Plan a Fall Road Trip

Autumn is the perfect time to take an extended weekend road trip.  The cooler temperatures are refreshing.  The altered landscape and brilliant colors prompt us to reach for the camera.  Migratory birds are here one day and gone the next, forcing us to pay attention.  Lake traffic subsides and campgrounds become more peaceful.  Choosing your road trip destination depends on your budget, what you want to see and do, and how much time you want to devote to your trip.  Here are some ideas.

The landscape along the Missouri River is exquisite in the fall, so consider driving east to the historic German community of Hermann, Missouri, where you can tour vineyards, sample some of the best regional wines, and stay in one of the many bed and breakfast inns.  Octoberfest in Hermann is held during the first four weekends of October every year.  Expect large crowds when the weather is nice. 

Apple Harvest in the Orchards has started at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City and continues thru October.  Spend the night at the Lied Lodge or eat at their restaurant overlooking a wooded landscape where groves of hazelnut and pecan trees thrive.  Continue on to Omaha for a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo or a walk thru the beautiful Lauritzen Gardens.  Bring your binoculars, pack a picnic lunch, and take a detour on the way home to the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.  Drive the recently re-opened auto loop to see what fall migration looks like this year.  Visit the Nebraska Department of Roads website and the Missouri Department of Transportation for current road conditions.

Grab a copy of Marci Penner’s 8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook and review the map of wonders and photos of the many attractions in your home state. has an entire section devoted to scenic byways in Kansas, and the library has a Kansas travel bag full of ideas.  Consider spending a night in a state park cabin and exploring a Kansas lake you’ve never seen before.

If you’re ready for a longer road trip that demands a bigger budget and more time, check out Road Trip USA: Cross Country Adventures on America’s Two Lane Highways, and USA’s Best Trips: 99 Themed Itineraries Across America.  Discover what’s left of Route 66 (from Chicago to Hollywood) and find out how you can drive the route that parallels the Appalachian Trail (New England to Georgia).

For an armchair travel experience, read two very different perspectives of what a road trip can be.  William Least Heat-Moon visits small towns in Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, and Robert Sullivan mixes historical references and contemporary culture in Cross Country.  Explore two of America’s firsts by reading about the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway crossing the U.S. from New York to San Francisco, and America’s first successful transcontinental car trip completed in 1903 by Horatio Jackson.  Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip, was published as the companion book to the PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan.  Numerous old photos enhance this feel-good story.

Remember to check out the library’s Travel Neighborhood to help you plan a memorable road trip this fall!


Kimberly Sain

As a Public Services Specialist, in addition to Reference work I promote the Travel, Pets, and Lawn & Garden Neighborhoods, coordinate nature-themed programs for adults and families, and serve on the Big Read planning committee. My interests include exploring new travel destinations, National Parks, Alaska, hiking trails in Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas, birding, Sandhill crane migration, Monarch waystations, Kansas native plants, citizen science activities, volunteer work as a certified Kansas Master Naturalist, and reading essays about the natural environment. Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country is my all-time favorite novel.