NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
In the fall, there's a yin and yang to life in New England. Every year, the foliage steals your heart, then baseball breaks it.
Now, a fiery forest may be small consolation for the Curse of the Bambino. But hey, at least it's something they don't have in the Bronx. (No, Van Cortlandt Park doesn't quite count.)
Even so, if you think the land of the chowdah-heads is the only place in America to see a brilliant tapestry of trees, think again. Autumn is bursting out all over the place.
New England may be considered the paragon, but leaf-peeping abounds in such places as the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. And they're watching the colors all around the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas.
The Midwest can make a competitive claim to the nation's best fall scenery, too. There's a whole bunch of it there, from the Great Lakes regions to downstate Indiana and Ohio's Amish country.
And though the mountains of New Mexico lack a multi-hued diversity of trees, the thrill of seeing golden Aspens rustling in the wind makes up for it.
As with many of life's little luxuries, however, the pleasure is fleeting. Like cheese, autumn travel comes with a time-stamp. If you wait too long, it stinks.
The rising tide of falling leaves
Sometime back in the 1980s, tourism officials in a number of states realized that autumn's natural virtues could be promoted to boost an otherwise slow season.
Today, it's big business anywhere trees turn.
|More Good Life columns
In North Carolina, for example, foliage season generated $2 billion worth of economic activity in the western mountains last year, according to state tourism officials.
In Vermont, it's a $1.2 billion business. "That's huge," state tourism spokesman Jason Aldus told the Brattleboro Reformer, noting the big impact such spending has on a small economy like the Green Mountain State's.
The Web offers one gauge of the season's importance -- and popularity. Try Googling "fall foliage" and you'll see what I mean: Thousands of sites offer detailed, constantly updated information on which regions are peaking and when.
Many of them are operated by state tourist boards, as well as a sizable community of leaf-peeping hobbyists. The best offer forecasts, suggested driving tours, and all manner of scientific information about why and how trees change colors.
On one US Forest Service guide, for example, you can learn all about chlorophyll, photosynthesis, and endothermic transformation. (Just in case you slept through high school chemistry, too.)
It's not all science, though. Maine's site gives tips about taking photos. Pennsylvania's goes a step further: It offers live video of leaves changing.
I don't mean to be a killjoy, but let's put this in context. Charting the life cycle of leaves? In the spring, will they devote themselves to the progress of grass growth?
Still, driving around the countryside in autumn is great fun, especially if you punctuate it at the end with beer and Mariano Rivera.
One of the best sites devoted to the great outdoors, GORP (that stands for Great Outdoor Recreation Pages) offers a handy guide to all the state guides. (Click here to see it.)
So get out there and peep some leaves. And if you need a place to stay while doing so, see the gallery for a few ideas.
The Good Life is a weekly column that chronicles products, people and trends in luxury consumer goods, travel, and fine food and drink. Write to: email@example.com.