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Discover the Best Fall Vacations in the US

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Looking for the best fall vacations in the US? You are in the right spot. Autumn or fall months are the transitional periods from summer to winter. Typically they are the months of September, October, and November.

Pin for Best USA Fall destinations
Best USA Fall destinations

The USA experiences 4 distinct seasons, and fall is characterized by crisp mornings, shorter days, Halloween events, (my favorite) PSL aka Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and foliage. This is when trees turn golden-y orange-y colors, and this will surely warm up your hearts!

So here’s are the best fall getaways in the USA to take this year!

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18 Best Fall Vacations in the USA to add to your bucket list

Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley vineyards in fall
Napa Valley

By Dhara from Roadtripping California

Looking for leaf-peeping destinations in California? Consider Napa Valley, an easy drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, for a double dose of fall color: not only on the trees in the region but also the vines! 

Fall comes later in the year to Napa Valley, with colors generally peaking somewhere between very late October to mid November. We visited around Thanksgiving and found the valley ablaze with color even at that time!

Tour some of the beautiful wineries in the area to see fall color. Some vineyards are perched high up on hills, affording great panoramas of an orange patchwork quilt of color in the vineyards below.

One of the best things to do in Napa Valley is strolling Yountville’s main street. Yountville is one of the pretty towns in the valley, and its main street has mature trees that turn to bright yellows, oranges, and reds in the fall. You can also check out fall colors in the area by driving the roads through the countryside. Nearby Sonoma County also offers excellent leaf- and vine-peeping.

Make sure you bring your appetite when you visit because restaurants in the valley offer fall menus featuring the favorite flavors and tastes of the season!

READ: San Francisco Road Trip Ideas

Black Hills, South Dakota

Black Hills in the fall USA Getaways
Black Hills

By Megan from Red Around the World

The Black Hills in South Dakota is an underrated fall getaway. You can find plenty of scenic drives and tons of amazing hikes to get out and easily admire the fall foliage that lights the area up in September and October.  The area is perfect in fall because there aren’t quite as many people and the weather is perfect, not too hot, not too cold.  

There are quite a few great events that you can enjoy in the Black Hills in Fall. Some of those include Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch, Deadwood Jam, Plein Air Paint Out, Custer State Park Buffalo Round-Up and Arts Festival, Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival and Fall Volksmarch at Crazy Horse in September.  October offers Deadwood Oktoberfest, Bierborse, Black Hills Powwow, and Deadweird.  

Take some time to get out and hike (Black Elk Peak or Cathedral Spires Trail) or do a scenic drive or two (like Iron Mountain Road or the Needles Highway) between all these awesome fall events.  There is so much to do in the area and fall is the best time to experience it all.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona Arizona in the fall
Sedona

By Dayla from Sweet Little Journey

Mild temperatures, red rocks, golden leaves with a chance of snow – if that sounds like your perfect fall getaway, then you will absolutely love Sedona! The months of October and November bring a welcome drop in temperatures in this hot desert which allows for some of the most comfortable hiking and sightseeing conditions of the year. 

Although Sedona is beautiful year-round, it is during the fall that this red rock town is truly at its peak! Hit up one of Sedona’s best hikes such as Bell Rock Trail, Red Rock Crossing Trail, Devil’s Bridge or Cathedral Rock, and then grab a bite at Heartline Cafe or enjoy the views at Etch Kitchen and Bar.

If the budget is not a concern, Mii Amo is one of the best luxury stays in Sedona. This all-inclusive spa with mountain views was awarded the Top Destination Spa by Travel + Leisure in 2020 and is sure to take your breath away! 

For the best bang for buck, you can stay in the nearby town of Village of Oak, just 10 minutes south of Sedona. There are plenty of trails that start from this area as well and the views here are just as stunning! You’ll find everything you need here from grocery stores to restaurants, cafes and lots of Airbnb options.

