shadow

Guess what?! It’s officially fall, the best season ever, and that is a scientific fact.

Brisk autumn weather, colorful leaves swirling around your feet, and the excuse to finally dig your favorite leather boots out of storage.

Best of all, the prices, crowds, and temperatures have now dropped at the popular summer destinations, which makes this the perfect time for a fall getaway. You can enjoy the scenic foliage and autumn activities without breaking the bank.

As soon as I start seeing ads for pumpkin spice lattes I want to throw on my Uggs & head to a cabin in the mountains. A crackling fire will cast a warm glow throughout the room while I snuggle in my over-sized sweater and clack away on my typewriter. I’ll sip apple cider while relaxing in a hot tub on a balcony…

Sorry, I might have gotten carried away there. Fantasy over.

(Yes, I’m aware that I am, in fact, a basic white girl.)

Europe may be hot in the spring and summer months, but here in the U.S. we do fall like no one else

14 Best Fall Getaways in the US:

(Okay, I’m also a fan of Europe in the fall, but for the purpose of keeping this a reasonably-sized list, I’m sticking to the continental US for now.)

1. Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Rocky-Mountains-Meadow-Scene-Fall

Photo credit: Jodi Grove

Ever since I splashed in the Colorado River on my cross-country drive, the Rocky Mountains have topped my list of places I want to live someday. Watching the leaves change from a cabin nestled away in the snow-capped mountains is pretty much my idea of paradise.

Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Florissant, and Estes Park are all especially picturesque in the autumn and offer cabin rentals ranging from rustic to luxury. Airbnb also has a fantastic selection of vacation & cabin rentals in Colorado.

 

2. Lake Michigan, Michigan

Fall-Leaves-Lake-Michigan

Photo Credit: Dee

If you live anywhere in the Midwest US, you’ve probably heard the ads for Pure Michigan, but their claim to being the perfect place to watch “the colors of autumn crescendo into a flurry of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows” is no idle boast.

With 200 miles of shoreline on the western side of Lake Michigan and 19 million acres of woodland, Michigan is prime fall getaway material. See when the autumn leaves peak and book a Fall Colors Tour at Pure Michigan.

 

3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Great-Smoky-Mountains-Tennessee

Photo Credit: Anne Hornyak

The scenic backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains make Gatlinburg an amazing place to curl up in a cozy cabin with a glass of wine and enjoy the perfect autumn weather. The Riverwalk and Smoky Mountain National Park offer easy and scenic hiking opportunities. You can also take the two-person Sky Lift to the mountaintop if you’d rather not walk.

I can personally vouch for Gatlinburg Getaway Log Home, in Black Bear Falls Resort, as I’ve been lucky enough to spend 5 days in this luxury cabin.

 

4. Ozark Mountains, Missouri

If you’ve never been to Branson, Missouri, you’re seriously missing out. Fall is the ideal time to check out the Vegas-style shows, dinner theater, and lumberjack challenges that Branson has to offer. Best of all, you can easily book a secluded cabin a few miles out of town to get your dose of nature in as well.

If the Branson activity doesn’t strike your fancy, Table Rock Lake and Lake of the Ozarks are also incredible vacation spots in the fall.

 

5. Mount Rainier, Washington

Mount-Rainier-Fall

Photo Credit: Jim Culp

Mount Rainier is an active composite volcano about 54 miles southeast of Seattle, but that doesn’t begin to describe its awe-inspiring beauty. According to VisitRainier.com, “as the season turns to fall, Reflection Lake becomes a mirror of autumn colors with magnificent Mt. Rainier reflecting in its still waters.”

Hunt for huckleberries, hike the colorful Skyline Trail, or take an Elk Bugling Tour (yep, bugling is the sound made by mating elks) for a unique fall getaway. For the more romantically-inclined, the fall wine tasting event in the mountain community of Ashford is incredible.

 

6. Chicago, Illinois

Lincoln-Park-Chicago-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: Seth Oliver

Oh, Chicago, you will forever have my heart. Sure, summers get all the hype, but there is something magical about Chicago in the fall. I highly recommend taking a River Architecture Tour, but be sure to bundle up unless you go on a particularly warm day – it does get a little chilly on the river.

