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23 Best fall destinations in the US you have to visit

23 Best fall destinations in the US you have to visit

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Fall is one of my favorite times of the year when it comes to traveling. The summer rush is mostly over, therefore, flight and accommodation prices are almost always cheaper, there are fewer tourists around, allowing you to see more of your destination’s authenticity, and I just love the autumn colors. If you also like traveling around this time of the year, you’ll surely enjoy this post where we cover the best fall destinations in the US.

Let’s start the countdown!

1. Bar Harbor, Maine

bar harbor

We start off this list of the best fall destinations in the US with Bar Harbor in Maine. Bar Harbor stretches along the 40-mile stretch of the Acadia Byway, an area that offers a beautiful mix of jaw-dropping hues of autumn foliage and wild, rugged coastal landscapes. One of the best places to visit in the area during autumn is Mount Desert Island where you can admire the beautiful autumn landscapes while exploring one of the most scenic outdoor areas along the East Coast.

If you’re visiting Bar Harbor, I suggest you check out this historic tour of Bar Harbor and to explore Arcadia National Park.

If you’re looking to get a discount on your accommodation in Bar Harbor, feel free to use our Booking.com voucher.

2. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington

Vermont is rarely associated with mass tourism but when it is, people usually refer to Burlington. Burlington is a beautiful, historic city with a lot of interesting things to see and do but it gets even more beautiful when autumn comes and the city is covered in red, yellow, and orange hues. If you really want to feel the autumn vibe, there are many things to experience in Burlington around this time of the year.

You can head to the orchards and pick some apples, visit one of the many pumpkin patches, take a scenic drive through the beautiful foliage of Burlington. If you want to see the best autumn landscapes in this area, I suggest you visit Ethan Allen Park or take a day trip to Lake Champlain. Just make sure you come back on time to catch the spectacular sunsets at Waterfront Park.

If you want to make the most out of your autumn trip to Burlington, I warmly recommend this great New England autumn tour.

If you’re looking to get a discount on your accommodation in Burlington, feel free to use our Booking.com voucher. You’re saving with every stay and supporting us to keep creating articles like this one in the future too.

3. New York City, New York

new york autumn

With the summer heat gone, fall is probably the best time of the year to visit New York City. Around this time of the year, you’ll get the unique opportunity to witness Central Park in its orange autumn clothes shyly peeking amidst the urban jungle it’s surrounded by. For the best autumn vibes, I suggest you get a hotel near Central Park where you can enjoy autumn views even without leaving the hotel but trust me there will be many reasons to leave your hotel.

There are a few huge festivals every autumn, including Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Halloween but there are also a lot of parks where you can just relax and admire autumn foliage. If you’re planning to visit New York this autumn, you might like our list of hidden gems in New York City, or this list of things you can do only in New York, as well as our NYC cheap shopping guide and our guide to solo travel in NYC.

Here are some awesome fall tours of NYC that will make your autumn experience even better.

Autumn Sunset Cruise in the 1000 Islands

NYC Fall Foliage Brunch Cruise

Hudson Valley Fall Foliage from above

Private tour of Catskills and Baseball

For some great discounts on staying in New York, use our Booking discount code.

4. Berkshires, Massachusetts

Berkshires, Massachusetts
by Massachusetts Office Of Travel CC by SA 2.0

If you’re looking to get away from the big cities and enjoy some amazing nature landscapes, the Berkshires in western Massachusetts is one of the best fall destinations in the US. The Berkshires are also one of the most remote destinations in the country but there are several charming towns like Lenox, Pittsfield, and Stockbridge where you can experience the best of autumn on the East Coast. With countless trekking routes, biking routes, water sports facilities, and other adventure tourism options, the Berkshires are the ultimate autumn paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. 

5. Salem, Massachusetts

Salem Massachusetts
John Phelan CC by SA 4.0

Salem might not have the natural beauty of the Berkshires but it’s one of the most unique towns in Massachusetts. The city is most famous for the Salem Witch Trials that took place in 1692. In case you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up, it’s because of the fact that Halloween takes place in the autumn. And Halloween is huge in Salem, a town that bases most of its tourism on its haunted and mysterious past. You can take a candlelit haunted tour of Salem, visit some of the vibrant shops, or visit some of Salem’s fascinating museums and learn more about its troubled history.

