Favorite October travel destinations in the U.S. are generally associated with great weather, fall colors, and fun events. The places included in this survey have all of those features.
Read on and discover the best places in the U.S. to visit this October.
Vermont is a beautiful state at any time of year but October is the best season to visit it. It has high temperatures of 55°F and lows of 34°F.
The winters in Vermont are famous for ski resorts. But the same mountains in October display breathtaking and unmatched fall foliage of vibrant red, orange, and yellow. It is populated by maple, beech, elm, ash, and yellow birch trees. The foliage season starts in September and continues through October.
The colors start in the north and higher elevations and progress southward and into the valleys. The status on any day for any region is reported on various internet sites during the season.
The foliage is a beautiful backdrop to harvest festivals, Octoberfests, apple picking, and pumpkin patches. Hiking is a favorite pastime for locals and visitors alike.
The maple trees show not just the beautiful colors but also produce the sap that forms the famous Vermont maple syrup.
Burlington, with a population of just 43,000, is the largest city in Vermont. It is located just 45 miles from the Canadian border and on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. A favorite pastime activity is a cruise on Lake Champlain with spectacular views of the Adirondack and Green Mountains.
Boston in October experiences highs of a crisp 62°F and lows of 47°F with just a few days of precipitation. It’s perfect weather for a walking tour of historical sites on the Freedom Trail. Visitors can also enjoy excellent fresh seafood from the north Atlantic in some of the finest Boston restaurants.
The Charles River winds past the Esplanade, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. Just a short drive leads to historic Lexington and Concord where the American Revolution began and where the fall foliage is ablaze.
The historical whaling village of New Bedford is only 15 miles north of Boston. Among the many sites pay a visit to the Seamen’s Bethel that inspired the “Whaleman’s Chapel” described in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and where Melville attended before embarking on a three-year stint as a sailor on a whaling ship.
Along the way, look for roadside lobster stands where fresh lobster is served outside on picnic tables. Make sure to also try the lobster rolls – they are just spectacular.
Eastern Sierras, California
The Eastern Sierra mountain in California stretches from the Nevada state line in the north to Lone Pine in the south and is home to well-known destinations such as Mono Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Mount Whitney, and Yosemite.
The Eastern Sierras burst with color in the fall, making it one of the top places to visit in October in the United States and enjoy autumn in California.
The sparkling, bright yellow Aspen forests are especially beautiful here. While skiers love Mammoth as a winter paradise for a winter vacation in California, the fall season is also spectacular.
Bathe in this magical forest beauty at Mammoth Lakes with a hike around Convict Lake or set out on one of the many dedicated bike trails here. It’s an ideal way to take in fall.
You’ll be mesmerized by the unique sound of crackling aspens as the breeze gusts down the valley and catches their sunlit leaves as you ascend to a lookout point for a waterfall view.
Located in Michigan’s wild and rocky Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks stretches about 42 miles along the shores of Lake Superior.
While the area is beautiful any time of year, it’s especially appealing in the autumn. The fall colors at Pictured Rocks are absolutely stunning, making this place one of the best October vacation spots in the United States.
Pictured Rocks gets its name from the tall sandstone cliffs that flank the rugged coastline. A boat or kayak is one of the best ways to see these colorful cliffs.
There are also miles of hiking trails, such as the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Chapel Loop Trail.
This living museum in Virginia is a must-see destination, particularly during the fall foliage season. In 2019, it hosted 1.5 million visitors. In the 1920s John D. Rockefeller undertook to fund a major restoration of the town of Colonial Williamsburg. Today, the historic area includes 500 original and restored buildings. Many missing structures were reconstructed in their original locations.
In the 18th century, Williamsburg was the government, educational and cultural center of the Virginia Colony. Visitors today can see a working colonial village with
• operating taverns and inns housed in their original structures and serving colonial fare, • artisans and craftsmen practicing their trades with the same tools used in colonial times • and a functioning farm
To make a complete and fulfilling tour of the historic district, you should stay there for 2 to 3 days. There are excellent accommodations and restaurants on the site as well as hotels and motels near the restored area.
Within a 23-mile triangle are situated Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown, and the Yorktown Battlefield.
Jamestown was the first British settlement in America established in 1607. Today, it boasts galleries of artifacts, recreated Powhatan Indian village, and a 1610-1614 English fort.
