A Guide to Exploring the USA in October

13 mins read
fall travel
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The month of October marks the beginning of the fall season, which many enjoy. Along with being identified by fall colors, comfy sweaters, pumpkin-spiced items, and haunted houses, you should know that fall is also a great time for traveling. It offers a variety of beautiful places decorated in fall colors to visit, making for the perfect fall getaway.

Why choose the fall season

Traveling in the fall, particularly in October, is unbeatable. Many places across the United States are pleasant; being in the midst of their shoulder seasons, they are decorated by fall foliage and have fewer crowds. 

fall season
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Before we look at the best places to visit in the United States in October, let’s have a look at some of the reasons why traveling in the fall is a good choice.

Admire the Autumn natural beauty

The changing leaves illuminate the surroundings in all fall colors of red, orange, and yellow, making autumn a lovely time to explore.

The fall beauty is likely to take your breath away, whether you’re an avid photographer going leaf-peeping or simply admiring natural wonders. Take a walk through the state parks or a drive down a tree-lined road to admire Mother Nature’s works of art.

You can enjoy natural fall beauty by planning fall vacations to a national park like the Grand Teton national park, the arches national park, the Acadia national park, or the mount rainier national park with fewer crowds from late September to mid-October.

Favorable weather

The weather in the fall is ideal for travel. Forget about the scorching heat of summer and the freezing chill of winter. Imagine lovely golden light, cool temperatures, and clear days instead. Add to it the fall foilage, and these make for the perfect weather to travel.

Affordable prices

Fall travel provides discounts that you won’t find throughout the summer. It’s one of the most affordable times of year to travel, with discounted airfares, hotels, rail tickets, excursions, and even food and drink discounts.

Because your money goes further in the fall, you’ll be able to travel for longer periods of time, find the best places to visit, and possibly even upgrade your flight. Having multiple options would make your travel experience better.

Enjoy seasonal foods and festivals

Fall cuisine is in a class by itself. As it is harvest season, you can consider ripe apples, pears, and pumpkin, as well as some of the best wines you’ve ever tasted.

You can go apple picking, go wine tasting, stroll through a farmer’s market, or dine at a farm-to-table restaurant where you may sample great seasonal foods. This season is also highlighted by several fall festivals that serve as tourist attractions.

Less crowded

One of the best things about traveling in the fall is that you won’t have to stand in huge lines, make reservations at every restaurant, or compete for a photo with crowds of people.

You can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and truly revel in your trip with fewer crowded cafes, beaches, museums, parks, and attractions.

But few places in the USA, like New England, get crowded in the fall season. So before traveling there, it is essential for you to know about the best places to visit in October in the USA.

Let’s look at some of the cities in the USA that would be great locations for the perfect fall getaway.

Best places to visit: the fall season cities

New York City, New York

October is one of the best months to visit New York City. You’ve just avoided the summer tourist hordes and missed the hot, humid weather. In October, the weather in New York is pleasant during the day and slightly more relaxed at night.

Flights are often cheaper in October, and hotel prices have dropped from peak summer levels, giving it the ideal time to arrange a vacation to New York City that might otherwise be too expensive.

During the fall, a trip around Central Park is one of the most stunning walks you can take in New York. In this leaf-peeping season, you’ll get to see the best fall foliage against an stunning backdrop: the New York City skyline that you won’t get year-round.

New York
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In October, the New York Food and Wine Festival takes place, and it is one of the best ways to enjoy New York’s cuisine and go wine tasting. This is also a great time to stroll through the city and see what New York City has to offer in terms of architecture. The Oculus building, which replaced the one destroyed on 9/11, must be included on your list.

The stunning Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the historic Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are all worth visiting.

Go beyond Manhattan to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or the Bronx’s Wave Hill Botanical Gardens if you’re a nature lover. Halloween in New York is also marked by ghost tours and the NYC village Halloween parade, making it one of the most haunted cities during Halloween and a fantastic fall destination.

