Just because temperatures are cooling off, doesn’t mean your traveling has to! Whether you have a long weekend coming up or want to take off for the holidays, you can be sure these top fall destinations will not disappoint.
THE 10 BEST FALL GETAWAYS
1. PORTLAND, OREGON
Portland is a gorgeous outdoor paradise in all seasons, but this river-side city is magical when the leaves change color. Its many coffee shops make Portland the perfect place to cozy up inside with coffee and a good book, but for a real treat check out all of the arts that start up in September and October; Portland Opera and the Oregon Symphonyare unique opportunities to see some musical pieces, while Portland Fashion Week is a chic event for the fashion critic in everyone.
Fall is also the best time to try out Portland’s best ciders, so branch out from your typical breweries and hit up cideries like Bushwhacker Cider and Portland Cider House while you’re in town.
Stay: Jupiter Hotel, Hotel Monaco, McMenamins Kennedy School
2. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
U.S. News deems September through November the best time to visit San Francisco, and for good reason. With festivals, street fairs, and wine country in full bloom, there’s no better time to take in one of California’s most beloved cities. With clear skies and surprisingly warm temperatures averaging around 70 degrees, autumn months make for great photo ops and the best views of the Golden Gate!
The internationally-acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festivals takes place in October, as does the Castro Street Fair and Treasure Island Music Festival. Stroll Clarion Alley for some awesome street murals, and stop by The Sycamore down the street for the comfort food, board games, and jukebox tunes.
The best way to visit Sonoma’s wineries is by being chauffeured, so purchase ticket for the Muir Woods/Wine Country Tour and get to witness the coast’s astounding redwoods before spending the day wine tasting in the valley.
Stay: Hotel Triton, Hotel Diva
3. ALBERTA, CANADA
If you’re headed to Alberta this fall, you’re most likely going for the turquoise lakes and gorgeous views. Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are two of the most stunning parks in North America, and thankfully there’s plenty of ways to explore them! Book a ticket for the Jasper Skytram for a mountaintop view of the Rockies, stargaze at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, or take a helicopter tour over the Icefields with Rockies Heli Canada.
Best hiking? Valley of Ten Peaks and Lake Agnes Teahouse in Banff, and Bald Hills in Jasper.
Stay: Fairmont Banff Springs, Overlander Mountain Lodge, Whistlers Inn
4. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Skip the summer crowds and visit sunny San Diego when the weather’s still warm but the masses of tourists are gone. Satisfy your beach craving at the popular Mission Beach or dog-friendly Ocean Beach, and grab dinner or drinks in the historic downtown Gaslamp District. If you’re up for a thrill, hit the Haunted Hotel; it’s rated one of the best haunted houses in the U.S., so be prepared for a good scare.
And, there are no shortage of outdoor festivals either; with Spirits of Mexico, Beer Week, and San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival all taking place in the month of November, you can be sure you won’t go thirsty!
Stay: The Lafayette Hotel, U.S. Grant Hotel
Read more: Insider’s Guide to Planning a Trip to San Diego
5. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
Another warm destination! Although, you should bring a coat — weather changes quickly in the south. Stroll the oak tree-lined streets of Savannah (see Wormsloe Historic Site for a photogenic tree tunnel) and visit the gorgeous Bonaventure Cemetary for a hauntingly romantic experience.
The historic squares are must-sees for classic architecture — and even allow open alcohol in the streets! — so take that glass of wine to go and check out the quaint boutiques. Don’t miss Forsyth Park at dusk, or City Market’s art scene.
Stay: The Gastonian, Planters Inn on Reynolds Square
6. YUKON, CANADA
Yukon may not be been on your radar, but it should be; Yukon is hands-down the best place to see the Northern Lights without traveling overseas. Autumn months are great for canoeing, kayaking, and hiking during the day, while early winter offers snow activities like snowmobiling and dogsledding; by night, stargaze and take in the aurora borealis. A day spent flightseeing over glaciers and ice fields is the perfect way to end your trip!
Stay: Inn on the Lake – Whitehorse
Travel back in time in Old Town Edinburgh for a few history lessons and the most gorgeous architecture and buildings you’ve ever seen. Edinburgh Castle and downtown Grassmarket are both located in the country’s capital city, offering plenty of culture and things to do. Head to Glasgow for their renowned art scene, or the Hebrides for a more scenic-centered trip. Regardless of what areas of the country you end up exploring, be sure to make your way to the annual Enchanted Forest event; words cannot describe it.
Stay: Village Hotel Edinburgh, Muirholm Bed and Breakfast
8. VENICE, ITALY
Venice should be a top fall destination for any budget traveler, because the cost of airfare and hotel room rates are far lower than spring and summer — finally making that trip to Italy you’ve always dreamt of attainable. Delicacies like wild mushrooms and truffles are in peak season, so gourmet food and food festivals are abundant. Venice is often a day-trip city for travelers trying to hit many cities in a short time, so strolling the quiet, beautifully lit streets at night is the perfect for a romantic evening.
Stay: Hotel Messner, Hotel Flora
Read more: 9 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Venice, Italy
9. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (WYOMING)
Yellowstone is a natural beauty all year long, but the gorgeous yellow and orange foliage in the fall are incomparable. Take in the serene wildlife and landscape by horseback, exploring the lake, geysers, and towering mountains. If you need a break, the Playmill in west Yellowstone puts on plays through the early months of fall! Be prepared for any kind of weather (it does get cold) and don’t expect to camp; most campsites will be closed, so make arrangements for lodging ahead of time.
Stay: Yellowstone Park Hotel, Yellowstone Suites Bed and Breakfast, Old Faithful Inn
Japan is known for its vibrant autumn leaves — so much so, that they have a foliage forecast to predict which areas of the country will have the best colors during any given point in the season. Foliage tends to begin in northern Japan in late September and end at the south in late November, with Tokyo peaking in late November/early December. Go all-you-can-eat fruit picking at Mt. Fuji, and experience the festive Bonenkai year-end parties held nationwide towards the end of autumn.
Try to plan your fall trip during a fire festival, which are so magnificent you have to see to believe! If you’ve never considered Japan a top contender for your holiday vacation, you most definitely should now.