The weather is still sweltering and muggy in Central Florida, so Linda Thompson is spending the first few weeks of fall in North Georgia, where the air is crisp and the colors of the leaves are already starting to fade to beautiful shades of red, gold and orange.
"I love coming up here, especially this time of year," she said, walking along the mid-way trail at Amicalola Falls with her friend Pat Zeno, of Murphy, N.C.
The Autumnal Equinox, more commonly known as fall, officially started at 4:21 a.m. today.
"In Florida, it's hot, then hot, then super hot, so it's really nice to come up and have cool weather," Thompson said.
Amicalola Falls State Park is among the top outdoor recreational facilities across the state, where peak foliage color can be seen usually toward the end of October or early November.
"The leaves changing is a beautiful time of year, and it is just so hot in Florida," Thompson said. "This was just a perfect time to visit."
Beginning Oct. 1, Georgia's State Parks will offer an online "Leaf Watch" travel planner, found at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/leafwatch to showcase daily updates on the state's changing foliage.
The website includes profiles on the top trails and overlooks, mountain cabins and campsites, fall events and safe hiking tips.
Shutterbugs are also encouraged to post their favorite shots to the Georgia State Parks Facebook page and Instagram.
The state park has already seen a surge of fall-like tourism activity, according to Christie Haynes, president of Dawson County's Office of Tourism Development.
"We're all excited about the cool air and pumpkins," she said.
While the recent release of Bill Bryson's, A Walk in the Woods (partially filmed at the park), may have played a role in the foot traffic, Haynes said the fall season is indeed a draw to the area.
"Amicalola Falls, they'll tell you after A Walk in the Woods ... we've talked a lot about how when movies are filmed here, people will come. Well, last weekend was apparently their busiest weekend," she said.
Another plus for local tourism, according to Haynes, is a recent development at the state level regarding agritourism and its impact on the travel industry.
"Agritourism is really big to us in this community," she said. "The state of Georgia and their tourism operation has finally decided to recognize agribusiness in terms of putting it in the Georgia travel guide. Before, they would never let that be because it was seasonal."