If you’re a wildlife fan, Fall is the perfect time to try spotting some of Sedona’s native residents! Antelopes, black bears, elk, and coyotes start getting easier to spot as temperatures drop so make sure you have the right zoom lens to capture all this fauna! 

Quandary Peak, Colorado 

Quandary Peak Colorado Fall colors
Quandary Peak Colorado Fall colors

By Lotte from Beste voor Kids 

Quandary Peak is one of the fourteeners in Colorado and a popular hiking destination. Standing 14,271 ft tall, it’s the highest peak in the Tenmile Range of the Rocky Mountains. The hiking trail going up the mountain is a very popular one but it’s not an easy hike! 

The trail is 12 kilometers long and you’ll be ascending 1000 meters. It took me and my husband three hours to go up and two hours to get down. 

The first part of the trail is relatively easy and climbs gradually through a forest. In fall this is one of the prettiest parts of the trail, especially with the golden aspen trees. As you climb higher, the views get better and better. Just above the treeline, you have beautiful views over the valley below, where you’ll see a color pallet of red, orange, and yellow.  

This is also the part where the hike gets steeper, the last part is actually more of a scramble up loose rocks so be careful. From the top of the Quandary peak, you can admire stunning 360 views and see more beautiful fall colors in the surrounding valleys. Be aware it’s windy up there so bring a jacket. Also, be sure to wear proper hiking boots as in mid-September it had a bit of snowfall at the top. 

Quandary Peak is close to Breckenridge, a lovely mountain village and actually one of the most popular places in Colorado to watch the fall colors. Due to its high elevation, Breckenridge is one of the first places in the USA where the leaves begin to change color, some years as early as Labor Day! There is even a section on the Breckenridge Tourism website dedicated entirely to visiting Breckenridge in autumn with more tips where to admire this amazing natural yearly spectacle. 

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah in the fall
Savannah in the fall

By Erin from Savannah First Timer’s Guide

Savannah is known for being one of the most haunted cities in the U.S., so it’s a fantastic place to visit during the month of October. You’ll find ghost tours galore, spooky fall décor, and restaurants offering seasonal fall dishes (it IS a city for foodies, after all).

Since Savannah is so far south, the leaves don’t begin changing colors until late October or early November. After viewing the fall scenery in Connecticut, Vermont, or North Carolina, head on down to Savannah where you’ll see trees in Forsyth Park full of bright yellow leaves as late as mid-December!

Fall weather in Savannah is relatively mild. Even in late November, you can comfortably wander around and usually won’t need anything more than a light jacket or sweater. It’s really nice to stroll through the Historic District to see pumpkins lining the curved stairs of an older home or get a peek of fall color spilling out from someone’s private garden.  

Fall is traditionally loaded with activities, too. Visitors can choose from Oktoberfest, the Tybee Pirate Fest, the Jazz Festival, Savannah PRIDE, and the Rock & Roll Marathon. There are food festivals, too! The Savannah Food & Wine Festival is a huge event, and there are also Greek and Jewish food festivals.

Make sure you take a detour down to River Street to grab a caramel apple from River Street Sweets while you’re visiting! It’s relaxing to sit on a bench by the water and watch the sun fade into yellow and orange tones while giant container ships come and go from the Savannah port. 

Insider Travel Tips: Avoid visiting in September — or at least purchase travel insurance if you do. It’s the height of Savannah’s hurricane season! Need a (potentially haunted) place to stay? Highly recommend The Marshall House!

Hudson Valley, New York

Fall in the Hudson Valley
Fall in the Hudson Valley

By James Ian from Travel Collecting

The Hudson Valley, NY is a wonderful place for a fall getaway.  There is so much to do.  If you like to be active, it is a hiker’s paradise.  Trails that take you to overlooks where you can see stunning views over autumnal woods include the High Peterskill Trail in Mohonk Preserve and Minnewsaska Lake Loop trail in Minnewaska State Park. Mohonk Mountain House is a magical place to stay with great hiking trails all around.   

