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posted on September 24th, 2019

Make like a tree

For those who don’t fall easily for summer’s sweaty days and endless nights, the beauty of autumn is the richest, realest deal. The leaves, the layers, the long shadows, the gravitas. It’s the perfect time for a getaway. Turo surveyed 2,000 Americans to find out what excitement the change of the season brings, and what will make their 2019 fall road trips extraordinary. 

No leaf left unseen 

While Americans are certainly on the road for other reasons — football games, soccer tournaments, your grandma’s clogged gutters — most people, a remarkable 38.8%, are hitting the road in the fall to get a look at gorgeous autumnal leaves and foliage. Reasons to hit the road this time of year include:

  • Leaf peeping (38.8%)
  • Weekend road trips for fall activities (23.9%)
  • Driving with the windows down (18.6%)
  • Fall-themed snacks (13%)
  • Capturing selfies at cool landmarks (5.8%)

America’s favorite drive for fall leaves

Everyone has their favorite spot to watch the leaves change, but across the country, the most popular route to travel for an eyeful of pure tree gold is the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Virginia to the Carolinas, which has 31.1% of people enticed to make the drive. Intrepid road trippers also want to peep the leaves in other parts of the country on these popular routes:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway (31.1%)
  • Highway 1 to Big Sur, California (20%)
  • Route 100, Vermont (11.8%)
  • Gold Coast, Michigan (11.5%)
  • West Elk Loop Scenic & Historic Byway, Colorado (10.1%)
  • Acadia All American Road, Maine (9.5%)
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana (6.0%)

Let’s be picky

On a fall road trip, some activities so perfectly blend bucolic scenery, festive thrills, and seasonal treats, that you can’t help but make a pit stop. For 33.4% of Americans, apple picking orchards are the number one reason to brake, followed by these reasons that also leave people in anticipation all year:

  • Apple picking orchards (33.4%)
  • Cider doughnuts (29.4%)
  • Haunted house (24.6%)
  • The perfect pumpkin (12.6%)

Not all road trips are created equal, however, and several factors influence what makes for the most attractive stop, depending on age and gender. For women, 35.9% agree that apple picking orchards are far and away the most important reason to detour, and among men, 35.1% will not be missing any opportunity for cider doughnuts. Meanwhile, 33.3% of spunky Gen Z and 30.7% of Millennials say their main reason for stopping on a road trip would be the blood-curdling thrill of a haunted house over anything else.

Loco for cocoa

In case you, too, have been wondering just how much pumpkin spice latte is too much, the answer is we still don’t know exactly, but some people have had enough. When asked what fall beverage would be fueling their road trips, 44.3% of Americans said hot chocolate keeps them cozy. But there are still those seasonal spiceheads out there, who can’t stop:

  • Hot chocolate (44.3%)
  • Hot cider (25.6%)
  • Pumpkin spice latte (21.2%)
  • Chai latte (9.0%)

Co-pilot of your dreams

Picking company for your road trip is no insignificant choice, especially when you’ve got miles of empty road ahead and deep questions to consider, like Shake Shack or In N Out? If given the option, 31.9% of people are most thrilled by the idea of taking a road trip with Morgan Freeman. Is it because he has the voice of a god? It probably doesn’t hurt. Ellen DeGeneres’ wry wit makes her the next celebrity co-pilot of choice for 28.6% of people, followed by:

  • Morgan Freeman (31.9%)
  • Ellen DeGeneres (28.6%)
  • James Corden (17.3%)
  • Meghan Markle (15.3%)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (6.9%)

However, it’s important to note that among women, Ellen DeGeneres is the top fall road trip companion, gathering 36.6% of that vote, and if she weren’t available to sport her sweater vests and Converse sneakers while cracking jokes, James Cordon would get the invite. Among men, 42.3% are all in on Morgan Freeman, but would take British royalty Megan Markle as a co-pilot as a back-up.

In 500 feet, turn left

Some people are looking for a co-pilot with excellent snack selections, others would prefer a cute, furry friend, but 36.7% of people wanted the most practical option: an expert navigator, so they don’t need to listen to Siri telling them to make a u-turn on their ultimate fall road trip. The main departure from this trend is for the Gen Z crowd, among whom 37.8% are looking for that effortless DJ friend who can keep the tunes blasting for hours. Other attractive qualities in a road trip co-pilot include:

  • Someone who can navigate like a pro (36.7%)
  • Someone who knows how to fix a car, just in case (29.0%)
  • Someone who will keep the tunes blasting (24.8%)
  • Someone who doesn’t need frequent pit stops  (9.4%)

Cruise to the classics

Nothing sets the tone for a fall road trip like the perfect soundtrack. While everyone has a hot jam of the moment, nearly half of Americans — 45.6% — want to put on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and let it play over and over as they go their own way down the highway. These are the other albums that will keep leaf peepers tapping the wheel:

  • Rumours by Fleetwood Mac (45.6%)
  • Lover by Taylor Swift (16.1%)
  • Christmas by Michael Buble (14.9%)
  • Cuz I Love You by Lizzo (13.3%)
  • III by The Lumineers (10.0%)

Much like your bedtime and the tightness of your jeans, your preferred soundtrack is heavily affected by age. So while Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers on a road trip turn to Fleetwood Mac, Gen Z definitively has Taylor Swift’s Lover on repeat.

Weekend warriors

You don’t need all the extra time in the world to make the most of a fall road trip. Almost half of Americans surveyed — 46.3% — prefer to take weekend road trips that take them just far enough to escape for a couple of days. But other kinds of trips that make the fall memorable too:

  • Weekend road trips (46.3%) 
  • Long-distance road trips with more time to make memories (27.2%)
  • Day trips that take you to find the perfect pumpkin (26.5%)

Make it rugged

For catching the flamboyant show of fall leaves, most Americans want to take a road trip in a car that can get them out into the elements, or make the drive exhilarating. The Jeep Gladiator was the most popular vehicle for fall road trips, with 37.6% of people interested in its sturdy build and small truck bed for adventure gear. The rest of these cars also topped Americans’ lists for great fall road trip choices:

  • Jeep Gladiator (37.6%)
  • Ford Mustang (22.2%)
  • Volkswagen Vanagon (17.2%)
  • Tesla Model 3 (14.1%)
  • Porsche Boxster (8.9%)

So whatever makes you crazy about autumn, find the ultimate soundtrack for the most ideal route in your favorite car, and hit the road for your perfect fall road trip.

Kamala Puligandla is a writer and an editorial assistant at Turo. She is always on the hunt for a strange story, a great snack, and the perfect outdoor spot to consume them.