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Fall foliage tours in the U.S. and Canada

By Paul Rubio
September 21, 2017, 5:56:59 PM EDT

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While we love our fall foliage road trips, it's nice to experience autumn outside the box. From swinging tree-to-tree on an aerial adventure course in Stowe to gliding over the Finger Lakes in a two-seat sailplane, check out our favorite lesser-known ways to experience fall splendor across North America.

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Take a helicopter over Niagara Falls

Fall 1

Why we love it: A Niagara Falls helicopter tour with Rainbow Air is the ultimate autumn twofer—you get bird’s eye views of North America’s most spectacular waterfalls and the region's exceptional fall foliage in one trip. Rainbow gets lower and closer than any other operator in the area, meaning you can snap prize-worthy panoramic shots while hovering above the thunderous falls. Framed by endless leafy shades of red, orange, yellow and green—and often with an actual rainbow in sight—the falls and Niagara Gorge are at their most photogenic this time of year.

When to go: Helicopter tours are offered daily in September and October; weekends only in November.

Courtesy Rainbow Air Inc.

Cycle around Michigan's Mackinac Island

Fall 2

Why we love it: You’ll never have to compete with fall road-trippers on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. The crown jewel of the Great Lakes State is a pristine, vehicle-free island, sandwiched between the Upper and Lower Peninsula on Lake Huron. Rent a bike near the ferry exit and hit Mackinac’s ring road, officially known as M185, which hugs the tree-lined coastline and passes through patches of technicolor forest. Make sure to stop at the many lookout areas along the way—including Arch Rock, which has breathtaking views over Lake Huron.

When to go: Ferries to the island run from Mackinaw City (Lower Peninsula) and St. Ignace (Upper Peninsula) until October 31.

Courtesy Deborah Pierson/Mackinac Island Tourism

Tackle a tree-oriented workout in Vermont

fall 3

Why we love it: How better to experience fall foliage than up in the trees themselves? Thanks to an exhilarating aerial course at Stowe Mountain Lodge in northern Vermont, it’s entirely possible. The adventure comprises four different tree-to-tree obstacle courses, which get progressively harder—and higher. (Though even pre-teens can accomplish the first, be warned that the fourth is in no way for the faint-hearted or non-athlete.) You'll climb, swing, zip line, and work up a sweat during the adrenaline-fueled experience.

When to go: The course is open daily throughout fall.

Courtesy Stowe Mountain Lodge

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