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RoadTrips: 2014 fall & winter travel guide
Read about where to see the best fall foliage and holiday illuminations in the Observer's travel guide.

Blue Ridge, Ga., along the Toccoa River, makes relaxation a year-round reward for visitors.

The best places to see colorful leaves this weekend will be close to home – in the Charlotte area and in locations like Morrow Mountain State Park and along the drive to Raleigh.

Observers say the best colors this week are between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, which puts Asheville and the Chimney Rock areas in the spotlight. But Piedmont conditions are improving rapidly.

Rocky Face’s craggy outcropping of gray stone, 100 feet in height, will convince you the mountain has the perfect face for rock climbing and/or rappelling – just two of the park’s popular activities.

Visitors to the event will be able to move with the troops and watch their skirmishes. Those skirmishes are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. each day, and there will be fife-and-drum concerts at 3 p.m. each day.

There is plenty of leaf color to see, and it’s centered this weekend around the 3,000-foot elevation. That means parts of the North Carolina foothills – and even sections of South Carolina’s upstate – will produce plenty of beauty this weekend.

Appalachian State University professor Howie Neufeld said the best colors are now at altitudes below the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Last weekend’s brief cold snap accelerated the change of leaf colors in North Carolina’s high country, but park officials say we’re still a week or so away from peak conditions – except at the highest elevations.

All that was needed to kick North Carolina’s mountain leaf color show into high gear was a bit of cold weather, several experts said last week.

Ride a historic horse, board a train, spread out a picnic: These are just a few of the offerings of Shelby’s City Park, located just a mile from the city’s historic Courtsquare.

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