If you choose Salem as an autumn destination, you may want to check out the Mysteries of Salem tour or this fascinating historical tour of Salem.

For some great discounts on staying in Salem, use our Booking discount code.

6. Lakes Region, New Hampshire

new hampshire lakes best fall destinations in the us

Autumns in New Hampshire are so picturesque that I’d say that the entire state of New Hampshire is a great fall destination but only a few places in America can compare to the scenic beauty of autumn foliage in the Lakes Region. As its name suggests, the Lakes Region got its name from the numerous lakes in the area with the biggest ones being Newfound Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, and Lake Winnisquam.

The area is away from the coast which means that is well protected from the harsh coastal winds and is not elevated which provides the best chance for a longer longleaf season that lasts from mid-September until early November. There’s no shortage of fall activities to indulge in in the Lakes Region but some of my personal highlights include trekking through the forests and kayaking/canoeing while enjoying some of the most beautiful autumn landscapes in America.

7. Washington, DC

washington dc best fall destinations in the us

There’s always something special about autumn in the capital. Traditionally, autumn is also the time of the year when Washington DC receives fewer tourists and you can truly experience the best of the city. The display of leaves usually peaks in mid-October and there’s no shortage of places in DC to witness spectacular autumn foliage.

Some of the best places to visit in and around Washington DC during autumn include Rock Creek Park, the United States National Arboretum, the Mount Vernon Estate, Great Falls Park, Seneca Creek State Park, and of course- Sugarloaf Mountain. In addition to this, you can always take a tour of some of the many historic monuments, visit some of the city’s most interesting museums, and enjoy the city’s rich and diverse food scene.

If you visit Washington, some of the most popular autumn tours in the area feature DC’s history of slavery tour, the Historic Georgetown tour, and the Old Town Alexandria Walking tour.

For some great discounts on accommodation in the capital, use our Booking discount code.

8. Marietta, Georgia

marietta best fall destinations in the us

Georgia might not be the first state it comes to mind when speaking of the best fall destinations in the US but Marietta is a real autumn gem. Marietta is a small town located just 30 minutes away from Atlanta in the Blue Ridge foothills. The town is famous for its rich history (and six historic districts) and for beautiful autumns.

You can spend your autumn trip to Marietta watching the foliage in some of the town’s many parks, you can visit some of the local museums, catch a concert (there’s always something happening during autumn), go trekking, or even take a day trip to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park; a historic site that also happens to be home to some of the most scenic fall foliage in the United States.

If you’re looking to get a discount on your accommodation in Marietta, feel free to use our Booking.com voucher. You’re saving with every stay and supporting us to keep creating articles like this one in the future too.

9. Asheville, North Carolina

asheville best fall destinations in the us

Comfortably situated in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has everything one could want from a peaceful fall getaway. Asheville is a beautiful historic town with a quaint downtown area filled with vibrant streets, cute shops, museums, galleries, and of course- breweries. In addition to the beautiful autumn landscapes you can see within the city’s boundaries, there are also a lot of places like Pisgah National Forest and The Biltmore estate (both nearby) where you can get off the beaten track and see some incredible autumn scenery.

If you’re visiting Asheville during fall, definitely check out this private tour of Blue Ridge that will show you the best autumn views in the area and this trekking tour for some spectacular long-range views of Asheville.

Looking for a place to stay in Asheville? use our Booking.com affiliate link and get up to 15% off on all properties in town.

10. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park
by Shenandoah National Park CC

There are many beautiful places to visit during fall but if you’re looking for some of the best fall destinations in the US, there are many reasons why Shenandoaromh National Park should be on your list. This national park is well-known for its spectacular natural scenery, especially around autumn. Here, you can see some of the best autumn foliage in this part of the country. If you’re an avid trekker, you’ll be happy to hear the park is a part of the Appalachian Trail and that there are many scenic hikes in the area.

And if you don’t like walking, you can get a summary of the park’s highlights by taking a ride along Skyline Drive, a gorgeous winding road that passes through more vistas than you can count.

11. Williamsburg, Virginia

williamsburg va
by William & Mary CC by SA 2.0

There’s always a lot of exciting things to do in Williamsburg but autumns are just something else. Personally, there’s always something special about spending autumns in places with a rich history where the spirit of the past can be felt behind every corner. And Williamsburg is sure one of those places. After all, let’s not forget that Williamsburg is also known as the largest living history museum in the US.

