It’s hard to argue with the opinion that fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Temperatures are cooling down (but aren’t too cold), the foliage is gorgeous, and there are pumpkins everywhere. It’s always a treat to watch the leaves go from green to bright oranges, yellows, and reds, and there’s just something about the autumn atmosphere that is endlessly charming.
That’s exactly why the autumn months are the perfect time to do a little bit of travelling and plan a getaway to a spot that allows you to take full advantage of fall beauty. There are some cities in the US that just do fall really, really well, and you aren’t going to want to miss out on them.
Here are a few places in the US that are better to see in the fall than any other time of the year:
Tarrytown, New York is the perfect spot for Halloween adventures.
Barely an hour outside of New York City, Tarrytown is basically the perfect location for city-dwellers: it’s on the Hudson, it has a country vibe, but it isn’t far from Manhattan, making it a great getaway for New Yorkers. It’s also beautiful, which is true year round, but especially true in the fall. Tarrytown is also near Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving based his novel “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Because of that, it’s the perfect small town to visit around Halloween. There are haunted houses, graveyard tours, and the best jack-o-lantern blaze in New York. You’ll enjoy hours of scaring yourself silly, hiking through the foliage, and getting beautiful views of the Hudson.
In San Francisco, the weather is almost perfect in the fall.
San Francisco is always beautiful, but you’ll also find that the weather seems a bit off for California. In the summer, it’s usually foggy in the morning and tends to be chilly enough for light jacket weather throughout most of the day. In the winter, it can be pretty rainy. In the fall, though, the weather is probably at its best. The temps are warmer and it’s sunnier outside, without that morning fog.
The Kentucky Triangle is full of autumn events.
You might not think of heading south in the fall, but you should reconsider that – especially when it comes to Kentucky. The Kentucky Triangle is made up of three popular cities: Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Paducah.
All feature gorgeous fall foliage and lots of events. In Bowling Green, you can take advantage of the weather to enjoy fall festivals and explore Mammoth Cave National Park. In Owensboro, you’ll find lots of bourbon (perfect for fall!) and barbecue, as well as a great farmers’ market. Paducah is a UNESCO Creative City, full of history and art, and there’s a fun pumpkin patch to visit as well.
Vermont’s Green Mountains look like an autumn postcard.
If you really want to get serious about fall foliage, one of the best parts of the US to visit is New England, where the leaves truly put on a show.
Vermont’s Green Mountains are just one area in the region to check out. You can take a road trip to see the orange and red maple trees and enjoy warm days with cool nights. Stay in the adorable town of Stowe if you want to relax and hang out – there’s a cute village, the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, a corn maze, and even a Maple Outlet in Jeffersonville where you can learn how to make maple syrup. It’s also worth a ride to check out the state’s highest peak at Mount Mansfield.
Head to Salt Lake City for Oktoberfest.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, autumn means two things: gorgeous foliage and likely fewer crowds. Fall isn’t the most popular time of year for Salt Lake City tourism, which is good for anyone who wants to go then. Prices could be lower and crowds are better, and everything is still beautiful.
In September, you can check out the Utah State Fair, complete with a rodeo. Oktoberfest at Snowbird lasts almost two months. If you also want to ski, you can almost definitely start doing that closer to the end of October.
Go to the Finger Lakes for postcard-worthy views.
Another great spot in New York during the fall is the Finger Lakes region, which is known for its foliage. There is so much to do there, like: hot air balloon rides, hiking, vineyards for wine tasting, spas, and Hikyoga (hiking-yoga).
In the fall, Ithaca transforms into Diagon Alley with Horcrux scavenger hunts and Advanced Potions cocktail classes. If you want to do something spooky for Halloween, check out New York’s Haunted History Trail or do a ghost walk. If you just want to eat, go to the Annual Apple Tasting Tour, the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail, or the Sweet Treat Trail.
Enjoy nature in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains.
In early October, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee transform into a fall foliage wonderland. You can use the beautiful weather as an excuse to go hiking, like at the 11-mile loop around Cades Cove, which includes waterfalls and vistas.
The Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway lets you get an aerial view of the foliage, or you can check out some scenic overviews driving along the Gatlinburg Bypass.
Visit Salem in Massachusetts if you love Halloween.
The city of Salem in Massachusetts comes alive in the fall, which is easily its best season. Sure, it gets pretty crowded, but it’s beautiful and fun, and there’s so much to do. Salem is where the Salem Witch Trials happened back in the 1600s, and the city is full of history.
But they also bank on that history to make pretty much everything haunted and spooky. There are ghost tours, graveyard tours, and haunted attractions to check out. You’re also right on the water, so you get gorgeous views, New England lobster, and spooky vibes.
Check out Taos, New Mexico for beautiful colours and mountain air.
Taos in New Mexico is wonderful in the fall. You can check out nature by doing a driving tour along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway to explore forests and mountains.
Stop in Red River for some fall festivals, like the annual Oktoberfest, where you can get authentic German food, taste beers and New Mexico wines, and hang out outside. You can get adventurous and hike Goose Creek Trail, or Columbine Trail.
Go to Door County in Wisconsin for the leaves.
Door County is said to be one of the best fall foliage spots in the Midwest. You can drive down Highway 57 to see all of it, with lighthouses and adorable buildings along the way.
There are really cute towns and apple orchards to stop at, and you’ll definitely want to take a whole lot of photos. Go in early October for the best foliage and before it gets way too cold.
Have some family fun in Orlando, Florida.
If you don’t mind being warm during the fall, and you’re looking for some good old fashioned family fun, you might want to consider going to Orlando. It starts to cool down from the summer months during the fall, so it’s not quite as humid. Disney World and Universal Studios both offer really fun autumn things.
Universal Studios puts on Halloween Horror Nights, full of creepy haunted houses that will get you in the mood for Halloween. They also have Harry Potter World, which feels like the ideal place to be in the fall.
Go hiking in Asheville, North Carolina.
Another spot in the south is Asheville, North Carolina, which is supposed to be breathtaking in the fall. One reason Asheville is one of the best fall destinations is that autumn lasts so long there – Asheville has one of the longest and most diverse fall colour seasons in the world. You can go zip lining, hiking, go on a hot air balloon, or stay in a cosy cabin in the woods and just relax and enjoy the views.
Get a dose of history in Rapid City in South Dakota.
South Dakota uses Columbus Day as the time to celebrate Native American culture, so visiting around that weekend is awesome if you want to check out some history.
In Rapid City, there’s the Black Hills Powwow, which is three days of indigenous singing, dancing, drum groups, art shows, hand games, athletic competitions, and more. It’s one of the premier cultural events in the country.
Stroll through Boston, Massachusetts for hours.
If you want to head to a city for your getaway, it’s hard to pick a better one than Boston in the autumn months. Boston, like the rest of New England, features beautiful fall foliage.
The city is already picturesque and charming, but with the colours of autumn, it’s even prettier than usual. The weather is ideal – not too hot or too cold – and there’s plenty to see and do. Go shopping, get a great meal, and enjoy the sunshine.
Check out Port Townsend in Washington for some outdoor activities.
Port Townsend is stunning in autumn. Make sure to visit Olympic National Park, which is perfect for hiking or just walking, as there are lots of public trails. You can bike the Larry Scott Trail to Port Angeles if you’re up for it, or check out one of the many museums. There’s also apple picking and cider tasting at many orchards.
Explore Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.
Columbia Gorge is awesome in the fall. The Cascade Mountains look colourful and bright, as all of the trees start to show off. You can take scenic drives, or you can hike or even get in the water with a kayak, canoe, or boat.
Visit Portland in Maine for delicious food and stunning foliage.
Maine gets pretty cold in the winter, but if you head up in September and early October, the weather is gorgeous. In the Portland area, you can get great views of the foliage by hiking Bradbury Mountain. Go into the adorable town for lobster, or check out Harvest on the Harbour for all different foods you can taste.
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