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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.

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.

Temperatures dropped into the upper 30s earlier this week in the higher elevations of North Carolina’s mountains, providing a signal that the leaf-viewing season will soon be underway.

The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, at the Outer Banks village of Rodanthe, preserves the heritage of the U.S. Life-Saving Service “surfmen” – the dedicated men of a bygone era who put their lives at risk to save victims of shipwrecks.

Several of the largest and most picturesque cascades in North Carolina can be seen at DuPont State Forest, a 10,400-acre tract that straddles the Henderson/Transylvania county line southwest of Hendersonville.

One of North Carolina’s most charming towns is Southport, nestled at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, facing Bald Head Island.

Though comparatively small in size, the Western North Carolina Nature Center, in Asheville, does an admirable job of providing an opportunity to see a variety of wild animals in natural settings. Part natural history resource and part regional zoo, the center strives to connect yous with animals common to the Southern Appalachians.

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