Just because temperatures are cooling off, doesn’t mean your traveling has to! Whether you have a long weekend coming up or want to take off for the holidays, you can be sure these top fall destinations will not disappoint.
The 10 Best Fall Getaways
1. Portland, Oregon
Portland is a gorgeous outdoor paradise in all seasons, but this river-side city is magical when the leaves change color. Its many coffee shops make Portland the perfect place to cozy up inside with coffee and a good book, but for a real treat check out all of the arts that start up in September and October; Portland Opera and the Oregon Symphony are unique opportunities to see some musical pieces, while Portland Fashion Week is a chic event for the fashion critic in everyone.
Fall is also the best time to try out Portland’s best ciders, so branch out from your typical breweries and hit up cideries like Bushwhacker Cider and Portland Cider House while you’re in town.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Portland in a Weekend
2. San Francisco, California
U.S. News deems September through November the best time to visit San Francisco, and for good reason. With festivals, street fairs, and wine country in full bloom, there’s no better time to take in one of California’s most beloved cities. With clear skies and surprisingly warm temperatures averaging around 70 degrees, autumn months make for great photo ops and the best views of the Golden Gate!
The internationally-acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festivals takes place in October, as does the Castro Street Fair and Treasure Island Music Festival. Stroll Clarion Alley for some awesome street murals, and stop by The Sycamore down the street for the comfort food, board games, and jukebox tunes.
The best way to visit Sonoma’s wineries is by being chauffeured, so purchase ticket for the Muir Woods/Wine Country Tour and get to witness the coast’s astounding redwoods before spending the day wine tasting in the valley.
3. Alberta, Canada
If you’re headed to Alberta this fall, you’re most likely going for the turquoise lakes and gorgeous views. Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are two of the most stunning parks in North America, and thankfully there’s plenty of ways to explore them! Book a ticket for the Jasper Skytram for a mountaintop view of the Rockies, stargaze at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, or take a helicopter tour over the Icefields with Rockies Heli Canada.
Best hiking? Valley of Ten Peaks and Lake Agnes Teahouse in Banff, and Bald Hills in Jasper.
4. San Diego, California
Skip the summer crowds and visit sunny San Diego when the weather’s still warm but the masses of tourists are gone. Satisfy your beach craving at the popular Mission Beach or dog-friendly Ocean Beach, and grab dinner or drinks in the historic downtown Gaslamp District. If you’re up for a thrill, hit the Haunted Hotel; it’s rated one of the best haunted houses in the U.S., so be prepared for a good scare.
And, there are no shortage of outdoor festivals either; with Spirits of Mexico, Beer Week, and San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival all taking place in the month of November, you can be sure you won’t go thirsty!
5. Savannah, Georgia
Another warm destination! Although, you should bring a coat — weather changes quickly in the south. Stroll the oak tree-lined streets of Savannah (see Wormsloe Historic Site for a photogenic tree tunnel) and visit the gorgeous Bonaventure Cemetary for a hauntingly romantic experience.
The historic squares are must-sees for classic architecture — and even allow open alcohol in the streets! — so take that glass of wine to go and check out the quaint boutiques. Don’t miss Forsyth Park at dusk, or City Market’s art scene.
6. Yukon, Canada
Yukon may not be been on your radar, but it should be; Yukon is hands-down the best place to see the Northern Lights without traveling overseas. Autumn months are great for canoeing, kayaking, and hiking during the day, while early winter offers snow activities like snowmobiling and dogsledding; by night, stargaze and take in the aurora borealis. A day spent flightseeing over glaciers and ice fields is the perfect way to end your trip!
Travel back in time in Old Town Edinburgh for a few history lessons and the most gorgeous architecture and buildings you’ve ever seen. Edinburgh Castle and downtown Grassmarket are both located in the country’s capital city, offering plenty of culture and things to do. Head to Glasgow for their renowned art scene, or the Hebrides for a more scenic-centered trip. Regardless of what areas of the country you end up exploring, be sure to make your way to the annual Enchanted Forest event; words cannot describe it.
8. Venice, Italy
Venice should be a top fall destination for any budget traveler, because the cost of airfare and hotel room rates are far lower than spring and summer — finally making that trip to Italy you’ve always dreamt of attainable. Delicacies like wild mushrooms and truffles are in peak season, so gourmet food and food festivals are abundant. Venice is often a day-trip city for travelers trying to hit many cities in a short time, so strolling the quiet, beautifully lit streets at night is the perfect for a romantic evening.
9. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Yellowstone is a natural beauty all year long, but the gorgeous yellow and orange foliage in the fall are incomparable. Take in the serene wildlife and landscape by horseback, exploring the lake, geysers, and towering mountains. If you need a break, the Playmill in west Yellowstone puts on plays through the early months of fall! Be prepared for any kind of weather (it does get cold) and don’t expect to camp; most campsites will be closed, so make arrangements for lodging ahead of time.
Japan is known for its vibrant autumn leaves — so much so, that they have a foliage forecast to predict which areas of the country will have the best colors during any given point in the season. Foliage tends to begin in northern Japan in late September and end at the south in late November, with Tokyo peaking in late November/early December. Go all-you-can-eat fruit picking at Mt. Fuji, and experience the festive Bonenkai year-end parties held nationwide towards the end of autumn.
Try to plan your fall trip during a fire festival, which are so magnificent you have to see to believe! If you’ve never considered Japan a top contender for your holiday vacation, you most definitely should now.
Read more: The Ultimate Japan Travel Guide
Fall Fashion Travel Essentials
Classic white blouse: A simple white blouse can be paired with anything, worn anywhere, dressed up or dressed down. A light, breezy blouse that can be layered is perfect for locations like San Diego and Savannah that are often warm during day but can cool down at night.
Chunky heeled booties: A block-heeled boot will put less pressure on the balls of your feet, making them easy to walk in and comfortable enough to wear all day and night. In fashion-forward destinations like Venice a pair of heels is a must, as admittance into certain restaurants or venues may require them.
Leggings: Comfort is key, and switching out your skinny jeans for a pair of fleece-lined leggings can give you a little extra warm for outdoor adventures in Yellowstone and Canada. Check out leggings with zippers or a faux-leather panel like these for a trendy touch.
Casual sneakers: Rough terrain and cobbled streets – like in Scotland – don’t allow for many fashionable shoe options, but don’t resort to exclusive athletic attire just yet! Cute, casual sneakers can be a lifesaver on long walks through a new city or unexpected rainy weather.
Bomber/biker jacket: Another versatile staple, a biker or bomber jacket is a perfect layering piece in places like San Francisco. Beware though, the large vegan population in Portland frowns upon anything that even remotely looks like leather!
Printed scarf: When traveling, you should mix and match pieces of neutral clothing to minimize packing and instead add pops of color in your statement accessories. Japan often incorporates bright colors into otherwise simple outfits, so here you can blend in with the locals!