The compromise: After a stint in the forest, you might be inspired to hunt for your meal. For the sports enthusiast, there's fly fishing and hunting based out of the nearby town of Kalispell. Foodies will appreciate Kalispell's Festival of Flavors (September 19-28) and the nearby town of Whitefish celebrates German beer and food at its annual Great Northwest Oktoberfest (September 26 through October 5).
An artist's view of California
California's rugged fall foliage is unlike anything you'll see in the northeast and it's happening right now. Drive up to Bishop Creek Canyon in California's Eastern Sierra, near Mammoth Lakes. There you'll see "spectacular displays of lime, yellow, orange, red and crimson-quaking aspen reflected in tourmaline blue lakes and surrounded by saw tooth granite peaks," writes John Poimiroo, who blogs about California's fall foliage.
The compromise: After all that peeping, visitors can head to the town of Bishop to see how celebrated photographers Galen and Barbara Rowell see the landscape at Mountain Light Gallery.
Vermont's ice cream
What leaf-peeping enthusiast could leave out Vermont? It has an official "Foliage Forecaster" in Michael Snyder, commissioner of the state Forests, Parks and Recreation department.
Start in Burlington and head east toward Waterbury and Stowe, where you'll see good early fall color driving through the Champlain Valley (Interstate 89 or Route 2). After spending the first half-hour in farm country and the foothills of the Green Mountains, head north to Waterbury on Route 100.
"This week's forecast looks great, and the onset of cool nights and some frost is what really kicks in the next level of vibrancy," Snyder says. If that good weather continues next week, "that drive within an hour's radius of Ben & Jerry's will afford viewing opportunities of every stage of fall color."
The compromise: That's right. He said Ben & Jerry's. Stop by the plant in Waterbury for a tour and some ice cream. You'll get to sample the ice cream flavor of the day and buy more at the factory Scoop Shop. And where did you favorite flavors get buried after being eliminated? The factory's flavor graveyard (which is only open through October).
Because it's Vermont, and we think you should soldier on a bit longer (you non-leaf fans), we add Snyder's extended tour: From Ben & Jerry's, take the classic foliage tour on Route 100 north up to Stowe, where the color is already more advanced. Head up Route 108 through Smuggler's Notch, another fall favorite, to quickly spot more advanced color.
Check the Vermont foliage website before you to to ensure that fall hasn't turned into winter yet.