Autumn is upon us: Here are the top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

As summer draws to a close, it can evoke a bittersweet feeling, but the excitement in a big city never truly fades. With the cooling temperatures and transformation of trees into vibrant hues of yellow, burnt orange, and dazzling red, there’s an irresistible urge to savor the outdoors before winter sets in.

While a scenic countryside drive offers its allure for admiring the stunning Fall foliage, urban settings possess unique charm during this season. Fall marks the return of children to school and adults to their work routines, meaning generally lower prices, fewer crowds, and more pleasant temperatures at numerous sought-after vacation spots.

It is an exceptional season for budget travel. Airfare prices drop from summertime peaks, the crowds dissipate, and the weather becomes pleasantly comfortable. If you reside in an area where seasons don’t typically vary much, this is your chance to embrace fall’s vibrant beauty fully.

Venture into the mountains to witness the vivid tapestry of foliage or relax on the beach, savoring a few extra days of sun. Irrespective of your vacation preferences, a perfect destination awaits every traveler. To assist you in locating your ideal getaway, we present the top fall vacation destinations in the United States.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

The Blue Ridge Parkway, often called “America’s Beloved Scenic Drive,” stretches its picturesque route north and south of Asheville. This remarkable 469-mile uninterrupted motorway offers sweeping panoramic views of the mountains, inviting spots for impromptu roadside picnics, awe-inspiring vistas, hiking trails ranging from easy to challenging, and a serene escape from commercialization.

This scenic byway faithfully traces the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as a vital link between Skyline Drive within Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Thanks to the milepost system, which increases as you journey southward, discovering points of interest is a breeze (relying on GPS is not recommended).

The best part is there’s no admission fee, and most activities along the parkway come at no cost. While traversing this ribbon of road, you will pass through enchanting tunnels, pause at numerous overlooks, and encounter an abundance of wildflowers, wildlife, and cascading waterfalls. Additionally, many hiking trails beckon exploration throughout your journey along the parkway.

Hudson Valley

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

Once a part of the industrial history of the Northeast, the Hudson Valley has transformed into a region renowned for its picturesque string of small towns nestled along the river, complemented by the awe-inspiring natural beauty that envelops them. A visit to this area promises a delightful blend of immersing oneself in nature’s splendor, exploring charming shops, and appreciating captivating artworks.

The Hudson Valley in New York emerges as a top-tier destination during the autumn season, particularly around the time of Halloween. You will find numerous apple orchards throughout the valley that warmly welcome visitors. These orchards invite you to partake in the age-old tradition of apple and pear picking or select the ideal pumpkin for your Jack o’Lantern at one of the pumpkin patches.

Beyond the Halloween festivities, the Hudson Valley is celebrated for its stunning fall foliage. Much of the valley is adorned with lush woodlands, where trees proudly display a vibrant array of yellows, oranges, and reds. Some exceptional locations to savor this colorful spectacle include Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Mountain Preserve.

Stretching along the Hudson River from Westchester to Albany, the Hudson River Valley is a region where historic towns seamlessly blend with modernity. From internationally acclaimed contemporary art scenes to pioneering practices in agriculture and food sourcing, this area embraces progress while cherishing its rich heritage, as evidenced by the abundance of antique treasures waiting to be discovered.

You will never exhaust the supply of charming shops to explore, captivating art to admire, or delectable cuisine to savor in this enchanting region. Combine these cultural delights with the breathtaking natural landscapes and the countless ways to immerse yourself in them, and you are in for a truly magical journey through the Hudson River Valley of New York.

The White Mountains

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

The White Mountains beckon visitors to experience its natural beauty by offering a perfect blend of scenic drives, leisurely walks, photography opportunities, and picturesque small towns. Within this enchanting region, you will discover state parks, charming hamlets, stunning mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, inviting hiking trails, and an abundance of other attractions.

One exceptionally breathtaking route is the Kancamagus Highway, which winds its way between Lincoln and Conway, New Hampshire. North Conway, NH, stands out as a delightful mountain town, boasting a vibrant main street with captivating shops.

Also, it is a central hub for tax-free outlet shopping. As the day winds down, finding accommodations is a breeze, with options ranging from cozy lodges and motels to upscale hotels and serene campgrounds. Satisfy your palate with delectable cuisine at one of the many restaurants scattered throughout the White Mountains, making it an all-encompassing destination for unforgettable experiences.

Yosemite National Park

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

Yosemite National Park, an emblem of America’s breathtaking natural splendor, warmly welcomes millions of annual visitors who are drawn by its striking waterfalls, immense sequoia forests, abundant wildlife, and the sheer grandeur of landmarks such as Half Dome and El Capitan.

Within its boundaries lie vast groves of ancient sequoias, granite domes sculpted by ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and an intricate network of over 800 miles of well-maintained trails. As one of California’s premier national parks, Yosemite consistently leaves both newcomers and returning guests in awe.

Its landscapes are adorned with towering granite cliffs that stand among the tallest in the world, a mesmerizing procession of thundering waterfalls, and colossal domes and peaks carved by the powerful forces of ancient glaciers and volcanic activity. The park is home to diverse wildlife, ranging from the charming pika to the majestic yet endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

In the fall, Yosemite National Park undergoes a remarkable transformation, with its deciduous trees displaying a dazzling array of colorful foliage amidst the backdrop of evergreen giants. One of the most enchanting ways to fully savor this breathtaking scenery is to explore the natural phenomenon on foot.