At the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, British General Cornwallis was forced to surrender to General George Washington and the French fleet. It would continue for another year but the battle effectively ended the Revolutionary War. The battlefield is a must-see experience.
In October, the number of tourists in Yosemite National Park is half of what it is on an average summer day.
This means that popular hiking trails are less crowded and parking in Yosemite Valley is more convenient.
During the day, temperatures are often in the 60s and 70s, so it’s ideal for hiking!
Hike to Taft Point, Sentinel Dome, and Glacier Point. Exploring the shores of Tenaya Lake near Tioga Pass on a fall afternoon is a great way to spend the afternoon.
Mid to late October is the best time to see the fall colors in Yosemite.
Driving through Yosemite Valley, you can see shades of yellow and orange on many of the trees.
The meadows of the park turn a gorgeous shade of gold in the fall!
If you want to do more than just hike, stay at the beautiful and quiet Sage Cabin in the park. The valley floor is only about 15 minutes away!
October is a great time to visit the Hudson Valley. The average temperatures are highs of 58°F and lows of 43°F. The fall foliage peaks in October.
A tour of the Hudson River Valley is a perfect combination of beautiful fall colors, history, Halloween themes, and much more. The Valley is formed by the Hudson River and stretches 150 miles from Albany in the north southward to New York City with many quaint villages and historical sites along the way. It is surrounded by October foliage colors displayed on the journey that is second to none.
Dutchess County is famous for its wine country, the oldest in the U.S. Its scenic vistas include the homes of Vanderbilt, Franklin Roosevelt and the FDR Presidential Library, and New York City bankers, railroad magnates, and other moguls who built summer estates on Millionaires Row in Mid-Hudson during the late 1800s Gilded Age. The Vanderbilt Mansion Historical Site in Hyde Park is well worth a visit, too.
Other great places to see are Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. The Valley’s Dutch heritage was popularized by Washington Irving tales, including the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Irving maintained a country home in Tarrytown that included Sunnyside which he called Sleepy Hollow in his famous Legend.
October is a happy time in Tarrytown with festivities patterned around Halloween themes. Activities include haunted hayrides, blazing Jack-o-Lanterns, live music, street fairs, and a Halloween parade featuring the Headless Horseman.
Three interesting tours are offered to see the history of Sleepy Hollow and its Dutch heritage. Reservations are required also tickets are required for many events. Demand is very high particularly on weekends so it’s best to purchase tickets or make reservations in advance of your visit.
New York Wineries
New York has 11 wine-producing regions. The Hudson River Region AVA is one of them and includes the oldest continuously operating winery in North America established in 1839. It also includes the oldest cultivated vineyard in North America.
Public tours and tastings are offered by the Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The Benmari Winery in Marlboro offers by reservation outdoor wine tasting (with brick oven pizza) overlooking the Hudson River. Their tastings are also held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Michigan Upper Peninsula
The Michigan Upper Peninsula (UP) offers a classic fall panorama to visitors seeking a scenic celebration of autumn. Favorite fall color destinations include:
• The Big Spring in Palms Brook State Park • Tahquamenon Falls State Park • Fayette Historic State Park • Threefold Vine Winery • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park • Brockway Mountain Drive along Lake Superior • The 42-mile Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore drive.
But Mackinac Island deserves special attention. Situated on Lake Huron between the Upper and Lower Peninsula, it has a fascinating history, quaint preserved features, and beautiful scenery. Generally, motor vehicles are prohibited on the island with people getting around by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
In the 19th Century, Mackinac became a favorite summer getaway for the Chicago and Detroit rich and elite.
Many of the structures on the island have undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration. The Grand Hotel is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture and functions today as a popular hotel. Many celebrities along with business and political leaders still visit annually.
The Island is noted for many fudge shops that have become a tourist attraction as well as a spot for the best fudge.
Autumn in San Francisco boasts clear, sunny skies, crisp fall temperatures, reduced crowd sizes, iconic hills and architecture, Golden Gate Bridge, and, of course, the Bay.
In October, San Francisco hosts Fleet Week, a huge nine-day multi-venue event that celebrates the navy and marine forces. The festivities include ship tours, concerts, and much more. The Navy Blue Angels perform spectacular air shows over the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
Autumn is especially timely for scenic drives south to the Monterey Peninsula, John Steinbeck’s home and setting for some of his best-known novels including Cannery Row. Check out the seaside village of Carmel.
