There are many US fall destinations to explore and fewer people traveling, children are back in school, and the weather has yet to turn wintry. This is a great time for US workcations or Romantic US getaways.
Planning a US vacation in the fall is a great way to save money as it’s off-season. You can travel longer, fit in extra excursions, and admire fall foliage in the US. Fall is the perfect time for a holiday!
If you’re wondering where should I travel in the fall? you’ve come to the right place.
Best US Fall Destinations
For foliage lovers, the leaves begin to change colors in September and peak in October – the colors will be a glorious mixture of red, orange, and yellow as the seasons change from summer to winter.
Autumn is a perfect time to experience fresh mountain air and fall foliage, and there is no better place to do so than in Asheville. This quaint city is nestled into the center of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is best visited in fall when the mountains come alive with fall color.
You can spend your days hiking to incredible views and thundering waterfalls surrounded by vibrant yellow and orange trees. Or you can drive the famous Blue Ridge Parkway which runs directly through Asheville. It’s a perfect alternative for prime leaf-peeping opportunities.
Round out your trip by touring the largest home in America at the Biltmore Estate, exploring the thriving River Arts District, and stopping at a few of the 48 breweries in the greater Asheville area! You’ll find many fall beers on tap as well as fire pits to keep you warm in the cool mountain air.
Whether you’re visiting Asheville for a weekend or for a week, it’s sure to make your fall trip memorable. Make it extra special by staying at the renowned Omni Grove Park Inn which offers beautiful mountain views right from your hotel windows! It’s the perfect way to celebrate all the beauty that fall has to offer.
By Julie of The Cure for Curiosity
Vermont is on everyone’s list of places to see spectacular fall foliage. Tucked up in the northwest corner of Vermont, the vibrant city of Burlington has it all as a beautiful place to visit in the fall. Panoramic views from Waterfront Park across Lake Champlain to the Adirondack Mountains reveal stunning colors.
Rent a bike to peddle the Burlington Bike Path to the beautiful beaches within the city. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are hikes within the city limits that take you to overlooks to enjoy the foliage.
For a more relaxed viewing, take a cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen to learn the history of Lake Champlain as the boat explores the many bays and islands of the lake. Burlington is popular with foodies and those in search of a fabulous microbrewery. Chefs in the cities pride themselves on local farm-to-table cuisine. Plus, since Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state, you are sure to find a brew to your liking.
The Church Street pedestrian mall is popular for shopping in cute stores, watching street performers, and dining alfresco. Don’t miss the sunset over Lake Champlain at the end of the day. The Burlington Hilton has rooms overlooking the lake for a great view.
By Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
Eastern Sierra, California
One of the best places to go leaf-peeping in the western US is the Eastern Sierra of California. From Lake Tahoe in the north to Bishop and Lone Pine in the south, you will see a dazzling show of colors in the fall.
The best way to catch fall colors in the region is to do a leisurely Highway 395 road trip.
Route 395 is the main artery, but there are numerous scenic drives leading off it that you can add to your trip. Inyo and Mono Counties offer color updates through the fall, to allow you to catch the peak.
Fall color in the region comes mainly from aspen, cottonwood, and willow, and ranges from bright yellow to oranges, reds, and burgundy. With the lakes and mountains forming a stunning backdrop, fall beauty in the Eastern Sierra is truly jaw-dropping.
Some of the best spots in the region for color include Conway Summit, Bishop Creek Canyon, Mammoth Lakes, Round Valley, and June Lake. Outdoor lovers will find plenty of fall hikes and pack trips to enjoy the color at closer range.
The Eastern Sierra is easily accessible by road from LA or from San Francisco. You can also fly into Reno and rent a car. If you like to explore from a base, the Westin Monache in Mammoth Lakes is a great choice.
By Dhara from Roadtripping California
Boasting gorgeous alpine scenery and shimmering turquoise-colored water, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the US to visit in the fall. Tucked between the states of California and Nevada, this gorgeous alpine lake is situated high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains and provides an array of different activities for those who love spending time in nature.
One of the aspects that make Lake Tahoe so special is the fact that it offers a ton of things to do depending on the season. Fall just happens to be an ideal time to plan a trip to this mega alpine lake if you are feeling up for a few days spent hiking along the lake (make sure not to miss the Emerald Bay Hike, which provides some of the dreamiest views of the surrounding), going on a scenic drive in search of fall foliage, or trying your hand at boating.
