Best Fall Vacation Spots in the US: Top Destinations to Visit in Autumn

Are you looking for the best fall vacation spots in the US? Look no further! 

There's something magical about exploring the US in the fall—the vibrant foliage, the crisp air, and fewer crowds make it my favorite time to travel. 

My favorite fall destinations revolve around hiking! I enjoy hiking in the cooler temperatures, and fall presents a perfect opportunity to experience the beauty of nature at its peak.

From scenic drives through quaint towns to the grand mountain vistas, many destinations cater to the adventurous spirit and those seeking a peaceful retreat, offering a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

I love fall drives in Michigan! Acadia National Park in the fall is breathtaking, and the Smoky Mountains fall colors are also incredible! If you have a long weekend, Hocking Hills is also a great Ohio fall escape!

If you find joy in discovering new places without the hustle of peak tourist season, you're in for a treat with this list of the best fall getaways.

Misty autumn morning at Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan, showcasing a wide waterfall cascading into a frothy pool below. Surrounding the waterfall are trees dressed in vivid fall colors, with branches overhanging the falls, creating a serene and picturesque natural scene.
Tahquamenon Falls (**Explored**)” by LadyDragonflyCC – >;< is licensed under CC BY 2.0

New England Charm

New England should be at the top of your list if you want a cozy and charming fall getaway. The East Coast is known for its stunning foliage, quaint towns, and delicious cuisine. Here are two must-visit destinations in New England:

Vermont's Scenic Byways

Vermont truly comes alive in the fall. The changing leaves create a picturesque landscape best seen by a scenic drive, and Vermont's scenic byways are perfect for this purpose. 

The Green Mountain Byway takes you through quaint towns and past stunning vistas. You can pick up fresh produce or sample delicious maple syrup at local farms and markets.

A picturesque autumnal scene of a curving highway surrounded by dense forests showcasing a vibrant display of fall foliage in shades of orange, yellow, and red. The road stretches into the distance, bordered by guardrails, with a small vehicle visible on the road, enhancing the scenic beauty of the rural landscape.

Maine's Coastal Beauty

Maine's rugged coastline is stunning any time of year, but it's particularly stunning in the fall. The leaves change color, and the crisp air makes for perfect hiking weather. 

Acadia National Park is a must-visit destination in Maine. The park offers over 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging climbs.

You can also take a scenic drive along the coast, stopping at charming towns and lighthouses.

The rugged coastline of Acadia National Park is beautifully framed by the rich colors of fall. Lush evergreens intermingle with trees flaunting their autumnal hues, leading the eye to the serene blue waters hugging the granite shoreline. This tranquil scene captures the essence of Maine's natural splendor in the fall season.

Mountain Getaways

If you're looking for a fall vacation spot that offers stunning views of the changing leaves, crisp mountain air, and outdoor activities, then a mountain getaway might be just what you need. Here are two top destinations to consider:

Colorado's Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are a popular destination for fall vacations, and it's easy to see why. The mountains are ablaze with vibrant colors, and the crisp air makes for perfect hiking weather.

You can take a scenic drive along the Million Dollar Highway, hike to the top of a mountain for panoramic views, or relax in a hot spring, all while surrounded by nature's awe-inspiring beauty.

Need more ideas? There are plenty of other places to choose from, each with its own charm. Aspen is known for its luxury resorts and high-end shopping, while Breckenridge offers a more laid-back vibe and access to world-class skiing.

This image features a breathtaking view of a mountain range with snow-capped peaks under a clear blue sky. In the foreground, vibrant autumn foliage in shades of orange and yellow covers the forest, creating a stunning contrast with the rugged mountains in the background. The scene showcases the beauty of nature during the fall season.
Colorado Rocky Mountain Autumn Beauty” by Striking Photography by Bo Insogna is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is a scenic drive that winds through the Appalachian Mountains, offering breathtaking views at every turn.

In the fall, the leaves turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold, making this a popular destination for leaf peeping.

Along the way, you can stop at charming mountain towns like Asheville, where you can sample craft beer and farm-to-table cuisine.

You can also hike to waterfalls, go horseback riding, or take a hot air balloon ride for a bird's-eye view of the mountains.

No matter which mountain getaway you choose, you will have a memorable fall vacation that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Pacific Northwest Escapes

If you're looking for a fall vacation spot that offers stunning natural beauty, the Pacific Northwest is the perfect destination. The region is known for its majestic mountains, lush forests, and spectacular coastline.

