There’s something about a new season that feels like a fresh beginning. Or is it just an excuse to book another getaway? We’re folding up our beach towels and unpacking our walking boots, because we’re ready to see nature do her spectacular thing in America’s best fall vacations.
In this list you’ll find some sleepy towns and old-time villages—some with their original drug store soda fountains intact—plus larger communities where there’s always something going on. One thing these best fall vacations all have in common is the breathtaking beauty of their natural surroundings, particularly as we inch into our favorite leaf peeping season.
You’ll get plenty of inspiration below about where you can catch the vibrant changing colors this year. But you’ll need a place to stay that matches the season. How about a log cabin, a secluded cottage, or a charming mountain house? You’ll get all the comforts of home, but with forests and mountains—and incredible fall foliage—right out your window.
If you’re excited about the changing of the leaves, check out our list of the best fall vacations in America! And once you decide on a destination, you can book all your tours, activities, and attraction tickets right on TripAdvisor, too. Our new 24-hour cancellation policy means you can pre-book activities before arriving, but still have the flexibility to cancel if your itinerary changes.
New Yorkers love Cooperstown, with its farm-fresh dining scene, forested hills, and great hiking and biking trails. Don’t miss Otsego Lake and Gilbert and Glimmerglass State Parks, where you can wander right into the vibrant foliage of the changing season. For a bit of sporting history, treat yourself to a guided tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This welcoming town is nestled in Transylvania County, where you’ll find lush forest wherever you look: Nantahala National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, and Dupont State Forest, to name a few. Check out Looking Glass Falls, where you can pause to watch the water cascade into the plunge pool below. Hit the hiking trails and you’ll quickly see why Brevard is nicknamed “The Land of Waterfalls”—and considered one of the best fall vacations in America.
This lovely spot is popular with white-water rafters and hikers, who like their workouts with fantastic views. Try out picturesque Kent Falls State Park and Lake Waramaug State Park, where you’ll find some good viewing points of the falls. These are also great picnic stops, perfect for a lunch while watching the leaves.
Who likes their leaf-peeping with a side of adrenaline? If you’re in Stowe, sign up for a Ziptour Adventure and see the local fall foliage from above, whizzing high over all the reds, browns, and golds. If you prefer to stay on the ground, try the local hiking trails or book a group mountain biking tour. There’s no doubt Stowe is one of the best fall vacations in the country, but it’s worthy of a winter trip, too.
Come to Jefferson for the fresh air and the decidedly pretty scenery, especially in the fall. This is a truly peaceful place to spend a few days and you’ll be in the company of the majestic White Mountains, too. Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge has some lovely spots and gentle flat hiking terrain to enjoy.
Set in the White River National Forest, Aspen is most commonly known as a ski resort—rent your ski equipment in advance to save yourself some time and hassle. But we’d remiss to not include it in our list of best fall vacations, with the aspen trees turning golden yellow throughout the season. Take a hike in the Hunter Creek Valley, one of the locals’ favorite places to enjoy the changing colors of fall.
“Good location right across from Pine Creek Outfitters, great access to the gorge, only 10 minutes outside of downtown Wellsboro and 30 minutes from the best star gazing this side of the Mississippi at Cherry Springs State Park!” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Our next stunning fall kaleidoscope comes courtesy of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Find your cozy Wellsboro rental, then set out to hike the Pine Creek Rail Trail, spotting tumbling waterfalls, rugged cliff faces, and maybe an eagle or deer.
A tiny community calls this place home year round, but they get plenty of visitors who come here to enjoy the relaxed vibes and old-world atmosphere. Follow the walking trails, many of which are dotted with historical markers giving you insights into the local history.
“Just about perfect—basically at the end of a long drive but it feels like it’s lost in the forest. The cabin itself is very neat: cozy but very well laid out and with Merlyn’s artistic touches everywhere.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
This quiet town is perfect for fall vacations, particularly with the elk roaming free in magnificent Buffalo National River Valley. There are some wonderful diners to retire to—try the pie at the Cliff House Inn for a sugar fix with views of the Arkansas Grand Canyon.