Colorado

In early October, the leaves begin to turn in the resort towns outside of Denver. Still, the city’s stunning fall foliage shines in mid-October, when you can view it from the Cherry Creek Bike Trail or the High Line Canal, which is lined with vivid yellow cottonwood trees.

Fall in Colorado isn’t complete without visiting Chatfield Farms’ corn maze. You may also get a head start on the ski season by spending a day at Arapahoe Basin, accessible around mid-October.

Colorado
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You can explore the hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park in Northern Colorado. Mountain biking and fly fishing are popular activities in the Rocky Mountain National Park. A train journey through some of your favorite surrounding mountains is another opportunity to enjoy the splendor of fall in Colorado.

Enjoy vistas of the Arkansas River Valley and yellowing aspens as you ride through some of Colorado’s most magnificent landscapes and rolling hills. Aboard the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad’s unique fall train rides.

New England

By mid-October, Autumn in New England is a wonderful time to be outside. The leaves become bright colors of scarlet gold as the season progresses and last till late September.

Though the roadway is faster, following the uneven New England coast up from Boston to Maine provides more opportunities to enjoy the beauty — gorgeous fall foliage on one side and beaches with fewer crowds on them other — than using the highway.

The White Mountains, which run between New Hampshire and Maine, are among the best places to visit in October in the USA. They are home to steep granite cliffs, clear mountain lakes, and huge protected forests of oaks, pine, ash, and maples.

The Green Mountains lose some of their high magnificence as you travel south into Massachusetts, and the Berkshires take their place. Beautiful hiking trails can be found in Acadia National Park if you visit in October, especially when the weather is nice. Hike Acadia National Park’s trails near Bar Harbor, Maine.

Nashville, Tennessee

By mid-October, vibrant fall foliage blankets the landscape in Nashville, cooler temperatures set in the air after the peak summer season, making it ideal for outdoor activities. The fall season here is packed with cultural events like the Nashville Cultural Festival, monthly live music events at Centennial Park, and city night tours.

During the fall, Nashville offers a wide range of activities and attractions ideal for a holiday. You should include one of Nashville’s prominent festivals on your plan, in addition to the city’s museums and interests, such as the legendary honky-tonk Tootsies Orchid Lounge.

Make your reservations early to obtain the best rates at the historic Union Station Hotel Nashville or the Hermitage Hotel, which have been featured in many popular films and television shows. Allow the Old Town Trolley to assist you in experiencing Music City’s fall festivities and attractions.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The October weather in Salt Lake City makes getting outside practically appealing, even though ski season hasn’t started yet. The air is crisp, and the sun shines brightly throughout the day, with highs in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit; meanwhile, the summer crowds (and prices) begin to dissipate, visiting in October feel much calmer and less expensive.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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Furthermore, October in Utah’s capital is jam-packed with events and activities, including Oktoberfests, football games, and concerts.

The month of October is an excellent opportunity to catch the Utah Symphony in action. The orchestra will perform multiple times throughout the month at Abravanel Hall, an architectural monument in and of itself.

Fall marks the start of theatre season for fans of the performing arts. That means you can go to the Utah Opera in Salt Lake City. Pumpkins, apples, cider, and other seasonal treats also abound at farmers’ markets across the city.

St. Paul, Minnesota

Be a part of walking tours down the historic Summit Avenue to see the fall colors. The autumn colors of this tree-lined boulevard, noted for its Victorian architecture, can be seen here.

St. Paul, Minnesota
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A Fall Siteseeing ride on the Padelford Riverboat is a great way to experience the river panorama. Cruises on the Mississippi River are available if you visit in October.

There is no shortage of Oktoberfest activities in Saint Paul, so get ready to eat a lot of brats and drink a lot of beer. Live theatre and Saint Paul stages are two examples of items that will not disappoint with their presentations. Prepare for standing ovations at the Ordway, Park Square Theatre, History Theatre, and The Fitz.

Another highlight is the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in October, dubbed “the prettiest urban marathon” due to its tree-lined course along parkways, lakes, and the Mississippi River.

