Fall is a wonderful time to travel. Summer vacations are over, which means less traffic on the road, and airfares and hotel prices are cheaper. With the cooler weather, going to the beach, or hiking up the mountains is much more pleasant and enjoyable.
Autumn travel almost always includes a trip to New England for the glorious foliage season, so there will be more destinations listed for the northeast.
Here are the Top 10 U S Destinations for Fall Travel
North Conway, New Hampshire
Take a scenic drive along Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) from Lincoln to Conway. You will be mesmerized by nature’s amazing colors. Drive slow and revel in the scenery. There are many festivals going on during this time of year; you may luck out and stumble onto one. At North Conway, outlet stores await. New Hampshire has no sales tax, so get a head start on your Christmas shopping here.
Franconia, New Hampshire
Franconia Notch State Park, in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire, is beautiful in the fall, and has plenty of biking and hiking trails. Highly recommended is a visit to The Flume Gorge Visitor Center, where you start your 2-miles hike to The Flume Gorge. You’ll be awed by the towering granite walls, cascading waterfalls, and covered bridges. At nearby Cannon Mountain, an aerial tramway ride to the summit will reward you with the vibrant fall colors of the mountain vista.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
I am enthralled by all the charming towns along the New England coastline. Portsmouth is one of my favorites. It is rich in culture with art galleries, artisan’s boutiques, and great restaurants. Relax at the popular Prescott Park by the waterfront. Enjoy a New England clambake at Warren’s Lobster House, and then walk off those calories shopping at the outlets in nearby Kittery, Maine.
In the fall, college kids are back and the city is alive and hopping, more than ever. Stop at Harvard Square or the colorful Faneuil Hall Marketplace to watch street artists and musicians perform. To soak up some history, walk the freedom trail to see 16 historic sights, including the Paul Revere House and the USS Constitution. Try some clam chowder at Legal Seafood, a Boston institution for seafood. Afterall, their logo is “If it isn’t Fresh, it isn’t Legal. If you like Italian food, you need to check out the quaint North end (Il Panino is great place for pizza and calzones, Mike’s Pastry for cannoli).
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are packed during the summer, but in the fall, the area exudes a completely different ambience, one of peace and quiet. One way to explore the island is by bicycling on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a paved 22 miles trail from Dennis to Wellfleet. Stop at beaches along the way and allot some time to explore the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore. You can get to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket from Boston, Woods Hole, Hyannis or Falmouth. Other places of interest include Provincetown, Falmouth, Hyannis and Edgartown. Whatever you choose to do, never leave the Cape without savoring any of the fresh-off-the-docks seafood – steamers, fried clams, oysters, scallops and cod.
For the nature enthusiast, a canoe trip on the Ipswich River in the town of Ipswich, is an excellent way to combine leaf peeping with bird watching. Remember to bring camera and binocular. The river meanders through protected and undeveloped forests, meadows and wetlands. After a strenuous day of paddling on the river, replenish your energy by digging into some scrumptious fried clams at the famous Clam Box on High St. They serve up some awesome stuff!
If you have always dreamed of visiting the picturesque island of Nantucket, then the fall can be the best time to do so.
The crowds from the summer peak season have left, and more rentals, accommodations, and restaurant bookings are available.
This small island is the perfect autumn destination for history buffs, romantic couples, watersport lovers, golfers, nature-lovers, anglers, and foodies.
It is just 30 miles south of Cape Cod and can be reached via ferry or plane. In the autumn, there are some unique events you can participate in. One is the Cranberry festival which takes place in late September and October. Nantucket has some of the most extensive cranberry bogs in the USA, and they turn scarlet-colored and stunning in the autumn.
You can also explore the vast wildlife refuges, go on hikes, and pedal around the island. Or watch some unforgettable sunsets, visit the lighthouses and historic buildings and museums, eat in some of the best restaurants in the country, and enjoy the perfectly conserved flora and fauna and endless beaches in Nantucket.
Looking to soak up some history? Plymouth is your answer. Step aboard the Mayflower to learn about the Pilgrims and their perilous voyage across the Atlantic in the 17th century. View life in the 1620s at Plimouth Plantation, a re-creation of the original settlement, where the first Thanksgiving was held.
Looking for a fall destination? Come to Chattanooga! As the temperature dips, walking around downtown is much more pleasurable. This charming little city has lots to offer – the aquarium, Discovery Museum, the famed Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and great restaurants like 212 Market, Tony’s and Rembrandt’s Coffeehouse. Drive up scenic Lookout Mountain to visit Ruby Falls, Rock City and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, where the battle for Chattanooga was fought during the Civil War.
There is always something going on in Music City, and a fall break is a good time to get a fix on your musical cravings. The streets in downtown Nashville are dotted with clubs and bars with live entertainment. Stop by Legend’s Corner to find out how some country stars got started. Check out the Wildhorse Saloon, an interesting place with a stage and a huge dance floor. Not only they serve delicious Southern food (fried pickles, anyone?), there’s usually a band playing, and you are welcomed to participate in a line dancing class!
Another must-see place is the Gaylord Opryland Resort Hotel & Convention Center, about 15 minutes away. 50,000 (no kidding!) tropical plants in the beautifully landscaped indoor gardens will take your breath away. Catch a show at the Grand Ole Opry or shop at the Opry Mills outlet, all within walking distances from each other.
St Petersburg, Florida
A fall escape to St Pete is perfect for some rest and relaxation before the busy holiday season. Miles and miles of white sand beaches await you on the Gulf of Mexico at St Pete. The picturesque downtown waterfront is lined with parks, marinas, galleries, shops and restaurants. Several museums including the famed Salvador Dali, a couple of theatres and a university (University of South Florida) are all located right here.
Whichever of the top 10 U S destinations for fall travel you select, you are bound to have a memorable time. Have a great fall vacation!