But the fall is especially timely for a drive north through the Muir Woods to the wine country.
The Muir Woods National Monument consists of six miles of walking trails that includes a 1/2 hour loop, a 1-hour loop, and an 11/2 hour loop. There you will walk among a forest the majestic ancient redwoods.
Further to the north, you will reach the wine country of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. October is the perfect time for your visit because it is harvest time known as “crush season”.
There are over 1700 wineries in the North Bay area. The rolling hills and villages of Napa Valley are noted not just for their famous winery labels but for some of the finest cuisines you will find anywhere.
The wineries typically offer tours and wine tasting. They usually require reservations so plan ahead and stay for at least two days to fully appreciate the grandeur of Napa Valley.
Blue Ridge Mountains
Located in North Carolina and Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer spectacular vistas during the fall foliage season. The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 470 miles. It begins at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cherokee, NC, and ends at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park in Waynesboro VA.
On the journey, it goes through stunning mountain landscapes, rushing rivers and creeks, lush valleys, waterfalls, and endless hiking trails along the Appalachian Trail. Along the way are mountain towns like Asheville, Banner Elk, Boone, Cherokee, and Little Switzerland.
In October, the colors are vivid with foliage of green, yellow, orange, and red glows.
Savannah, Georgia is one of the most fascinating cities in America with historical significance. October is a great time to visit in part because of its reputation as one of America’s most haunted.
Pumpkins and fall decorations adorn the entrances to the mansions in the Historic District. Ghost tours are popular events. A walking tour or horse-drawn carriage ride will pass historic mansions.
They include the Mercer House that was featured in the 1994 John Berendt book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which was a true murder story and made into a movie. It was built for the great grandfather of songwriter Johnny Mercer.
October weather is perfect for touring the Bonaventure Cemetary. The month is booked up with many fall festivals including Octoberfest, Savannah Jazz Festival, Savannah PRIDE, and Tybee Island’s Pirate Fest.
New England and the Atlantic Coast offer a wonderful combination of history, weather, and foliage. But October in the Rockies, especially Aspen, Colorado is no slouch.
The Aspen weather is perfect in October. The mornings are crisp with the familiar scent of fall. The vivid golden aspen trees light up across the state. The peak is usually in the first week of the month.
Aspen is located about 2.5 miles from Denver airport. But some prefer that scenic drive along Independence Pass.
Hiking is popular in October but the gorgeous mountain town is worth a visit with mining-era architecture and great restaurants.
A can’t-miss October experience is the ride on the Aspen Mountain Gondola which runs 11,212 feet up to see Elk Mountain, Roaring Fork River, and a panoramic view of the town.
Lake Geneva Oktoberfest
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is worth a visit year-round, but the October fall foliage and Octoberfest are special attractions for visitors. The high temps average 62°F.
The fall foliage is best enjoyed on walks along the lake shore paths, bike rides through Big Foot Recreation District, hikes on the Lake Geneva Shore Path, or by boat cruise on the lake.
The famous Oktoberfest is held on weekends with musical performances, art from local artists, Halloween activities, and more.
Salem is the historical site of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It is a must-visit for a fall haunted tour. Its spectacular foliage is unmatched and its Haunted Happenings Festival is held in October.
Salem also shows the historic architecture, museums, a maritime history which includes seaside mansions.
The historical district includes costumed street performers and shops selling witch apparel, candles, and delicious homemade foods and sweets.
From Boston, the best way to reach Salem and avoid parking during the busiest tourist season is to take the commuter rail from the North Station.
Maine’s rugged seacoast is a popular destination in October. Mount Desert Island, which covers 108 square miles of rocky shores, is great for hiking. The Island is home to Bar Harbor, a beautiful small town, and Acadia National Park.
Bar Harbor hosts a popular Oktoberfest where 80 breweries join to put on the event. It takes place in the second week of October
Yes Folks, Cleveland! It is one of the most underrated places to visit in America. Located on the banks of Lake Erie, Cleveland, long the brunt of jokes, has much to offer in history, culture, dining, and a convenient location.
It is in a sense two cities. Situated as a gateway to the Midwest, it is populated by Eastsiders and Westsiders.
The east side includes the suburbs of Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, and Chagrin Falls, among others. The east side has the personality of a New England urban center.
