 800-245-3868.

On Foot

For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active and immersive travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking itineraries. For more information on Country Walkers, visit or call 800-234-6900.For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit