If you’re looking to escape this September, October, or November, we’ve got you covered! Whether you’re looking for fall foliage or warmer weather, fall travel in the United States is spectacular.
Check out these top eleven U.S. fall trip recommendations from seasoned travelers: Phoenix, Denver, Roanoke, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Tampa, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City!
#1 – Denver, Colorado
Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels
One of the best cities to visit in the fall in the USA is Denver, Colorado! Nestled in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, it’s a beautiful, vibrant city with plenty to do.
Downtown Denver is a fun, eclectic, high-energy area. Fall is the perfect time to visit because the weather is fantastic, the crowds have diminished since the busy summer season and that leads to affordable pricing. Denver is a walkable city and especially if you’re staying downtown, you’ll be able to walk to the best restaurants and entertainment.
While in downtown Denver, be sure to check out the 16th Street Mall, Confluence Park, Union Station and the Denver Capitol Building. A little further out of downtown, visit the Red Rocks Amphitheater for amazing entertainment and incredible views.
Town of Dillon
Just a short car ride west of Denver is the beautiful town of Dillon, Colorado! It’s home to one of the largest freshwater sources in the state: the beautiful Dillon Reservoir. With plentiful hiking and water activities, this is another fun fall destination and even a great day trip from Denver.
Moab Road Trip
If you want to see more of the beautiful state of Colorado, including spectacular fall foliage, then a Denver to Moab road trip is highly recommended. With unbelievable scenery, you’ll be able to view the stunning aspen trees turning from green to yellow in the most picturesque settings.
#2 – Phoenix, Arizona
Recommended by Sam from My Flying Leap
Phoenix, Arizona, is a city that celebrates the fall and, with it, the end of the scorching summertime temperatures. During this time of year, you’ll find a city transformed, celebrating the gorgeous temperatures by enjoying life outdoors. The “Valley of the Sun” gets more than 300 sunny days a year, so you’re almost guaranteed beautiful sunny weather.
The Phoenix metro area (including Scottsdale) is a foodies’ destination. There are many incredible resorts with top-notch restaurants, and you can find every kind of food imaginable. In the fall, many restaurants open their floor-to-ceiling windows to the outside to take advantage of the incredible weather.
Tourists and locals flock to the mountains in and around the city to enjoy the hundreds of trails through the desert. You’ll find city parks in all areas of town, and South Mountain Park, North Mountain Park, Piestewa Park, and The Superstitions are some favorites.
Gardens & Museums
Visit the Desert Botanical Garden to see how beautiful the desert can be. If you want to learn about the Native American influences of the area, check out the Heard Museum or visit the Musical Instrument Museum for something uniquely Phoenix. Or, explore Old Town Scottsdale for a quaint area with lots of wineries and boutique shops, and art galleries.
There are so many incredible things to see and do that you won’t want to miss!
#3 – Roanoke, Virginia
Recommended by Erin Gifford from Go Hike Virginia
Located in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke wows as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially when the dramatic fall colors in Virginia put on a show.
Start with a scenic drive along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, which skirts along the east side of downtown. Make a stop at Explore Park at milepost 115. This 1,100-acre recreation area boasts foliage-filled hiking and biking trails, as well as camping, disc golf, and kayaking on the Roanoke River.
In October, dramatic bursts of persimmon, fiery orange, and golden yellow stun visitors in time for the annual Anthem Go Outside Festival that takes place in Roanoke each year (this year, October 15-17). Later in the fall, revel in cooler temps and the final striking pops of colorful leaves at the Smith Mountain Lake Chili Festival (this year, Nov. 6). Yum-o.
While in Roanoke, don’t miss the Roanoke Star, the world’s largest man-made star at 100 feet tall. The overlook atop Mill Mountain wows with foliage-filled views across the Roanoke Valley. The iconic steel star has been welcoming visitors to Roanoke since 1949.
Where to Stay
Stay the weekend in town at the Hampton Inn & Suites Roanoke Downtown. It’s two blocks from Center in the Square, which houses family-friendly attractions like the Roanoke Pinball Museum and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture. From the sixth-floor outdoor rooftop terrace, enjoy the views across the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.
#4 – Los Angeles, California
Recommended by Nick Rosen of The World Over Load
You won’t even notice it’s Fall in Los Angeles until you start seeing the change in outfits instead of the change in weather. It’s not as noticeable as you’ll see in some other cities during the fall, with the leaves changing color, but the cool 70 degrees and pumpkin lattes will let you know Fall has arrived.
In Los Angeles, you will find multiple locations hosting Oktoberfest events. These can be at bars and pubs, but there are some larger events with live music and fun activities you can find downtown for a nice day trip. Los Angeles isn’t well known for its German cuisine, but there are a few nice spots if you know where to look. This is a great way to start the fall with a well-deserved stein.