If you prefer a more sedentary experience, there are incredible drives around the valley to take in the fall color.  The two middle weekends in October are typically the best times for peak fall foliage, but the valley stretches all the way from New York City in the south to Albany three hours to the north, so the leaf peeping season is quite long. 

Another great thing to do is visit one of the many farms that open up for fall activities.  There are plenty of apple orchards that you go to and pick your own apples.  There are hay rides, corn mazes and even pumpkin patches where you can get in the Halloween spirit.  

Continue the Halloween festivities at the Great Jack o’Lantern Blaze, where over 3,000 pumpkins are carved and arranged in elaborate displays that expand each year. It is an incredible sight. Be sure to book your timed entry early. 

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville Hiking in the fall
Asheville Hiking in the fall

By Anna from Stuck On The Go

Asheville is a gorgeous destination anytime of year but fall brings cool temperatures perfect for hiking, many opportunities for viewing the changing leaves, and plenty of fun fall festivals. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you busy.

Some of the best things to do outdoors in the fall is hiking, zip-lining, or taking a picnic up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Popular places to hike include Craggy Gardens, Mount Mitchell, Catawba Falls, and Graveyard Fields. From mid September to early November this area boasts vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange from the changing leaves.

Fall also brings many festivals to Asheville and the surrounding towns ranging from the Mountain Life Festival held in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to the Bigfoot Festival in Marion to the NC Apple Festival in Hendersonville. Apple picking at the local orchards in nearby Hendersonville is also a fun activity for couples and families alike.

One way to make your stay even more enjoyable is to find a cabin with a mountain view and a hot tub on the deck. There’s nothing like relaxing with a glass of wine in the hot tub after a long day of exploring. If you prefer a hotel then try the luxurious Omni Grove Park Inn or if you’re on a budget then stick to the Aloft Hotel downtown.

Catskills, New York 

Catskills NY
Catskills NY

By James from Wanderus Living

The Catskills of New York is one of the most beautiful destinations to visit during the fall. The temperatures are in the 70’s which make it comfortable for hiking or adventuring during the day. 

There are so many different scenic drives, hikes, rivers and historic destinations to visit. 

My favorite region and hiking area in the Catskills is the Neversink river area. The hikes are not super challenging, but the waterfalls, rivers and scenic views are absolutely beautiful. This includes Denton falls, High Falls and Mullet Brook Falls.

The Catskills is also a great place to relax and enjoy a brewery or winery. There are so many in the area, so you really can’t go wrong with any but my personal favorite is the Crossroads Brewing Company.

One of the best times to visit the Catskills is at the very beginning of Fall, to enjoy Oktoberfest at Mountain Brauhaus. There is an abundance of German food, beer, wine and your typical Oktoberfest goodies. The event takes place on September 26th and is a great way to listen to music and enjoy some good food.

When it comes to staying in the Catskills there is no shortage of amazing places to stay. If you are looking for a unique type of vacation, try an app called HipCamp which is similar to Airbnb. HipCamp has so many amazing places to stay such as old renovated trains, treehouses, and even more!

Midland, Michigan

Fall leaves at Dow Gardens Midland Michigan
Midland Michigan

By Sherry Trautman from Traveling Michigan

If you are searching for an amazing fall getaway this autumn, visit Midland Michigan.  We recommend visiting Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest as you can walk across the longest canopy walk in the United States!  

The views from 40 feet in the air are really breathtaking as you can see the stunning red, yellow and orange hues of the trees up close, see the stunning sparkling ponds from above and walk over the glass walkway at the end of the canopy walk (if you are brave enough!). 

Other fun things to do include walking or biking at Midland City Forest as trails pass over a beautiful bridge, through dense trees and follow the scenic river.  Also, be sure to visit the Tridge, a scenic three-way bridge offering lots of biking and walking opportunities.  You can bike or hike all the way to the Chippewa Nature Center on paved trails from the Tridge.  You will see several ponds, marshes, an observation tower and lots of wildlife!

We recommend staying at the H Hotel as it is located right downtown near the Tridge with lots of food, shopping, and Midland farmers market. The hotel is very beautiful and has two restaurants, one with outside seating. 