Boston, Massachusetts

The month of October is ideal for a trip to Boston. There are several events and games to attend, and the weather is not an issue. Tourists may enjoy Halloween while also seeing Boston at its best this month. There are sidewalk cafes, basketball games, and outdoor performances to keep you entertained during your visit in October.

This season, reading and activities have increased by late September at popular bookstores such as Brookline Booksmith and Harvard Book Store. In early October, walk through Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain to see the best of the local peak fall foliage; ice skate at Boston Common’s Frog Pond in the late fall.

In Boston, go to the Oktoberfest in Harvard Square and Harpoon. FPAC artists put on a program called Fort Point Open Studios. It takes place throughout a weekend in October and is accompanied by special exhibits by a variety of artists. Visitors can see and meet artists in a live studio presentation and purchase some excellent works.

The program is also complemented by music, demonstrations, performances, public art installations, and children’s art-making activities. Another huge celebration you should go to in Boston is the Columbus Day Parade, which honors Boston’s Italian heritage. 

Orlando, Florida

October in Orlando means celebrating many cultures, foods, and lifestyles, as well as Halloween. Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is not to be missed, whether you live in Orlando or are simply passing through. Take a beverage or cheese class, or attend a dining and pairing event to sample international cuisine from more than 30 different kiosks.

If you visit in October, Universal Studios Orlando receives a makeover with new haunted houses, monster-infested streets, and live events. Many of the rides and attractions are still available to visitors.

Take a stroll down the Winter Park sidewalks while admiring the work of some of Florida’s most gifted artists. Check out the event’s live music and entertainment, as well as the beer garden and food sellers, once you’ve had your fill of art buying.

A trip to the pumpkin patch is a must-do here before late October. There are many options in Orlando, such as Club Lake Plantation’s Fall Festival, which includes activities for the entire family, such as a pumpkin patch, hayrides, and child and adult corn mazes.

Chicago, Illinois

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The month of October is a fantastic time to visit Chicago. The weather is usually decent, although famous tourist spots are less crowded than summer. Beautiful fall foliage, as well as new fall and Halloween-themed activities such as visiting pumpkin patches and corn mazes, are all available in October.

When visiting Chicago, you must take an architecture river tour. The Chicago Architecture Center conducts Open House Chicago, a free two-day public festival that gives visitors behind-the-scenes access to architecturally, historically, and culturally significant places throughout the city, you can catch it if you visit in October.

The Museum of Illusions is devoted to the study of illusions. Chicago’s Museum of Illusions has been converted into the Museum of Spooky Illusions from early October to late October.

One of the world’s major living museums and conservation scientific institutes is the Chicago Botanic Garden. If you are paying a visit in October, they also celebrate the popular Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns, in which over 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins, some weighing up to 150 pounds, will illuminate the night.

California

In San Francisco, October is one of the sunniest months, making it an ideal time to go on a cruise. Some popular options include the Rocketboat, the SF Bay cruise, and the Sunset Cruise.

Visiting Yosemite National Park in the fall means experiencing popular hiking trails with pleasant weather and less crowded, especially by mid-October.

In fall, there are a number of top Broadway musicals and other theatre productions taking place throughout the town. You can enjoy the Opera at the War Memorial Opera House.

If you visit in October, the SF Symphony will also be performing. Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Pier 39 are three must-see attractions in October.

San Francisco
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San Francisco is home to around 50 museums. They include everything from theatre to world-class museums that you can enjoy year-round. Some, like the Asian Art Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the Hyde Street Pier, allow you to learn more about San Francisco’s history. In contrast, others, like the Asian Art Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the Hyde Street Pier, specialize in a specific topic.

The hidden beauties here include the Columbarium, mosaic stairs, and Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.

Portland, Oregon

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The state’s festivals and events finest exemplify fall in Oregon as a season of harvest, music, and eccentric fun. During the day or, even creepier, at night, you can get lost in the hugely popular corn mazes on Sauvie Island. The Pumpkin Patches Maize is the area’s largest. Pick grab a pumpkin for carving while you’re visiting this pumpkin patches maize.

