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The winding, 30-mile Grossglockner road in Austria has 36 sharp turns and many gorgeous views.

The winding, 30-mile Grossglockner road in Austria has 36 sharp turns and many gorgeous views. (iStock)

With summer’s scorching heat in our rear-view mirrors and a few weeks yet before winter’s cold settles in, October is a great month for road tripping to the last of the fair-weather festivals. Coupling awesome events with scenic drives to cute nearby places is a sure-fire way to get the most out of an upcoming weekend. Here are just a few possible events and places to check out while you're in the neighborhood.

Germany

The city of Fürth, just north of Nuremberg, is home to one of Franconia’s oldest church festivals. The Michaelis-Kirchweih offers tasty Franconian beer and treats, scary rides, games of chance, market stalls and other fun associated with the volksfest tradition. In contrast to many other fests, this one unfolds in the city’s downtown area. Opening Oct. 1 and running through Oct. 16, a program highlight is its traditional thanksgiving parade. From 11 a.m. Oct. 9, some 3000 marchers in traditional costume bring sound and color to the city streets. Online: michaelis-kirchweih.de

Just over an hour’s drive west from Fürth is found Rothenburg ob der Tauber, considered one of the best preserved towns in all Germany. A walk atop the two miles of medieval fortress walls that encircle the town provides stunning views of Franconia’s green countryside. Places worth a detour along the way include Cadolzburg, home to a 13th-century castle perched atop a rocky spur, or Bad Windsheim, a spa town housing an expansive park with wellness facilities.

Austria

Salzburg’s wonderful Old Town breaks out into song Oct. 13-16, as its annual Jazz & The City event sees some 70 concerts play out across 30 different locations, including both indoor and outdoor spaces. With free admission, visitors can wander freely from one venue to the next to hear jazz in all its subgenres, along with world and electronic music. This year’s crop of artists hails from all over Europe, as well as Brazil, New Zealand and the UK. Online: salzburg-altstadt.at/en/salzburgjazz

From Salzburg, a trip along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road leads to Heiligenblut in Carinthia. The 30-mile road weaves through lush mountain pastures, meadows and rocky ground before yielding to views of the majestic Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. The route’s 36 sharp turns will give even experienced drivers a challenge. In a typical year, the road remains accessible through late October/early November. A single-day ticket for traveling along this famous stretch of highway goes for 38 euros. Online: grossglockner.at

Italy

From Oct. 14-23, chocolate lovers will descend upon the Umbria Fairgrounds outside Perugia for L’Eurochocolate, a fair celebrating all things cocoa-related. With its move to indoor premises, the fair that used to take place inside Perugia's city center becomes more compact and thus more easily navigable. In addition to sampling the wares, visitors can learn about chocolate’s supply chain along a “tree to bar” route. This year’s guest of honor is Mexico. Online tickets go for 8 euros plus processing fees for adults for midweek visits and 10 euros to drop by on weekends. Online: eurochocolate.com

Just a half-hour’s drive from Perugia is found Assisi, the charming hilltop town that was the birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the order of monks who bear his name. Nearby Spello delights with its narrow cobbled streets and a villa showcasing age-old mosaics. After passing the vineyards of the Montefalco wine region, one reaches Spoleto, a medieval gem overlooking an ancient aqueduct.

Belgium

Twice a year, the small city of Ciney hosts what’s billed as Europe’s biggest fair for military memorabilia. More than 600 exhibitors from all corners of the Continent set up stands selling uniforms, helmets, medals, insignia, flags, spare parts, engravings, books, postcards, photographs and other items. The fair’s autumn edition will take place 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Ciney Expo. Adult entry costs 15 euros, while those under the age of 14 enter free. Online: tinyurl.com/2y3sd6m4

Use the time in the area to get to know Wallonia, the French-speaking region of southern Belgium. About 10 miles west of Ciney is found Dinant, a good starting point for a drive along the Meuse River heading towards Namur. Dinant’s citadel and onion-domed cathedral are worthy of exploration, and the saxophone statues scattered through town honor native son Adolphe Sax, inventor of the instrument. Before leaving, sample a flamiche, a puff-pastry tart filled with leeks and cream. Namur, site of unique churches including the Cathedral of Saint Aubain and the Church of Saint-Loup, is dominated by its immense citadel. For a pit stop in between the two cities, consider the Jardins d’eau d’Annevoie, a landscape park with snazzy water features.

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