I know, you probably want to stay at the Drake (okay, if you must) but I would save your money and take advantage of other great hotel deals you can find anytime after August.

Now, you may not think Chicago belongs on a list of stunningly beautiful destinations, but as someone who has seen the city from the top of the ferris wheel at Navy Pier, I beg to differ. Check out The Bean at Millennium Park if you will (the reflections are kind of cool) but be sure to head up north and amble along the miles of beaches stretching along Lake Michigan as well.

If you visit in October, do NOT miss ‘Chicago, I Love You,’ an incredible 10-day celebration of the Windy City’s art, music, photography, film, literature, and comedy. Best part? It’s free, and will take you to some of my favorite venues, like the Green Mill, Lilly’s, and The Underground Lounge.

 

7. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson-Hole-Wyoming-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: Stewart Baird

Although Wyoming remains one of the only US states I’ve never set foot in, Jackson Hole is high on the bucket list. Despite a recent surge in tourism, this off-the-beaten-path destination still remains relatively isolated. Surrounded by Grand Teton National Park and miles of national forest, you could easily bunker down in a secluded cabin and enjoy unspoiled nature at its finest.

You could also get in touch with your inner cowgirl/boy by visiting one of the local ranches or logging operations. You might even spot Harrison Ford, who owns a ranch there, but don’t be a paparazzo. That’s just tacky.

 

8. Vancouver, BC

Vancouver-BC-fall-getaway

Photo Credit: Elle_Ann

Vancouver may not technically be in the US, but I’m willing to make an exception for one of my favorite cities ever. Why? Because Vancouver in the fall is the place to be for writers and cinephiles. Get your dose of culture at the Writer’s Fest and International Film Festival or stroll through Stanley Park to take in the changing leaves.

Or, plan your trip around Halloween, which is a big deal in Vancouver. Second only to Christmas in the sheer amount of events and activities, you can enjoy parties and haunted houses, attractions like Fright Nights at the PNE, the Stanley Park Ghost Train and much more.

 

9. Yellowstone National Park, Montana

yellowstone-national-park-sunset-fall-getaway

Photo Credit: Kim Seng

Yellowstone is on any avid camper’s bucket list, and autumn is a great time to pitch your tent. With the camera-toting tourists gone for the season, you’ll be able to watch the beautiful transition from summer to fall without interruption, except the occasional buffalo. (Don’t worry, they’re friendly…for the most part).

Whether you’re up for a challenging day hike or just want to sit and watch the sunset, there’s an adventure for anyone.

 

10. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah-Georgia-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: Barbara Mazz

Jazz and film festivals bring Savannah to life in the fall. Few cities can boast more distinctive architecture and HELLO, comfort food. Seriously, your life probably won’t be complete unless you eat home-style Southern cooking at least once.

There are no shortage of amazing, historic guesthouses & B&B’s to stay in, and you can expect prices to be lower than they were during the peak summer months.

Be sure to take a haunted tour to get in the spirit of the season. If a simple ghost tour doesn’t seem creepy enough, you can actually take one in a hearse. You can also stroll through Bonaventure, a hauntingly beautiful cemetery with impressive tombs and statues.

 

11. Acadia National Park, Maine

Sunrise-Acadia-National-Park-Maine-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: A Strakey

Sprawling across the eastern coast of Maine, Acadia National Park is full of outdoor opportunities to admire the kaleidoscopic foliage. Hike, bike, or stroll along Cadillac Mountain, Precipice Trail or along the Carriage Roads. Wake up early and you can enjoy “the first sunrise in America.”

No trip to Maine is complete without seeing a lighthouse. Bass Harbor Head, located on the southern end of Mount Desert Island, does not disappoint. Standing 56 feet above water, it’s open to the public all year round.

You can also stop into Jordon Pond House, a teahouse from the 1800’s, for homemade ice cream, or drive the 20-mile Park Loop Road to take in breathtaking views of the ocean, mountains and forests.

