Where to catch the falling leaves this autumn

Chris Carter tips the best places to go to enjoy the changing seasons, from Europe to Japan.

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Great Smoky Mountains: one of the best ofAmerica's national parks

Chris Carter tips the best places to go to enjoy the changing seasons.

Each autumn, Mother Nature stages a spectacular show for appreciative audiences throughout America, says Patricia Doherty on TravelandLeisure.com. Her schedule varies, but when she's ready, green trees take on hues of gold, orange and red, delighting her fans. These "leaf peepers" and "foliage followers", as they're known, should head to the country's national parks, with their dense forests, tree-covered mountains, plains, lakes and deserts.

Many parks post the dates they expect the leaves to change, along with the colours and types of trees in their locales. One of the best is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. Here, the "fall" colours descend on the yellow birch, American beech and mountain maple trees from mid-September.

For a more urban experience, head to Boston, says Doherty. "From the colourful trees of the Common to its historic neighbourhoods and harbour, Boston presents the classic best of autumn." The Godfrey Hotel (GodfreyHotelBoston.com; £255 a night) provides guided running tours and free bikes for exploring the local foliage.

Across the border in Toronto, brisker temperatures bring out "gorgeous" colours, says Cathy Adams in The Independent. At this time of year there is also a line-up of festivals, including the Nuit Blanche arts festival (NBTO.com), which opens at the end of September.

Stunning vistas in Japan

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Hoshinoya Kyoto, Japan:a haven far from the city bustle

Last year, in Kyoto, Japan, you could enjoy "stunning vistas of maple leaves in a spectrum of hues from light green to yellow, orange and red" from the Rurikoin temple, which opens to the public and is nestled at the foot of Mount Hiei, Yoshiko Sato noted in Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper. This autumn, the temple will be open from 1 October to 15 December. See Rurikoin.Komyoji.com/lp/en. The Hoshinoya Kyoto resort (HoshinoResorts.com/en; from £534 a night) is a perfect place to stay, says Ellie Davis in the Evening Standard, set back in an "Instagrammable haven" away from the hustle and bustle.

Autumn in Europe

Everyone talks about the chteaux in the Loire Valley, says The Daily Telegraph, but the parks that surround nearly all of them largely go forgotten. "As autumn approaches and the leaves begin to turn, the avenues of oaks, beeches and chestnuts, and the once-great hunting forests, produce a magnificent display of colour." The chteaux are open until October and are much quieter for being out of the high season. For full details of opening times, see LoireValley-France.co.uk.

As autumn moves into October, the Italian town of Alba in the northern Piedmont region gears up to celebrate harvest-time in style with the International White Truffle Fair (FieraDeltarTufo.org/en), says Christina Liao for Forbes. The exhibition, which runs from 6 October to 25 November, is in the historic town centre, the ideal place to appreciate and buy the best truffles from the woods of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato. There will be demonstrations from chefs, together with wine tasting.

The best time to hit Europe's beaches

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Elafonissi beach: one of Europe's best

With the children back at school and the locals not risking derision by swimming out of season, September and October can be the best time to hit the beaches of Europe, says Julia Buckley in The Sunday Times. Take Elafonissi in Crete, for example. This is the Greek island's stand-out beach, and one of Europe's best. You won't have it all to yourself this autumn, but the number of bums on the pink-tinged sand is much lower, and there's scant sign of the winds that lash it in spring. Go early or late in the day to enjoy Elafonissi at its quietest. There's a shallow-shelving lagoon and a dune-rumpled island linked to the mainland via a wide sand bar. The water is jade, while the sand takes its pink hue from ground-up seashells. The "sweet and small" Glykeria Hotel has ten pretty rooms, all with sea and sunset views. (Doubles from £61 Glykeria.com.)

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