The Best Fall Vacations in the United States

August 12, 2023


Fall is without a doubt, my favorite time of the year to travel. Many destinations in the United States will have cooler weather, lower crowds, and, of course, beautiful fall foliage.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of everywhere in the United States you should visit during the fall! This is just places that I have personally experienced and loved. I would recommend an autumn vacation to anyone headed to these areas.

Here are the best fall vacations in the US!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a gorgeous area of mountains, wildlife, and fall foliage. You can easily spend days exploring the national park and the quaint, touristy towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Mountain views in fall


Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Creek with fall leaves

Like these photos? You can purchase them as prints for your home in my Etsy Shop!

In my opinion, fall is the best time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Find out things to do in the GSMNP in this blog post.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs is a perfect weekend getaway in the beautiful state of Arkansas. The fall colors are beautiful, especially at Garvan Woodland Gardens!

Best things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas - Garvan Woodland Gardens Bridge of the Full Moon

You’ll find plenty of relaxing things to do in the historic city of Hot Springs including thermal baths, downtown shopping, and an observation tower that overlooks the Ozark Mountains. You can read all about it in this guide to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most beautiful drives in the United States. It stretches through North Carolina and extends up into Virginia. Blue Ridge Parkway even touches part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so you can also check that off your list!

Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina in the fall

Besides the beautiful drives, there are plenty of beautiful cities, hikes, waterfalls, and views throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains. In fact, my husband and I spent our honeymoon near Helen, Georgia in the mountains. It’s the perfect mountain town with cozy cabins, German architecture, and gorgeous hikes nearby!

Or if you’re looking for a bigger city to visit, Asheville, NC has so much to do, including visiting the magnificent Biltmore Estate!

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a charming city with loads of activities. Visiting Charleston in the fall can help you escape the grueling humidity of the summer (at least for the most part). This is perfect for walking around the beautiful downtown area and historic plantations.

Exploring Historic Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina - Spanish moss covered trees and white bridge

Fall is also a nice time to visit Folly Beach which is right next to Charleston. The water may be a little chilly, but plenty of people still try to catch a wave!

Folly Beach Pier - Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina - Sunset on the beach

In my Etsy Shop, you can also find a print of Folly Beach Pier.

Here are more ideas for your trip to Charleston:

Best Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Disney World probably isn’t what first comes to mind when choosing a fall vacation destination. However, a Disney vacation during the fall is typically much less crowded than summer.

You also have options to attend some of the fantastic holiday events in Walt Disney World if you go during the fall. During the months of September and October, the Magic Kingdom hosts Halloween parties on select nights. Once November starts, you can see Christmas decorations!

Ozark Mountains, Missouri

A trip to the Ozarks in the fall can’t be missed. The fall colors are some of the most vibrant I’ve ever seen.

Springfield Botanical Gardens fall foliage, orange fall colors - Springfield Missouri fall vacation

Check out the city of Springfield for a nice botanical garden, tasty food, and cool murals. Not far from Springfield is Branson, Missouri, where you’ll find tons of tourist attractions and shows.

Want something more thrilling? Visit Silver Dollar City, an 1880’s themed amusement park with rides and shows for all ages!

Want to know more about Silver Dollar City? Check out my first timer’s guide for tips on visiting during fall and Christmas time.

Dogwood Canyon Missouri, fall foliage reflecting in the water

I can’t forget to mention Dogwood Canyon, a stunning nature preserve on the southern edge of Missouri. Here you’ll see wildlife, waterfalls, and of course, beautiful fall colors at the right time of year.

Olympic National Park, Washington

The Olympic Peninsula of Washington is packed full of incredible landscapes.

Cape Flattery views Olympic National Park Washington

You’ll find lush rainforests, rocky beaches, and majestic mountains only a short drive from Seattle. Fall is the perfect time to visit Olympic National Park since the weather is cool but not too cold. In fact, August to October is a great time to go whale watching!

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is great any time of the year, but a fall vacation can help you avoid the summer and Christmas time crowds. There is so much great shopping, delicious food, and fun activities to be found in “Music City”. Or if you’re looking for a small-town vibe, Franklin, Tennessee is less than an hour away and has the cutest downtown area!

Check out these blog posts to help you plan your trip:

Nashville Murals You Don’t Want to Miss

Local Restaurants in Nashville You Have to Try

San Diego, California

California isn’t necessarily the place you’d think of first for a fall vacation, but an autumn trip to San Diego is a great option for fun in the sun.

San Diego California Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs in San Diego

At the right time of year, Southern California has perfect weather for wandering along the coast or shopping in the city. San Diego is just what I pictured California to be: sunshine and palm trees. From Sunset Cliffs to La Jolla Cove, there are plenty of places to explore. And Disneyland is less than 2 hours away by car!

Did you’re favorite fall destination in the United States make the list? I’d love to hear your recommendations for fall travel in the comments!

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The Best Fall Destinations in the United States - Grab your sweaters and get ready to travel! Whether you're a leaf-peeper or a road-tripper, we've got the top US destinations to make your fall unforgettable! From cozy Smoky Mountain towns to serene PNW vistas, get inspiration for your next fall vacation. Experience the best of the US fall foliage. Ready to fall in love with autumn all over again? Check out our blog post now!

  1. It has given me a lot of motivation and ideas for my next fall vacation. I think the United States is a perfect place to enjoy the autumn season, as it offers something for everyone. I like how you cover different regions and types of destinations, from urban to rural, from coastal to inland. This is a very well-written and well-researched guide!

  2. courtyard says:

    My favourite time to travel is in the autumn! These US locations provide the ideal retreat for autumn. I appreciate the suggestions.

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