The Stormy Weather Arts Festival is the best time to take in the town’s colossal art scene. Local artists open their studio doors while galleries display a diverse spectrum of Pacific Northwest art. You can walk from point to spot over the three-day event, enjoying live music, seaside cuisine, and libations along the way.

During the one-day Portland Book Festival, one of the nation’s most renowned festivals dedicated to the written word, Portland goes literary with readings, lectures, and workshops.

San Diego

In San Diego, October is nearly picture-perfect with peak fall foliage. Visit in October and you can travel to Sea World San Diego to celebrate Halloween. You can dress up, go trick-or-treating, see hilarious spooky shows, dance around, and have your picture taken with some crazy characters.

While you’re here, don’t forget to visit Balboa Park. Visit the San Diego Museum of Man at the California Tower if you’re more interested in culture. Take a moment to smell the beautiful blooms in the rose garden if you’d rather be outside appreciating nature. Alternatively, relax on the beach at Encinitas.

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Coronado Beach is a must-see for sun-seekers looking for the most fantastic beaches to visit in California in October. In addition, across San Diego in October, you can pay tribute to your departed loved ones while also immersing yourself in traditional and genuine Mexican Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

When visiting Virginia in the fall, you may discover that it is your favorite time of year to visit. The beach is still hot, the sun is still strong, and the crowds have mostly dispersed. You’ll have the beach almost exclusively to yourself, making it one of the best places to visit in October in the USA.

America’s Favorite Scenic Drive is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is part of the National Park Service. You can visit Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Blue Ridge Park. This road also snakes around the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains (North Carolina). You’ll notice how much space you have when looking for a site to set up on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers stunning vistas of some of the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi River as it approaches Asheville and access to some of the greatest hiking trails in the area. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a delight to visit with no admission fee and numerous paved viewpoints.

The Sandler Center hosts a variety of shows. The Halloween Spooktacular Musical, produced by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, is fantastic family-friendly entertainment. You can also visit the Neptune Festival, one of Virginia Beach’s most popular events.

The Nightmare Mansion is open all year, but it feels more appropriate during the season of Halloween and all things frightening. Screams and thrills await you as you walk through this home.

Besides these cities, the USA also has a lot of places to visit that can make for an incredible fall destination. You can visit a national park that is often within walking distance of the city and is marked by stunning fall foliage till late October.

A few of the popular national parks across the USA include the Yellowstone national park, the arches national park, the mount rainier national park, the Grand Teton national park, Shenandoah national park, as well as the Acadia national park. Rainier national park in October is especially enjoyable as the summer crowds have dispersed and fall colors mark it.

Besides national parks, other places to visit include the cave point county park, the grandfather mountain state park, the Julian price memorial park, all decorated with peak fall foliage and the pacific crest trail, door county, Mammoth lakes, and the Napa Valley.

If you plan to stop by Alabama, you can also check out this article about the various kinds of fall festivals the city offers. South beach seafood festival in Miami is another fun experience for tourists.

Tips for traveling in the fall

Now that we know cities in the USA that would make for great fall vacation destinations, let’s look at some of the important things you should know when planning a trip in October.

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Check out the flying options during this off-season. It is critical to compare flights to key destinations to ensure that you get the best and most affordable deal. The best thing to do is do your research before making a reservation.

Also, make sure your destination’s weather is suitable. If you are visiting a national park, you don’t want to arrive at your location to find it packed and freezing instead of being decorated with fall foliage.

You can experience fall foliage only once a year, and it is incredibly breathtaking so enjoy it by planning a road trip.

It’s always a good idea to have a flexible itinerary of everything you want to do before starting your fall vacation. You can also participate in fall festivals and discover a new sensation.

Picking one of these beautiful fall cities and following these travel tips can help you plan the perfect fall vacation in the USA during October.

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