Why the South East of the USA should be on your Fall bucketlist

The southeast of the US honestly came as the most wonderful surprise. When you think fall in the States your mind jumps to the North East, countless photos of Maine, New England and upstate New York. But rarely do you see photos of the south East states in Autumn. 

This Autumn, I was lucky enough to travel through three Southern states and witness some of the most beautiful colours, and meet some of the most generous and kind hearted people. I think one of the things that stayed with me the most was the pride and excitement people felt at the opportunity to share the place they called home with us. 

Without further ado, let me show you why fall in the southeast is a no brainier, and some state by state cannot miss spots!


Let’s start with the ultimate in Air BnB’s, we were lucky enough to spend the night perched on the side of the a huge rock face, over 2000 steps up on a set of suspension steps led to this oasis perched amongst the Autumn trees. Book your stay here

A cliffside cabin with wooden walkway surrounded by Autumn colours in Kentucky Futuristic wooden treehouse amongst the Autumn colours, Kentucky Blonde woman looks over edge of wooden platform in Kentucky surrounded by yellow leaves Corner of a bed in a treehouse cabin with a large picture window showing the Autumn woods

Knob Creek Fire Tower, Cumberland Falls State Park. One of the few remaining fire towers on The East Coast is the best place to see the Autumn colours across the South East, the fire tower has been kept exactly as it would have been back when it was being lived in for 6 months at a time watching for fires. N.B. You must be accompanied by a park ranger to access the fire tower.

Sunlight filters through old glass windows over a camp bed Blonde woman stands on balcony of old fire tower looking over yellow and orange trees Woman points to pins on an old paper map on the wall Exterior of the red fire tower, metal balcony and railings with Autumn coloured trees in the background.
A female park ranger wearing a beanie smiles in a fire lookout tower.

Cumberland falls state park is the perfect spot to crunch through freshly fallen leaves, and to soak up the evening light on the waterfalls private beach (of sorts) there are so many incredible view points all along the falls which provide loads of different angles and compositions.

Long exposure of a waterfall cascading down, with smooth rocks in the foreground and yellow and orange trees behind. Evening light streams through yellow leaves with a waterfall in the background A blonde woman in a red and white t-shirt balances on a fallen tree trunk. Evening light shines on the beach behind her. Wooden picnic benches surrounded by a carpet of brown and yellow leaves, with bright Autumn coloured trees behind. An elderly couple stand looking over a view point with a waterfall in the background.

If you’re heading to North Carolina there are a few spots you simply can’t miss.

Fly fishing in Maggie Valley : Speaking of things that truly exceeded my expectations, I have to mention fly fishing. As someone who Is renowned for having very little patience, and even less of an attention span I was apprehensive about fly fishing, (add in my clumsiness and I was slightly worried about walking through a stream with all of my camera gear…) Thanks to our lovely guides, Landon and X  of Maggie Valley Fly Shop this experience was not only one of the best, but also the most meditative and relaxing, the hours flew past as I found my stride and stopped hooking myself instead of any fish. I now have a new admiration and affection for the sport.

A man and a woman in waders stand in the river fly fishing. The trees surrounding them are orange and yellow.
A black and white image of a man attaching a fly to his fishing rod A young dark haired man leaning forward as he flicks his fishing rod, yellow and orange leaves shine in the background Cropped in image detailing legs and a plastic net with the river in the background A blonde woman smiling as she looks over to her right, holding a fishing rod standing in the river

Head down to Cataloochee Valley to discover some incredible period buildings, left in exactly the same state they were on the day they were abandoned, we spent an hour or so chasing the light as it moved through the large old windows. 

But my personal favourite? Heading down to see the elk grazing in the grasses, we spent hours here watching the elk move into the evening light, but the thing that fascinated me the most was the tailgate parties that formed purely to enjoy the evening and watch the elk graze. 

If you’re as lucky as we were, you may well see some black bears on your way back out of the park! It’s always worth keeping your eyes peeled! 

