Want to make the most of fall travel in the US? Find out the best Fall destinations to visit in the United States. Keep scrolling down for all the info!
This best fall destinations in the US post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Fall is here, and it’s time to get out of the house!
The leaves are changing colors, the air has a crispness, and pumpkin spice everything is in season. This means that fall vacations are just around the corner.
We love fall travel because most of the crowds have died down at the touristy locations.
If you’re looking for a new adventure this year, look no further than these fantastic destinations across America.
You’ll find all sorts of things to do, from hiking trails, waterfalls, apple-picking farms, or even wine-tasting tours. There’s something for everyone on this list, so take your pick and book your trip today!
Keep scrolling for my list of the best fall vacations in the US!
Best Fall Destinations in the US: Great Fall Getaways East Coast
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE
Rocky granite-like structures transition into amazing cliffs while the shores are scattered with rocks across the beach. It is a sight to see.
The trees are an array of beautiful reds, golden, and amber-colored leaves.
If you want to catch a sunrise, climb Cadillac Mountain. This is truly a beauty in the fall! Visiting Acadia National Park might be the best fall vacation in the US!
Don’t forget to grab your National Parks pass before you go!
Where to stay near Acadia National Park:
Asticou Inn is a beautifully restored 19th-century country inn at the foot of Acadia National Park and overlooking Northeast Harbor.
It features a restaurant and a heated swimming pool, and it’s right across the street from the Asticou Azalea Gardens. See latest reviews.
Hampton by Hilton Bar Harbor
The Hampton Bar Harbor is new and located just 5 miles from Acadia National Park.
From this hotel, you can see Frenchman Bay, the Porcupine Island, and the mountains of Acadia National Park.
Plus, it’s just one mile from downtown Bar Harbor. Check latest rates and more information.
Fun things to do at Acadia National Park:
Park Loop Road
Hop in your rental car and cruise along the 27-mile Park Loop Road. It’s the easiest way to do a quick tour of Acadia.
Start at the Hulls Cove Visitors Center and slowly make your way to the east side of Mount Desert Island.
Narrated Bus Tour of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
If you are worried about missing the sights while driving, hop on this narrated bus tour so you can focus on the scenery.
It stops at Cadillac Mountain, Sieur de Monts Spring, and Thunder Hole.
Find out what to do in Portland, Maine!
Save Money with Points
Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels.
SHENANDOAH VALLEY, VIRGINIA
The Shenandoah Valley, which follows the Shenandoah River through western Virginia and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, has always been a favorite fall destination for many travelers.
Autumn view of Stony Man Summit and the Shenandoah Valley, from the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. There are so many unique and charming little towns along the way.
Most of these small towns host seasonal events and festivals for you and your family to attend.
In this area, you will also find the Blue Ridge Mountain trails if you love to hike, but the best part is the beautiful backdrop of fall foliage.
During September through November, you will see an abundance of leaves on all the different trees in the area throughout the valley that put on a spectacular show of colors.
Where to stay in the Shenandoah Valley:
The Omni Homestead Resort
The Omni Homestead offers unparalleled hospitality and southern charm and it’s one of America’s most storied resorts.
Besides an array of dining choices, a spa, and a championship golf course, they also have a 2-acre family-friendly water park. Check latest rates and more information.
Tru by Hilton Staunton
For a modern hotel, try Tru by Hilton Staunton. This brightly colored hotel has an outdoor patio, a fitness center, semi-private alcoves in their lobby and they offer free breakfast every day.
It’s also next to shopping, dining, and all the fun and culture downtown Staunton. Check latest rates and more information.
Fun things to do in the Shenandoah Valley:
Grand Caverns is America’s oldest continuously operated show cave. With their abundance of rare shield formations and history, your family will be in awe of this natural wonder.
On the first Saturday in October, Grand Caverns hosts the annual Fall Festival Living History Day with living history exhibits and demonstrations each year.
If you (or your kids) are super into dinosaurs, you better plan a stop at Dinosaur Land.
