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Best Fall Destinations in the United States

As the scarf and pumpkin spice lattes weather is around the corner, it’s time to leave behind the beach and pool parties and hit the road to enjoy the fall colors and the still beautiful warm days and crisp mornings. So whether you want to be in the middle of nature, by the lake, on a forest trail, or exploring a big or small town and get cozy in a lovely cafe, here you have a list of beautiful fall destinations in the United States:

Best Fall Destinations for Nature Lovers

1. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont, is located on the foot of Mount Mansfield, a popular ski destination on the East Coast. But not only are the winters beautiful here. Actually, fall is Stowe’s most scenic season. So come before the first snow and experience fall in all its glory: breathtaking foliage, mountain slopes covered in golden and amber hues, and scenic drives along forest paths. 

Fall activities in Stowe, Vermont:

Go on top of Mount Mansfield: take the Gondola SkyRide, hike, or drive.

Take a tour of Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

Visit the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

2. The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee / North Carolina

Fall in the Smokies is magical and full of thematic activities. Drive or hike along the Smoky Mountains National Park to enjoy all the golden fall views. There’s also a fall prediction tool that can help you choose the best time to visit. Alternatively, you can stop in one of the quaint mountain towns and explore the area for a couple of days. Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Dollywood have beautiful scenery and great things to do.

Fall activities in the Smoky Mountains:

Hike and see the fall foliage

Celebrate Oktoberfest in Gatlinburg (September 23 – October 30).

Discover the Southern Spirits and Food at the Grains & Grits Festival in Townsend, Tennessee (November 5).

Visit the Apple Barn and Cider Mill in Sevierville.

Take a hayride in Gatlinburg.

Read more: Photo Diaries – Looking for the fall in Nevada

3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Located at the entrance of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Jackson Hole is a large valley and recreational area with endless things to do in the fall, especially for outdoor lovers. The valley could be a starting point if you want to visit two national parks: Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. The main city in the Jackson Hole area is Jackson, which also offers plenty of things to do and see during the fall.

Fall Activities in Jackson Hole:

Hiking and wildlife viewing tours in Grand Teton National Park.

  Attend the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.

Visit Jenny Lake

4. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Boarding both Washington and Oregon, Columbia River Gorge is one of the best destinations in the country for outdoor lovers. This place is beautiful and spectacular any season, but in the fall, it has a plus of charm. Seeing the wild forests turning yellow and golden while exploring one of the many trails in the area is a one-of-a-kind experience. If you come here, you should also visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States, Multnomah Falls (be sure to make a reservation on their website). But even without one, you can visit many other beautiful waterfalls in the area.

Fall Activities in Columbia River Gorge:

Hike and take in the fall colors.

Visit Multnomah Falls.

Take a scenic drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Go to a winery and enjoy a local Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

5. Napa and Sonoma, California

For wine lovers, both Napa and Sonoma are great destinations during the grapes harvest season in the fall. The rolling hills with golden vineyards are the picture-perfect backdrop for exploring the area over a weekend getaway. And because you are in the wine country, don’t miss one (or more) wine tastings/vineyard tours. There are many to choose from: Madonna Estate Winery, Viansa Sonoma Winery, Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards, and Raymond Vineyards.

Fall Activities in Napa and Sonoma:

Experience a wine-tasting tour.

Visit Napa’s oldest winery – Charles Krug.

See the wine country from a hot air balloon ride.

Visit a medieval-like castle – Castello di Amorosa.

Canoeing on the Russian River.

See movies at Napa Valley Film Festival in November.

Best Fall Destinations for Urban Explorers

1. Seattle, Washington

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful in any season (some might say especially during the summer when the days are longer and the rains are gone). But there’s something about the fall in this area. The rich forests and mountaintops of Washington state can be seen in all their golden and rusty glory during autumn. And while nature is definitely a thing in Washington, there are also urban areas to be explored during the fall months. Take Seattle, for example: imagine a ferry ride during the golden hour (which is even more golden now in the fall), a stroll around Pike Place stalls and picking up apples, pumpkins (and fish), or a hot coffee in a cozy cafe in a rainy morning. And the more relaxed vibe is a benefit of visiting Seattle in the fall instead of the high season in the summer.

