Some cities are strengthened in beauty and charm by the changing of the seasons. While these destinations are a great place to visit any time of year, their fall seasons boast a getaway unlike any other, offering an impeccable combination of weather, scenery, and activity. Before booking your next trip, read through our list of the best fall vacation spots in the U.S.:
It's no wonder Bostonians claim their city is most beautiful in autumn — a mosaic of gold, amber, and red leaves perfectly complement the historic architecture that shapes the city. In fact, Boston's fall foliage is so illustrious that the Freedom Trail doubles as a fall foliage tour this time of year.
This town has much to offer its visitors, from the sports enthusiast to the history buff. Head to Gillette Stadium to catch a New England Patriots game. The team has 11 Super Bowl appearances, more than any other NFL team. Boston's rich history (founded in 1630) contributes to several attractions around town. Visit one of the many museums and historic sites, including the Salem Witch Museum — a thrilling activity for Halloween.
When you're not cheering on the "Pats" or learning about "witches," join a brew tour at the Samuel Adams Brewery. Sip beer with a side of history as tour guides give you insight into the role Samuel Adams played during the American Revolution. Sample brews from other Boston breweries at Oktoberfest celebrations held throughout September and October.
A boat cruise along the harbor will give you a new perspective of the city. The charming skyline will only further your fondness for Boston. Finally, relax after a long day of sight-seeing with a warm bowl of New England clam chowder, and other local seafood dishes, at one of the eateries scattered across the city. After your fall visit to Boston, you'll never want to leave.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For the outdoor enthusiast, late-September, early-October is ideal for visiting the breathtaking region of Jackson Hole, a valley which lies just beneath the Teton Mountain range. Take in the view of the picturesque fall foliage paired with the mountainous backdrop. Bonus: you'll skip the summer crowds and sneak in just before ski season kicks off.
Head over to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park while the crowds are meager and the wildlife thriving. In fact, this time of year happens to be elk mating season. The mating call of the male elk (known as "bugling") is said to be uncanny and unlike anything you've ever heard. Guided tours are offered to witness this phenomenon.
If mating calls don't excite you, experience the wildlife and beauty of Jackson Hole via bicycle. The hiking and biking pathways stretch 65 miles within the borders of Grand Teton National Park. Referred to as "fat biking," visitors can rent bicycles with thick tires to help them easily ride over different types of terrain. On your hike or bike ride, be sure to seek out the aspen trees, as their leaves transition beautifully this time of year. They tend to grow in clusters and you can spot them by the paper white bark. Other prime spots for leaf peeping include Oxbow Bend, Ditch Creek, Snake River Canyon, Munger Mountain, and Moose Wilson Road — where you also might spot a bear or two.
After a long day of exploring, wind down at one of the lodges and ski resorts in the area. Most hotels include amenities like spas, restaurants, and fireplaces. Jackson Hole is home to a few wineries and breweries within close proximity to hotels.
San Diego, California
San Diego is another city that claims autumn is its prime time. The weather becomes slightly cooler, with temperatures dipping down into the low 70's and high 60's — but this doesn't deter residents from spending time outdoors. October and November are rather lively for San Diegans, making it an ideal time to visit and join in on the fun.
Plan an action-packed vacation on a dime with free admissions and shorter lines. October is "Kids Free" month, allowing free admissions at several attractions around the city. Visit the San Diego Zoo or cruise along the bay by boat tour.
November is brimming with festivals. The first week of November is San Diego Beer Week, a week dedicated to highlighting the city's craft beer success. Residents and tourists can visit some of the 130+ breweries located around the city, as well as events held at local bars and restaurants for beer tastings, food pairings, music, and more.
Following Beer Week is the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. This event garners around 10,000 attendees each year, making it the biggest wine and food celebration on the West Coast. 60 of San Diego's most admired restaurants and 150+ wineries, breweries, and spirit suppliers are also in attendance. Events are available each day, ranging from celebrity chef cook-offs, brunches, tastings, and much more.
Jazz aficionados will revel in all that the San Diego Jazz Fest has to offer, including concerts, dance floors, and refreshments. This jazz festival falls on the weekend following Thanksgiving each year.
San Diego's diverse natural beauty is a sight to see all on its own. Hike the mountains of the backcountry or spend a day at the beach learning to surf.
Savannah offers a fall getaway with a touch of summer heat. October/November temperatures can reach the low 80's, a significant drop from the summer temps, but warm enough to continue with summer activities. With plenty to do in Savannah, each member of your trip will find something to appreciate.
Squeeze a little rest and relaxation — or fun in the sun — out of your vacation with a trip to Tybee Island Beach, just 20 minutes east of Savannah. Unwind from everyday stressors with a reclining beach chair and good book. If you're eager for more action, rent a kayak to paddle along the shoreline or try your hand at fishing on a chartered fishing boat.
In the spirit of Halloween, experience Savannah's supernatural side with a ghost tour. The paranormal activity is said to be unlike any other due to its extensive history and participation in the Civil War. America's Most Haunted City offers a myriad of tour options. Hunt ghosts by foot, trolley, hearse, or even pub crawl.
Savannah's infrastructure is ideal for pedestrians. Set aside some time for exploring the city by foot. Pass through the charming tree-lined squares and parks of the Historic District, some of which have been around since the city was founded in 1733. Historic homes, elegant gardens, and ornate churches await your excursion. Shops, restaurants, and boutiques are perfect stops along the way. Join a guided tour or go at your own pace.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Travelers flock to Santa Fe for an all-encompassing trip of adventure, culture, relaxation, and unparalleled cuisine. While the surrounding scenery is alluring any time of year, gold clusters of aspen leaves enhance the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains throughout fall. Ski Santa Fe offers chairlift rides up the mountain for visitors to catch an up-close glimpse of the changing aspens. The chairlift operates through September. Returning in October for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, visitors can also watch hundreds of hot air balloons floating through the sky.
Sporting activities in Santa Fe combine adventure with scenery. Hike up the Ski Santa Fe mountain for a competitive game of disc golf. With its highest peak reaching 11,564 feet, prepare for rapid changes in climate. Up to 83 trails are available for skiers and snowboarders. Ski season begins after the first snowfall — typically in November. Drift down the Rio Grande on an exciting river rafting expedition. Trips range from beginner to expert level and take-off is located in the town of Pilar, 40 minutes north of Santa Fe.
After a day of adventure, wind down at one of the many resorts and spas spread out across Santa Fe. The Sunrise Springs Spa Resort was awarded one of the top five spa resorts in the country by Travel & Leisure. The resort itself is surrounded by 70 acres of stunning scenery. Here, you'll indulge in all the amenities of a spa, along with resort-style all-inclusive packages. You can also receive a pass to the sister spa located 64 miles north for a day of soaking and steaming in mineral springs.
With history dating back to hundreds and hundreds of year ago, Sante Fe is rich in Native American and Hispanic cultures. The Native Americans inhabited the lands long before Spanish settlers arrived. They continue to inhabit parts of New Mexico to this very day. Known as the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos, visitors are welcomed to visit each Pueblo for feasts, events, and more. Join a historic tour to learn about the Spanish Colonial history and architecture that shapes the Santa Fe we know today.