Unless you’re a bigger fan of spring and summer, October is often times one of your favorite times of year. So bid adieu to summer by traveling across the land of the brave and the free to experience America's awe-inspiring natural beauty at its seasonal peak. You really don't have to travel far to take in the phenomenon of fall foliage because from New England to the Pacific Northwest, you’ll be able to find dazzling displays of fall colors that’ll have you yearning desperately for those last days of summer to come more quickly.
Let’s just say that there’s a lengthy list of reasons why October is the best time to travel. Think cheap prices and fewer tourist crowds, as well as no extensive prior research that needs to be done for an activity-filled itinerary because come autumn time, you can just slow down and chill. School may be in full swing for the kids, but the buzz and heat of summer has definitely died down. Back-to-reality season is without a doubt the perfect season to go soul searching your heart away across the U S of A. Here are the eight best October vacations in the U.S.
This October, Plan A Vacation To These Places
1. Telluride, Colorado
The mountain town of Telluride, Colorado is a spectacular place to see trees changing colors—all while enjoying mild weather for hiking and mountain biking. There’s also the five-day Telluride Festival of Cars and Colors from September 29th-October 3rd, which features classic cars and fall foliage, Neil Young concerts from September 30th-October 1st, and a 3-day horror film festival from October 14th-16th if you're excited to get ready for Halloween.
Chill out with ample beer, music, and fine fellas in the city's numerous seasonal events. Colorado’s former Victorian mining town-now-turned-celebrity-ski-resort awaits! Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, and Oliver Stone love it and so will you.
2. Washington, D.C.
Kids are studying hard at their desks and all the summer vacationers have gone home, making it the best time to travel to our nation’s capital to get a little history lesson of your own by checking out the array of national monuments and museums in town with far fewer crowds. Whether you’re an urban explorer or a fall fashionista, there’s tons to do when autumn hits the District, from witnessing the fall foliage on the National Mall to getting spooked at the Smithsonian National Zoo, or by heading out to lesser-known gems like the National Arboretum. Wander through Rock Creek Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, or discover new trends on 14th street for fashion options galore.
September to November are especially stellar times to visit D.C., since all that’s left from the sweltering summer heat are crisp breezes, changing leaves, and plenty of free attractions to keep you super entertained.
3. Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia
If you really want to get away from the confines of a dusty old office cubicle-- or merely just want to escape from all that urban city crazy, a nice road trip to the Big Valley might be the exact thing you need to brighten up the October blues. Fall head over heels for orange, yellow, and red colors while camping out at one of the nation’s top-rated hiking sites. It’s the perfect chance to get in one with nature amidst an outdoor wonderland that stretches 200 miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains.
Head out to one of the most awesome natural wonders of this world at the Natural Bridge and to do some paddle sports and horseback riding in the nearby mountains. Go on and sing "Oh, Shenandoah!" this autumn—it’s bound to be magnificent.
4. Black Hills, South Dakota
We all know that the Black Hills are home to the infamous Mount Rushmore—but it also happens to be a fantastic spot to visit in October. Let's just say that South Dakota is the grand central depot for anyone desiring a road trip across the American west, especially since it’ll be bursting with enough autumnal color to brighten up the stone-cold faces of the former presidents that are chiseled deep into that massive mountainside sculpture.
All around, you’ll find a heavily forested area that lures in plenty of fall visitors with family fun activities such as a two-level wooden maze and saloon-style gambling in Deadwood before making a pit stop in Rapid City, a gateway to the entire area.
5. Seattle, Washington
The Emerald City is no doubt on of the best October vacations anyone can ever take. Most of the time, visiting folks are leaving town on their return ticket home, so travelers of all sorts can enjoy a nice availability of hotels and no jam-packed museums or parks.
There’s also a unique beauty of seasonal colors that unveils itself come fall— the Pacific Northwest city even surprises visitors with an overflowing array of festivals such as Snohomish Brewfest, a Halloween dance party at Fred Wildlife Refuge, the Local Sightings Film Festival, the Tacoma Film Festival and the International Film Festival - just to name a few. Plan on spending some sleepless nights in Seattle!
6. Boston, Massachusetts
A stroll through the Boston Common or on the Freedom Trail usually feels so much better when there’s a special chill in the air. Experience colorful foliage and a certain back-to-school excitement that envelops Bean Town come October time. Even if you’re not enrolled in a literature course, you’ll find yourself amazed at the slew of readings and events at hotspots such as Brookline Booksmith. Take a walk through Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum or in and around Jamaica Plain.
Boston really does come into its own unique city every single autumn season. Not only do students return to the city in droves, but baseball fans flock to Fenway Park for the last games of the season (if the Red Sox do well!), while locals get to enjoy happy hour at the array of nearby pubs 24/7. What’s more is that brilliant leaves frame “The Walking City’s” storied buildings, parks, and gardens. Prepare to have an unforgettable New England-esque urban fall getaway.
7. Birmingham, Alabama
The first week of October marks the Legends of Southern Hip Hop in this Alabama town. The concert brings together talented artists from across the state and southern part of the country that won't fail to make a mark on history. Visits to the Birmingham Museum of Art are also advised, as well as trekking on up to the Ruffner Mountain for a super adventure. This sanctuary-like thousand-acre preserve is home to a huge family of mammals, snakes, raptors, salamanders, and frogs-- not to mention some of the best hillside views in Jefferson County.
For the ultimate small town experience, Alabama’s largest city provides everything you’ll need for a memorable fall getaway. There’s natural beauty, lots of friendly people, and even more historic sites that’ll have you taking in arts, shopping, top-chef restaurants, and outdoor fun all at the tail end of the Appalachian foothills.
8. Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City is especially sweet in the autumn months, when the cool air gets locals and visitors alike happy, buzzy, and always dancing!
By itself, Chi-town is a classy city in the heart of the Midwest, offering convenient transportation options and unparalleled amounts of culture via museums, theater, music, and tons of food. Get wild at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is open 365 days a year, or gawk over some of the most beautiful skyscrapers in America near the Chicago skyline. You might even want to take a Ferris wheel ride on the banks of Lake Michigan at the renowned Navy Pier and to grab a slice of that famous deep-dish pizza-- two absolute local faves are Lou Malnati's and Gino's East. Delizioso!
This article was written by Pamela Chan.