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Ever paused to admire the vibrant colors of the changing leaves on an autumn evening walk? Or posted a photo of a particularly beautiful leaf outstretched in front of the camera on social media? If so, congratulations, you’re a leaf-peeper. In the US, “going leaf peeping” is a cute way of saying you’re planning an autumn getaway to ensconce yourself in the red, orange, and yellow hues of the season. 

In many ways, a cozy fall vacation is an ideal way to travel in 2020. Much of the summer crowds will start to wane, you can spot leaves from the safety of your car or on a secluded hike, and it doesn’t matter that travel is largely limited to nearby road trips since the US boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the world when it comes to fall foliage. 

And, if you’re wondering if it’s safe to travel right now, we had experts weigh in on the risks. The good news for road trippers on the hunt for fiery leaves is that renting a car, heading outdoors, and staying in a private vacation rental are among some of the safest travel options available since contact with others will be limited. 

“While there is no question hotels are working diligently to keep their hotels clean and sanitized, Airbnb has a huge advantage given that the renter is generally the only one occupying the property,” said Dr. Neil Brown, K Health’s chief diagnosis officer, when asked about the safety of hotels compared to vacation rentals such as Airbnb. “With Airbnb’s new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, the company provides a better option than public hotel spaces…Double-check to see if the host is participating in the program.”

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up top vacation rentals for prime fall foliage. We’ve noted cleaning policies for each listing, but it’s worth reading the fine print for each home before booking, especially in regards to cancellation policies, which can vary wildly from one vacation rental to another. And with more travelers sticking closer to home, try and book in advance to yield the best results and search on many platforms, especially if Airbnb seems especially booked up. 

Looking for more fall foliage vacations? Try one of these:

It’s also important to consider that without a vaccine there is no guarantee of safety right now. We always recommend following guidelines from trusted organizations like the CDC and WHO, and taking proper precautions like wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and social distancing. Additionally, you’ll want to check state and local guidelines before traveling, especially if you are going out of state or traveling to or from a hotspot area.  

With all that in mind, to make the most of your trip and ensure you peep the leaves at peak vibrancy, you’ll need to know where and when to go. 

In addition to finding some of the best vacation rentals across the country in peak leaf-peeping destinations, we also included the best times to book your trip according to the Farmers’ Almanac predictions for the 2020 fall foliage season.

We selected the best vacation rentals based on the following criteria:

  1. Listings are for the entire home or apartment to avoid interaction with owners or other guests, in line with recommended COVID-19 precautions.
  2. Listings are found in prime locations to take advantage of foliage and boast exceptional amenities and design.
  3. Rentals are priced to suit a range of budgets and group sizes, starting between $108 and $375 per night.
  4. All are top-rated listings and have an average rating of 4.8 or higher.

Here are the best vacation rentals for fall foliage, sorted by price from low to high.