 

12. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: Karie

Boston is another city I’m absolutely in love with. It practically oozes history from its pores, and a walk down the Freedom Trail is even better with a little chill in the air. Grab that pumpkin spice latte and head over to the Paul Revere House or Boston Common.

I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that National Treasure is one of my top 10 favorite movies, so obviously I have to tell you to check out the Old North Church. My bad taste in movies aside, the church (officially named Christ Church) really is full of beautiful relics, including the oldest running clock in the US.

 

13. Big Bear Lake, California

Big-Bear-Lake-Sunset-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: Martin De Kauwe

Located only 2 hours east of LA (and hey, it takes 2 hours to get anywhere in LA) Big Bear Lake proves that Southern California is much more than botoxed actresses. The area is popular with photographers looking to capture the brilliant amber, yellow and pumpkin-colored leaves.

True to Southern CA style, there is no shortage of activities at this scenic destination. You can take a horseback ride through the forest, rent a mountain bike, or try ziplining. Check out the Beauty of Colors in Southern California at Big Bear Lake for more ideas.

 

14. Asheville, North Carolina

Blue-Ridge-Mountains-Asheville-Fall-Getaway

Photo Credit: Sorin Mutu

Ending this list on a high note (mountains – high note….see what I did there?), picturesque Asheville has been named one of the top 100 cities to live in by Relocate-America for a few years running. It’s also a prime cabin vacation destination with plenty of outdoor activities.

The fall colors in Asheville are among the most dramatic displays in the world. More than 100 species of leaf-shedding trees at extreme elevations give the Blue Ridge Mountains one of the longest and most vibrant leaf seasons in the country.

Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway as scatterings of effervescent orange blow across the highway is one of the most enchanted experiences in the world. If you don’t believe me, check out this cool 3D satellite flyover showing the color progression in the mountains.

 

So where is your favorite fall getaway? What have I left out that should be included?

 

This post is part of the #WeekendWanderlust series. Check out Justin Plus Lauren for more awesome travel posts (or to link up your own!)

Weekend-Wanderlust-Logo

Author

Mandie

Mandie is a writer, rebel & web design junkie. In her spare time she enjoys drinking wine, traveling & working on her perpetually unfinished novel. She was a nerd before it was cool.

Related Posts

Comments

  1. Ryan Biddulph    

    Hi Mandie,

    Awesome list with so many stunning views. I admit it; Kelli and I have done virtually no travel in the US…..and as for me, fall is the one season I truly miss in NJ.

    From the turning of the leaves to the first few 50 degree nights, to the crisp, clean air, to the blue skies, to pumpkin picking, and apple picking, to rides in the country, I do miss autumn months when I’m away from home. Yep, even when I’m sitting here in Savusavu, Fiji 😉 Why? Fall seems like the ideal season to me.

    The weather is cool enough to be comfy but warm enough to be active outside, and the true beauty of nature reveals itself during this season.

    Mt. Ranier looks so imposing and impressive. Definitely a must visit spot on my list, because if I do travel through any area in the States it’ll be the Pacific Northwest, first.

    I did a trip or 2 to Charleston, SC and Savannah as a kid. What a laid back place, with that amazing comfort food you speak up. Grits, hush puppies, oh my. Delish.

    Thanks for the colorful share Mandie. You have me pining to head back to Jersey soon.

    Tweeting soon.

    Signing off from Fiji.

    Ryan

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Ryan!

      I agree, I could live outside the US for most of the year, but these few weeks are the only time I’m really glad to be here. You just don’t get autumn days like this anywhere else. However, once winter rolls around I’ll be checking out tickets to Fiji to come visit you and Kelli! 🙂

  2. Monika Sharma    

    Wow Really Amazing, unbelievable & Beautiful Fall Getaways ! I never have been in these Fall Getaways But I really like these Fall Getaways & wish to see in my real life !

  3. Amy Lynne Hayes    

    Gorgeous spots, all of them!! We don’t really have the feeling of fall in Florida – it stays hot, and everything stays green lol. I do love the changing of the leaves though when I get the chance to see them. 🙂

  4. Carol Amato    

    Hi, Mandie!