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park in the fall

By Jennifer from FamilyCamping411

Grand Teton National Park is a stunning place to visit any time of year, but Autumn is particularly spectacular for so many reasons. From the beginning of September through mid-October, Mother Nature dips her brush in the bursting palette of vivid reds, burnt oranges, and neon yellows to create a dramatic backdrop for enjoying its majestic wildlife, wild recreation, and way smaller crowds

Historically, this striking color change peaks around the third week of September and lasts into early October, but it’s important to remember that there are numerous factors that greatly influence the development of coloration, including temperature, sunlight, and rainfall. Local weather conditions like rainfall amounts and nighttime temperatures determine when leaves change color, so check the Grand Teton National Park Fall foliage reports frequently before you head out.

Discover the Teton’s color carpet of Fall on foot when you hike Swift Creek, then reward tired feet with a post-hike soak in the steamy waters of the Granite Hot Springs. Or, head over to the south shore of Jenny Lake, one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, and join an easy-to-moderate, ranger-led, morning hike to Moose Ponds, then finish the day with a meandering canoe ride, camera in hand.

There are eight lodging options located within the Grand Teton National Park grounds, Jenny Lake Lodge and Jackson Lake Lodge offer all the amenities and all the views, but be aware that many are seasonal.

For more lodging options during the Fall months, head to Jackson Hole and find everything from Rustic Inn boutique cabins, elegant minimalist luxury at Amangani, to affordable stylish hotels like the Anvil Hotel.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston in autumn months
Boston in the fall

By Tegan & Alex from Why Not Walk 

It’s no secret that visitors come to New England from all over the world each fall, seeking the ultimate “leaf-peeping” experience all over the region. If you’ve come to Boston, you’re in the right place.

If you’re staying in Boston proper, we recommend booking accommodations in the Back Bay or Fenway neighborhoods, so you don’t have to travel far to see all the sights. From here, it’s easy to start your day out with a visit to Copley Square. 

Don’t miss the two beautiful churches here and the Boston Public Library– definitely some of Boston’s most beautiful (and most Instagrammable) buildings. 

The Library’s Bates Room in particular serves major back-to-school vibes with its elegant lamps and old-school book collections– perfect for fall. You can window-shop along Newbury Street before walking one block over to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, where trees arch over the center pathway in all their autumn glory. 

For more fall colors, check out the Fens or any of the parks in the Emerald Necklace parks system, which are ablaze with color each autumn and are absolutely breathtaking. 

Next, take the green line or a ride-share to the North End (Haymarket stop.) Here, take in all the sights of Boston’s traditional Italian neighborhood. You can stay in the North End for lunch, choosing between its wealth of Italian eateries, or head downtown to Chinatown for dumplings or dim sum. 

Nearby Faneuil Hall and Beacon Hill are also gorgeous fall destinations, with their cobbled streets and romantic buildings. Don’t miss taking a few photos at Acorn Street! In one of the afternoons, consider participating in a quintessentially New England fall activity: apple-picking.

A short car or commuter rail ride away, breathe in the fresh country air as you pick your own apples, straight from the tree. There are numerous farms just outside Boston where you can do this, but we especially recommend Nashoba Valley Winery or Honeypot Hill Orchards. While you’re there, don’t miss sampling apple cider donuts, hot cider, and caramel apples! Many orchards also offer wine tours, hayrides, and other treats to enjoy.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee–North Carolina

Smoky Mountains in the Fall
Smoky Mountains in the Fall

By Corritta from It’s a Family Thing

The perfect fall destination to take in everything that nature has to offer in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Smoky Mountains is for families, couples, and solo travelers. The Greystone Lodge on the River is a great place to stay to have quick access to the park. 

The fall is the best time to visit the Smokies because it is less crowded, the trees are turning colors, there is wildlife, and the temperature is more pleasant. There are hikes for people of all skill levels from novices to experts. The claim to fame for the smokies in the fall are the waterfalls. Seeing the waterfalls with the changing colors is phenomenal.