626 Asian Night Market
The 626 Asian Night Market is a hidden gem and a must for any avid Asian food lover. Going on for a 9th year, this event has nearly become an institution and is perfect for those spending their time in Los Angeles. The delicious Asian street fusion is what has made its mark.
You’ll find Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Chinese, and Singaporeans in a wide variety of food trucks, stalls, and vendors. In these 3-day events also include live music, arts and crafts, and beer gardens. It has become so popular that they have had to open up other locations throughout L.A. to meet the demand.
Outdoor Movie Screenings
Thanks to the fact that even in Fall, Los Angeles weather is still pretty nice, seeing a movie outside won’t be a problem for you. Grab a lawn chair and your friends to a fun night of movies and food.
These pop-ups are all over Los Angeles on the weekends at parks and museums outdoor areas, so it’s pretty easy to pick one close to where you live or is staying while you visit.
Live music is included before the movie starts, so you may want to get there early. You’ll find a multitude of food truck options at your location but feel free to bring your own picnic basket as well.
These are just a few options you have while in Los Angeles. Whether you are a local or just passing through, thanks to the great weather, you won’t need to keep yourself indoors until spring.
#5 – Boston, Massachusetts
Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
Boston is the perfect city to visit during your fall vacation in the US. Boston is located in the northern part of the American East Coast. In the months of September and August, when fall sets in, temperatures are still comfortable and warm.
This is a great city to experience Indian Summer when the leaves turn red, and you can enjoy sightseeing without having to sweat in the heat all day as you walk around. Some of the best places to see the beautiful fall foliage in Boston are the Public Garden and the Esplanade, where the trees will be especially beautiful.
Halloween is also a great time to visit when haunted houses and Halloween parties are very common in the city. October marks the last month in Boston, where you can enjoy some of the best popup beer gardens in the city. Have a drink outside but bring a jacket in the evenings. During the day, temperatures will still be warm enough without thought.
A Visit to Harvard
No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to Harvard. Stroll through this incredible campus and admire the historic buildings. Students are returning to campus during this time, so there is always a lot going on. Have a coffee at one of the many coffee shops and enjoy the beautiful city.
#6 – Washington D.C.
Recommended by Terri at Female Solo Trek
Washington, DC, attracts visitors year-round, but autumn is a perfect season to beat the crowds and enjoy crisp autumn weather. Fall foliage is on brilliant display at Rock Creek Park, a 1,754-acre park located in the middle of the city. It turns brilliant shades of burgundy, tangerine, and gold by mid-October.
Besides hiking trails, visitors can ride bikes on Beach Drive, which closes to traffic on weekends. And equestrians can rent a horse by the hour at the Rock Creek Horse Center. Bring a picnic basket to enjoy “brunch al fresco” at a picnic area. The third oldest park in the USA, it was authorized in 1890.
U.S. Capitol Grounds
The U.S. Capitol Grounds is also a favorite to roam the property when touring the National Mall. Bring Fido for a romp. Beer drinkers unite at Oktoberfest celebrations held throughout the city. The Wunder Garten, Biergarten Haus, and Sauf Bier Hall all organize Oktoberfest parties in DC, including dog costume contests.
Finally, October is the month to book a walking tour to see the haunted side of Washington, DC. Dupont Circle is a must DC neighborhood to visit as it was the site of murders and mayhem.
Washington Walks offers seasonal tours, including Capitol Hauntings and The Most Haunted Houses. Or just book a Monuments by Moonlight walking tour or nighttime trolley tour and picture the goblins chasing scared tourists.
#7 – Miami, Florida
Recommended by Daniel of Urban Abroad
When looking for the best US cities to visit in the fall, Miami should be near the top of your list. From October through to December, it is considered Shoulder Season in the Miami Beach area, so you can expect lesser crowds, cheaper accommodation rates, and a pleasant climate that will keep a smile on your face.
With temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the low 80s, you can avoid those sweltering summer days and have no issues dining at an outside table in the morning or evening. Plus, with plenty of outdoor activities in Miami (outside of going to the beach), you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Miami is Safe to Visit
Generally speaking, Miami is safe for both visitors and tourists, so if hanging around the vibrant South Beach area isn’t quite your thing, why not head down to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens? It serves as the perfect winter retreat and offers you ample space to wander around the landscaped gardens and fountains so you can escape the urban sprawl and relax in nature.
For the Kids
If you are traveling with the family, you’ll find entertainment for the kids too, in October, check out Pinto’s Farm Pumpkin Patch to get down with the festive Halloween fun and entertainment.
All in all, for those looking for a more affordable time to visit Miami and have close proximity to the beach, fall makes it the perfect time to go for more than one reason.
#8 – Seattle, Washington
Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
If you’re looking for a place to enjoy autumn colors that are a bit different, consider checking out Seattle. The Pacific Northwest boasts spectacular fall foliage- not only do the leaves on the trees turn spectacular colors, but in the nearby Cascade and Olympic Mountains, so do the wildflowers and succulents carpeting their rolling hills.
