This time of year, the weather can trend toward the unpredictable - but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of diverse and interesting destinations out there just waiting to be experienced. As an added bonus, this time of year those destinations tend to be less crowded than they were back in the summer.
With those summer crowds gone, it's a great time to take in a true American treasure. In addition to its permanent collection, the National Gallery of Art has some great visiting exhibitions. Vermeer's "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter" is on loan from Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum until December 1. An intriguing exhibition features works by noted contemporary artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella, "The Serial Impulse of Gemini G.E.L." is a collection of serial works produced at the influential Los Angeles print shop, Gemini G.E.L..
Beyond art, the Smithsonian offers plenty of other interesting collections at the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History, and the Museum of Natural History. For the fans of fur and feathers, the National Zoo is a must visit.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
To insure product consistency, most of Kentucky's bourbon distilleries suspend production during the hot summer months, so when the temperatures cool down outside, things heat up inside where the pot and column stills produce the world's best whiskey. In addition to a fascinating inside look at how bourbon gets made, there's also plenty of historic sites and back stories associated with Kentucky distilleries. They also happen to be located in some of the most beautifully scenic surroundings in the world.
The Finger Lakes Wine Region
Yes, the weather in Upstate New York can get ominous this time of year, on the other hand, the soft warmth of the fall sun can turn the region into something close to magical. The wineries - the majority are located on Seneca, Cayuga, and Keuka Lakes - range from old to new and small to large. Over the past decade, breweries and distilleries have started popping up alongside the wineries, making the "Lakes" an even more appealing destination for those interested in beverages made from malt, barley and grapes. The Rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes are widely considered some of the best in the States.