Autumn is such a beautiful time to travel, peep foliage, and do all the fall things. Looking for a great trip to go on this season? TravelAwaits writers are here to inspire your autumnal travels as they share their favorite fall vacation destinations below.
1. Alpena, Michigan
Alpena, Michigan, and the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes region is one of travel blogger Melody Pittman’s favorite fall destinations. This adorable beach town is located in the northeast of the mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula. Pittman says its “unique attractions are exceptional in the fall.”
“The historic 1840 Old Presque Isle Lighthouse on Lake Huron is gorgeous. The food and drinks from Austin Brothers Beer Company are outstanding. You can also learn about nautical life on the Great Lakes and shipwrecks at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.”
Head to Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman to take a horse-drawn carriage ride to view Rocky Mountain elk. Afterward, enjoy a five-course gourmet dinner and wine tasting event. Sip cider, go apple picking, and munch on cider donuts at Knaebe’s Apple Farm & Ciderworks.
“My favorite thing is to visit Ocqueoc Falls, an easy walking trail with the first universally accessible waterfall in the country,” describes Pittman. “The landscape is really stunning with the leaves changing colors overhead.”
2. Asheville, North Carolina
North Carolina is known for its fall foliage. In 2021, expert contributor Chris Chagaris visited Asheville, which became her new favorite fall vacation destination. “I was awestruck by the vibrant, changing fall colors and the beautiful weather,” describes Chagaris. She says there was “still a touch of warmth, with a fall breeze in the air that was punctuated by a glorious blue sky with puffy clouds.” Breathtaking scenery off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the many things to do downtown and in the surrounding area sealed the deal for Chagaris.
“Asheville more than delivered for a great week away, successfully mixing fall’s beauty and a variety of things to do,” says Chagaris. She visited the famed Biltmore Estate, checked out the cool shops downtown, and tasted some great Southern barbecue while she was in town. If you go, be sure to try a few of the best restaurants in Asheville.
Pro Tip: Swing by the Smokies. “Asheville is not that far from Tennessee, so a visit to Dollywood was also on the agenda and added a dose of extra fun,” says Chagaris.
3. Lake Washington, Washington
Offering breathtaking views with the Seattle skyline in the distance, Lake Washington is Pacific Northwest-based freelance writer Jo-Anne Bowen’s favorite fall vacation destination. Situated on the southeastern shore of the lake, the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington serves as her headquarters. Situated on the southeastern shore of the lake, the four-star hotel is located in Renton, Washington.
Incredible fall foliage surrounds the lakeshore. Relax while watching the water traffic and enjoy waterfront dining. “Pamper yourself at the hotel resort Spa at the Lake, enjoy an invigorating workout at the gym and the pool, then relax in the soothing waters of the hot tub,” Bowen suggests. You don’t have to twist our arms!
Adjacent to the hotel, you’ll find the beautiful 57-acre Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, which offers 1.5 miles of paved, ADA-accessible trails. Pay tribute to Jimi Hendricks at the Historical Memorial in Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery. Downtown Seattle attractions, including Chihuly Garden And Glass, the Space Needle, and Pike Place Market, are just 20 minutes away.
4. Hudson Valley, Upstate New York
“When it comes to crisp mornings and rich colors, it’s hard to beat the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York as a fall destination,” says travel writer Sage Scott. “Whether you head north from New York City or south from Albany, the best stops along the Hudson River stretch from Tarrytown to Catskill.
“Gallop with the Headless Horseman by visiting the real places that inspired Washington Irving’s short story in Sleepy Hollow,” suggests Scott. “Admire the views once available to only the mega-rich by touring the grounds of Gilded Age mansions framed by yellow, orange, and red leaves. Or, get a bird’s eye view by walking over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. Feel the crunch of leaves under your boots when you hike with an alpaca in Hyde Park. Drink in the beauty of Kaaterskill Falls. Let the sounds of nature serenade you to sleep when you spend the night glamping at Treetopia in Catskill.”
5. Route 6, Northern Pennsylvania
Writer Robin O’Neal Smith contends that “the perfect fall vacation for people who enjoy the changing colors of the leaves is a road trip across Route 6 in northern Pennsylvania.” She visited a couple of years ago. “This area is absolutely gorgeous in autumn with no crowds and lots to see and do along the way,” she says of the experience.
Can’t-miss locations for gorgeous leaf peeping include the Kinzua Sky Walk in Mount Jewett and Pine Creek Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” near Wellsboro. “Both provide a spectacular view year-round, but in autumn, Mother Nature really shows off,” says Smith.
“As you travel east along Route 6 through Potter and Tioga counties, you will see an abundance of fall foliage. Due to the natural environment and its remoteness, Potter County has been nicknamed ‘Gods Country,'” remarks Smith. “One visit in the fall and you will agree.”
“As you continue on Route 6 with stops at the various overlooks in Towanda, and then on to the Tunkhannock Viaduct, the scarlet, gold, crimson, rust, and orange colors of leaves will amaze you,” she says. Spectacular fall foliage is showcased the entire drive along PA Route 6. “Stops in the little towns along the way will provide you with fun things to do and some unique shopping opportunities,” says Smith.
6. Taos, New Mexico
“Taos in the fall is one of the most beautiful sights to see in New Mexico,” Liz Carey tells us in her article, The Most Beautiful U.S. Cities In The Fall. “Known as ‘The Land of Enchantment,’ New Mexico’s painted desert offers stunning vistas year-round, but fall’s colors add to the spectacle.”
This scenic mountain town offers plenty of outdoor activities, but it may already be too chilly to enjoy in the fall. Instead, Carey suggests taking in the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway by car to view some of the changing colors. Or, drive down the High Road to Taos, the scenic byway between Taos and Sante Fe.
If trains are more your thing, Carey suggests hopping on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad located a couple of hours away in Chama, New Mexico. Take in the gorgeous fall foliage as you ride on a coal-fired steam engine through steep mountain canyons, high deserts, and lush meadows along the Colorado and New Mexico border.