16 Best Fall Vacations In The US [2021]

Fall is one of the best times to explore the United States. While the mornings grow crisper and the days become shorter, there’s a wonderful sense of seasonal change in the air. Not only because of the changing leaves but because the festive season is right around the corner. 

In fall, head to the mountains to see brightly colored foliage or to the beach to soak up a few more days of sun before winter sets in. There is also plenty to see and do in and around the bustling cities and charming towns. 

Regardless of what type of vacation you prefer, there is something for every type of traveler. To help you find the perfect destination, here are the best fall vacations in the US. 

Psst… to get you in the fall mood, check out these inspirational fall quotes

Best Fall Vacations in the US

Whether you’re looking to explore a national park, visit a charming town, or indulge in delicious autumn comfort food, here are 16 spots to visit for the perfect fall getaway. As well as classics such as New England, we’ve included quite a few other places worth visiting in the autumn months.

The best fall vacations in the US
The best fall vacations in the US

16. San Diego County

San Diego has a year-round sunny and mild climate, so many of the trees do not shed their leaves in fall. While it may not offer as much in terms of autumnal displays as others, it makes up for it with plenty of seasonal activities, festivities, and fall fun. 

This is a great destination for families traveling with kids. October marks the annual Free Kids San Diego event, where kids get free admission to various museums, theme parks, tours, and attractions throughout the city. 

If you’d like to see fall colors, take a hike to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, Mount Laguna or Palomar Mountain State Park.

A high angle shot of Mount Laguna in California at sunset
A high angle shot of Mount Laguna in California at sunset

15. Napa Valley

Fall in Napa Valley is an exciting time of the year to visit as the harvest seasons bring about plenty of unique experiences. It’s a busy time as many people flock to the wine region to see the colorful fall foliage transform the vineyards and to take part in the various harvest events. 

Events include the Great Grape Stomp, wine tasting tours, and various harvest parties. You can also book a ride on a hot air balloon or the Napa Valley Wine Train and see the region from a unique perspective. 

A Napa Valley vineyard in fall
A Napa Valley vineyard in fall

14. San Francisco 

San Francisco experiences it’s warmer weather during fall season, making this a great time to visit. As most of the country pulls out their scarves and sweaters, you will notice that San Franciscans are enjoying the outdoors. 

Fall in San Francisco is an ideal time to explore the city’s scenic surroundings or enjoy a picnic at one of the city’s sunny parks. 

The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

13. Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is one of the US’s’ five Great Lakes. The lake stretches north-south, bordering the states of Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana, and, as its name suggests, Michigan. 

To see the fall colors, head to the M-22. This is a 116-mile long drive following the Lake Michigan shoreline along the Leelanau Peninsula. Here, spend a sunny fall day driving along the scenic route and making stops along the way. 

Lake Michigan - one of the best Fall vacations in the US
Lake Michigan – one of the best Fall vacations in the US

12. Salt Lake County

Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is a young and dynamic city. It is home to many historical and religious attractions, many of which can be seen on this Salt Lake City bus tour. Other popular tourist spots here include the Great Salt Lake, Red Butte Botanical Garden, and Temple Square.

Salt Lake City is also a great place for scenic drives. Rent a car and head to Wasatch Mountain Range and Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Here you will find miles of rugged alpine canyons, glacier-carved peaks, and endless groves of deciduous trees. These landscapes are all the more stunning in fall as the autumn scenery sets in. 

Wasatch Mountain Range in fall
Wasatch Mountain Range in fall

11. New York City 

Fall could well be the best time to visit New York City. The season brings about spectacular scenery, as well as many exciting events. During this time, the tree-lined streets begin to blaze with oranges and yellows, and the city slowly starts gearing up for the end-of-year festivities. 

Throughout the Big Apple, there is plenty to enjoy. From strolls through Central Park to delicious NYC street foods, there is something fun for everyone. For more on what to do in this bustling city, here are some insider tips for New York

Central Park panorama in New York City
Central Park panorama in New York City

10. Yellowstone National Park

Fall in Yellowstone National Park is one of the best times to visit for several reasons. The air is pleasantly crisp, and the scenic landscapes transform into a sea of autumnal hues. But best of all, the masses of summer tourists have returned home, so you can truly appreciate the park’s tranquil atmosphere. 

Fall is also a great time to view the wildlife as they are much more active. During this time, the elk enter their breeding season, bears begin preparing for hibernation, and bison migrate to their winter feeding grounds.

Young elk reflected in Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park
Young elk reflected in Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park

9. Acadia National Park

Early Fall is a great time to visit Acadia National Park, following the departure of the large summer crowds. Those visiting Maine during this time are met by an autumn wonderland display, as the scenic landscapes take on a yellow and orange hue. 