Pisgah National Forest

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

Pisgah National Forest spans over 500,000 acres of lush hardwood forest, towering mountain peaks, exhilarating whitewater rivers, cascading waterfalls, and an extensive network of exceptional hiking trails. No wonder this region is renowned as one of the premier destinations for outdoor enthusiasts in the United States.

Situated in Western North Carolina and pronounced as “PIZ-guh,” Pisgah stretches north and south of the vibrant city of Asheville. The closest access point to this natural wonderland is a mere 10-minute drive from downtown Asheville.

The forest boasts several noteworthy features, including the country’s inaugural forestry school, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site. Also, it is home to two of the Eastern United States’ earliest designated wilderness areas: Shining Rock and Linville Gorge. Nearly 100,000 acres of this forest near Asheville were once part of the grand Biltmore Estate, renowned as America’s Largest Home.

While Pisgah National Forest is a picturesque destination year-round, it truly shines during autumn. Whether you explore it on foot or embark on a scenic drive, you can anticipate witnessing some of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring displays of fall foliage in the entire United States.

Mount Mansfield

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

Mount Mansfield stands proudly as Vermont’s highest peak, reaching 4,395 feet above sea level. This majestic mountain is renowned for offering some of the most breathtaking hiking experiences in the United States. As you traverse its trails, you will be treated to the awe-inspiring beauty of Stowe’s legendary foliage and the pristine natural landscapes that surround it.

The mountain derives its name from a distinctive feature visible from the eastern vantage point – its summit ridge remarkably resembles the profile of a human face. The names of its prominent features further underscore this unique characteristic: the Adams Apple at 4,060 feet, the Chin, which stands as the highest point at 4,393 feet, the Nose at 4,062 feet, and the Forehead at 3,940 feet.

The vistas of Vermont’s fall foliage set against the backdrop of Mount Mansfield are simply unparalleled. The undulating terrain and sprawling forests create a mesmerizing tapestry of reds, yellows, and oranges.

For an ideal autumn foliage experience, look no further than Smugglers Notch Pass, just a short drive from Sterling Ridge Resort. This winding Vermont road takes you on a journey through the heart of Mount Mansfield, immersing you in a sea of vibrant autumnal trees. Along the “Notch,” you can pause your journey and explore one of the many exceptional trails that offer breathtaking views of the fall foliage from elevated vantage points. Among these, the Long Trail – Sterling Pond is a favorite.

The Long Trail is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States, and you can access it directly from The Notch’s parking area. Ascending to the summit of Sterling Mountain will take roughly two hours, an endeavor well worth the time and effort invested.

In Jeffersonville, Vermont, there are a plethora of other delightful ways to immerse yourself in the splendors of autumn. Options range from horseback riding at Lajoie Valley Stables to navigating the intricate Percy Farm Corn Maze in Stowe.

You can also savor the joys of apple picking at one of the numerous local orchards or revel in the scenic vistas of Mount Mansfield from Sterling Ridge, all while being surrounded by the colourful trees that encircle the pond and grace the tranquil cabins nestled in the woods.

Lake Champlain Region

The top 7 Fall destinations in the US worth exploring

The Lake Champlain Region boasts its natural beauty year-round, but it becomes truly awe-inspiring in the autumn. The vibrant yellow, red, and orange hues transform the trees into a captivating spectacle that can leave you breathless. Lake Champlain is your front-row seat to witness New England’s renowned autumn foliage display. From mid-September through October, the leaves surrounding the lake burst into a kaleidoscope of colors, offering a magnificent vista for all to enjoy.

To fully immerse yourself in the splendid outdoors, consider embarking on a hike. We recommend exploring the Noblewood Trail, known for its scenic hiking paths and picturesque beachfront walks. Along this trail, you’ll encounter intriguing coastlines and captivating views of distant mountains.

Another exciting option is the Belfry Mountain Trail, leading to the summit of Belfry Mountain. Once at the top, ascend the fire tower for even more breathtaking vistas. Be sure not to miss Sand Bar State Park and Niquette Bay State Park, which have prepared fantastic autumn experiences for visitors.

For those seeking panoramic views of the colorful foliage from the water, paddling and boating are highly recommended. Additionally, keep an eye out for Route 9N throughout the Lake Champlain Region, as it offers spectacular views of the fall foliage along the coastline.

If biking is more your style, consider gliding through the scenic farmlands, exploring trails like Rolling Reber Ramble and Joe’s Random Scoot, or riding alongside the picturesque rivers and streams, such as Women’s Suffrage Way and Water’s Edge Trail.

Start planning your trip this fall

The United States boasts numerous fantastic fall getaways, far too many to encompass in a single list. Nonetheless, among these selections, you will discover the ideal fall escape for your upcoming vacation. Whether you are in pursuit of breathtaking fall foliage or entertaining activities suitable for the entire family, there’s something to suit every preference.

Pearce Kibaale is a freelance writer, content creator, and Editor-in-Chief of Trip Dhow.

Pearce Kibaale, Editor-in-Chief of Trip Dhow