For a dreamy stay right on the lake’s edge, book a room at the Hyatt Residence Club Lake Tahoe. This luxury resort offers lake-view rooms that are to die for, as well as plenty of activities to help you make the most out of your visit (horseback riding, golfing, hiking, etc).
By Meg of Fox in the Forest
Lake Ann, Washington
Lake Ann is a 17-mile long lake located near Maple Falls, Washington. This is one of the best US fall destinations for hikers.
Hiking Lake Ann begins with a drop then a climb that runs through the Cascade Mountains of Washinton.
You will see the leave changing color but do keep in mind that snow often lingers on the trail late into summer.
An unknown place to many, for enjoying fall leaf color and waterfalls can be found on the North Shore along Lake Superior in Minnesota. The North Shore is a special place and is only two hours north of Minneapolis-St Paul airport. Duluth is where the journey begins, but for the full leaf color experience continue northward two more hours to Lutsen, Minnesota.
Start the adventure in Canal Park in Duluth, MN with lunch near the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge in the backdrop, while you explore the North Pier Lighthouse and the newly renovated Lakewalk. Your drive will continue north with must-see stops at Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Temperance River State Park.
One of the best ways to experience the fall leaf color is an aerial gondola ride over the Poplar River and up Moose Mountain in Lutsen. This is an experience not to miss, and while you’re there check out the alpine slide.
Consider a stay in a vacation rental from VRBO on the North Shore as there are so many unique properties. To be the most centrally located, look for rental or lodging in Lutsen, Grand Marais, Tofte, or Schroeder. If you haven’t yet experienced the North Shore of Minnesota in the fall it’s one to add to your list!
By Shelly of Almost There Adventures
New York City
Fall in New York is always a good idea! This season gives you a mix of warm days and cooler evenings, harvesting, pumpkin picking, and some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the US.
Some of the best places to explore include Central Park for as troll. Alternatively, you can visit the New York Botanical Gardens with over 200 cherry trees. Head to the annual New York Burlesque Festival or attend one of the many Halloween events.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
One of the best places to visit for a fall adventure in the United States is Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The leaf-peeping in Shenandoah is known to be some of the best in the world and the fall colors arrive slightly later than New England, another renowned fall destination.
If you visit Shenandoah in the fall, you will want to definitely take a drive along Skyline Drive. The 105-mile drive heads throughout the length of the park and you will be greeted with epic views throughout the drive. You can stop off at several overlooks along the way for photos. There are colorful trees you can see, especially the vibrant oak and chestnut trees that offer some of the best fall colors.
One of the most famous Shenandoah waterfalls, Crabtree Falls, is an excellent place to visit when you’re in the park during autumn. The hike is relatively easy and you will experience an array of colors along the way. If you experience an ‘early’ winter or a rainy fall day while there, Luray Caverns, the largest caverns on the East Coast, is a short drive away and perfect for families.
Right outside of the park, you will find some of the best pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and places to go apple picking in Virginia. There are also several wineries around that you can stop at and enjoy local Virginia wine which is very underrated (and delicious). Charlottesville is located nearby and you will find a lot of attractions there as well as wonderful places to stay like Keswick Hall and Boar’s Head Resort. Shenandoah National Park and western Virginia are one of the top places in the US to visit in the fall!
By Megan of Virginia Travel Tips
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is one of the most beautiful parks in the United States, especially during the fall, when the colorful nature becomes mesmerizing with its beauty.
The best time to visit Mountain National Park in Colorado is from June to September and during the autumn period when the visitors can hike, fish, and experience other wonderful activities. There are many wonderful and easy to moderate hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, including the Chamkes Lake hike which takes two to four hours, or the Ouzel Falls hike which passes North Saint Vrain Creek.
You will have a chance to see some of the colorful foliage along the way and watch nature prepare itself for winter. Another thing the Rockies are known for during fall is fishing! There are several small rivers and lakes along the range and fishing is best during fall. Many travelers visit Rocky Mountains National in Colorado to take ranger-led guided tours where professional licensed guides will show you the hidden and popular sites of the park, help you observe autumn birds and wildlife (like elk) as you experience some of the most famous scenic drives inside the park.
In addition, elk rutting season is at its peak during mid-September until mid-October and you can definitely witness the male elk vying for the hearts of the females during this time (but keep a distance)! There are several places to stay near the Rockies and we recommend spending a couple of days in Denver and adding the part to your itinerary! In Denver, one of the best places to stay in the Four Seasons Hotel Denver.
By Megan of Megan Starr