Here are two must-visit spots in the Pacific Northwest:

Washington's Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic Peninsula is a beautiful and diverse region that offers something for everyone. This area is a nature lover's paradise, from the Pacific Ocean's rugged coastline to the Olympic Mountains' snow-capped peaks.

The region also has several charming small towns, including Port Angeles and Port Townsend.

One of the top attractions on the Olympic Peninsula is Olympic National Park, which covers nearly a million acres of wilderness. The park offers endless hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Some of the most popular spots in the park include Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, and the Hoh Rainforest.

This image showcases a scenic view of Olympia National Park in the fall, featuring a lush forest with trees displaying autumn colors of yellow and orange. In the background, a range of green mountains rises under a clear, blue sky, with a rocky riverbed visible in the foreground.

Oregon's Wine Country

Oregon's wine country is a hidden gem that travelers often overlook. The region is home to over 700 wineries and is known for producing some of the best Pinot Noir in the world.

The rolling hills and vineyards of the Willamette Valley are lovely in the fall when the leaves change colors.

In addition to wine tasting, the region offers plenty of other activities for visitors. You can explore charming small towns like McMinnville and Newberg, hike in the nearby Cascade Mountains, or take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards.

Whatever you choose to do, you're sure to fall in love with the beauty and charm of Oregon's wine country.

This image features a scenic countryside with neatly aligned fields displaying various colors of vegetation, including a striking red section that contrasts with the surrounding green. The landscape extends towards a distant line of trees and low mountains under a clear, blue sky. The foreground includes a quiet road, enhancing the peaceful and expansive feel of the rural setting.
Willamette Valley Agriculture” by fusionpanda is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Southwest Adventures

If you're looking for an adventure, head to the Southwest for a fall vacation. This region offers a unique blend of cultural sites and natural wonders that will impress.

New Mexico's Cultural Sites

New Mexico is known for its rich history and diverse cultures. The state is home to numerous cultural sites that are worth exploring.

One such site is Chaco Culture National Historical Park, an ancient center of Puebloan culture that thrived between 850 and 1250 AD.

While there, you can delve into the mysteries of this UNESCO World Heritage Site through guided tours, explore the extensive ruins, and learn about the advanced astronomical, engineering, and cultural practices of the Chacoan people.

Another must-see cultural site in New Mexico is the Bandelier National Monument. This monument is home to ancient cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Pueblo people over 800 years ago.

You can take a self-guided tour of the dwellings and learn about the history and culture of those who lived there.

If you have not visited New Mexico, be ready for a treat. The number of historic sites and scenic views was a pleasant surprise when I visited. It's one of the best fall destinations—visit in early October for the Hot Air Balloon Festival!

This image captures a vibrant scene from a hot air balloon festival, with numerous colorful balloons scattered across the clear blue sky. In the foreground, trees and a grassy area are visible, while in the background, a town or city spreads out along the horizon. The balloons of various shapes and sizes add a festive and whimsical atmosphere to the event.

Arizona's Desert Landscapes

Arizona is home to some of the most stunning desert landscapes in the world. The Grand Canyon, which is over 270 miles long and up to 18 miles wide, is a must-visit location.

You can walk along the rim of the canyon or venture into it. Either way, marvel at its beauty and grandeur! Fall is one of the best seasons to visit, as the cool temperatures make it more comfortable and there are fewer crowds.

Another must-see natural wonder in Arizona is the Saguaro National Park. This park is home to thousands of saguaro cacti that can grow up to 50 feet tall. You can take a hike through the park and experience the beauty of the desert up close.

A breathtaking view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, with its vast and intricate network of red rock formations and deep gorges under a clear sky.

Of course, if I should have mentioned what I think is the perfect place in Arizona – Sedona!  

Visit in late September to late October for a colorful scenic drive along the Oak Creek Canyon. You can find Oak Creek Canyon along Hwy 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff.

Midwest Treasures

If you're looking for a fall vacation with stunning natural beauty, the Midwest has plenty of treasures to explore. Two destinations that are particularly worth a visit are Michigan's Great Lakes and Ohio's Hocking Hills.

Michigan's Great Lakes

Michigan is known for its beautiful lakes; fall is the perfect time to explore them. The state's Upper Peninsula is breathtaking, with its rugged coastline and stunning fall foliage.

Take a scenic drive along Lake Superior's shoreline, or head to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to see the colorful cliffs and waterfalls.

If you're looking for outdoor activities, Michigan has plenty to offer. Go fishing on one of the Great Lakes, hike through the woods, or ride a bike along a scenic trail.

And remember to sample some of the state's famous apple cider and donuts while you're there.

