Are you looking to embrace all those autumnal vibes? Growing up in Southern California, we didn’t really get any of those impressive color changes in the leaves nor a serious weather transition.
Fall, to me, usually started when the Santa Ana winds rolled in and pumpkins started appearing on porches. That said, I’ve always been very intrigued (and maybe a little envious) of places that have “real” seasons.
If you’re looking for the perfect places to embrace all those fall feelings across the United States—you’ve come to the right place.
From leaf peeping to apple picking and even some of the best fall festivals, I’ve rounded up some of the best places for autumn getaways.
Note: For 2020, some of these iconic festivals and events may be canceled until next year. But schedule them out for the following year as they’re annual events. 🙂
Here are the best destinations to visit during the fall in the United States!
Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, Croton-on-Hudson
Tarrytown, New York
Is the Hudson River Valley calling your name? Tarrytown’s name might ring a few bells as it’s the birthplace of the Headless Horseman—and the former home of author, Washington Irving, who wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
When it comes to Halloween, the village goes all out with festivals, parades, hayrides, and more. Here, you can take a guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst Castle and visit Irving’s Sunnyside estate.
You won’t want to miss the Sleepy Holly Cemetery while here!
The nearby town of Croton-on-Hudson is famous for the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, which is a nighttime display of thousands of carved pumpkins in themed designs, accompanied by music and dramatic lighting.
With vibrant yellow sugar maples lining scenic byways, Vermont is an ideal place to flock to see fall foliage—but there’s so much more than just leaf peeping! I’ve heard there’s a maple liqueur that’s quite tasty—stop by Saxtons River Distillery in Brattleboro to sample the unique spirits.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a fall favorite with fresh-pressed apple cider and apple cider donuts.
Just outside the Green Mountain town of Stowe, this place is an ideal stop for serious cider fans. Foodies will also be delighted as there are many Vermont-made treats—like caramel sauces, jams, and maple candy available at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, too.
If it’s apple orchards you’re after, there are several historic ones scattered across the state.
While the history is extremely sad, it is a little ironic that the town’s effort to eradicate witchcraft is what put it on the map. Today, Salem goes all out in the weeks leading up to Halloween.
There’s an annual month-long festival full of enchanting activities, from ghost tours and haunted houses to costume balls and a parade. Visit the Salem Witch Museum while you’re here, along with the Salem Witch Trials Memorial to get some insight into the mass hysteria.
For fans of the movie Hocus Pocus — you can see some of the places featured in the movie!
You’ll be able to see Salem’s Pioneer Village, the Dennison’s house (closed to the public as it’s a private home, but you can peep it), and their school located at South Washington Square (it now operates an apartment complex).
Bonus: Boston, Massachusetts
As Boston is only about 40 minutes from Salem, you could visit both places during the same trip. You may want to check out Cambridge Brewing Company’s Great Pumpkin Festival which features pumpkin-flavored beer from a number of breweries.
For those that are into the haunted history, there are numerous tours that will show you the darker side of Boston.
While Portland, Maine keeps coming up as a fan favorite and an amazing foodie destination, I would say, Maine, as a whole, is a dream in autumn! That said, Portland is the *Maine* focus here. 😉
You’ll want to visit Harvest on the Harbor, which is a fun foodie-themed fall festival. We’re talking local foods, ciders, spirits, and beers—you name it, you can probably find it here.
Follow up the festival with a gorgeous drive on the 40-mile stretch of the Acadia Byway to see some of the most stunning foliage.
Apple Hill, California
Fall in the Gold Country is all about gorgeous red grapevines, a slight snap in the air, along with tons and tons of apples. From u-pick farms to roadside stands featuring different varieties, there’s no shortage of apple goodness.
Do warm apple fritters sound delicious? What about fresh apple butter on crackers?