As if the Great Smoky Mountains National Park wasn’t a good enough reason to visit the Smokies in the fall, this is the time to enjoy festivals. Starting in late September/ early October festival season kicks off in the areas near the Smokies. There is the Fall Harvest Festival, Dollywood Harvest Festival, Wears Valley Fall Festival, Oktoberfest, and several others. 

There is also the scary side of things. You can get your scary fix at the Gatlinburg Ghost Tours, The Mysterious Mansion, and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. No matter what you decide to do you will not regret your time in the Smokies in the fall.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen

By Aswani from A Charming Escape

Aspen is famous for being a ski town but not many people know that it is also an amazing place to visit in the autumn to see fall colors. Named after the beautiful Aspen trees, it is a great fall destination to visit and see the Aspen trees turn golden yellow. 

The best time to visit Aspen to see the fall colors during their peak is at the end of September and early October. The closest international and popular airport for cheap airfares to Aspen is Denver International Airport. Aspen is about 2 hours from Denver and can be reached via the scenic Independence Pass in the months of October or September. 

While in Aspen, visiting the Maroon Bells State Park is highly recommended. These twin peaks have some of the best fall colors in Aspen and the hikes are breathtaking. Also recommend walking around North Star Nature Preserve for more beautiful fall colors. 

Another interesting thing to do is taking the gondola and visiting Aspen mountain for amazing views of the mountains. The St. Regis Aspen Resort and Aspen Meadows Resort are good options to stay in Aspen. If the hotels in Aspen are fully booked or too expensive, check out the nearby village of Snowmass. 

Portland, Oregon

Portland Oregon in the fall USA
Portland Oregon in the fall USA

By Tiffany from The Stoke Fam

When it comes fall getaways, we think Portland, OR, is one of the best options out there. Whether you prefer a trip to the city or an adventure in the outdoors, Portland delivers. Portland is a popular jumping-off point for oceans, cities, mountains, and National Parks during the summer. However, once fall settles in, the crowds start to disperse, and you can really get to know the area. 

When you plan your stay, we recommend checking out some of the unique and memorable places to stay, such as The Benson Hotel, Mark Spencer Hotel, or The Tiny House Hotel. Then, once you’ve settled in, we suggest planning a visit to The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island, watching a Trail Blazers basketball game, or attending the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta.

In addition, across the area, you’ll find tons of food trucks with delicious culinary options ranging from wood-fired pizza to Asian fusion to Argentinian and more.

But, if food trucks aren’t your thing, don’t worry! Portland also has plenty of options such as Nak Won (a Korean restaurant specializing in hand-pulled noodles), Le Pigeon (with French cuisine that repeatedly tops the best restaurant lists), and El Gaucho (an upscale steakhouse that delivers an exceptional experience with delicious food).

But, what we love most about the area in the fall are the many options for getting outdoors. In particular,  hiking near Portland is one of our favorite activities during the fall. With the summer crowds gone, the weather comfortable, and the trails less traveled, it’s the perfect time to take in the region’s beauty.

Salt Lake City, Utah

By Christina from Travel2Next

Stroll down Main Street in Utah’s capital to enjoy a stunning combination of skyscrapers and yellow leaves. Salt Lake City is a terrific city to go to see easily accessible fall colors. Places to go for fall foliage within the city are Liberty Park and Memory Grove Park for late-season autumn leaves and City Creek Canyon. 

For longer hikes and stunning autumn foliage that will knock your socks off, head to Millcreek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon. One of the things to do at Salt Lake City is to stroll along Temple Street, starting from Temple Square and admire 12 blocks of impressive architecture framed by autumn leaves.

Fall is also the time when there are many events to attend in Salt Lake City, such as Oktoberfest at Snowbird (August to October). The Utah State Fair in September is excellent for fun events, and local treats, the Urban Arts Festival for street art and dancing, and the Squatters Beer Festival has been running for 30 years! 

