Try off-the-beaten path for fall foliage

The usual places to find beautiful fall foliage are well known, such as Shenandoah National Park, but the Virginia Department of Forestry has some alternatives for 2013.

State foresters developed local scenic driving tours as alternatives to the state's well-known and well-traveled locations, said Gregg O'Donnell, a forestry department spokesman.

"Fall is a wonderful time of year to come out and enjoy and experience the outdoors," said Jack Kauffman, a state forester in Culpeper, Greene, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties. "Although you can see seasonal leaf color in your neighborhood or park, travelers looking for the 'undiscovered gems' all over Virginia may find those gems in our tours."

The self-guided scenic driving directions offer views throughout the state. Foliage driving tours recommended by the state are for the following areas:

•Charlottesville and Culpeper Area: counties of Greene and Madison

•Harrisonburg area: counties of Rockingham and Shenandoah

•Lexington area: Bath County

•Roanoke area: counties of Bedford, Craig and Franklin

•Staunton area: Highland County.

For more information on fall foliage in Virginia or to get driving directions, go to visit dof.virginia.gov/fall/.

Last weekend for Parade of Homes

The 2013 Parade of Homes sponsored by the Peninsula Housing and Builders Association ends Sunday in Smithfield.

Parade of Homes features seven decorated and landscaped houses in the Cypress Creek at Smithfield development. The event runs through Sunday, Oct. 20. Hours are noon-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors can tour the houses and get construction, building and decorating tips.

Tickets are $10 for adults; active-duty and retired military and ages 62 and up, $3 discount Monday-Thursday; ages 12 and younger free.

For directions and more information, call 305-9065 or go to http://paradeofhomesva.com.

Horticulture class coming January

The 2014 Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course is scheduled for Jan. 13-17, at the Marriott City Center in Newport News.

Invited speakers include landscape and garden designers, a turfgrass specialist, tree experts and botanists. The course is sponsored by the Virginia Horticultural Foundation.

Specialty workshops for 2014 include bonsai, beneficial insects, plant propagation, and bamboo and willow garden art.

Training will also be available in Spanish, and continuing education credits and certifications can be earned for the short course. Scholarships and educator travel grants are available. The application deadlines are Oct. 31.

More than 900 people attended the 2013 short course, including professionals and home gardeners, according to the foundation's web site.

For more information, call 757-523-4734 or go to http://www.mahsc.org.