In addition to the beautiful historic buildings and fascinating museums and galleries, Williamsburg also has some nice additions during autumn. There are a lot of ghost tours that take place around Halloween and the scenic Busch Gardens hosts Halloween’s Howl-O-Scream with dozens of spooky shows and attractions. Last but not least, there are many other fall festivals like the Williamsburg Fall Arts Festival and the Yorktown Market Days.

If you’re looking for some great tours to take in Williamsburg during autumn, check out the Ultimate Williamsburg ghost tour and the Yorktown hallowed ground candlelight walking tour.

Looking for a place to stay in Williamsburg? use our Booking.com affiliate link and get up to 15% off on all properties in town.

12. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

great smoky mountain

If you’re looking for autumn vibes, gorgeous mountain scenery, and tasty southern food, there aren’t many places that can compare to Great Smoky National Park. True, the national park is a great place to visit throughout the year but if you ask me, it truly shines during the autumn months. The park looks even more spectacular with its autumn clothes on; the vibrant red and yellow leaves give a special shine to the already beautiful mountainesque scenery.

Also, the sun isn’t as scorching as in the summers and the temperatures are cooler but not as cold as the winters, making it perfect for taking some of the most incredible hikes in the area like Mt. Cammerer or Mt. LeConte. In addition to this, there are also a few interesting fall festivals and if you’re not into walking/trekking- plenty of romantic drives you can take within the park.

If you’re looking for a great autumn tour of the park, I absolutely recommend the fall colors tour and. if you’re looking to drive on your own and take your time exploring, I suggest you get this audio self-drive tour for only $10.

13. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

13. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Lying along Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore covers 43 miles of rocky coastline and vibrant autumn landscapes. There are many scenic walks you can take if you’re visiting in autumn, but you should definitely consider taking the North Country National Scenic Trail or the Chapel Loop Trail (or even better, both). These are the two best ways to see the best of the lakeshore during this time of the year.

If you choose to add this place to your autumn bucket list, try to visit during late September (it might get too cold after that). You’ll be happy to hear that there is no fee for entering the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

14. Door County, Wisconsin

Door County Wisconsin
by Leif and Evonne CC by SA 4.0

Situated along Wisconsin’s part of Lake Michigan’s shoreline, Door County gives visitors a chance to experience spectacular fall scenery away from everyday life and the hustle and bustle of large cities. If you’re looking for a tranquil place where you can unwind and forget about everything, Door County is always a great idea.

Within the county, you’ll find dozens of significant byways, many peaceful places ideal for a picnic, picturesque parks and spaces brimming with color, as well as great shopping options and live festivals like the Harvest Festival, Street Auction, Fall Fun Fest & Cider-Pressing Party, and the Pumpkin Patch.

15. Aspen, Colorado

aspen best fall destinations in the us

When we mention Aspen, most people think of it as a winter destination but in my humble opinion, Aspen is also one of the fest fall destinations in the US. Aspen is a small mountain town sitting at 8,000 feet above sea level located just three hours away from Denver International Airport. If you’re looking for some autumn idyll, you’ll just love the view of the peaks rising above Maroon Bells Lake surrounded by the gold-leaf trees that dominate the area around this time of the year.

However, this is just the beginning of the long list of autumn attractions Aspen has to offer. You can also check out Crater Lake, walk the Grottos Trail, take a gondola ride to the top of Aspen Mountain, admire the autumn landscapes while taking a bike ride at some of the many biking trails in the area. And if you just want to take it easy and have a cozy, autumn getaway, you can relax at one of the many spa centers in town.  

If you’re looking for a great autumn tour of Aspen, we recommend this Aspen off the beaten track tour and The Glimpse of Aspen tour.

If you’re looking to save on your accommodation in Aspen, use our Booking.com voucher to get up to 15% off on your stay.

16. Vail, Colorado

vail colorado

Similar to Aspen, Vail is more known for its ski resorts and snowy landscapes but it’s a very underrated fall destination. Vail is a beautiful Alpine village in the Rocky Mountains with mesmerizing autumn landscapes as the yellow leaves cover the valley in vibrant, golden color. To get the most out of your trip in Vail, just stay outside; there are plenty of scenic hiking trails around, a lot of opportunities for rafting or kayaking enthusiasts, or even if you’re not that adventuristic, you can just explore the streets of Vail and admire the town’s autumn magic.