Fall Activities in Seattle, Washington:

Take the ferry for a ride to one of the many islands.

Walk around Pike Place Market.

See the fall foliage in parks around the city.

Or go to Mount Rainier for a day trip.

Attend Oktoberfest (16 – 18 September).

2. New York, New York

It might sound cliche, but when I say fall, the first thing that comes to mind is a walk in Central Park, wandering through the alleys filled with golden leaves. 

And while every season has its beauty, I love New York in the fall! The city becomes more and more radiant, with every fall day changing the colors around you one bit more. September still feels like summer, but starting in October, you can feel the shift in the air: the mornings are cooler, the leaves more golden, and the city slowly awakes to a new season. So if you want to experience fall in all its glory, October is the best month to visit New York. And for some early holiday cheer, choose the month of November!

Fall Activities in New York:

Stroll down the winding lanes in one of New York’s famous parks. 

Attend Brooklyn Book Festival (September 25 – October 3, 2022). 

Visit the New York Botanical Garden.

Attend New York Film Festival (September 30, October 16, 2022).

Celebrate Oktoberfest (September 2 – October 31, 2022).

Attend the Fest of San Gennaro in Little Italy (September 15 – 25, 2022).

Attend the Morningside Lights Event (September 24, 2022). 

Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (on Thanksgiving Day).

Attend the iconic Village Halloween Parade (October 31, 2022). 

3. Portland, Oregon

bridge-portland

Fall is a beautiful season to explore all that Portland has to offer. September and October are months with beautiful mild weather, and rain is not yet so common. That makes the perfect weather for urban exploration, but also for attending one of the many city’s events or even going and exploring the beautiful nature surrounding Portland. You will make the most of the season here, in Portland, no matter what you choose.

Fall Activities in Portland, Oregon:

Immerse yourself in fall colors by walking through one of the largest urban forests in the US – Forest Park.

Visit Powell Books and prepare your reading list for the rainy days ahead.

Enjoy a craft beer in one of the many Portland craft breweries.

Attend Portland Book Festival (November 5, 2022).

Visit the Corn Maze on Sauvie Island.

Read more: How to spend 24 hours in Portland, Oregon

4. Boston, Massachusetts

It is a common opinion that fall is the most beautiful in New England, which might be true! While many choose to go along New England coast for fall foliage tours, Boston itself is a good destination for experiencing the fall in all its beauty. Stroll around Beacon Hill, Boston Common, or the Public Garden for an explosion of yellow, red, and rusty colorful leaves. Besides that, you can participate in the many fall festivities happening during the autumn months in Boston. And last but not least, enjoy the beautiful weather before the freezing Boston winter!

Fall activities in Boston, Massachusetts

See the fall foliage and walk in one of Boston’s parks.

Tour a historic building on Freedom Trail.

Taste a New England lobster roll.

Go apple picking in one of the small towns around Boston (Stow, Topsfield, or Ipswich are good options).

Visit the Arnold Arboretum.

5. San Francisco, California

If you want to explore San Francisco and truly enjoy the beautiful weather, come and visit during the fall months! Because this is the time when the fog finally leaves us, and we have warm and clear days. The Indian summer happens in October, which means (somehow) perfect beach weather, no rainy days, and no more cold and foggy afternoons. And the bonus point is the less crowded city, giving you the possibility to go and see everything without the crowds.

Fall activities in San Francisco, California:

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge (without the fog and the wind blowing in your face).

Taste the iconic San Francisco ice cream.

See the famous air show at Fleet Week (October 2 – 10, 2022).

Attend Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival (August 27 – 28, 2022).

Buy Dungeness Crab in Half Moon Bay (the season starts in November).

Read more: 10 experiences not to miss in San Francisco

Which one is your favorite fall destination? You can let me know in the comments below!

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