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15 Best Fall Vacations In The US

Sailun Tires

Joanna Lowy is the content manager at Tripening

The bad news? Travel plans are still very much in the air (which is more than can be said for the planes, hey?). The good news? America is big enough – and beautiful enough – for a multitude of different fall vacations. No matter what gets your juices flowing, there’s something for everyone this fall, as the following will demonstrate:

1. Wyoming

Jackson Hole. With some of the country’s best national parks on your doorstep (more on this soon!), you can also expect clear skies, fascinating wildlife activity (unbeatable this time of year and best experienced as part of a sunrise safari!) and inviting temperatures on your arrival here. While the evenings can start to be a bit chilly, the days are still perfect for hiking, biking and rafting. 

We honestly don’t know what’s better: The colorful mountain foliage making up the picturesque views or the far quieter ambience brought about by the end of summer, meaning you will no longer need to fight your way through for the perfect Insta snap.

Yellowstone National Park. As well as being a far more peaceful time to visit, you’ll also be amazed at the golden brown color now coating the lush green scenery of this most extraordinary natural landscape. Wildlife is much more abundant now as the animals prepare for the cold winter months ahead of them, so look out for the scavenging bears – truly a sight to behold! You’ll also be able to hear the mating calls of elks and moose, as fall is the season for romance!

Whether you’re hoping for some romance, too (or not!), the peaceful walking trails, springs, geyser basins, waterfalls and front-row seats to the spectacular sunsets and Milky Way displays on offer will not disappoint at this time of year. You can even grab a last-minute deal on a hotel inside the actual park (in peak times, like the summer, you’ve got to book weeks – if not months – in advance.).

Grand Teton National Park. Vivid reds, burnt oranges and neon yellows make up the paint palette of this dramatic backdrop to the beautiful lakes and hot springs on offer here. Meander down the lake in a lazy canoe, camera in hand, to capture the spectacular beauty.

2. New York

Because let’s face it – it’s never not a good time to visit New York.

New York City. Broadway. Is. Back. Finally! So – if for no other reason – now’s the perfect time to flex your musical-deprived muscles. Of course, there are tons of other reasons to visit New York City this fall, such as the changing colors of Central Park amid the still-balmy-but-not-crazy-hot temperatures usually on offer right about now!

If you’re thinking of an October vacation, you’ll be right in time for Halloween – marked by Comic-Con, in which you can channel your fave superhero, and the Village Halloween Parade.

Hudson Valley. Ablaze with spectacular color, there are lots of different apple activities to do here, based on the age range of your party. Here with kids? They’ll love the farms with apple picking, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hayrides. After a more adult-friendly activity? Several apple orchards are home to cider houses, where you can pick your own, sample the subsequent cider and enjoy wood-fired pizza. (Yes. Please.)

There are great hiking trails everywhere showcasing the stunning views, or – if you prefer a more exotic mode of transport – you can even hop in a helicopter fall foliage tour!

It’s always worthwhile to spend an evening at The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, where you’ll marvel at the elaborate exhibition on offer.

North Fork, Long Island. Home to over 55 vineyards – need we say any more? Oh, alright. If you’re here with the fam, you may also be interested in pumpkin picking, hayrides and a scarecrow race – not to mention the apple cider donuts. The drive here itself at this time of year is a fantastic way to soak up the fall foliage.

3. California

Sonoma & Napa Valley. An unbeatable time to visit California’s wine country, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the region’s vineyards and wineries, cloaked in a golden-tinged autumnal coat (well, they don’t call it the Golden State for nothing!), and there are countless tours you can choose from to get your fix.

San Diego. The summer crowds have dispersed and left – in their wake – the perfect temperatures and fall-friendly activities (not to mention cheaper deals!). As one of the Craft Beer capitals of the U.S. there is no better place to be than the San Diego Beer Festival, held in early October. Special events aside, it’s just a great time to make the most of the usually packed attractions, such as the San Diego Zoo. More seeing + less waiting = big result. Kayaking through the La Jolla Cove is another big highlight. 

Yosemite National Park. Expect up to half the daily visitors on an average October day compared to mid-summer. This means popular photo spots are less crowded and parking is a lot easier – not to mention the more crisp, comfortable temperatures attached to the epic trails and rock climbing opportunities of this much-loved park. Evergreens, Maples and Black Oaks promise to give a sensational autumnal display.

San Francisco. “Fog City” clears up come fall, leaving a bright sky and glorious sunshine. If you visit in October, you’ll also be lucky enough to be part of Fleet Week – a huge event that honors and celebrates the naval and marine U.S. forces via concerts and a fully choreographed air show – and the San Francisco Street Food Festival, showcasing over 50 of the city’s top chefs.