If you’re looking for a fun and quick way to explore Vail during fall, consider this segway tour or if you’re planning to rent a car in Vail and explore on your own, check out this self-drive audio tour for only $5.

If you’re looking to save on your accommodation in Vail, use our Booking.com voucher to get up to 15% off on your stay.

17. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City
Dalee Despain CC by SA 4.0

Salt Lake City is another city that’s primarily considered to be a winter destination. During autumns, the area surrounding the city becomes a canvas of vibrant colors as leaves rotate between spectacular shades of red, orange, and yellow. Colors are at their peak around late September and there are a plethora of things to see and do during this time of the year.

Some of the best places for experiencing autumn foliage are the Big Cottonwood Canyon and the Little Cottonwood Canyon. You can also attend some autumn-only festivals, such as the ultra-popular Oktoberfest at the Snowbird resort, the Day of the Dead Celebration in West Valley, as well as dozens of farm festivals, corn mazes, etc.

One of the most beautiful places to experience autumn in Salt Lake City is the Red Butte Garden but it’s probably not a bad idea to prebook your ticket. However, if you’re looking for an even better experience, there are plenty of great tours that include day trips to one of the nearby national parks (Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef). Personally, I took this 6-day tour that covers all of Utah’s National Park and I loved it (I know it’s expensive but it was worth every penny).

If you’re looking to find some great accommodation deals in Salt Lake City, use this Booking.com special offer to get up to 15% off on your stay.

18. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

jackson hole best fall destinations in the us

If you’re looking to have an action-packed autumn trip and are a nature lover, Jackson Hole in Wyoming is one of the best choices you can make. Jackson Hole is a beautiful mountain town that provides an ideal mix of peaceful atmosphere, unmatched natural beauty, and action-packed adventure activities.

There are many fabulous things to do in Jackson Hole in autumn, as there are throughout the rest of the year, but the autumn landscapes in Jackson Hole are truly special. The town has one of the most vibrant mountain foliages in the US but if that’s not enough, you can also head to Grand Teton National Park (which is only 5 miles away) and Yellowstone National Park (only 80 miles away). 

While you’re around, you may also want. to check out:

Grand Teton Park Wildlife Tour

Jackson Hole Dog Sledging Tour

Sunset tour of Jackson Hole and Grand Teton

Jackson Hole to Yellowstone National Park

19. Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff
by John CC by SA 2.0

Arizona might not be often associated with autumn but nature lovers’ dreams come true in Flagstaff every autumn. Flagstaff is a city in Central Arizona surrounded by national forests, parks, reservations, and historic monuments, making Flagstaff one of the best fall destinations in the US. Flagstaff’s beautiful mix of autumn colors is the reason why it’s often referred to as Arizona’s autumn capital. The warming autumn colors are omnipresent around Flagstaff around September and October and scenic foliage can be found pretty much anywhere.

In addition to beautiful autumn landscapes within the city’s boundaries, you can also check out some popular attractions in the surrounding area, such as Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon. And if you want to add some history and Native American culture to your trip, you can also check out one of the few Native American Reservoirs in near proximity to Flagstaff.

If you’re looking to find some great accommodation deals in Flagstaff, use this Booking.com special offer to get up to 15% off on your stay.

20. Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes

With a myriad of tourist destinations to choose from like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Orange County, it’s no wonder that there are many places in California that remain under most tourists’ radars. One such destination is Mammoth Lakes. Located in Eastern California, Mammoth Lakes is one of the most underrated places in the region and one of the best fall destinations in the US.

Every autumn brings colorful foliage that decorates the surrounding mountains that tower over the forests. Seeing the beautiful autumn landscapes of Mammoth Lakes will probably make you forget that you’re actually still in sunny California. One of the best places to experience autumn colores is the June Lake Loop but you can also see some mesmerizing views at one of the many lakes in the area like Silver Lake, Grant Lake, Gull Lake, Convict Lake, and June Lake.

If you’re planning to visit Mammoth Lakes and are looking for some accommodation bargains, feel free to use our Booking.com voucher. You’re saving with every stay and supporting us to keep creating articles like this one in the future too.

