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    Leaf Peeping Is The Best Fall Activity, And Here's When You Should Go

    By Oct. 8, most of the Northeast and Southwest US will be awash in autumnal beauty.

    Of all of the lovely activities fall has to offer, the very best one is some good old fashioned leaf peeping.

    Leaf peeping is just another name for looking at the gorgeous changing colors of fall leaves, and I'm sorry if you don't like that phrase, but it's here to stay.

    But as anyone who's stepped outside in late autumn knows, those vivid reds, yellows, and oranges don't last long — usually around five weeks.

    Denistangneyjr / Getty Images

    To help anyone looking to do a little leaf peepin', the Smoky Mountains created an interactive fall foliage map, which shows where and when the leaves are at peak prettiness.

    The map is color coded to show when leaves have had no change in color, minimal change, patchy and partial change, and when they're near peak, at peak, or past peak.

    Right now, it's a liiiiittle early to see anything other than green, but by Oct. 8, most of the Northeast and Southwest US will be awash in autumnal beauty.

    And if you live in the Deep South, you can enjoy those fall colors well into November!

    The nice thing is that no matter where you live in the US, there's probably a spot near you where you can see the leaves changing colors.

    Sung Yoon Jo / Getty Images

    If you need inspiration for specific cities and destinations for leaf peeping, check out this list this list, this one, and this one.

    And, reminder: getting out into nature whenever you can — particularly if you're looking at trees — is a great move for your mental and physical health.

    Jennifer Yakey-ault / Getty Images

    Tree smells can have been found to decrease stress and increase NK cells (which protect us from disease agents and infections), and studies have shown that spending time in nature can boost creativity and put us in an ideal state of restful alertness.

    So if you can even set aside a few hours to gaze in awe at the colorful wonders of trees this fall, by all means, do yourself a favor and get out there.

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