The west side includes historical Lakewood, Rocky River, North Olmstead, and Bay Village. Those suburbs have the personality of a Midwestern urban center like Indianapolis.
Downtown Cleveland surrounds the extraordinary Flats that used to be the center of a heavy smoky industrial region that included steel mills (some still exist), paint and chemical companies, and other polluting factories.
The Cuyahoga River flows through the Flats to Lake Erie and moors large ore boats. Hence, the river was polluted with industrial and chemical waste which was carried out into the lake, polluting both.
After a massive recovery project, both the river and the lake have been restored. Today, the flats boast several excellent restaurants and bars. Pleasure boats dock at those establishments and weekends are always a big party in the Flats.
Cleveland also offers premium entertainment and culture including the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, and three stunning classic theatres restored to their original splendor and rarely seen outside of New York City.
Its museums are excellent and it is the home of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame on the lakeside.
The city is surrounded by a string (Emerald Necklace) of beautiful parks, hiking trails, waterfalls, and gorgeous October colors of red, orange, and yellow from maples, Cleveland pear, and birch trees.
The autumn is a great time to venture out of the city a short distance easterly to Geauga County where there are wonderful antic shops, apple orchards, cider makers, and maple syrup producers.
The region is 20% populated by Mennonite and Amish communities. A Sunday brunch at one of the many Amish restaurants is a must experience for old-fashioned home cooking.
New York City
New York City is easily one of the best U.S. cities to visit in October. A walk through Central Park during the crisp fall temperatures will take in the surrounding vibrant fall foliage.
New York boasts the best restaurants, theaters, museums, and historical venues. But October is a special fall treat with many outdoor activities, tours, street festivals, flea markets, and entertainment. The Queens Fall Festival is a real treat. New York Comic Con returns to the Javits Center October 6-9.
Greenwich Village will hold its annual Halloween Parade on Monday, October 31, 2022. It has been an annual event since 1973 and features more than 80,000 people in elaborate costumes.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
North Cascades National Park, along with the entirety of Washington State, offers an exceptional vacation experience in October, making it an outstanding destination on the West Coast for nature enthusiasts.
In addition to its stunning autumn foliage, North Cascades National Park boasts a unique feature that is not commonly found throughout the country: the presence of larches! These trees add a distinct charm to the park’s landscape.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the larches, the best approach is to embark on a hiking adventure. Among the recommended larch hikes, Ingall Falls stands out as an exhilarating nine-mile trail that winds its way through these enchanting trees. Another renowned but challenging option is the Colchuck Lake trail, which covers eight miles and leads to a picturesque turquoise lake adorned with larches along its shores.
For the more adventurous souls, there is the opportunity to participate in a lottery to obtain backpacking permits for the longer Enchantments trail.
In October, Branson is bustling with life and offers an abundance of live shows, attractions and outdoor adventures. With the arrival of cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, it’s the ideal time to dive into the myriad of family-friendly experiences like Silver Dollar City, Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Show and Ripley’s attractions.
Branson also exudes rustic charm during the fall season with numerous autumnal activities spread throughout the city. Most notably, the Harvest Festival, with its craft days and stunning display of thousands of lighted pumpkins, provides the perfect backdrop for memorable Halloween photos.
October weekends in Branson are filled with exciting activities, including Shepherd’s Pumpkin Fest. Here you can build scarecrows, try your hand at pumpkin bowling, and enjoy a delightful Jeep hayride. Don’t overlook the Branson Farmers Market! It’s the perfect place to discover unique gifts, locally grown produce, and delicious fall treats like caramel apples. The market is located in Branson’s Landing, very close to Bass Pro Shops.
Asheville, North Carolina
Temperatures range from the upper 50s to mid 70s from early September to early November, making October one of the best times to admire the colorful fall foliage in the Asheville area.
The town of Ashville and its surrounding area have been used in numerous movies such as The Hunger Games and Dirty Dancing. You can even see the river where the well-known lift scene took place! The fall foliage in October is not Ashville’s only unique feature. The town has also produced a number of writers, most notably Thomas Wolfe, who used the area as the basis for his famous novel Look Homeward Angel.
Adding to its cultural richness, music is an integral part of Asheville’s heritage, deeply rooted in Appalachian Folk and Bluegrass traditions. The town hosts an array of music festivals and boasts famous residencies at The Orange Peel, where acclaimed bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Band Of Horses have recorded their music.