Open March 1 through December 31, Dinosaur Land is a prehistoric forest featuring more than 50 exhibits and gift shops full of dinosaur items.
CENTRAL PARK IN NEW YORK CITY
New York will serve as the perfect backdrop for your fall vacation.
New York has so many amazing parks in the area, such as Battery Park, but none compare to the colors of Central Park in the Fall.
The whole city comes alive with an array of colors. And if you play your cards right, you can find some amazing discounted attractions to visit as well during the fall. Check out my kid-friendly NYC itinerary.
It’s also one of the best places to visit for Halloween on the East Coast.
Where to stay near Central Park in New York City:
The Excelsior Upper West Side NYC Hotel is located in the fashionable Upper West Side neighborhood between Central Park and Columbus Avenue and has an Art Deco motif.
It overlooks the American Museum of Natural History and the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Read the latest reviews.
Fun things to do in Central Park:
Central Park Walking Tour
Central Park is HUGE and I think the best way to explore it is by foot.
This Central Park Walking Tour takes you on a 2-hour walk covering the history, wildlife, trees, and plants, statues and structures of Central Park.
Private Photo Tour
If you are going to be strolling Central Park in the fall as the leaves are changing, you will definitely want to snap some photos.
Join this private photo tour of Central Park and let a professional photographer make you feel like a movie star as you pose in iconic Central Park locations.
Find out how to book the coolest tour of The Met.
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Anytime you visit the mountain area located around Asheville, North Carolina in the fall you will be in awe of the beauty that is before you.
The drive is visually spectacular. Asheville is full of affordable B&Bs located right downtown so that you can truly enjoy all the fall foliage around you.
Breathe in the fresh mountain air and take in all the vibrant warm colors of the season. In my opinion, the mountains of western North Carolina will forever be a number one fall travel destination.
Where to stay in Asheville, North Carolina:
The Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of the country’s most celebrated resorts and has hosted countless celebrities.
It’s listed on Fodor’s “Top 10 Luxury Spa Resorts” and Travel + Leisure’s rankings of “Top Spa Resorts” in the world. Check latest rates and more information.
Sweet Biscuit Inn
The Sweet Biscuit Inn is an elegant seven-bedroom Bed and Breakfast Inn with a Carriage House built in 1915.
It’s just 1.5 miles south of downtown Asheville’s shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes, and only 0.5 miles north of the Biltmore Estate entrance. Read the latest reviews.
Fun things to do in Asheville, North Carolina:
Autumn at Oz at Beech Mountain
Beech Mountain’s Land of Oz allows you to stroll along the yellow brick road and experience a recreation of Dorothy’s journey from her home in Kansas.
The event sells out fast, and you can meet many characters from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Saturday Night Lights
Throughout the months of September and October, you can watch horse competitions with some of the best riders in the country.
The Tryon International Equestrian Center hosts the competitions, and the atmosphere is inviting with entertainment, food, kids’ activities, and Venetian carousel rides.
Best US Fall Destinations: Travel on the West Coast
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
The absolute best time to visit San Francisco is in the fall. If you have never heard of Indian summer, it’s between the warm summer and fall seasons, and it usually hits San Fransisco every year.
It is simply one of the most gorgeous times of the year. The towns of Castro and Potrero Hill hold their annual festivals where you can experience the fantastic diversity of the city’s neighborhoods.
While all of those things are amazing, one of the most incredible events you will want to see is Fleet Week.
You will get to experience ship visits, air, and boat shows, and lots of events along San Francisco’s waterfront. It’s one of the best fall vacation spots worth checking out.
And don’t forget about Ghiradelli Square! This is an iconic place to visit in San Francisco where you can taste some of the best chocolate in California!
Where to stay in San Francisco:
The Metro Hotel
For a charming, family-run boutique hotel that embodies the spirit of San Francisco, look no further than The Metro Hotel.
It’s located in NOPA (North of the Panhandle), near the Haight Ashbury and Castro neighborhoods. Check latest rates and more information.
Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco
Located in the heart of historic Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, the Hyatt Centric is San Francisco’s most European Hyatt.
They have an outdoor heated pool, a fully-equipped fitness center, and the #1 Sports Bar in San Francisco. Check latest rates and more information.
Fun things to do in San Francisco:
Golden Gate Bay Cruise
The most iconic thing to do in San Francisco is taking a ride on a Golden Gate Bay Cruise.
This narrated boat ride journeys alongside Alcatraz and Angel Island State Park, past the shores of Sausalito and beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco Love Tour
For a quirky tour, hop on a 1970s era VW bus and get to know the hippie past and hipster vibe that makes up San Francisco on this San Francisco Love Tour.
See the homes of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, while listening to ‘60s classics on this small-group tour.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN CALIFORNIA
The fall vacation time in Yosemite Valley means no more battling many tourists to take in the spectacular views.
Not only that, but because of fewer visitors, you will be able to enjoy those scenic trails while hiking which will make for a much more enjoyable experience. Just be sure to pack the right hiking gear for kids.
There are many evergreen trees throughout Yosemite, but do not let that fool you!
The park also has many gorgeous big-leaf maples, black oaks, and deciduous trees that turn brilliant shades of red and yellow around mid-October.
It makes for the most beautiful view you will ever see.
Where to stay near Yosemite:
The Ahwahnee shines as Yosemite National Park’s distinctive AAA(R) Four-Diamond hotel.
It’s known for its magnificent façade and architecture and is close to Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point. Check latest reviews.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite Valley Lodge is a favorite choice for families and large groups for its location, outdoor pool, and free parking.
It’s near Yosemite Falls and it’s the perfect base camp for exploring Yosemite National Park. Check latest reviews and more information.
Fun things to do in Yosemite:
Join a guided, half-day hike designed specifically for families.
It’s perfect for families who want to ask lots of questions or don’t want to worry about navigating the park on their own.
LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA
Winter and summer are the busy seasons in Lake Tahoe, so when you visit in the fall, you will have a better chance of experiencing all that they offer without tons of tourists around.
The air during this time is clean and crisp and the skies are the clearest you will see around. That’s why it’s one of the best places to go in the fall in the US.
You can take a lake cruise or simply head out on a paddleboard, kayak or canoe. There are so many things to do here year-round.
One of the best ways to witness the beauty of this area is to take a hike through all of the scenic trails found throughout the region.
Where to stay in Lake Tahoe:
Marriott’s Timber Lodge
For a family-friendly Lake Tahoe hotel, head to Marriott’s Timber Lodge where you can choose from several villa types that meet your travel needs.
They also offer on-site dining, swimming pool, children’s splash pad and whirlpool. And have organized resort activities that are fun for the entire family. Check latest rates and more information.
Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe
Another option is the Tahoe Beach Retreat & Lodge on the water in the heart of South Lake Tahoe.
They have a heated outdoor pool, a fitness center and a volleyball court, as well as a pier and a marina with jet ski and kayak rentals. There are multiple dining options and a free shuttle service to area ski resorts. Check latest rates and more information.
Fun things to do in Lake Tahoe:
Wild West Tour from Lake Tahoe with Train Ride
If your family likes trains as much as mine, you’ll want to get tickets for this Wild West Tour.
You’ll drive along part of the Pony Express, explore Virginia City (a National Historic Landmark District.)
Here, you can visit museums or a historical saloon and learn all about the mining days of the 1800s.
Sedona is one most vibrant and beautiful places in the United States. There are not many that compare with the landscape you will find here.
You will see towering red rocks and bright blue skies, and all of that is framed in all the beautiful fall colors.
By this point, the hot Arizona temperatures have left and the air becomes so much more enjoying for hikes.
We think it’s one of the best places to visit in the fall in the US.
Where to stay in Sedona:
Amara Resort & Spa
For the ultimate Sedona luxury experience, head to Amara Resort & Spa.