For a truly dazzling display of fall colors, head to Seattle’s Mount Rainier National Park and choose from a myriad of hikes, like the Skyline Trail or Naches Peak Loop, to be fully immersed in epic autumnal foliage.
Not into hiking? You can enjoy the spectacular colors while on a scenic drive, such as the Chinook Scenic Byway, a 107-mile drive snaking through the park and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, weaving past waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and the Cascade Mountains’ best autumnal colors.
For something a bit different, try picking pumpkins or apples from a plethora of family-owned orchards in the greater Seattle area, like Jones Creek Farms, where you can take your pick of over 50 varieties of apples!
For something more on the spooky side, visit the Georgetown Morgue, a historic building that functioned as a funeral preparations home, crematorium, and morgue for over 40 years and is alleged to be one of the most haunted buildings in the city.
You can buy tickets to visit the Morgue to be spooked by the monsters and ghouls hiding in its hallways- but beware! Given the Morgue’s sordid past, you may see some real ghosts during your visit!
#9 – Chicago, Illinois
Recommended by Brodi of Our Offbeat Life
Chicago is an excellent place to visit in the fall! Indoor activities, like shopping and museums, are available year-round. However, it’s the fall street festivals and outdoor dining open through November that truly make Chicago remarkable.
Chicago is a melting pot of cultures and food. One can attend the mid-Autumn festival in Chinatown and Oktoberfest in Lakeview during September, and Apple Fest in Lincoln Square during early October. Each of these has unique foods and events to keep any visitor busy.
Chicago Park District
In addition, the Chicago Park District has a plethora of events that are geared toward locals around the city. However, anyone can attend these activities, which are often free. With over 8,800 acres of green space throughout 600 locations in the city, one can easily wander into almost any park to find fall or Halloween-themed events any day of the week.
With the weather cooling but not yet frigid and schools back in session, fall is the perfect time to see the sights in Chicago without worrying about huge crowds. The only exception is the Chicago marathon weekend, which occurs annually in mid-October. One of the best things to do in Chicago during the fall is dine outdoors.
Chicagoans love eating outside, even in a jacket or puffer vest in October. The city of Chicago allows restaurants to serve diners outdoors until early November. So plan to participate in this unique, local tradition. The best way is to enjoy breakfast downtown at Lou Mitchell’s, overlooking the Willis Tower. That is a must for any visitor to the Windy City.
#10 – New York City
Recommended by Bernadette of Explorer Chick
The best place to see Fall colors in New York City is Central Park. The most scenic route starts at The Mall and Literary Walk near 65th Street. This area is one of the most popular and often where movies and TV shows film.
The long walkway leads visitors to the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, and across the water is The Loeb Boathouse and restaurant. I think this is probably the most popular spot for tourists and it is the site of many films too. But, it really is a great place to take pictures in the Fall, and locals can even be found braving the crowds and snapping pics to post on Instagram.
Visit Little Island
The newest addition to the places to visit in the City is Little Island, a man-made park that is on the Hudson River. The island is made of many concrete piles, and the visual design is quite striking. On the island itself is a lot of greenery, spaces for entertainment, a couple of food and drink vendors and plenty of places to walk and rest in. Before heading to the park, visitors should check the website about getting timid-entry tickets.
And, of course, there are numerous museums, plays, and musicals that are now re-opening, so there is plenty to do indoors on those days that are chilly or hot. It is Fall, after all so the weather can be unpredictable!
#11 – Tampa, Florida
Recommended by Lara of Lara Clevenger
Fall is the perfect time to visit Tampa, Florida, because it’s finally starting to cool down! Summer can be miserably hot and humid, but Fall is gorgeous. It’s still perfect beach weather and perfect for outdoor activities!
Fall in Tampa screams Bucs game, Lightning pre-season, and happy hour on the water! Downtown Tampa is surrounded by water, and there is a plethora of bars and restaurants to choose from. Whether it be Jackson’s, American Social, Sparkman’s Wharf – or many of the smaller restaurants, you won’t be disappointed.
Many of these are dog friendly, too, so bring the pups! After dinner and drinks, walk down the Riverwalk or make the loop around downtown and into Harbour Island. Below is a picture from my place on Harbour Island at night looking into downtown Tampa.
Fall is the perfect time to visit Busch Gardens theme park and Adventure Islands waterpark. It should be slower than in the summertime, and waiting in line is less painful since it’s not as hot. Also, Tampa is only a short distance from St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach!
And right downtown, you can rent kayaks and jet skis, take a ride on a dinner cruise, or a tiki bar boat! Or, if you want more traditional things to do, there are plenty of well-respected golf courses close by, parks, trails, gyms, etc.
Photo Credit: [@alexeys/DepositPhotos]
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.