Lake Hallstatt, Hallstatt, Austria
Lake Hallstatt is magical and even more so when it’s surrounded by autumn’s vibrant colors. Located in Hallstatt, Austria, often ranked among the world’s most picturesque towns, it’s surrounded by soaring mountains and filled with elaborately decorated, colorful homes, looking as if it came straight from the pages of a fairytale. If you’re there in early to mid-fall, you can take a boat tour or rent a pedal boat to explore the lake’s nooks and crannies. Hiking or biking the path that circles the banks is a fabulous way to enjoy it too.
Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Jenny Lake is one of Grand Teton National Park’s most beloved spots, and in the fall, you’ll get to enjoy splashes of yellow and orange, with a dash of red, against a backdrop of those towering jagged peaks. The crowds are few and weather is likely to be cool and crisp, an ideal time for hitching a ride on the Jenny Lake Boat to the base of Cascade Canyon to embark on a hike to Hidden Falls. This is a wonderful time for wildlife watching too, with the bull elk actively bugling to signal their dominance and attract females, an eerie sound that pierces through the air early in the evening. You may even get to see a sparring match between two male elk, a sight you’ll never forget.
Lake Placid, New York
The oak, maple, birch and beech trees burst into fiery red, vivid orange and yellow hues among the green of the deeply forested mountains that surround Lake Placid. The Adirondacks are legendary for their fall hues, and the lake itself is often ideal for taking out a canoe, kayak or paddleboat. There are numerous fall festivals too, like the Flaming Leaves Festival in early October which features lots of mouth-watering barbecue, lawn games, a horseshoe tournament, craft vendors, chairlift rides to the top of the 120-meter ski jump and more.
Dillon Lake, Colorado
Dillon Lake in the Colorado Rockies offers the opportunity for recreational activities galore, with 26 miles of shoreline and a backdrop of breathtaking mountain scenery that’s exploding with brilliant foliage in the fall. The lake is ideal for boating, sailing and picnicking along the shore, while Dillon Marina offers charter cruises as well as boat rentals and weekend sailing regattas, as the long as weather holds out, which it often does through mid-October.
Lake Tahoe, California
Renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, Tahoe sits across the California and Nevada border, with the north offering a more tranquil, sophisticated experience, while the south is known for its party-happy casino atmosphere. The biggest crowds arrive in summer and winter, so no matter which side you choose, you’re much more likely to enjoy it without bumping elbows with countless other visitors. Enjoy fishing, hiking, mountain biking and even scenic cruises. There are a number of tours on Emerald Bay, including daytime trips and sunset dinner cruises as well. Along the way, be sure to keep watch for the bald eagles that can be spotted perched in the trees along the shoreline.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
The sight of the stunning white Church of the Assumption, situated on a tiny islet in the midst of sapphire-blue Lake Bled, draws visitors to Slovenia all year round, but in the fall, when golden foliage is set against the snow-capped Karavanke Alps, the scene is even more magical. Take in the spectacular display from medieval Bled Castle, which enjoys dramatic lake views and also hosts a number of hiking trails along the shore.
Loch Lomond, Scotland
Loch Lomond is the largest fresh water body of water in Great Britain by surface area and autumn is a wonderful time to be here with the rich colors and the quality of light. “The Queen of the Scottish Lakes,” as author Walter Scott called it, is filled with trout salmon and whitefish, making it ideal for fishing. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, biking, boating and wildlife viewing – and, even the chance to soak up the romance of a Scottish castle: Balloch Castle sits in a 200-acre park and provides impressive views over the water as well as featuring walled gardens, nature trails and guided walks.
One of Italy’s most stunning lakes, with its blue waters surrounded by manicured gardens, grand estates, emerald forests and snow-capped peaks in the distance, Lake Como has inspired a host of visitors, including George Clooney and Lord Byron. This magnificent region is filled with charming little villages that sit along its shores, and you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful gold and orange hues of fall as well.
Lake District, England
England’s Lake District is famous for its striking scenic beauty, and with the autumn light, it becomes even more awe-inspiring. There isn’t just one lake, but many, and they’re surrounded by gold and ruby covered hills that are ideal for hiking. Cumbria hosts beautiful woodland areas like Grizedale Forest Park, with green pines and copper beech trees that frame mountain vistas, as well as a number of cozy pubs for popping into and enjoy a glass of cider or local ale. While the weather is notoriously unpredictable, meaning, it’s not at all unusual to experience all four seasons in a single day, the showers and passing clouds only serve to emphasize the grandeur of the scenery.
Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina
Lake Santeetlah boasts 76 miles of mostly protected shoreline as part of the national forest, set in the tranquil, colorful forest against a backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. Rent a pontoon boat, motor boat or kayak and get out and explore. This is also the ideal season for biking and hiking, and a scenic drive among the fall foliage is a must. Afterwards, you may want to head to the
lakeside bar and dock at Blue Waters Mountain Lodge, a great place for a nightcap after a day of play.