Enjoy in-room dining from SaltRock Southwest Kitchen or indoor/outdoor dining at their restaurant. Sit by their infinity pool and soak in the spirit of Sedona and star gaze nightly in courtyard with s’mores.
Plus, you can get spectacular views of the Sedona red rocks from your balcony! Check latest rates and more information.
Poco Diablo Resort
For a family-friendly Sedona resort, head to Poco Diablo Resort.
They have a heated outdoor pool, whirlpool spa, full service spa, tennis courts, fitness center, nine-hole golf course and more.
Plus, they have family rooms available. Check latest rates and more information.
Fun things to do in Sedona:
Verde Canyon Railroad Adventure
Hop aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad for a 4 hour sightseeing journey through the American Southwest.
Get unobstructed views of the Arizona desert and Verde River, look for Sinagua cliff dwellings, old mining sites, and native wildlife.
Sedona Plein Air Festival
If you decide to visit during October, you will be able to attend the annual Sedona Plein Air Festival which offers the chance to watch artists in their element along Main Street and take any one of several artist workshops.
Best Fall Destinations in the US: Travel in the South
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been a popular travel destination this summer, so I had to include it on this list. In fact, it’s the most visited national park in America!
Gatlinburg is situated right at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and attracts more than 11 million visitors each year.
Mountains of stunning colors and fall foliage make Gatlinburg, TN a beautiful place to visit. It also hosts an abundant amount of craft shows, special events, food festivals and more.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best places to visit in the fall in the United States.
Where to stay in Gatlingburg:
Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg
Just minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you’ll find the Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg.
It’s an awesome place to stay if you’re looking to get out for some active adventures but also want to relax in a luxurious resort with a fantastic pool and relaxing spa.
Plus, it’s right across from Anakeestra, an outdoor theme park, and just steps away from tons of shops and restaurants. Check latest rates and more information.
Bearskin Lodge on the River Hotel
For families heading to Gatlinburg, check out the Bearskin Lodge on the River Hotel.
You’ll feel right at home with all the great hotel amenities plus an outdoor fireplace and fun pool area.
Plus, it’s withing walking distance to top Gatlinburg attractions like the Gatlinburg SkyLift and Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook and some amazing Mexican restaurants. Check latest rates and more information.
Or, opt to do a trendy farm stay in the Smoky Mountains!
Fun things to do in Gatlinburg:
The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival
The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, throughout Gatlinburg, runs from September through November and gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the Smoky Mountains in autumn.
The seasonal life size decorations are a sight to see.
One of the biggest festivals in the area is Oktoberfest, an indoor and outdoor festival, featuring Bavarian fun, music, and food.
The festival celebrates some of the time-honored traditions of the original Oktoberfest which is held in Munich, Germany.
The festival’s food and drinks are all German inspired and a few of the events include outdoor games, Bavarian folk dances, yodels, a Bier Garten, and more.
If you are looking for a picturesque fall town, head to Hiawassee, Georgia. It’s an Appalachian Trail community and their fall leaves are beautiful.
The Hiawassee River is known as “the hidden jewel of trout fishing.” Plus, there are waterfalls that dot the landscape and provide great hiking jaunts.
A few popular festivals can be found in Hiawassee, GA at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds which is located along the shores of the beautiful Lake Chatuge.
The Fairgrounds offer a wide variety of unique venues, and beautiful year-round camping facilities.
Georgia is also one of the best warm places to visit in October in USA.
Where to stay in Hiawassee:
Boundary Waters Resort & Marina
Located on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Boundary Waters Resort & Marina is a quiet, secluded haven for a relaxing getaway amidst the peace and stunning beauty of Lake Chatuge and the surrounding national forest.
Their vacation rentals are perfect for family vacations or a romantic getaway. Check latest rates and more information.
Lake Chatuge Lodge
Right next door to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds and Anderson Music Hall, Lake Chatuge Lodge has views of Lake Chatuge and the North Georgia Mountains.
