October is one of the prettiest and most pleasant times of the year. In many parts of the country, the leaves are changing color and the temperatures are dropping to more pleasant ranges. The summer crowds are long gone, and kids are back in school. It’s also the off-season in many locations, which means cheaper hotels and tourism costs overall. There are also lots of fun festivals and events.
For all of these reasons, October is one of the best times of the year to travel across the US. Here are 15 great destinations in the US to consider.
Vermont is arguably the top destination in the U.S. to see spectacular fall foliage, with colors at their peak in October. Take a scenic drive along Route 100 or Route 7 for some of the state’s best leaf-peeping. There are also plenty of impossibly quaint towns to explore. Go for a hike in the Green Mountains, or bike along the trails of Burlington, with stunning views of Lake Champlain. Then stop at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury for a well-earned pint or two.
Next door in New Hampshire, the White Mountains also put on quite a show. There are numerous ways to enjoy the postcard-perfect fall foliage. Drive from Conway to Lincoln along the scenic Kancamagus Highway, or ride the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway to the summit of the highest peak on the East Coast. Hike along a portion of the Appalachian Trail. For those seeking stunning solitude, a paddle through pretty ponds full of colorful reflections is sure to delight.
Enjoy pleasant fall weather, culture, history, and culinary delights in this charming North Carolina mountain town. Sample the flavors at the city’s more than 20 breweries or browse for art in the many galleries and studios of the River Arts District. History buffs will find plenty to explore at the massive Biltmore Estates. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are all nearby, offering easy access to the great outdoors and incredible fall colors.
Visit Acadia National Park on the northern coast of Maine and enjoy weather perfect for tackling the park's many hiking trails, including the challenging Precipice and Beehive trails. The highlight during this time is the vibrant display of fall colors, but the vistas from the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the north Atlantic seaboard, is inspiring at any time. Afterwards, stop by the adorable town of Bar Harbor for fresh seafood, snacks, and souvenirs.
Celebrate Halloween all month long in Salem, Massachusetts. The town became infamous in 1692 when an outbreak of mass hysteria led to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Learn more about the history at the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, and the Peabody Essex Museum. Today, the historic town draws visitors from all over the world for its Haunted Happenings, which offers more than 1,000 events for revelers, including parades, haunted houses, ghost tours, and more.
For plenty of spooky family fun, head to Orlando and enjoy a respite from the normally hot and humid weather and the massive crowds. Universal Studios hosts their Halloween Horror Nights all month, full of spooky events, scare zones, and haunted houses. For younger kids, Disney offers Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, with plenty of candy, costumes, and fun parades. Meanwhile, adults can sample the flavors from around the world at the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot Center.
Visit Sedona and enjoy pleasant daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s. It's the perfect time to hike and explore the stunning red sandstone formations that define this southwestern destination. Get your spirit rebalanced at a vortex or enjoy some pampering at a spa. Take in the vibrant fall colors at Oak Creek Canyon and Village. Don’t miss the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, especially festive during the annual Day of the Dead celebration starting in late October.
Known for its many parks, forests, lakes, peaks, valleys, and waterfalls, the Pocono Mountains dazzle with their natural beauty. The weather is still pleasant for outdoor recreation, and the landscape is at its most vibrant, ablaze in rich yellows, oranges, and reds. Enjoy scenic drives with plenty of picturesque pull-offs and photo opportunities, or go hiking in search of waterfalls and other jaw-dropping vistas. There are also plenty of heritage days, harvest festivals, and Oktoberfest celebrations taking place throughout the region this month.
Explore all that San Francisco has to offer, including vibrant neighborhoods and a rich culinary and cultural scene — without the large crowds. You’ll also enjoy some of the warmest and sunniest days all year. Take a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, hang out with the sea lions, then take a ferry to Alcatraz. Afterwards, walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Time it right, and you can also take part the Outside Lands Music Festival and Fleet Week.
For some of the best fall foliage in the Midwest, head to Door County, Wisconsin, a peninsula tucked in between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Enjoy scenic drives for tree gazing, hikes through pretty wooded areas, and boat rides to spot the picturesque lighthouses all along the shoreline. Don’t miss the many charming small towns and plentiful farmers' markets and fall festivals. Go apple picking and visit a pumpkin patch before enjoying a local fish boil with some fried cheese curds.
Get your tropical vibes on in Hawaii, away from the crowds. The weather is still warm and you can also take advantage of cheaper hotels. Drive to Hana and hike Haleakala National Park on Maui. On Oahu, enjoy the sand and surf at Waikiki and hike Diamond Head. In laid-back Kauai, check out Waimea Canyon or hike the Napali Coast. On the Big Island, snorkel with manta rays or explore Volcano National Park. The multi-island Hawaii Food & Wine Festival runs most of the month.
Escape the typically sweltering temperatures with a trip to weird and wonderful Austin. There are plenty of parks where you can enjoy outdoor activities, but the best way to enjoy the laid-back capital of Texas is to take advantage of its many cultural and live music events. October is full of fun festivals, including Austin City Limits, Oktoberfest, Halloween, and Dias De Los Muertos. Hit up the neighboring Hill Country towns for pumpkin patches and corn mazes at local farms.
Visit this charming mountain town to see its namesake trees turn to gold. There are plenty of great trails for hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy before the weather gets too cold. Alternatively, play a round of golf or go fly fishing. Pamper yourself with a luxurious spa treatment afterward. Take a gondola ride up Aspen Mountain for stunning views of snow-capped peaks, or spend the day browsing the cute boutiques in town, and enjoy some of the best fine dining in Colorado.
Mild temperatures, smaller crowds, and low hotel prices make this one of the best times to visit New Orleans. Grab a hurricane — a feature drink — on Bourbon Street, chow down on some gumbo, and enjoy an evening of live music. Check out the New Orleans Film Festival and the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience. New Orleans is also considered one of the most haunted cities in the country. Join a ghost or cemetery tour and check out all the spooky decorations along St. Charles Avenue to get into the Halloween spirit.
Head to Portland, Oregon to see the city’s many parks, gardens, and lush trees turn into a sea of yellow, orange, and red. Take the aerial tram for an easy view of the fall foliage. Fuel up at Voodoo Doughnuts or one of the city's many food trucks, then get cultural at the Portland Film Festival. Nearby Sauvie Island offers a giant pumpkin patch, plus hayrides and corn mazes. There are also plenty of haunted houses to explore, from mild to wild.