Fall Destinations in the United States That Won't Let You Down

2023-03-01 06:26:56 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

While nothing beats a drive through picturesque fall foliage in the country, the city also offers its own special kind of autumnal allure. Envision yourself sipping bourbon in the cool of a Louisville evening while watching the leaves fall in Central Park.  

The end of summer is always bittersweet, but in most cities the good times don't stop abruptly. Before you hibernate for the winter, you should spend as much time as possible outside, appreciating the changing colors of the trees as they shift from green to yellow, orange, and red. There are still a ton of music festivals and tailgating parties, and city dwellers who are thirsty can head to Oktoberfest.    

Here are the best U.S. cities to visit in the fall, from Savannah's Halloween ghost tours to Santa Fe's chile harvest season.  


The resort towns outside Denver see their leaves begin to change earlier than the city itself, but if you visit in October, you can see the city's foliage at its finest along the Cherry Creek Regional Trail or the High Line Canal, which is lined with brilliant yellow cottonwood trees. However, beer drinkers could be excused if they never see a tree in their lives. Denver Oktoberfest and the Great American Beer Festival are just two of the many beer celebrations that take place in the Mile High City each fall.

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.

In the fall, when events like September Sundown and Americanafest take place, Music City truly comes into its own as a fitting name for the city. The biggest events in Nashville increasingly combine the city's two greatest loves: music and nature. Concertgoers can enjoy the fall night sky through the Dyer Observatory telescope while listening to live music at the Bluebird on the Mountain Concert Series, held atop one of Nashville's tallest hills. The Southern Festival of Books, which has been going strong for over 30 years this October, is another reminder that not every lyrical turn of phrase in this town is sung loudly.

Douglas_Photography/Getty Images

Bradbury Mountain, located on the outskirts of town, is a great place to take a hike and take in the best of the local foliage, or you could always just go After all, burning off some calories while admiring the fall foliage is an easy way to make up for the gluttony that can be expected in a city as renowned for its lobster as this one. Harvest on the Harbor, an internationally renowned food festival, is held every October. The Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition is a highlight, as audience members get to taste the competitors' creations and cast their votes alongside the expert judges.

Images by Getty

The meadow by Belvedere Castle, which is blanketed in red leaves from black tupelo trees in the fall, is one example of Central Park's pastoral bliss; for another, book a room at the Mandarin Oriental New York that overlooks the park. To get downtown, visit the High Line, a park built on top of abandoned elevated rail tracks, between 30th and 34th Streets. Palenque's empanadas in the style of Colombia, as well as Hungry Ghost's lattes, are both available until the end of the month.  

S Photo by Greg Panosian / Getty Images

Southern California's coastal area has been dubbed "the American Riviera" for decades, and for good reason: it has a luxurious summertime reputation not unlike that of its French namesake. However, September typically has the lowest hotel rates of the year. In any case, the fall season typically has better weather than the summer months, which are prone to the gloomy days of "June Gloom." Since Santa Barbara is so close to the wineries of Santa Ynez Valley, there are also many tasting rooms there that are open during the grape harvest. Conway Family Wines, located on Stearns Wharf over the water, is worth a visit.

Tourist Information Center of Louisville

Locals in this city in Kentucky, which produces one-third of the world's bourbon whiskey, raise glasses in celebration of the spirit every September, which is designated as National Bourbon Heritage Month. In Louisville, however, the nearly 50 locations that make up the Urban Bourbon Trail ensure that the city's annual autumnal celebration lasts all season long. You should definitely check out the Down One Bourbon Bar & Restaurant, which will reopen in October 2022 and feature over 160 different bourbons. Visit Iroquois Park (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man responsible for New York City's Central Park) in the fall for a scenic walk that won't leave you tipsy, and stick around until dusk in October for the annual Jack -O'-Lantern Spectacular, which features 5,000 carved pumpkins.

Barker, Adam

In general, the autumn months offer the best deals, the fewest tourists, and the most colorful foliage along Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. In September, Salt Lake City hosts the Utah State Fair, complete with a rodeo, and Snowbird hosts a two-month long Oktoberfest, complete with lederhosen. In fact, there is often enough snow to ski here by Halloween in years with a heavy snowfall.

Visit the State of Minnesota

Despite the fact that some hardy souls enjoy a leisurely bike ride even in the dead of winter, the majority of lakeside runners and cyclists reserve their final laps for the autumn months. After that, take part in any number of fun autumn celebrations in the Twin Cities. There's the Twin Cities Book Festival and the Twin Cities Film Fest in October, and in September, Minneapolis hosts the Monarch Festival, which celebrates the migration of monarch butterflies. Go see the Minnesota Vikings play at U.S. Bank Stadium to prove you're as tough as the locals. S Indoor Stadium

The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau Convention & Visitors Bureau

Even if you aren't enrolled in American Literature this fall, you can't help but feel a sense of back-to-school fervor in the Boston air. Readings and events take place more frequently at popular bookstores like Brookline Booksmith and Harvard Book Store. Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, located in Jamaica Plain, is a great place to see the area's best fall foliage in early October.