They offer free breakfast, high speed wireless internet, and private balconies. Check latest rates and more information.
Fun things to do in Hiawassee:
Appalachian Brew, Stew & Que Festival
The Appalachian Brew, Stew & Que Festival, also held at the fairgrounds, is a festival of craft breweries from the regional area, arts and cratfs, delicious food from area restaurants, Appalachian and Americana music, and more.
Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
The Georgia Mountain Fall Festival is a 9-day event featuring exciting musical performances, Arts & Craft vendors, educational demonstrations, a flower show and the ever-popular Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.
Best Fall Destinations in the US: Travel in the Midwest
Nestled into the sunset coast of West Michigan, Saugatuck/Douglas is a short drive from several major cities in the Midwest.
While there’s lots to do in Saugatuck/Douglas all year round, fall is an especially special time to visit.
From traditional autumn activities like apple picking and color tours to more creative ones like gallery walks and beverage tours – spending time in Saugatuck/Douglas in the fall is an experience you’re sure to enjoy.
Saugatuck/Douglas, Michigan has a lot of fun family events throughout the year, but nothing compares to the fall events and activities.
We think this is one of the most under-rated fall trips in the US.
Where to stay in Saugatuck/Douglas:
Judson Heath Colonial Inn
Take a step back in time at the Judson Heath Colonial Inn in the heart of Saugatuck’s Historical District.
Relax on their grand terrace overlooking lively Butler Street, and enjoy a full gourmet breakfast prepared on their early 1920s stove! Check latest reviews.
The Saugatuck Retro Resort Motel
The newly renamed Saugatuck Resort Motel aims to build on the property’s decades old reputation of family-owned quaintness and hospitality.
Go back in time to the days of small roadside motels where the owner checked you in complete with flashing neon signs, large grassy yards with big shade trees and cozy rooms. Check latest reviews.
Fun things to do in Saugatuck/Douglas:
Apple Picking and Cider Drinking
Apple orchards in the Midwest are very popular during the fall season.
Within the area, there is a 20 mile stretch that is considered Michigan’s “Fruit Belt”, where the apples and pumpkins are plentiful.
Fall Color Tour
Michigan is popular for those wanting to take a drive or tour around the area and enjoy all the fall colors.
Another popular tradition, in Michigan, is to take a boat tour along the Kalamazoo River and into Lake Michigan.
This gives you a more beautiful view of the fall colors and scenery than what you would get from driving.
This Michigan area is rich with wineries, breweries, and cideries.
You can start in Fennville with a glass of apple cider and make your way through the area and find yourself at the Douglas, Saugatuck Brewing Company.
Best Fall Vacations in the US FAQ
If you’re looking for a tropical fall travel destination, Hawaii is always a fun option! Otherwise, you can find warm temperatures in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The weather can vary from warm to crisp, so it’s important to pack clothing you can layer. Lightweight sweaters, rain jackets, boots, long pants, and long sleeve shirts are usually a safe bet.
While weather in the US can sometimes be unpredictable, it’s been known to snow in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota as early as October.
For teens, the best fall trips in the U.S. include exploring urban destinations like New York City for its Central Park foliage and Halloween festivities or enjoying outdoor adventures in places like the Great Smoky Mountains.
Midwest fall getaways for families include visiting Door County, Wisconsin for apple picking and scenic drives, or exploring the Hocking Hills of Ohio with its beautiful trails and autumn hues.
Some of the best destinations for fall foliage are the White Mountains in New Hampshire, the Adirondacks in New York, and the Green Mountains in Vermont.
The best states to visit in the fall include Vermont, Maine, Colorado, and Michigan, all renowned for their spectacular autumn displays.
Fall Destinations in the United States Wrap Up
These are some of the top fall destinations in US worth visiting.
If you are looking for the perfect best fall family getaways this year, be sure and check out one of the places above. Fall is one of the number one seasons to travel and check out the areas!
It’s also the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful scenery that nature provides us at this time of the year.