Along with viewing the brightly colored foliage, visitors can explore the various trails and marvel at the incredible wildlife. Note that the weather in early September is generally lovely, but temperatures start dropping by the end of the month, so be sure to bring along your winter coat

Acadia National Park Pond, Bar Harbor
Acadia National Park Pond, Bar Harbor

8. Lake Champlain Region

Lake Champlain gives you front-row seats to New England’s world-famous autumn foliage display. Starting in mid-September through October, the leaves surrounding the lake burst into color, creating a beautiful view for all to see. 

Along with the breathtaking scenery, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. This includes hiking, boat rides, farmers’ markets, and plenty more. There are 14 beautiful Adirondack Coast Bikeways themed loops.

Lake Champlain with mountains in the background at sunrise
Lake Champlain with mountains in the background at sunrise

7. North Shore, Minnesota

If you’re seeking a lovely outdoor fall trip, then head to Minnesota’s North Shore. Here you will find, magnificent foliage, colorful art tours, and so much more. It is also an ideal spot for camping. 

Here, the beautiful landscapes and well-maintained backcountry campsites entice visitors to explore the scenic northern wilderness. Some noteworthy attractions include Lake Superior, Superior National Forest, and Gunflint Trail. 

Fall at Lake Superior
Fall at Lake Superior

6. Mount Mansfield

Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont, with a summit that peaks at 4,395 feet above sea level. The mountain offers some of the most scenic hikes in the US. From the trails, take in the Stowe’s legendary foliage and natural beauty. 

Aerial view of Mount Mansfield during peak foliage in Fall in Vermont

5. Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest comprises more than 500,000 acres of hardwood forest, mountain peaks, whitewater rivers, and thundering waterfalls. Located in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, the area boasts hundreds of miles of some of the US’s top hiking trails. 

While Pisgah National Forest is beautiful year-round, it seems to really pull out all the stops come fall. Whether on foot or on a scenic drive, you can expect some top-notch impressive autumnal displays in all of the United States. 

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina, USA at Looking Glass Rock
Pisgah National Forests, North Carolina, USA at Looking Glass Rock

4. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is a scenic national park found in Northern California. It draws visitors year-round because of its beautiful waterfalls, giant sequoias, abundant wildlife, and awe-inspiring cliffs. 

With a wide range of elevations, Yosemite National Park offers a completely different visual experience in the fall. The colorful foliage here is truly stunning as most of the trees are evergreen. 

One of the best ways to experience the breathtaking scenery is by foot. To ensure you get the most out of your visit, check out this Yosemite day tour

View of the valley of Yosemite National Park, USA
View of the valley of Yosemite National Park, USA

3. White Mountains of New Hampshire

One of New Hampshire’s biggest attractions is the impressive White Mountains which cover around a quarter of the state. Here you will find state parks, charming small towns, scenic parkways, mountain ranges, waterfalls, hiking trails, and so much more.

Popular activities here include taking a road trip along Kancamagus Highway, exploring Mount Washington, and riding the Alpine Slide at Attitash. 

Falls Pond at White Mountain, New Hampshire
Falls Pond at White Mountain, New Hampshire

2. Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley in New York is one of the best places to visit during fall, especially around Halloween. There are apple orchards located throughout the valley, many of which are open for visits. Here you can ‘u-pick’ apples and pears or pick out the perfect Jack o’Lantern at a pumpkin patch. 

In addition to the Halloween festivities, Hudson Valley is also renowned for its fall colors. Much of the valley is wooded, so you’ll see plenty of trees boasting various shades of yellows, oranges, and reds. Some prime spots to see the colorful foliage are Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Mountain Preserve.

A farm in Mohonk Preserve
A farm in Mohonk Preserve

1. Blue Ridge Parkway  

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the US, renowned for its scenic beauty. While traveling along the parkway, you will venture through tunnels, stop at various overlooks, and see plenty of wildflowers, wildlife, and waterfalls. There are also numerous hiking trails along the parkway to explore.

Fall foliage in The Blue Ridge Mountains
Fall foliage in The Blue Ridge Mountains

Where Will You Be Visiting This Fall?

The United States offers plenty of amazing fall destinations – too many to include all in one list. However, from these picks, guarantee you will find the perfect fall getaway for your next vacation. Whether you’re seeking spectacular autumnal displays or fun activities for the whole family, there is something for everyone. 

For more vacation ideas, check out these amazing luxury family destinations

Looking for more travel hacks and tips? From hidden gems to unique experiences, we’ve got you covered.

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Best fall vacations in the US
Best fall vacations in the US

Interested in the USA? Check out these other US travel features: Best Natural Hot Springs in the US | Best Restaurants in Naples FL | Best Things to Do in Springfield Illinois | The Most Expensive Cities to Live in the US | The Most Historic Houses in the US |

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