If you're looking to escape the tourist crowds and steep prices yet still want to experience comfortable weather and stunning scenery, autumn is the season to beat.
Fall is when the world's most renowned destinations—the USA, Japan, Germany, and the UK—morph into less crowded, more affordable, and equally stunning versions of themselves.
Take the UK as a case in point: I once visited during a bleak winter only to find that returning in the fall was like stepping into a whole new world. Parks, palaces, and a wealth of attractions were suddenly dressed in a breathtaking palette of fall colors.
Are you a foodie? It's a beautiful time to eat your way through the best autumn getaways! Autumn offers delicious and heartwarming seasonal delights made with the foods we all relate to autumn, like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apples, and even truffles!
Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Autumn offers an unrivaled blend of nature and comfort since the weather is so moderate in most places. Sounds like a great hiking or camping experience to me!
So, if you're trying to find the best places to vacation in October or November, you're in the right place. I'll use my love of the fall season to pack my guide with top-notch destinations in America and abroad that come alive in the fall.
10 Best Places to Visit in the Fall in the US
10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone in the fall provides a serene yet vibrant setting, perfect for nature lovers. With fewer crowds, you can enjoy the park's wonders, like the iconic Old Faithful and Lower Falls in a more peaceful atmosphere.
The elk mating season, characterized by the calls of bugling elk, adds a unique touch to autumn in Yellowstone. Take part in a guided tour to or explore the scenic drives and hiking trails for an enriching experience. Remember to take lots of memorable photos along the way!
If this sounds like the spot for you, we have a complete guide on planning a trip to Yellowstone (and Grand Teton).
- Temperature: 30-60°F
- Highlights: Old Faithful, Lower Falls
- Best For: Nature enthusiasts, photographers, budget travelers
9. Acadia National Park, Maine
Let's move on to one of the USA's most sought-after spots.
Pinned as one of the best places to visit in the fall on the East Coast, Acadia National Park comes to life with breathtaking beauty. Tucked along the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia embraces the cooler weather with eye-catching foliage.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, photographer, or outdoor lover, this is one of the best fall weekend getaways.
Drive along the scenic Park Loop Road or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain to catch a memorable sunrise.
The park's range of trees, like maples, oaks, and birches, paint a colorful canvas of reds, oranges, and yellows that take the scene by storm. That's why many people list this national park as a tremendous leaf-peeping location!
And don't forget the Acadia Night Sky Festival. This fall festivity is typically held in late September, celebrating the park's impressively dark skies.
- Temperature: 45-65°F
- Highlights: Cadillac Mountain, Park Loop Road
- Best For: Outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, families
8. Sleepy Hollow, New York
Looking for a spooky fall getaway to celebrate the Halloween season? A great fall destination for this is Sleep Hollow in New York State.
And if you're already stopping by New York City, this unique spot isn't too far off! All you need to do is jump in the car from NYC's downtown area and drive ~45 minutes north.
If you visit Sleepy Hollow, you'll experience the village come alive with the Halloween spirit, offering haunted tours and creepy hayrides. These Halloween activities cater to both family-friendly and spine-tingling experiences.
The town's history is rich with legends and myths, including the tale of the Headless Horseman. I recommend exploring these tales through guided Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Philipsburg Manor guided tours.
It's an ideal destination for those looking to combine cultural enrichment with a dash of adrenaline.
- Temperature: 50-70°F
- Highlights: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Philipsburg Manor
- Best For: Families, Halloween enthusiasts, history buffs
7. Vermont, New England
Brimming with rustic charm, New England—particularly Vermont—transforms into an enchanting spectacle during the fall months. Vermont's rolling hills and charming small towns make it the heart of New England's fall experience.
The entire New England region encompasses Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, offering an array of stunning autumnal hues. That said, I feel that Vermont's Green Mountains steal the show.
Home to some of the most iconic foliage in the USA, the Green Mountains offer a vivid tapestry of red, yellow, and orange leaves that seem to set the hillsides ablaze.
Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Vermont for its extensive hiking and biking trails that weave through maple and birch forests. The state's scenic drives, like the Green Mountain Byway, allow travelers to absorb this natural beauty without leaving their cars.
So, if you're pinpointing where to travel in October or even November, Vermont is the crown jewel of New England's must-see autumn landscapes.
- Temperature: 40-60°F
- Highlights: Green Mountains, local fall festivals
- Best For: Nature lovers, couples, budget travelers
6. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina & Tennesse
Whether you’re hunting for the best fall getaways for the weekend or you want to set up camp for an entire week, the Great Smoky Mountains are a must-see in the USA!
Bordering North Carolina and Tennessee, the lush landscape offers unique experiences for nature fans and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to dense forests and misty mountain tops, creating an ethereal ambiance as the colors change. Discover the history-rich buildings, abundant wildlife, and natural beauty on the Cades Cove Loop Road.
Also, don't miss the chance to participate in the Fall Harvest at Dollywood. This family-friendly event celebrates the season with music, food, and crafts.
One other thing you may want to add to your itinerary if Halloween is one of your fav holidays is to visit a local farm. These local farms often have pumpkin patches, adding another layer to your fall adventure.
For the full scoop on the top 5 national parks in the US, check out this detailed guide. From Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon to Yosemite and Denali, you’ll have all the information to start planning a relaxing fall vacation.
- Temperature: 45-70°F
- Highlights: Scenic drives, Dollywood Fall Harvest
- Best For: Families, nature lovers, budget travelers
5. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is most famous for its International Balloon Fiesta, held in October, where hundreds of hot air balloons fill the sky. If you can't go to Turkey for this well-known view, why not view all the air balloons in this New Mexico festival?
The city's unique landscape is even more enchanting with the crisp autumn air and fall colors, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and biking.
The Old Town offers a historical charm that perfectly complements the modern buzz of the city.
- Temperature: 50-70°F
- Highlights: International Balloon Fiesta, Old Town
- Best For: Event-goers, history buffs, affordable luxury travelers
4. Portland, Oregon
Still haven't found the "one" on my list of best places to visit in the fall in the US? Maybe this next one will float your boat: Portland!
This cute American city ushers in waves of magic as the lush landscapes transform. Highlights like Forest Park and Washington Park change into a mesmerizing red, orange, and gold medley as the leaves change color.
The Japanese Garden is a must-see in Washington Park, boasting a serene combination of tranquil ponds and traditional architecture. The fall season is ideal for exploring the numerous hiking trails in and around Portland.
If you’re an active traveler, don’t miss the trails in the Columbia River Gorge, which are home to stunning vistas and thundering waterfalls.
Since I'm a self-coined foodie, I also want to point out that Portland has a delicious and bustling food scene! I recommend stopping by one of the many food trucks offering seasonal treats.
Pair that good food with some good drinks, too! Known for its burgeoning craft beer scene, Portland's breweries often offer seasonal ales that can be particularly enjoyable in the fall. Join a brewery tour and you won't regret it!
Coined as one of the best places to visit in October in the USA, Portland is a fall lovers' haven!
- Temperature: 50-65°F
- Highlights: Japanese Garden, Forest Park, local food trucks
- Best For: Foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, solo travelers
3. Napa Valley, California
Taking its place as one of the best places to visit in the fall in the US, Napa Valley encompasses all sorts of enticing experiences. Nestled in California, this hot spot welcomes harvest season in the fall.
The vineyards and grapevines turn into different shades of red and gold, contrasting against the lush greenery of the surrounding scenery. And there are even apple orchards where you can go if you want to experience apple picking!
Beyond the endless vineyards and orchards, hot air balloon rides offer panoramic vistas over the renowned wine region.
October through November is the ideal time to visit Napa Valley, especially for budget travelers. Pinned as the off-season, you can expect price drops across activities, accommodations, and airfares.