The Salt Lake Farmers Market (June to October) is where you can connect directly with farmers and producers, taste fresh fruit, pies, jams, and other local produce.

Choose a hotel in the city center, like the Hilton Salt Lake City Center and Salt Lake City Marriott City Center so that you can walk to many of the events and sites.

Insider Travel Tips: From Salt Lake City, drive to the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway – a 20-mile drive through the rugged alpine canyons. 

Appleton, Wisconsin

Appleton Wisconsin

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Appleton has no shortage of activities for every season, from mopping up the summer-sun to hitting the trails during lively-autumn. Accordingly, if you want to travel to the US for a fall, visiting Appleton is highly recommended. 

Situated in Wisconsin, the city of Appleton is the heart of the Fox River Valley. The small town assures its visitors to present a fantastic and perfect spot for a fall getaway, finished off with a bright scene everywhere.

It’s more a city featuring exclusive performing art, shopping, and dining. So, encounter everything this area offers during fall — from attractions and activities to fairs and festivals; there’s something here for everybody!

There are various things to do here, including touring Broadway shows or live concerts at the art center or the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve. Don’t forget to visit the world’s first residence-turned-Hearthstone historic house museum during your trip. Enjoy Ice-skating and sledding in the winter, alongside the butterfly gardens of Wisconsin.

Likewise, some of the best fall festivals in Wisconsin that occurs every year are: Sister Bay fall fest, Eagle river cranberry fest, Madeline Island fall fest, Al and Al’s Oktoberfest Sheboygan, etc

Moreover, there are several best hotels or accommodations in Appleton, like- Rodeway Inn, Copperleaf Boutique Hotel & Spa, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, and more. 

St Louis, Missouri

St louis in the fall
St Louis

By Tiffany from Mommy And Me Travels

St Louis, MO (STL) is the gateway between the east and west United States.  The STL Arch is the iconic figure on the Mississippi River that signifies the route between the two sides of the USA.  During your visit, take a trip to the top of Arch and gleam upon the city’s beauty with all of the bustling fall activities and colors that St Louis has to offer.  

No trip to St Louis in the fall is complete without a visit to one of the many festivals.  You’ll be in for a treat at the International Foodfest, or watch the sky light up at the Balloon Glow, and/or learn about Japanese history at the Japanese Fest around the Botanical Gardens, and so many many more. There is definitely something special and unique for everyone to experience at one of the fall fests in STL.  

Looking for the perfect spot to call home while you explore STL? The Hilton – Curio Collection at Union Station is that perfect spot.  This centrally located location will check all the boxes of what you are looking for in a hotel. Traveling with your loved one or family, St Louis is a definite must-visit during the fall for everyone looking for a good time in a big city with a small city vibe.

Disneyland 

By Nancy from Aroundtheworldattheweekend

Nowhere in the world decorates for the seasons like Disneyland and I think their fall decorations might be my favorite ever. The autumnal and Halloween vibe permeates throughout the park and the hotels and range from kitschy trick or treat decorations to the fall bouquets of your dreams.

Disney pulls out the stops for its themed events too and you can visit the Haunted Mansion as it’s taken over by the Nightmare Before Christmas crew or you can meet Mickey Mouse all dressed up for trick and treating.  One favourite moment is when you first enter the Magic Kingdom to see an amazing fall display of uniquely carved pumpkins – literally hundreds of them!

 Both of the Disney Parks are filled with spooky surprises and autumnal delights around every corner, with almost every part of the property having a fall makeover. Even the hotel lobbies are bursting with autumnal displays.

Disney also creates special edible treats for the occasion and you can sink your teeth into caramel apples with mouse ears and pumpkin flavour cupcakes.

Disney is silly, fun, and themed to perfection. It’s the perfect place to head to to get excited about the Autumn! Have fun.

So that’s a wrap! These are the coolest places to enjoy a fall getaway in the USA. Where are you heading to?

USA Resources:

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Best USA Fall destinations

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