The fall season evokes a cozy, romantic, and melancholic atmosphere. The world transforms into various shades of orange, red, and brown. Leaves dance in the wind, leaving dramatically bare branches. And it’s the best time to don your favorite coat.
If you’re looking for a US vacation spot for a full autumn experience, we’ve rounded up 8 of the best ones. These destinations enhance the magic of the season with their natural and unique personalities.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
If you’re a culture hound, the fall season is the best time to visit Santa Fe with its series of art and culture festivals. In September, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta allows visitors to experience the region’s exciting and exotic flavors. Come October, you can get a deeper sense of the culture from the tree-day Santa Fe Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration.
With less crowds, November is the best time to stroll amid pleasant weather and Spanish architecture, gaze at golden aspen trees, or hike the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
Charleston, South Carolina
Known as the Holy City with its collection of over 400 churches— and Gone with the Wind’s Rhett Butler’s home—Charleston is particularly special in fall. The city’s historic cobblestone streets come alive with festivals and fairs, especially the culturally rich Moja Arts Festival in September through October.
And who says summer is the only time to enjoy Folly Beach and other beach towns? The lovely weather also permits visitors to enjoy pumpkin-picking, old-fashioned hayrides, or a traipse through corn mazes. Civil War enthusiasts will delight in the genteel-South experience amid antebellum architecture.
Rain falls dense in Kauai in November, so best to start your trip prior to this wet month. The fall season turns this rugged (and oldest) Hawaiian island into an enchanting, golden realm. With fewer tourists around this time, bask in the arresting beauty of the Waimea Canyon, or the Wailua River State Park.
Fall sunsets cast incredible colors over aquamarine beaches and rustic resorts, which appeal to the adventurous and romantic traveler. The island is reasonably expensive, but in fall, hotel rates drop— all the more to visit during the season of foliage.
Asheville, North Carolina
Jaw-dropping foliage along the Appalachian trail and vivid mountain colors make the quaint town of Asheville one of the best fall vacations in the US. Craft beer enthusiasts will also delight with the city’s brewery tour (they have over a hundred local brews!).
Asheville, also known as the “Bluegrass home,” offers a taste of everything. The hipster haven is known for culinary delights and a vibrant art scene, and it is home to the Biltmore Estate. Thrill seekers can also enjoy whitewater rafting, ziplining, biking, and hiking.
Napa Valley, California
Sip on some world-famous wine, or splurge in one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants, while gazing at the vibrant foliage. In fall, Napa— a land abundant with food and wine—transitions to a more profoundly beautiful vacation hotspot.
The wine country is overflowing with breathtaking fall scenery, from layered hillsides to impressive wine caverns, and romantic vineyards. Gorgeous hotels and resorts offer self-pampering services and golfing— and sumptuous gourmet dining.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Cuddle weather in Jackson Hole is unparalleled. The autumn months bring natural wonders to the forefront, which will benefit the animal lovers the most. September to October is the mating season of elks, and you can actually hear the mating call of the male elk at the National Elk Refuge.
Fall activities range from mountain hikes in Grand Teton National Park to swaying to the beats at the Teton Music Festival, to indulging in cinema at the Franks Fall Film Festival. With miles of national forest forking in every tangible direction, it’s a mountain haven steeped in art and culture.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Sure, the Grand Canyon is picturesque all year round, but come autumn, you will weep from its stunning red-and-orange beauty. With the cool, temperate weather, it’s also the perfect time and setting to hike and trek, particularly the special North Rim.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has attracted all types of visitors from all over the world just to get their soul bolstered by the Grand Canyon’s grandeur. Every crevice in this colossal Arizona chasm is a natural masterpiece, and September to October are the best months to do some backwoods camping and power hiking. Or just simply drink in the beauty everywhere.
New York City, New York
Central Park in New York becomes resplendent with fall colors, and if you stay in nearby hotels or Airbnb’s, a window view will suffice. With the summer heat dissipated, New York becomes a dream city to explore on foot.
Amid romantic autumn colors and the iconic NY skyline, you can enjoy shopping, dining, and museum-hopping. Even the Statue of Liberty looks extra nice amidst a city basked in golden fall shades.