    Yes, fall is definitely here and this is the second I’ll be enjoying in 22 years. We lived in Florida where we didn’t get to experience fall, and I love it so much. Winter’s another thing altogether, but I enjoy it through December/January, and that’s it. lol

    We live in the Endless Mountains and the colors are already starting to be brilliant. So lovely.

    Loved your list of fall get-a-way destinations. My son has been to Gatlinburg many times, but I have yet to visit. We are planning a trip to Pensacola in May for my son’s graduation. That should be a nice family vacation on the Gulf Coast before summer season tourists arrive.

    My husband heads to Italy this spring to visit his mother who is turning 89. Bless her heart.

    I certainly enjoyed your article and beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing!

    Tweeting right now… 🙂
    – Carol

    1. Mandie    

      See? That’s why I just couldn’t live in Florida! You know, Pennsylvania ALMOST made this list – in fact, if there had been a 15, that would have been it.

      I love Gatlinburg – some of my best vacations ever have been there.

      That will be such a special time for him in Italy – how come you don’t get to go?

      Thanks for sharing, Carol!

  5. RealGunners    

    I’ve been to the Rocky Mountains a few times, each time through a different route. I think the route from Loveland through Estes Park is the most interesting route. I’m just not sure if the road has re-opened. That great flood last year pretty much destroyed large sections of the road.
    If you are planning to head to the Rocky Mountains, better do it now. Trail Ridge Road is typically closed off starting early November when the snow starts to pile up.

    1. Mandie    

      I just freaking love mountains. It’s the one thing Chicago doesn’t have. I know some people who live near the Estes Park area and they said it was pretty bad there. 🙁 I WISH I was heading out there, but sadly my weekends are booked up this year straight up to winter.

  6. Adrienne    

    Hey Mandie,

    What awesome pictures and how beautiful. Living in Texas I don’t get to see the changing of the seasons like that because we just don’t have a lot of cooler weather here.

    I’ve been to Gatlinburg and Vancover but that’s about it. Love to go to Colorado some time but have never made it yet.

    I have family near Nashville, Tennessee so I love the colors and the mountains that are in that area of the country. We are just all flat land where I live and although it’s a cool place to live it’s not pretty at all.

    I’m ready to go now, thanks.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks, Adrienne! I have to brag up fall in the Midwest because it’s pretty much the only thing that’s cool about living in the Midwest. Haha 🙂

  7. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey    

    Oooooohhhh woweee so many great choices. It’s almost impossible for to my say which one/s I’d like to see for myself.

    1. Mandie    

      I know! My two good friends who got married yesterday are heading to Gatlinburg for their honeymoon, and I’m so jealous! I love it there.

  8. Sarah @ A Week at the Beach    

    AMAZING photos! Fall colors lasted about 2 seconds here in Colorado this year for some reason. Guess we need to be on the ball next year if we want to catch them:)

    1. Mandie    

      Unfortunately, fall is flying by here, too! In fact, a lot of the trees are still green but we’re getting snow already. Not cool! At least in Colorado, winter actually gives you something to look forward to as well. 🙂

  9. Esther    

    This looks so stunning. A couple of years back I travelled through West-USA in fall and it was amazing. Especially Yosemite NP and Sequoia NP blew my mind!

  10. Carmen (CarmensTravelTips)    

    That’s the one thing I miss living in Florida, the leaves changing colors in the fall. I think one of my favorite places to see the foliage was New York’s Central Park. Thanks for sharing and linking up to #WeekendWanderlust this week.

    1. Mandie    

      Oooh, Central Park – that’s a great one! It’ll have to make next year’s list. 🙂

  11. Tara Lepore    

    Ahh, this makes me miss real fall! We only get a little taste, here in Houston. I grew up in Boston and the fall foliage just makes me all nostalgic. Excellent post! Thanks for linking up with us at #WeekendWanderlust!

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Tara! Fall is literally the ONE thing I have to get excited about here in the Midwest. Haha 🙂

  12. Marble Mountain Ranch    

    Oh! The Mount Rainier of Washington. I would love to be here. Thinking of this place next year’s fall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge