Fall evokes images of colorful fall leaves, road trips to the country, pumpkins, apples, football games, corn mazes, kids going back to school, and hayrides. It brings back memories of scented apple cinnamon candles, jumping in the leaves and jack-o’-lanterns. Last but not least, fall is the time when we enjoy the last bits of tolerable weather before winter hits.
Across the country, from Washington DC to San Antonio, and from Portland OR to New York City, special fall activities are happening and cheaper airfare and hotel rates are the reasons why it’s the best time to travel. To help you decide, we’ve compiled five best US cities to visit in fall:
1. Washington DC
The National Mall is surrounded by various shades of fall colors – yellow, red, orange, brown, purple, green, and black from the U.S. Capitol Building to Lincoln Memorial. In fall, the famous monuments, memorials, museums, and statues are presented along with the fall foliage.
Stroll along and see the beauty of fall in our nation’s capital – from the Capitol Hill through Washington Monument, to the Tidal Basin, and Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It’s a 3.4 mile walk.
If you prefer a shorter walk, start from the Washington Monument. It’s about a 1.8 mile walk.
The best places for fall foliage is at the Tidal Basin and Korean War Veterans Memorial.
2. New York City
Although New York City has a timeless charm, it especially shines during fall. It’s when the Metropolitan Opera, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet, and many other cultural centers kick off their new seasons. If you come in November, you can view the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the openings of the Nutcrackers and the Rockettes Radio City Shows.
Sports fans can choose between The Rangers professional hockey games in Madison Square Garden or the Jets and Giants at the MetLife Stadium or the Nets basketball games at the Barclay Center.
Download a Central Park Fall Foliage map here and enjoy the fall foliage and flowers of the city’s largest park. From the reds of the Red Maple and the yellows of Hickory to the orange and scarlet of the Tupelo leaves, you can find them all at the park without the need to take a long distance road trip.
3. Portland OR
Not to be missed is Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum where there are 10,000 individual trees and scrubs, representing over 2,000 different species of plants and trees from around the world. The trees are arranged in family groups according to City of Portland: all the oaks are in one area and all of the redwoods are in another.
Imagine rows upon rows of the same fall foliage!
The arboretum is accessible by bus line 63 and the Washington Park Shuttle.
For a view of Portland and its surrounding areas, go to Pittock Mansion, a historic house, and museum. Perched above 1,000 feet in the West Hills of Portland, this is a must-stop for those who love the view of a city skyline and bird’s eye view of fall foliage.
Read more: Travel Oregon
4. San Antonio
Fiestas, history, and culture are some of the attractions that draw visitors to San Antonio year round. But every year in October, this city with a UNESCO World Heritage Site, presents plenty of cultural festivals. Here is a list:
- Wine Down at the Garden
- Annual Witte Game Dinner
- Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival at Pearl
- Alamo City Comic Con
- Dia de los Muertes
- Mala Luna Music Festival
San Antonio is not a city for fall foliage though you may see some light pink, yellow, faded orange and brown leaves in the area, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Note: San Antonio is only 79 miles from Austin.
5. Petaluma CA
Petaluma (Sonoma County) is the place to be if you like a small town feel, fall foliage, autumn fruits, hayrides, and wine. Celebrate Tolay Fall Festival in October at Tolay Lake Regional Park, located about nine miles from Petaluma.
The festival has pumpkin patches, hayrides, a replica of a Native American village, contest (World Record Pumpkin Seed Spitting Contest), petting zoo and more.
By mid-October, the vines are turning to crimson and gold in Petaluma’s over 300 wineries. Enjoy the views and the world-class wine and beer of Petaluma.
Note: Petaluma is only 41 miles from San Francisco.
More information: List of wineries and breweries