Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move. From hiking through Vermont’s North Woods to fishing in Michigan like a literary legend, we searched the country for the best spots to get the true autumn experience.
Big Cedar, Missouri
The Kevin Costner cabin at Big Cedar lodge, as with all of the cozy Adirondack-style cabins on the lushly forested 800-acre property, has a wood-burning fireplace, hand-crafted furniture, stained-glass windows, and views of Table Rock Lake. It is covered with pictures of the 'Field of Dreams' star, who is a fishing buddy of Johnny Morris, the rustic resort's owner and the founder of the Bass Pro fishing shop empire. Morris has an impressive roster of fishing buddies for a simple reason: His love of Ozark simplicity is completely contagious.
Big Cedar also has cabins named after Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ernest Hemingway, President George H.W. Bush (whose Secret Service agents were told it was sold out when they called to make a reservation), Waylon Jennings (he and his wife renewed their vows at Big Cedar), and many of the conservation partners that Morris has worked with in the 40-some years since he started Bass Pro in the back of his father's Brown Derby liquor store. Each of the 81 cabins has an impressive deck, as well as enough taxidermy to give even Teddy Roosevelt pause.
Johnny Morris originally bought the property so that customers of his Springfield store could test fishing boats, but he soon became intrigued with the two long-abandoned resorts, built next to the lake in the 1920s by Jude Simmons and Frisco Railroad executive Harry Worman. He decided to restore them. Today, those old wilderness mansions serve as two of four restaurants on the property.
There are also natural-fed swimming pools, hiking trails, a golf course that doubles as a certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary, two spas, a cooking school, and an about-to-open Natural History Museum, complete with a skeleton of a wooly mammoth. As if that weren't enough, a cookie lady leaves fresh gingerbread treats (shaped like cedar trees) on guests' pillows. They make a good pick-me-up for the guests who participate in the kick-ball competitions and wheelbarrow races held on the Truman Lawn, which also hosts a nightly bonfire.
It is no wonder Morris calls Big Cedar Lodge his "little slice of heaven on earth."
More information: Big Cedar, tucked alongside the 43,000-acre, bass-filled Table Rock Lake, is 10 miles south of Branson, Missouri. Play your cards right and you can even hitch a ride in the green vintage 1948 Chevy pickup that Costner used in his wedding to handbag designer Christine Baumgartner.