The blue ridge parkway is another must not miss spot, the mountains stretch as far as the eye can see and in the autumn they are cloaked In bright colours.

Evening light surrounds a female elk as she walks through grasses A family stands at the back of a pick up truck in the evening light. They take photos of elk surrounding them Sunlight streams through an old dusty window lighting up old fashioned school benches A car kicks up dust as it drives down a dirt track, the sunlight creates rays through the Autumn trees The Smoky mountains photographed from the Blue Ridge Parkway Black and white image of a woman with glasses, light from a window illuminates her face A small figure walks across a road. Sun rays illuminate the scene A black mother bear looks toward to the camera surrounded by fallen leaves Two men lean on the bonnet of an old white truck, one with binoculars. A large male elk stands in long grasses with the evening light illuminating him

If you’re anything like me then you’ll be itching to get that classic motel fix, then look no further than Route 19 inn. Lovingly (and more importantly sympathetically) restored by its current owners, it comes complete with a classic American car parked right out front.

On the subject of motels and classic cars, Maggie valley is an absolute haven for motels, junk yards and classic car yards. A must visit for anyone with a passion for patina! 

A vintage blue Kaiser sits in front of a retro style motel called Route 19 inn A neon 'used car' sign lights up the front of a junk yard office A country dancing sign sits above an empty street. A vintage Chevrolet truck is used as an advert for an antique yard, covered in morning frost Heart of the valley motel sign A vintage ford truck sits outside an abandoned house in the midday sun A yelow and red motel sign is lit up, while the morning sun hits the hills behind The interior of a vintage car is showing through the open drivers side door covered in morning frost The sign for Route 19 inn motel is lit up in blue hour The boot of a vintage MG sports car.

If you’re a lover of leather goods and are looking for the perfect present for, well almost anyone then Axe and Awl is a must visit. Family run and all handmade, it has a shop cat and is next door to a brilliant coffee shop- what’s not to love?

Lake Toxoway was an incredible spot, we were lucky enough to be hosted in a stunning lakeside cabin and treated to a sunset boat ride across the lake to our hosts family home (which was too dreamy) we then went for supper at the most beautiful restaurant, owned and restored by our host. Full of local memorabilia and incredible food, I would 100% recommend this for any foodie, vegan or carnivore! 

Sun bursts through Autumn trees with a view out to the lake A Weimaraner dog stands on the bow of a speed boat looking over the lake Sunlight streams through large windows, illuminating the interior table of a wooden cabin Steps off a lake jetty are framed by golden leaves, the sunlight reflects off the water Evening light streams in through windows in a conservatory

Transylvania county isn’t only famous as being the home of Dracula, it is also known as waterfall county. With good reason, we saw countless waterfalls, on from, from our gravel bikes and we and even had an icy dip in one of them!! With the Autumn colours peaking around them they really do shine.

Two orange gravel bikes sit in front of a waterfall Concrete path leads down to a waterfalll, the scene is framed by Autumn colours A huge waterfall flows down a rock face surrounded by Autumn trees A river cuts through the banks of smooth rock surrounded by Autumn colours

We ended our trip in South Carolina, visiting Greenville, Columbia, Congaree National Park and others. Whilst SC doesn’t get the array of Autumn colours that the other states mentioned do, the climate during the Autumn months is glorious in itself, Below are some favourite images from our time in South Carolina.

A wooden sign pointing to trails in Congaree national park is lit by the sun An empty road is illuminated by bright evening sun three people walk their bikes off a path around a fallen tree A rusty Ford Galaxy sits in a gas station with a small boy inside A white painted wooden sign sits on a road side saying: Jesus loves you, he's coming soon. Rubbish sits at the base of the sign. Evening light hits the top of a tall building Two red diner benches are lit up with early morning light A woman in a red and white striped t shirt walks down a wooden board walk surrounded by swamps. A Church sign reads: Accept what God allows. The red brick church sits behind Two electric bikes lean against a park bench in the sun
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