For the full breakdown of everything you need to know, see our guide on the best Napa Valley wineries and vineyards. From Sattui Winery to Castello di Amorosa, you can pick the most suitable spot.
Plus, you'll learn about the top wine tours, Napa priority passes, and the best way to get around. This Napa Valley winery guide is a must-read if you're considering visiting Napa Valley for your fall vacation!
- Temperature: 60-80°F
- Highlights: Vineyards, Grape Harvest
- Best For: Wine enthusiasts, couples, luxury travelers
2. Salem, Massachusetts
Known for its witch trials, Salem embraces its history with a range of activities during the Halloween season. It's so into this holiday that the entire place transforms into a month-long festival in October called Haunted Happenings
So, if you're a festive soul, Halloween in Salem will be an exciting fall vacation for you!
This event features everything from ghost tours to witch trial reenactments, capturing the spirit of the season in an educational and entertaining way.
Apart from its Halloween events, Salem also offers a rich maritime history and beautiful architecture, so there's plenty to explore once you've had your fill of spooky adventures.
The beautiful fall foliage adds another layer of charm to this historical town.
- Temperature: 45-65°F
- Highlights: Haunted Happenings, Witch Trials Museum
- Best For: Families, history buffs, Halloween enthusiasts
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring at any time of year, but the comfortable temperatures and smaller crowds in the fall make it particularly inviting. Avoid the harsh heat of the summer!
You can hike the trails leading into the canyon to discover hidden waterfalls and lookouts that provide stunning vistas. You can do this solo or as a group with a tour of the Grand Canyon.
Rafting down the Colorado River is another must-do activity, especially in the fall when the water levels are more predictable.
For the more leisurely traveler, the viewpoints along the South Rim offer awe-inspiring panoramic views, and you might even catch a glimpse of California Condors soaring above.
- Temperature: 50-75°F
- Highlights: South Rim, Rafting in the Colorado River
- Best For: Adventure seekers, families, photographers
6 Best Fall Vacation Ideas Worldwide
6. Provence, France
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in the fall in Europe, France is a crowd favorite among many! Out of all the hot spots in the country, Provence is well-known for the warm, golden hues of the vineyards and olive groves.
The landscape is looming with stunning contrasts against the clear blue skies, and the air is graced by the earthy scents of freshly harvested grapes. Provence is a feast for the senses!
Wander through the local markets, check out the harvests of fruits, vegetables, and truffles, and enjoy exquisite farm-to-table experiences. Of course, Provence is famous for its wine, so you can’t leave without an authentic experience.
The fall season initiates the grape harvest, making it the best time for wine lovers to discover the region. Many wineries boast tours and tastings, pinning Provence as one of the best countries to visit in the fall.
- Temperature: 55-70°F
- Highlights: Vineyards, Olive Groves
- Best For: Couples, food and wine lovers, luxury travelers
5. Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
Nestled in the beating heart of the Sichuan province of China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a fall lover’s oasis. Coined as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this gem is known for its colorful lakes, roaring waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks.
During the fall season, the forests are graced with a collection of colors. The vibrant, warm hues offer travelers a glimpse of the natural splendor in China.
Whether you're hunting for picture-perfect landscapes, cultural experiences, or a relaxing fall vacation, Jiuzhaigou Valley is home to unforgettable travel opportunities.
- Temperature: 40-60°F
- Highlights: Five-Flower Lake, Long Lake
- Best For: Nature lovers, photographers, solo travelers
4. Kyoto, Japan
Japan is well-known for its stunning architecture, divine landscapes, and unique culture. In Kyoto, fall is a season that ushers in tranquility and breathtaking beauty.
The bustling city's temples and gardens are transformed with the vibrant colors of the maple trees. Kyoto hot spots include Kiyomizu-dera, Tofuku-ji, and the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
There are 2 waves of foliage in Japan: yellow leaves on ginkgo trees occur in late October, while the red leaves on the Japanese maple appear in early November.