© Disney

Start of the school year is the best time to visit Orlando if you want to bring your preschoolers to the theme parks (or just ride Space Mountain over and over again, without any kids). However, there is more to the city than just entryways. Explore the expanding downtown and Winter Park restaurant scene. The Coop (which was opened by the chef behind the popular 4 Rivers Smokehouse) serves artisanal pies and Lowcountry shrimp and grits, while Boca serves Creole-style pimento cheese grits.

The Bay Area is the perfect destination for a "summer vacation" right now. In contrast to the actual summer months, which are often chilly and overcast, the fall is typically warm and sunny. That's great news for anyone looking forward to attending any of the city's many exciting events, such as the delicious Ghiradelli Chocolate Festival or the fast-paced San Francisco Dragon Boat Championships. One potential downside of visiting in the fall is that hotel prices (especially at business hotels) may be higher due to the high volume of business travelers.

© James S Southers/Demotix/Corbis

The locals are ready to let loose in the cool autumn air at events like Oktoberfest, the Day of the Dead celebration after Halloween, and the Tasting Texas Wine and Food Festival. Mission Reach of the River Walk allows for recreational activities like hiking, renting bicycles, and kayaking on the San Antonio River. Come in November for Wurstfest, a 10-day celebration of all things sausage in nearby New Braunfels, and you'll have a handy way to burn calories while you're there.

Ms. Nicole Geils

Aside from the lowest prices and the majority of the cruise ship layover tourists, the midnight sun has set. Anchorage, unlike many smaller Alaskan towns, doesn't shut down when summer ends. If you visit Anchorage in the early fall, you can still pick berries on Flattop Mountain or ride the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna for a spectacular display of fall foliage (and possibly better views of Denali). Moose and Dall sheep, which may have been hiding in the cover of the trees, become more visible as the leaves begin to fall. Nighttime is when northern lights viewing begins.

Presented by the Virginia Beach Visitors and Convention Center

After the Neptune Festival, a rowdy boardwalk party, concludes in late September, this seaside resort town with 38 miles of shoreline returns to its usual, tranquil state. Unless you happen to be an animal like a bird or a fish like a striped bass. In the fall, the Chesapeake Bay is teeming with large fish, and the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to watch thousands of migrating ducks and snow geese. A further perk of visiting Virginia Beach in the off-season is that you can go on beach riding tours with Virginia Beach Horseback.

By Nicholas Millard / GoProvidence.com

In the fall, Providence, Rhode Island's capital, puts on a show that's the ideal blend of rural and urban. Through early November, WaterFire bonfires line the city's rivers during the evenings, complementing the blazing foliage by day. Providence hosts the Vortex Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Festival in the fall, and around Halloween, Steel Yard transforms its steelworking process into a live performance art event called the "Iron Pour."

Photography by Myron Ward / 500px / Getty Images

When autumn arrives, the city's eerie attractions, set against a colorful foliage backdrop, really start to get going. You can go on a ghost tour with Blue Orb's City of the Dead, drink at the most haunted bar in town, Moon River Brewing Company, or stay in a hotel where the ghost of a jilted servant is said to roam, like the 17Hundred90 Inn. The Blues, Brews, BBQ, and Bourbon Festival, held in late October, is one of many food-related events in Savannah that may appeal more to the timid.

Salmon runs are abundant in the Columbia River, and the harvest of butternut squash and heirloom tomatoes bodes well for Portland's locavore restaurants. Visit Oma's Hideaway, run by husband-and-wife duo Thomas Pisha-Duffly and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, for a taste of their reimagined Malaysian and Singaporean street foods. Beer brewed with freshly harvested hops has a different flavor profile than beer made with dried hops, which is used the rest of the year. Hopworks offers a representative sample of its excellent results.

By Rob Carr & the Getty Images Team

Many surfers claim that the best time to visit San Diego is during the fall, when the south swells and warm Santa Ana winds make for ideal wave conditions. Where the turf meets the surf, as Bing Crosby used to sing, is the Del Mar Racetrack, and the annual horse-racing season begins in the month of November. In the same month, you can attend San Diego Beer Week and try some of the city's most lauded craft beers.

John Huba

Harvest time in this southwestern city is marked by the wafting aroma of roasted chiles from roadside stands. The gastropub Fire & Hops serves a delicious poutine that is topped with bacon, green chile, and white gravy—a unique take on the classic Mexican dish that is worth trying. The Aspen Vista trail is a beautiful place to hike in early October, and it's only about 14 miles from the city center. Alternatively, you can take in the "hot air" at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

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