Ripe, golden apples dangle amidst a lush canopy of green leaves in a sunlit orchard, awaiting harvest. The vibrant green foliage and the glow of sunlight create a scene of natural abundance, embodying the essence of a fruitful autumn.

Ohio's Hocking Hills

Ohio's Hocking Hills region is another great fall vacation spot. The area has stunning rock formations, including Old Man's Cave and Ash Cave. Hike through the woods to see the fall foliage and explore the caves and waterfalls.

If you're looking for a more relaxing vacation, Hocking Hills has plenty of options. Rent a cabin in the woods and spend your days reading by the fire or soaking in a hot tub.

Check out some local wineries and breweries to taste Ohio's best beverages.

A footbridge surrounded by the vibrant fall colors of Hocking Hills, Ohio. The rustic suspension bridge, made of wood with wire cable supports, spans a small trail amidst tall trees displaying a mix of orange, yellow, and green leaves.

Southern Hospitality

If you're looking for a warm and welcoming fall vacation, the southern states of the US have plenty to offer.

From the stunning vistas of Tennessee's Smoky Mountains to the charming streets of Georgia's Savannah, there's something for everyone.

Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a popular destination for fall foliage, with the leaves turning brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold.

Take a scenic drive through the mountains or hike one of the many trails to get up close and personal with the stunning scenery.

You can also explore the charming towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, which offer plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

A winding road cutting through a dense autumn forest. The road is marked with vivid yellow lines that contrast sharply with the freshly paved black asphalt. Surrounding the road, the forest is ablaze with fall colors, showcasing a mix of yellow, orange, and green leaves.
Newfound Gap Road – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN” by pvarney3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Georgia's Savannah Charm

Savannah is known for its historic architecture, beautiful parks, and southern charm. Stroll down the historic district's cobblestone streets, visit the famous Forsyth Park, or take a riverboat tour to see the city from a different perspective.

You can also enjoy delicious southern cuisine at one of the many restaurants in the area.

A beautifully illuminated fountain at night, featuring intricate sculptures of aquatic creatures and a central statue. The water streams gracefully from various points, creating an elegant and serene scene. The surrounding darkness and warm lighting add to the fountain's dramatic and picturesque appearance.

California Dreaming

California is the place to be if you're looking for a fall vacation spot with beautiful scenery, perfect weather, and plenty of activities.

With its diverse landscapes, from the towering mountains of the Sierra Nevada to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean, California has something for everyone.

This image captures a striking view of Yosemite National Park, showcasing towering granite cliffs under a clear blue sky. The foreground features a mix of lush green trees and a dry riverbed, emphasizing the park's diverse natural beauty. The grandeur of the rock formations highlights the iconic landscape of Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a must-see destination in California. The park is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, including Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and El Capitan.

The park's foliage turns to gold in the fall, making for a stunning sight. You can hike, bike, or even rock climb in the park or enjoy the scenery from one of the many viewpoints.

Trees changing color near mountain during daytime. Shallow rocky water in the forefront.
Photo by Rakshith Hatwar on Unsplash

Big Sur Coastline

Another must-see destination in California is the Big Sur coastline. This rugged stretch of coastline is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, towering cliffs, and stunning vistas.

The fall is a great time to visit, as the crowds have thinned out, and the weather is still mild. You can hike along the coastline, go whale watching, or relax on the beach.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley, renowned for its world-class vineyards and wineries, is a breathtaking fall travel destination. During autumn, the valley transforms as the vine leaves shift from lush green to vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow.

You can indulge in the harvest season, participate in grape stomping events, and enjoy wine tastings set against a picturesque backdrop. 

A persons bear feet in a barrel of grapes smashing them.
California – Rutherford: Grgich Hills Estate – Grape Stomping” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, California has it all. With its stunning scenery, perfect weather, and endless activities, it's no wonder that California is one of the best fall vacation spots in the US.

This image depicts a tranquil river surrounded by autumn foliage in Napa, with trees displaying vibrant fall colors of yellow and orange. The still water reflects the sky and the surrounding landscape, adding to the serene ambiance. In the background, a mix of buildings and trees enhances the picturesque, peaceful setting under a partly cloudy sky.

Alaskan Wilderness

If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and get lost in nature, visiting Alaska's wilderness is a must.

With its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and unique culture, Alaska offers a one-of-a-kind vacation experience.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is home to the tallest peak in North America, Denali, which stands at an impressive 20,310 feet. The park covers over six million acres and is home to a variety of wildlife, such as grizzly bears, wolves, and moose.

