(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution)
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Bryson City, North Carolina
Less than a 90-minute drive from Tennessee's Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad's Nantahala Gorge trip follows a historic rail line through mountain tunnels on a beautiful fall foliage excursion. While chugging along a ridgeline in an open-air or enclosed car, you'll hear bluegrass music and Appalachian stories. The railway's Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express route is a family favorite, with an onboard narration of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the chance for kids to pick a pumpkin, take a wagon ride, or meet Snoopy.
The View: See rich auburns and buttery yellows reflected in the water as you cross over Fontana Lake, then trace the winding river through the mountains.
Peak Color: Usually mid-October through mid-November, with the best color during the last week of October. Check the fall foliage report.
Cost: $55 per adult and $31 per child for the 4.5-hour Nantahala Gorge excursion, with daily departures in October. $55 per adult and $31 per child for the Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express excursion, with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday departures in October.