21. Boise, Idaho

Boise Idaho
by Lordchadwick79 CC by SA 4.0

One of my favorite things about Boise is that even though it’s a city with a buzzing atmosphere that has everything you can expect to see in a state capital, it still somehow managed to preserve its small-town vibe throughout the years. Boise is a nice year-round destination but autumns in Idaho are just marvelous. The leaves start falling in late September, all luxurious hot spring resorts in the area become even cozier during autumns, and this part of the year also marks the beginning of Boise State football that makes the city even more exciting.

There are also a lot of other fun things to do in Boise in autumn. You can take a stroll amidst the foliage of Hyde Park, you can take a walk around the scenic Basque Block, or walk the Ridge to Rivers trail. Last but not least, if you’re looking for some of the best autumn vistas in Idaho, definitely check out the sunrise (or sunset) at Table Rock or the viewpoint at Camel Back Park.

If you’re visiting Boise and want to learn more about local cuisine and local culture, I strongly recommend this culinary and cultural tour of Boise.

To save on accommodation in Boise (or anywhere else in Idaho), use this link to get up to 15% off on all Booking properties in town.

22. Portland, Oregon

portland best fall destinations in the us

Many claim that the Pacific Northwest has the most scenic autumns in the United States and Portland is a living proof of this statement. The transformation from gorgeous lush greenery to vibrant yellow, autumn colors happens within a few days as amazing autumn foliage takes Portland by storm. To be honest, there are many great places to see in Oregon in autumn but it’s probably good idea to find accommodation in a big city like Portland, rent a car and take your time exploring the diving autumn landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

Portland is a great city with a lot of exciting things to do. But when it comes to autumns, some great places to visit in Portland during autumn include Portland’s Aerial Tram (for a beautiful autumn vista of the city), Sauvie Island (a great spot for u-pick pumpkins and hayrides), Hoyt Arboretum (Portland’s most famous botanical garden), and Portland’s Japanese Garden. If you’re looking to take some day trips, you may also consider visiting:

  • Mount Hood- typically, one of the first places in Oregon that catches the autumns colors;
  • Silver Falls State Park- arguably the most beautiful autumn park in Oregon
  • Lithia Park in Ashland- a little far away but the journey through the yellow forests is totally worth it;
  • Shore Acres State Park- a beautiful park lying on the West Coast dotted with coastal gardens and forests;
  • Columbia River George– one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Oregon.

Bonus tip: also consider taking the Oregon Coast tour from Portland to get some amazing autumn views from the coast.

To save on accommodation in Portland, use this link to get up to 15% off on all Booking properties in town.

23. Seattle, Washington

Seattle Fall
by Joe Mabel CC by SA GNU 1.2

If there’s one state that has more picturesque autumns than Oregon, it has to be Washington and we round up this list of the best fall destinations in the US. Seattle is a good for a lot of things and an autumn trip is one of them. Washington is famous for the unique trees like Western Hemlock (the official tree of the state), Western Red Cedar, and Ponderosa Pine that can only be found in a handful of other places in the world.

Having visited Washington several times during autumn, I can say that there’s something incredibly unique about the vibrant colors of Washington in autumn. Similar to Portland, Seattle is a great place to base yourself in and explore the surrounding autumn landscapes Washington has to offer. Some great places to visit in autumn feature:

  • Green Lake Park- a natural preserve of hundreds of species located in the northern part of Seattle;
  • Discovery Park- Seattle’s largest park, famous for its incredible autumn landscapes;
  • Union Bay Natural Area- a 74-acre wildlife area stretching on the western shoreline of Lake Washington;
  • Mercer Slough Nature Park- 320 acres of wildlife habitat with more than seven miles of trails just minutes away from the city;
  • Cedar River Trail- one of the most scenic trails you can take around Seattle during autumns;
  • A ride along Whidbey Island Scenic Byway- a byway dotted with colorful forests of old-growth Douglas-fir and bigleaf maple trees.
  • Take a day trip to Mt. Rainier– one of the msot scenic mountains along the West Coast.

If you’re looking to save on your accommodation in Seattle, use our affiliate link to get up to 15% off on all booking.com properties in town.

Do you like traveling during the fall? Did you ever visit any of these places? How did you like our list of the best fall destinations in the US? Are there some places you think we forgot to mention? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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23 best fall destinations in us you must visit
23 best fall destinations in us you must visit

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