Are you ready for fall to arrive? Have you survived the long, hot summers and ready to get out and start exploring in what we consider to be the best season to travel? Fall, or Autumn depending on where you are in the world, is undoubtedly the ideal time to pack your bags for a long weekend and start exploring. Although we could write a post that highlights some of the best spots around the world to visit, we want to focus on the best fall weekend getaways in North America.
Whether you are intrigued by the myriad of destinations across the United States or perhaps want to head to Canada to celebrate the 150th anniversary, North America is home to a variety of locations that are perfect for those that love to be out and about in the fall season.
If you read our post on amazing fall foliage in Minnesota last year, you will know that this is one of the iconic spots worth experiencing. But…did you know that this is just one of many amazing destinations that are ideal in the fall season?
We are delighted to collaborate with a number of our friends around the world that are highlighting their best fall weekend getaways in North America. We are sure that after reading this post, you will be ready to pack your weekend bag and hit the road to one of these awesome destinations. I know we are! Let’s take a look at which locations should be on your radar this year.
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
Before delving into our friends’ recommendations, we want to share our personal favorite – Gulf Shores and Orange Beach! It’s the “ultimate” second summer destination where you can enjoy the very best of this destination at the best time of year. Slightly cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, and cheaper accommodation options are all benefits of experiencing Gulf Shores and Orange Beach getaway in the fall season.
Did I also mention that you can enjoy 32 miles of pristine white sandy beaches? If this alone doesn’t sell this destination for you, don’t worry there is plenty more! How does a variety of amazing fall events sound including the National Shrimp Festival (takes place annually every October) or the Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Weekend (takes place in November)?
For the seafood connoisseurs out there, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the perfect place to sample a variety of local dishes, all using the fresh catch of the day from the Gulf! Be sure to check out our recommendations on the best places to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach if you need some inspiration.
Amazing golf courses such as Kiva Dunes Golf Course (if you have been following us for a while, you know I love golf!), a local arts and craft scene that will help you find your inner creativity and a number of charter fishing excursions make this an amazing destination for fall travel.
Why not finish your trip with an evening dinner cruise onboard the Perdido Queen courtesy of Hudson Marina of Orange Beach?
Ok folks, you can read about all of our personal recommendations for fall travel throughout our website but I’m sure you are ready to hear from some other folks and their top picks.
Agawa Canyon, Northern Ontario
Fall foliage is a natural transformation that truly blows my mind. Nature certainly is mysterious and magical in its beauty, practices, and actions. I love this phenomenon so much that each autumn I seek new places to see the transition in front of my own eyes.
Agawa Canyon Park in Northern Ontario is the perfect haven surrounded by leaves of red, orange, and gold. Hop on the famous Agawa Canyon Tour Train and enjoy a full day of history, scenery, nature, and of course, color changes.
Since the color swap is such a natural spectacle, it is no surprise that the price of train tickets is higher than for the rest of the year. But seriously, it is worth every penny. You get the chance to sit back and relax on a vintage steam train with comfy seats, clean windows perfect for photographs along the way (sit on the right side for better views!), a dining car with exceptional breakfast and lunch offerings, and tour guides pointing out the various points of interest.
Upon arrival at the canyon, you will have the chance to disembark and explore the natural waterfalls, trees, wilderness, and fresh air that inspired Canada’s most famous artists the Group of Seven’s many landscape paintings.
To get here, take the Trans-Canada Highway up to Sault Ste. Marie. If you are driving from Toronto, expect at least 8 hours of driving plus a few rest stops. There is also the option of flying to the Sault for a shorter travel time. Book your train tickets in advance online to avoid disappointment. There is no seat selection, but you will be assigned one of the many passenger cars.
Thanks to Janine Good from Fill My Passport for sharing just a few reasons why this part of Northern Ontario needs to be on our radar! It’s certainly inspired our wanderlust to explore.
An ideal place to visit during the fall is Santa Fe, New Mexico. It makes the perfect weekend getaway. First, the weather is delightful. Not too hot and not too cold, usually between the 50s – 70s.