Essentially come for the apples (cider and more), and stay for the craft fairs and pumpkin patches. There are several orchards and ranches to explore in the area, like Larsen Apple Barn, El Dorado Orchards, Boa Vista Orchards, Abel’s Apple Acres, and High Hill Ranch.
Estes Park, Colorado
In Estes Park, you can experience the Autumn Gold Festival which features beer, brats, local musicians, and some of the most stunning foliage. Dig into funnel cake and corn on the cob, while you’re there!
September through October happens to be elk mating season, so you’ll likely see a number of these majestic animals romantic about.
I’ve heard that locals refer to October as “Elktober.” In honor of this, and to educate the public about the animals, Estes Park has an annual Elk Fest.
Just a short drive from Estes Park, you’ll find Longs Peak and Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (pictured above). If the timing is right, you’ll be greeted by some of the most stunning fall foliage.
Bonus: Crested Butte
If you want to make your way to Crested Butte (about 5 hours by car from Estes Park), you can sample the hearty stews and brews at the Chili & Beer Festival.
Have you always wanted to visit Oktoberfest in Munich…but haven’t made it there yet? Frankenmuth was the first Oktoberfest outside of Munich to get the city’s *official* seal of approval.
The town is affectionately known as Little Bavaria — due to all the timber-frame alpine architecture, abundance of schnitzel dinners, and lederhosen are frequently sported. During Oktoberfest, you’ll find dachshund races, pretzel vendors, polka dances, and tons of Bavarian beer.
While many think of Arizona as cactus central, the gorgeous mountain town of Flagstaff in Northern Arizona is surrounded by a ponderosa pine forest.
Folks flock to the area when the aspen trees begin to change from golden yellow to crimson red, with the peak season being mid-October. Flagstaff has its own Oktoberfest, too!
Spirit of Halloweentown, St. Helens
I’m a big fan of the Pacific Northwest and Oregon is an ideal fall getaway! With so many sprawling vineyards, thick forests, and numerous waterfalls, the entire state is an autumnal dream.
You’ll find dozens of pumpkin patches and apple orchards across the state, with many places making their own cider.
Are you a fan of the movie Halloweentown? Head to St. Helens, where it was filmed, and the entire city transforms back into the movie for Spirit of Halloweentown. You might even spot an actor or two!
In Circleville, the pumpkin-themed fall fest, AKA the Pumpkin Show, is a serious icon.
Featuring more than 10,000 pounds of pumpkins, squash, and gourds (holy moly!), you’ll get your fill of gorgeous fall goods. It’s definitely an impressive sight, and you can also enjoy the many fall foods, and fun activities.
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Does it get more fall than an Apple Butter Festival? From copper kettles balanced atop open flames to the cozy town square, Berkeley Springs keeps autumn traditions alive.
For the Apple Butter Festival, cooks compete with long-handled wooden paddles to create lovely spiced apple butters that are sold on-site.
But it’s not just apple butter, oh no! There’s a float parade followed by beard contest (yep, you read that right), along with an apple pie bake-off, bluegrass bands, a vintage antique market, blacksmith demonstrations, and even a hog-calling contest.
So, if you’re looking to take a step back in time—this is the place!
Say hello to the apple orchards in Pennsylvania! What’s more seasonal than an apple harvest?
The National Apple Harvest Festival—held right outside of Gettysburg—is the perfect place to go apple picking, sample all of the apple treats and cider, and listen to live music.
For those that love styling for fall, Autumn at the Arboretum is a true artistic event.
Regarded as one of America’s best pumpkin festivals by Fodor’s Travel, Autumn at the Arboretum features colossal pumpkins houses and creative displays with more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash.
The Art of the Pumpkin is something you won’t want to miss—highlighting all the colors of fall with 150,000 autumn florals, it’s a fall dream. Each weekend features live bands that play through the afternoon and there are tons of other events going on, too.
What are your favorite places for fall-themed events in the US? Do you have a destination that should be added to the list? Let me know all about it in the comments below!