Seasonal travelTrip inspiration
Katie Sagal

5 Best Fall Destinations in the USA

While there’s some lingering mourning for the loss of summer, many of us can’t wait for the onset of fall. Crisp breezes, vibrant leaves, pumpkin patches, apple-picking—you name it, we’re here for it. Of course, there are other attractions as well. The return of football, the start of the chili-making season, and sweater weather. For many, fall means back to school and work, and the end of fun. However, it’s also an excellent time of year to take a long weekend to enjoy all that fall has to offer. If you’re planning a fall trip this year and considering where in the United States you’d like to venture, we’ve put together a quick list of the best fall destinations in the U.S. for your consideration.

Grand Canyon

Image of Mountain, Nature, Outdoors, Valley, Canyon, Cliff, This is the time of year when the temps in the American Southwest are back down to be being pleasant and reasonable, and when the majority of the tourism traffic to the area has slowed down. Visit the Grand Canyon in the fall for truly spectacular sights of red rocks, churning waters, and sweeping sunrises. You’re also able to catch the North Rim before it closes for the winter season, which is a rare treat for many. Don’t forget to spend some time with the Hoover Dam, either—this manmade marvel is a sight to behold and the surrounding region is just beautiful this time of year. Oh, yeah, and you’re close to Las Vegas, too.

New England

Possibly the premier place to enjoy fall foliage in the United States, New England is a must-visit area of the country in autumn. We’ve got a specific guide to fall foliage in New England, but it’s also just as easy to make a plan to visit Boston and pop outside the city on a whim. You can also opt for a cruise along the Charles River to see the foliage in the city, too. Ride a bike along the river to see the foliage in an intimate setting, or simply stroll through Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. Many area museums like the MFA will be debuting new special exhibits this time of year, too, if you’re going an indoors cultural route. And speaking of football... the New England Patriots are back in action and Foxborough is just a modest drive from the city.

New York

Image of City, Nature, Outdoors, Pond, Water, Scenery, Landscape, Urban, Cityscape, Tree, Grass, Park, Fir, Upstate New York is a perfect destination for fall foliage as well, with many of its expansive forests turned vivid yellows and fire-engine reds in a truly inspiring display. You can take a self-guided driving tour of the Catskills, for example, to make the most of the experience. There are many artsy things to do in that area, too, like the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Then, there’s the seasonal appeal of New York City as well. It’s less crowded and the weather is pleasant. You can peek at the fall foliage from the Empire State Building, see the changing weather through a tour of Central Park, or enjoy the cooling breezes on a sightseeing cruise. Plus, you’ll also find new special exhibits opening at places like the MoMA or the Guggenheim if you’re interested in arts and culture.

San Francisco

Image of Bridge, Perhaps surprisingly for some, autumn (September to November) is the best time to visit San Francisco. The temperatures are usually at their warmest, with fewer crowds than you’d find in the summer, too. It’s before the cold and rainy season of the winter as well. So take advantage of their beautiful foliage to enjoy a wine country tour or a stroll through Muir Woods National Monument. If you’d prefer to stick to the city, Golden Gate Park is gorgeous in the fall. You can hike the park, picnic in the warm weather, or visit a few of the inspiring museums like the California Academy of Sciences. Many visitors also enjoy riding a bike through Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, and/or the waterfront areas. Cruises will be still running this time of year, too, if you’d like to explore the Bay, stop by Alcatraz, etc.

Lake Michigan

Image of Building, City, Cityscape, Urban, Outdoors, Nature, Sky, High Rise, Locals and tourists have been frolicking on the beaches all summer, but now is the time of year when you’ll want to rent a cabin and cozy up with your loved ones. You can find places like this in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, with many options to suit different budgets. If you’re opting for a rural retreat in Illinois, it’s worth spending some time in Chicago, too. Fall in Chicago can be hot for quite a while, then dip down into pretty cold without warning. But there are few very fall tourists in Chicago, meaning the lines at the Art Institute and the Shedd Aquarium will be much shorter. Enjoy views of stunning fall foliage from 360 CHICAGO, or relax in the cool breezes on a cruise around the lake (just remember to wear layers—the weather in Chicago this time of year is unpredictable!).

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