It’s such a vibrant and charming city, with gorgeous foliage. Second, visiting in the fall also allows you to enjoy various festivals in the vicinity. One my favorite is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta where you can see magical hot air balloons flying through the air or you can just simply enjoy a balloon ride locally with Santa Fe Balloons.
I highly recommend La Posada De Santa Fe Hotel and Resort because it’s very centrally located. I pretty much walked everywhere. The city center is a few blocks away and there you can enjoy the cathedrals, the architecture, the famous Santa Fe Opera, the museums and of course my favorite: the food and the shopping. Another reason to stay at La Posada De Santa Fe is their spa treatments (chocolate chile wraps and margarita pedicures).
Santa Fe is truly a foodie’s paradise: Enjoy their green chili burgers or just a special ancient drink (Mayan chile chocolate elixirs) – perfect for those colder evenings. I truly love the architecture and culture in Santa Fe, especially the Native American influence and unique shopping (such as precious stone jewelry, customized cowboy boots, etc.).
These are only a few of the reasons why Santa Fe is a perfect spot to visit during the fall in North America.
Thanks to Olga Maria Czarkowski from Dreams in Heels for sharing a few enlightening reasons why Santa Fe, New Mexico needs to be on our radar for the best fall weekend getaways this year! I don’t know about you but it’s certainly on our bucket list now.
If there’s one thing I miss after moving from New England to Texas it’s the gorgeous fall colors of Boston in September. If your idea of a perfect weekend getaway is to enjoy fall foliage while staying in the city, Boston is the right choice. Plan your trip in late September – October, before it gets cold and windy, then you are bound to experience magic.
Not only the parks look picture-perfect with colorful trees complementing Boston’s historic architecture, but a simple walk down the streets will leave you speechless. My favorite place in the city in fall is Boston Public Garden.
A short 15-minutes-walk away is historic Omni Parker House hotel where you can stay for the weekend. Rumor has it that John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie Bouvier in Parker’s restaurant located inside the hotel.
Besides, the famous Boston cream pie was created there over a hundred years ago. If you are looking to try the original recipe, this is the place!
Thanks to Yulia Dyukova from The Foodie Miles for highlighting why we cannot afford to miss Boston this fall season! Be sure to click on her website to check out the history of Boston cream pie.
New York City
There is nothing quite like New York City in the Fall. New Yorkers usually breathe a sigh of relief when it hits September and the brutal summer humidity is over. Since New York is a walking city, fall time is the perfect time to enjoy Central Park, walk the High Line and shop in The Upper West Side since it is not too hot or too cold.
Autumn is also a great time to visit some of the beautiful outdoor areas in the city like The Cloisters, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, Storm King, and the New York Botanical Garden. If you’re also a foodie or beer drinker like me, Fall is the best time for beer festivals, beer halls, and food stalls – pumpkin everything!
When in New York, our favorite place to stay is at an Airbnb in either Brooklyn or Queens since it gets us out of Manhattan and is more affordable.
Thanks to Natasha and Cameron from The World Pursuit for sharing just a few reasons why the Big Apple, the ultimate 24-hour city, is an amazing place to experience during the fall season! We are convinced but then again, we love NYC all year round!
St. Michaels, Maryland
One of my favorite places to celebrate fall is the quaint nautical town of St. Michaels, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
The colonial town, which dates to 1677, has its earliest roots in building tall schooner ships, and many of the activities you can enjoy today revolve around this history. When you arrive, stroll along the waterfront and tour the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and Hooper Strait Lighthouse. From here you’ll see a beautiful display of fall color along the bayfront.
For a unique water view of the eastern shore, book a sailing tour with one of several popular schooner ships. Fall is especially pretty in St. Michaels with the town’s streets and alleys decorated with colorful mums, pumpkins, and fall color. The Lyon Distilling Company is a must see, and fall is a perfect time to taste their Spiced Rum.
