The Best Fall Travel Destinations: 2023
When the vibrant colors of autumn begin to blanket the trees, and the air makes its seasonal turn from balmy to brisk, there's an undeniable charm to getting out and exploring the world. Fall isn't just about pumpkin spiced lattes—though we’re fans of those, too! The season is also an invitation to discover new destinations or revisit familiar ones through a more golden-hued lens. This year, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots across the U.S. that truly shine in this season, along with a few relatively accessible international destinations to round out the list. So pack your bags and grab your favorite scarf: these are the best fall travel destinations for 2023.
Acadia National Park, Maine
There's something about New England in the fall that feels like stepping into a postcard. At Acadia National Park, the rugged coastline stands in stark contrast to the brightly colored fall foliage, making early autumn an ideal time to visit for a long weekend of hiking, biking, and exploring nearby Bar Harbor.
Must Do: Venture up Cadillac Mountain for a panoramic view of the park's vast beauty. Between October 7 and March 6, this is the first spot in the U.S. to feel the rays of the sunrise.
Asheville, North Carolina
Tucked in the misty embrace of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville becomes a mesmerizing blend of culture and nature during the fall. It’s as if its artistic soul comes alive along with the brilliance of the changing leaves. The city also offers four entrances to the spectacular 469-mile-long Blue Ridge Parkway, perfect for a scenic drive no matter how much time you may have on your trip.
Must Try: Revel in the artsy vibe of the city by visiting local galleries, then settle in at a café with a hearty bowl of pumpkin soup. The fall flavors here are not to be missed!
Quebec City, Canada
Awash with a tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, Quebec City transforms into a postcard-worthy scene in the fall. The UNESCO World Heritage site brims with history, from its fortified walls and turrets to the quaint boutiques and cafes of Petit Champlain. As the leaves turn, this city, reminiscent of old Europe, truly feels like a fairy-tale, with the colors of fall accentuating its already picturesque streets and historic landmarks.
Must Eat: Dive into a bowl of warming and hearty tourtière, a traditional Quebecois meat pie, in one of the city's charming bistros. And don't forget to toast the season with a glass of locally-produced ice cider, an autumnal delight.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
While Lake Tahoe is revered for its mesmerizing beauty year-round, there's a certain magic that envelops it in the fall. As the trees transform into a painter's dreamscape, their fiery reflections dance on the lake’s glassy surface, creating scenes that seem almost surreal. And if state parks are your thing, you’re in luck—this stunning destination has four of them.
Must Do: Indulge in a serene boat ride, letting the fall reflections soothe your senses following the busy summer season. Don't forget to pack a cozy blanket for that typical autumn chill.
Charleston, South Carolina
As the summer heat subsides, Charleston comes alive with a comfortable warmth and an ambiance that captures the essence of true Southern hospitality. Vibrant foliage provides a picturesque backdrop to the city’s antebellum architecture, scenic waterfront parks, and horse-drawn carriages, and walking through the city's streets feels like stepping back in time.
Must Eat: Charleston is known for its culinary delights. Indulge in the city's world-famous take on shrimp and grits, a decidedly Southern classic that's even more comforting in the fall.
Fall is one of the best times to explore the quirky capital city and its dramatic natural surroundings. Bonus: as the temperatures cool heading into winter, the chances of witnessing the surreal Northern Lights during your fall getaway increase. Venture outside of the small town to the more remote glacial wilderness for your best chance at spotting them.
Must Do: Embark on a Golden Circle tour, where you can witness the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal area of Geysir, and the massive tectonic rift in Þingvellir National Park.
Door County, Wisconsin
Door County has been dubbed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” and with its tree-lined streets and tranquil waterfronts, it’s easy to see why fall is a great time to visit: the area simply exudes serenity in these transitional months. Each autumn, the peninsula becomes a veritable kaleidoscope of fall colors, making every drive a scenic one.
Must Try: Apple picking! While cherry season comes to a close here in mid-August, biting into a fresh, crisp apple is a fall delight that truly means the season has arrived. Thankfully, Door County boasts numerous orchards you can explore.
As temperatures make their welcome descent from the summer months, Sedona’s renowned red rock formations become even more striking. Nestled among the majestic rocks, the rich colors of fall create an electric tapestry that seems almost otherworldly, while moderate temps mean more time for exploring.
Must Do: Embark on a hiking trail and experience the beauty of Oak Creek Canyon, a scenic location that’s particularly vivid throughout this time of year.
Nestled between the serene shores of Lake Champlain and the majestic Adirondack Mountains, the charming town of Burlington becomes a haven of autumnal beauty. As summer crowds dissipate, the city's streets adopt a more laid-back rhythm, making it an ideal time for visitors to meander through its boutique-lined avenues, breathe in the crisp lakeside air, and marvel at the radiant landscape.
Must Eat: Don't leave without tasting a slice of locally-made apple pie, drizzled with some of the state's renowned maple syrup. It's the very essence of Vermont in the fall!
Nestled in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth's Bavarian-styled village offers visitors an idyllic escape reminiscent of Alpine Germany—but without the transatlantic flight. In the fall, the vibrant foliage creates a stunning contrast against the town's timber-framed buildings and cobblestone streets. As leaves crunch beneath your feet, explore artisan shops, indulge in local brews, and relish the scenic beauty of this Pacific Northwest favorite.
Must Do: Oktoberfest in Leavenworth is a treat worth traveling for! Engage in authentic traditions: hoist a stein, dance to traditional music, and savor hearty Bavarian dishes.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventurer, or simply seeking a serene escape, Rocky Mountain National Park is a coveted destination for fall foliage enthusiasts. Only a brief hour and a half drive from the city of Denver, the park features majestic peaks, abundant wildlife, and winding roads adorned by the vibrant transformation of the aspen trees.
Must Do: Embark on a hiking excursion on the park’s myriad of trails, and witness the fascinating elk rut that takes place this time of year—from a safe distance, of course.