Summer is coming to an end, and while we're sad to see it go, we're ready to start planning the perfect fall getaway. Fall is an ideal season to travel for many reasons — cooler temperatures, lower airfare and hotel prices, fewer crowds, and awesome seasonal activities. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly weekend trip or a romantic week in the mountains, check out these recommendations for your best fall vacation yet.
Take a Fall Foliage Road Trip in New England
What’s better than a drive through a gorgeous landscape decorated by fall leaves? To see some of the best fall foliage in the U.S., plan a road trip through New England. Whether you’re looking for backroads through the mountains or small towns on the coast, there are multiple routes you can take. Perhaps one of the most beautiful is the road through Acadia National Park in Maine. Check out the 27-mile Park Loop Road for colorful mountains, serene ponds, and coastal autumn views.
Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
As the temperatures cool in central New Mexico, Albuquerque gears up for its annual International Balloon Fiesta, a 9-day celebration in mid-October. With events from dawn until after sunset, visitors are treated to action-packed daily itineraries of hot air balloons, fireworks and even skydivers. Guests also have the opportunity to book a balloon ride of their own during the festival through Rainbow Ryders. This year, the festivities take place from October 5th through the 13th. Be sure to bundle up — the desert can get chilly this time of year.
Take Advantage of Yosemite’s Shoulder Season
Skip the crowded park paths and visit Yosemite National Park, or any national park, during its shoulder season for cooler temperatures and beautiful fall foliage. During autumn, daytime temperatures average in the 50s, perfect for a bundled up stroll on a sunny day. The crowds begin to thin out after Labor Day until the end of the season in October.
Located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Yosemite sees snow early in the season, so park amenities and services start to close down in October. Be sure to check with the National Park Service before your visit so that you know what to expect. Hotels in and around the park are less expensive outside of peak season, so go ahead and take that trip you’ve been dreaming of, at a fraction of the usual cost.
Celebrate a Traditional Oktoberfest
Take part in some Bavarian culture this fall and attend an Oktoberfest celebration full of food, beer, amusement rides, games and live music. If you can swing a trip to the official Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, it will be held from September 21st to October 6th this year. This traditional festival has been around for over 200 years.
If you can’t make it to Germany, many communities in the United States and around the world hold their own Oktoberfest celebrations that can be just as fun. Leavenworth, Washington, is one such community that holds this festival annually. What makes it special? The town is a Bavarian-style village full of German restaurants and shops — you’ll feel like you’ve just landed in Munich.
Pick Apples at One of the Top Orchards in the U.S.
Take fall apple picking to the next level this season and visit one of the most famous apple and pear orchards in the United States. Kiyokawa Family Orchards, located in scenic Parkdale, Oregon, in the Hood River Valley boasts the largest U-Pick orchard in the valley with sweeping views of Mt. Hood. Voted one of the top ten apple orchards in the U.S., this orchard is also open for visitors to roam the grounds or have a picnic. Standard apple-picking season runs from late August through the end of October. When your fun at the orchard is through, the Mt. Hood National Forest area is the perfect place for a fall bike ride, hiking, camping and more.
Enjoy the Best of Coastal Maine
Not only is Maine one of the best destinations for fall foliage, but coastal Maine serves up some of the best in-season seafood during this time of year. Head to Portland, Maine, for the annual Harvest on the Harbor, a weekend-long food celebration in mid-October featuring chef and farmer creations, award-winning lobster chefs, an Oysterfest, craft spirits tastings, and a Bloody Mary brunch. Between delicious meals, bundle up and go for a stroll through the Old Port historic district, or see the famous Portland Head Lighthouse. You’ll quickly realize why Maine is a must-see destination during the fall season.
Book a Spa Retreat in the Mountains
What could be more relaxing than a spa getaway during peak fall foliage season in the mountains? There are plenty of options out there, but a stand-out spot is the Whiteface Lodge, a luxury resort tucked away in the Adirondack Mountains in Lake Placid, New York. The crisp autumn mornings in upstate New York provide the perfect weather to cozy up in an outdoor hot tub while enjoying the natural surroundings.
The spa at Whiteface Lodge offers a lengthy menu of services including massage therapy, luxurious body wraps and facials and treatments catered to athletes and men. The resort also has the Canoe Club for guests to rent kayaks or canoes and take in the beauty of Lake Placid.
Visit Scenic Japan
If you want to get out of the country, then make Japan your pick. Late autumn, from September to November, is a perfect time to visit Japan. Temperatures are mild, the rainy season is over and the fall foliage is in full swing. Whether you choose an action-packed trip to Tokyo or a relaxing getaway to Mount Fuji, stunning views can be found everywhere.
Japan celebrates a variant of the Mid-Autumn Festival called Tsukimi, meaning moon-viewing, to honor the full moon and the waxing moon. These dates fall in September and October, and you can join in on the festivities during your visit. This celebration is a quiet, reflective time. Bamboo lanterns illuminate the alleys while seasonal food dishes are sold by street vendors. Koto demonstrations, traditional Japanese string music, take place in the streets while spectators admire the moon.