Idyllic Milford is just an hour and a half’s drive from New York City. The backdrop here includes the Pocono Mountains, the Delaware River, and a pretty network of falls fed by streams cascading down the cliffs. The streets are lined with charming Victorian buildings—do stop for a drink at the Hotel Fauchère. Along with Wellsboro (also mentioned in our list), Pennsylvania has some of the best fall vacations in the country.
A Georgian gem, Clayton is set at the foot of Black Rock Mountain. The nearby Chattooga River is a good place to kick off some white-water rafting in a gorgeous landscape peppered with waterfalls. And just a few miles away, you can explore the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on a Bartram trail hike finishing with a wine tasting.
This valley town in the Green Mountains is a quiet-but-trendy little spot, with plenty of art galleries and excellent places to eat. Pay a visit to Taylor Farm then soar above the fall foliage in Stratton’s Gondola, taking in Vermont’s excellent mountain views.
“Location is perfect for traveling into the nearby towns and West Glacier. It felt secluded, but was less than a minute’s drive from the main road. We loved the feel of the cozy cottage, with ornate landscaping, gardens with raspberries, and a big backyard with a campfire area to cook s’mores.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
West Glacier is the perfect base for discovering Glacier National Park. Fall is a particularly pleasant time to come, with the trees gently trading their greens for yellows and golds, and with the summer crowds ebbing away to give the leaf peepers some breathing room. If you’re heading West, this Montana getaway is one of the best fall vacations there is.
Arrive in Weaverville and slip straight into the gentle pace enjoyed by locals. Historically, this mountain town provided a much-needed retreat for 19th-century folk escaping the heat of summer. And it’s just as inviting in the fall, with its cool air and mountain vistas. Drive along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, hit the trails at the Alexander Bike Park, or take a picnic down to the shores of Lake Louise.
Abingdon has its own special buzz. Use your days to follow the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail or the nearby Appalachian Trail, both spectacular in the fall. Then in the evenings, ease off the hiking boots and listen to some local live music.
Charlestown has the added bonus of its beaches—such as East Beach State Park and Blue Shutters Beach—making it one of the best fall vacations not only for foliage, but seaside relaxation as well. The Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge offers fantastic walks among swamps, wetlands, grasslands, and woods, perfect for taking in the rapidly changing season. You can also head east to Newport for a sightseeing cruise of the harbor, gliding past glorious local landmarks, such as Fort Adams and the Gilded Age mansions.
This friendly place is all about the outdoor adventures, be it ziplining, canoeing, pony rides, or biking. You’ve got Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Forest at your disposal for autumnal scenery, and you won’t be disappointed. This is a place where many come to tie the knot—you’ll notice a number of cute little wedding chapels waiting for the next happy couple.
This alpine community sits near the Oregon border and offers fantastic hiking terrain. Don’t miss Lake Siskiyou and the waterfalls of the McCloud River. Spend your days caving, cycling, and fishing, with the magnificent Mount Shasta watching over you.
Fall in the Berkshires is sublime, offering spectacular driving views and thickly wooded walking trails. You can visit Kennedy Park and follow your trail map into the heart of its towering hardwood forest. In late September, join the Lennox Apple Squeeze, a lively tradition that brings the community together to welcome in the fall. Lenox is one of the best fall vacations for a weekend getaway, particularly for East Coasters.
“The property backs onto the Esopus Creek, with scenic views from the upper and lower decks. A large front and back yard with plenty of room for games… The cottage is welcoming, very clean, and comfortable.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
This one’s a real hit with weekending New Yorkers, who come to soak up views of the Catskills and the Hudson River on long meandering hikes. Save half a day for discovering the Opus 40 quarry sculpture park, a good pick for both kids and adults.