If you’re considering Japan for your fall vacation, don’t miss this 10-day itinerary!
With everything you need to know about how to get around, the best cities to visit, and things to do, you can also learn about festivals and the cherry blossom season if you plan to visit in the spring instead.
- Temperature: 55-70°F
- Highlights: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kinkaku-ji
- Best For: Cultural enthusiasts, photographers, solo travelers
3. Cotswold, England
England is known for many things, from the fuming football fanatics to classic fish and chips.
The Cotswolds are famed for their quaint villages and rolling hilltops, and the fiery fall foliage makes the region all the more charming.
Explore the honey-colored stone cottages, stop by villages like Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water, and soak up local living in the English countryside. Once you’re done with sightseeing, you can go for a pint in a cozy pub or sip an afternoon tea in the café-lined, cobblestone streets.
For a relaxing experience, Cotswold is one of the best places to visit in the fall.
- Temperature: 45-60°F
- Highlights: Bourton-on-the-Water, Rollright Stones
- Best For: Couples, history buffs, budget travelers
2. Bavaria, Germany
Lain against the breathtaking backdrops of the Bavarian Alps, Bavaria’s castles and charming towns get taken to a new level.
Visitors will find that the fall makes these fairytale landscapes even more enchanting as the warm shades surround the scene.
The Neuschwanstein Castle is a significant highlight, while the nearby forests and lakes provide a natural escape. With ample opportunities for leisurely hiking, biking, and boat rides, Bavaria is one of the top places to visit in Europe in the fall.
If you travel to Germany in September, you can also experience one of the best fall festivities: Oktoberfest in Munich. For culture, cuisine, and spirited celebrations, this festival could be a great way to begin your vacation!
While planning, make sure to note that Oktoberfest usually runs from late September to early October. Double-check the dates for the year and city you're celebrating this unforgettable beer festival in!
- Temperature: 45-65°F
- Highlights: Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein Castle
- Best For: Event-goers, families, affordable luxury travelers
1. The Azores, Portugal
The Azores are a hidden gem for fall travel—visiting in mid-October offers milder weather and many outdoor activities without the summer crowds.
The archipelago is known for its rich marine life, and the milder fall temperatures provide an excellent opportunity for whale and dolphin watching.
Hiking trails lead you through lush forests and past volcanic craters, offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you're up for an adventure, consider going canyoning or scuba diving to get a different perspective on this stunning locale.
The islands are also famous for their geothermal springs, and bathing in one surrounded by fall colors is a unique experience. Definitely a must-do if you want a relaxing activity after exploring the city or hiking through the wilderness.
- Temperature: 60-75°F
- Highlights: Whale watching, volcanic craters
- Best For: Adventure seekers, nature lovers, solo travelers
Have You Considered... Cruising in the Fall?
If you’re wondering if fall is a good time to cruise, you’re in luck! Fall is considered the best season for couples and solo travelers to go on a cruise.
Among the benefits are fewer crowds, more affordable rates, and pleasant weather.
The main disadvantage of a fall cruise is that fewer options and itineraries are available.
If you’re set on a specific cruise line or trip, you may have to be flexible or wait until summer. Here are some of the top shoulder season cruises:
- Caribbean cruises from September to March
- Mediterranean cruises from September to March
- Asia cruises from September to December
- Alaska cruises in September and October
Tips for Traveling During the Fall
Whether you’re planning a getaway to one of the best fall destinations I've talked about or want to venture to your own destination, here are some things to consider beforehand:
- Layer up: Thin-to-medium layers can be just as crucial as bulkier items
- Multi-functional clothes: Opt for clothing that can be worn at various times
- Prepare for the weather: Bring sunscreen and sunglasses, as well as a rain poncho and umbrella
- Opt for off-peak destinations: This is the best choice for budget travelers and backpackers
Fall Foliage and Beyond!
Now that you have more ideas to plan one of the best fall vacations ever, you can start crafting your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.