You can explore the park by hiking, biking, or taking a bus tour. The park also offers camping options for those who want to immerse themselves in the wilderness.

brown grass field near mountain under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Jacob Vizek on Unsplash

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is located on the Kenai Peninsula and is known for its stunning glaciers and fjords. You can take a boat tour to see the glaciers up close or kayak to explore the park's many waterways.

The park is also home to wildlife such as sea otters, harbor seals, and humpback whales.

Banner promoting '75+ Themed Road Trip Ideas' with a clickable link, depicted on an olive green background with white and yellow text and directional arrow graphics, suggesting a resource for travelers to plan their next adventure with unique themes.

Hawaiian Paradise

Hawaii is the perfect destination if you're looking for a tropical getaway. Hawaii is a paradise with its stunning beaches, lush greenery, and crystal-clear waters. Here are some of the best spots to visit in Hawaii during the fall season.

Maui's Beaches

Maui is known for its beautiful beaches; fall is the perfect time to visit. The crowds have thinned out, and the weather is still warm and sunny.

Some of the best beaches in Maui include Kaanapali Beach, which has a long stretch of soft sand and crystal-clear water, and Makena Beach, which is more secluded and perfect for a romantic getaway.

A serene beach scene in Maui, with gentle waves lapping onto the sandy shore under a bright blue sky. In the distance, the ocean stretches out towards a mountainous island, partially covered with clouds, adding to the picturesque and tranquil atmosphere.

Kauai's Natural Wonders

Kauai is known as the Garden Isle, and for good reason. The island is home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. During the fall season, the island is less crowded, and the weather is mild and pleasant.

Some of the must-see attractions in Kauai include Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and the Na Pali Coast, a stunning stretch of coastline that can only be accessed by boat or helicopter.

Cultural Experiences

If you're looking for a fall vacation that offers a rich cultural experience, look no further than these two destinations in the United States.

Pennsylvania's Amish Country

Pennsylvania's Amish Country is a unique destination that offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Amish community. The Amish are known for their simple living, hard work, and strong religious beliefs.

In Lancaster County, you can take a buggy ride through the countryside, visit a working farm, or shop for handmade quilts and furniture.

horse and carriage on road
Photo by Doug Kelley on Unsplash

Louisiana's New Orleans

New Orleans has a rich history and vibrant culture. This lively city offers a unique experience, from jazz music to delicious cuisine.

During the fall, you can experience the famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which features live music, food, and crafts.

You can also explore the city's historic architecture, visit the National World War II Museum, or take a haunted history tour.

This image shows a street in New Orleans lined with colorful, historic houses featuring decorative woodwork and shuttered windows. Several cars are parked along the street, enhancing the lively, residential atmosphere of the area. The scene captures the charming architectural style and vibrant character of the neighborhood.

Urban Escapes

If you're looking for a fall vacation that combines the excitement of the city with the beauty of autumn foliage, an urban escape may be just what you need. Chicago and New York offer stunning fall foliage and many urban attractions.

New York's Fall Foliage

New York City is known for its towering skyscrapers and bustling streets, but during the fall months, it transforms into a colorful wonderland.

Central Park is a must-visit destination during the fall, as the trees turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Stroll through the park's many paths or rent a bike to explore its 843 acres.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is another great spot for fall foliage in New York City. The garden's Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is particularly stunning during the fall when the maples, cherries, and ginkgos turn vibrant shades of red and gold.

Two people in canoe near a bridge surrounded by fall foliage.
Fall in Central Park” by mathiaswasik is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Chicago's Lakefront

Chicago's lakefront is beautiful any time of year but is incredibly stunning during the fall. Take a stroll along the Lake Michigan Lakefront Trail. Enjoy the changing colors and the cool lake breeze along this 18-mile trail

For a unique fall experience in Chicago, head to Lincoln Park Zoo's Fall Fest. This annual event features a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and plenty of fall-themed activities for all ages.

This image depicts two people navigating through a tall, dense corn maze under a sunny sky. The green and golden corn stalks create narrow pathways, and the individuals appear to be searching for their way, highlighting the fun and challenging nature of the activity.

Final Thoughts: Best Fall Vacation Spots in the US

As autumn unveils its vibrant palette, the US offers spectacular destinations that promise unforgettable experiences.

From the rustic charm of New England's foliage to the Pacific Northwest's serene beauty and the Southwest's cultural richness, each region presents a unique way to enjoy the season.

Whether you're seeking a peaceful retreat in nature or vibrant cultural festivities, there's no shortage of places to explore.

This fall, I encourage you to embrace the adventure. Whether a leisurely drive through colorful landscapes, a taste of local harvests, or a journey into the heart of America's natural wonders.

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