4. Washington

Seattle. Like a side of pumpkin spice beer and a kaleidoscope of fall colors with your autumnal hikes? Then you may well want to head to Seattle – packed, also, with restaurant menus infused with seasonal ingredients such as yams, pumpkins and apples. #nuffsaid

Mount Rainier National Park. Vibrant autumnal colors are everywhere you look, while an abundance of hikes – backdropped by rushing waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and panoramic views – each fight for your attention.

5. Chicago

Well, why wouldn’t you head to one of America’s most haunted states in time for Halloween? Boasting a rich history in all things ghosts and ghouls, hop on a

Fright Hike Halloween Bike Tour to learn all about the Windy City’s spooky past! On top of this, you can also choose from an abundance of suburbs to go apple picking.

6. Oregon

Columbia River Gorge. Probably the best time to experience the ‘Fruit Loop’ – a 35-mile scenic drive that takes you past farms (complete with fruit picking, pumpkin patches and corn mazes), produce stalls, sprawling vineyards, wineries, breweries, waterfalls and volcanoes – all contributing to the stunning viewpoints.

Portland. Another place known for its ‘haunted’ houses, this is an excellent time of year to visit! Of course, the transition of Portland’s lush green trees into vivid oranges and yellows makes it another good reason to choose this as your fall destination – especially if you’re after a top hiking spot! 

7. Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you love the outdoors, you won’t get much better than the Sante Fe National Forest in the fall – everything sprinkled with a touch of gold. Hike, camp and gaze at the stars come nighttime for a truly spectacular experience. 

8. Texas

Sedona.  What do you get when you add some red rock, golden leaves and a welcome drop in desert temperature? The perfect fall hiking spot, that’s what! Look out for the natives, such as antelopes, black bears and coyotes, and check out the ancient ruins as part of a jeep tour to make the most of your stay here.

Austin. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fantastic hiking spots in Austin, coupled with an array of pumpkin patch and corn-maze-filled festivals, outdoor drive-in movies and lots of live music!

9. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg. The mountain drives here provide incredible views of the fall-themed treetops, but if you’re a real thrill seeker you’ll want to hop on the Gatlinburg Rocky Top Mountain Alpine Coaster Ride, featuring breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and 360-degree turns. Other seasonal events include Oktoberfest and Gatlinburg’s Taste of Autumn. Still, it’s totally cool to leave some spaces in your schedule blank as the cabins here are famed for little luxuries such as hot tubs and porches offering views for days.

10. Boston, Massachusetts

Home to picture-perfect parks, fall is a fantastic time to enjoy them in all their splendor. Lesser-known but equally noteworthy is a stroll along the Charles River Esplanade – one of Instagram’s best-kept secrets – as well as the cobbled streets of Beacon Hill and Acorn Street, said to be the most-photographed in the whole of America! Several farms just outside of Boston offer apple picking, apple cider donuts, hot cider and caramel apples – to name but a few.

11. Charleston, South Carolina

Said to be another of America’s most haunted cities, there are lots of ghost-related activities if you’re craving a spook in time for Halloween.

12. Florida

Miami. As well as all the standard benefits of visiting this usually-packed tourist destination off-peak, October in Miami also brings with it the Water Lantern Festival – a must-see whether you’re with your family, a couples retreat or a getaway with the boys. If you like your seafood, you’ll probably also want to hang around for the South Beach Seafood Festival, later on in the month.

Sarasota. With magnificent weather at this time of year, plan an outdoorsy vacation filled with boating, swimming with dolphins, kayaking and hiking – backdropped by the changing colors synonymous with fall. 

13. Savannah, Georgia

Another top spot for a bit of freaky fun, choose between a ghost tour or wander around the cemetery to get into the Halloween, er, spirit. They go all out here with spooky fall décor and pumpkin-lined entrances, which you’ll be able to appreciate from one of the many delicious restaurants and private homes. 

14. Las Vegas

As if we really need to sell Las Vegas any time of the year, but a special mention must go to the Botanical Gardens in the Bellagio – free to visit and boasting a seasonal transformation at fall featuring oversized pumpkins, woodland creatures and epically tall trees. Of course, it goes without saying that temperatures are also far more comfortable at this time of year too, not to mention the cheaper hotel rates you can snap up.

15. Phoenix, Arizona

Uncomfortably hot in the summer and overcrowded in the winter, fall marks a fantastic time to spend some time in Phoenix. Packed with various festivals and cultural events, you won’t be short of things to do here.

So, which will you choose?


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