For an authentic stay that matches the town’s charm, choose the Old Brick Inn, an elegant historic inn just steps from the waterfront and town center.
Thanks to Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad.com for collaborating with us and sharing a hidden gem in the heart of Maryland. We love stumbling across places like St. Michaels and this is a great addition to this post of the best fall weekend getaways in North America!
Julian is located one hour east of San Diego, in the Cuyamaca mountains and is my favorite Southern California town to visit in fall. The town’s history is tied to the 1870’s gold rush and today it continues to celebrate these roots. In autumn, the main draw is apple pie and apple cider.
You can’t visit Julian without enjoying a slice of apple pie during this season. There are many apple pie shops in town all making their delicious desserts from apples grown in nearby orchards. If you have time and the appetite, enjoy a slice of pie from different locations and try as many as possible!
Julian is a small town with an old-fashioned feel; you’ll find an Alpaca on the corner waiting for parents to let their kids take a ride and a local theater company called Desperados that put on a bank-robber gun show/play on weekends. While in Julian you can take a gold mine tour, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride and visit the many stores that are scattered along the main street.
Where to stay: Julian Gold Rush Hotel. An 1890’s national historic landmark and now a Bed & Breakfast Hotel.
Thanks to Alexa from 52 Perfect Days for introducing us to yet another hidden gem, this time on the west coast! Julian may not be the first spot you think about visiting but if you love apple pie, perhaps this is the place to go this fall season.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina is a picturesque location in spring and summer, but something magical happens in the fall. This road travels through and over the top of the gorgeous tree-covered Blue Ridge Mountains.
In the leaf-season, the rolling mountains look like they’ve been covered with blankets of red, orange and yellow. It’s almost unreal. It’s gorgeous to simply drive the parkway, stopping at all the overlooks, but it would be a shame to skip over hitting some of the hiking trails that begin right off of the parkway.
The mountain views are much more dramatic in the North Carolina section, so if you are pressed for time, I recommend starting from that end. If you only have time for one hike, don’t miss Devil’s Courthouse for a spectacular view into four states!
Thanks to Paige Wunder from For The Love Of Wanderlust for sharing a breathtaking account of the experience you can enjoy should you venture along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not only can you experience the beauty here, you can enjoy two spectacular national parks!
Acadia National Park, Maine
A place with colorful fall foliage, crisp New England air, dramatic coastline, a lighthouse, and the first bit of light to touch the mainland United States as the sun rises in the sky each morning: it’s hard to imagine a better spot for a fall weekend getaway than Acadia National Park in Maine.
Whether you want to drive along 27-mile Park Loop Road to take in all the sights, climb along the rocky coastline until you find a spot to sit and admire the crash of the ocean, or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain or the summit of the Precipice Trail for amazing views, Acadia National Park has you covered.
Stay in Bar Harbor, Maine to be closest to the action (and definitely don’t miss visiting Jordan’s Restaurant for blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry habanero sauce… sense a theme?). Or, if you prefer a quieter spot, head to the less-touristy centered town of Mt. Desert. If you’d like to be totally alone, consider a cabin rental in the woods!
Thanks to Kate Storm from Our Escape Clause for sharing Acadia National Park and the nearby town of Bar Harbor as a great spot to visit during the fall season! Exploring any national park in the fall season is the best time to visit and Acadia is certainly at the very top of our list of parks we would love to experience.
When most people hear of Wisconsin, they just think of the Green Bay Packers and cheese. Well, both of things are very present in Wisconsin but there is so much more! Milwaukee is a great and affordable weekend getaway spot during the fall.
Fall is my favorite time in Milwaukee, the weather is amazing, typically 55-70 degrees, the leaves are starting to change colors and beer gardens. I suggest staying in downtown Milwaukee at the Pfister Hotel. There are a ton of Milwaukee attractions within walking distance and great restaurants and bars.
One of my favorite things to do is walk the riverfront and visit the local microbreweries, visit the Wisconsin Cheese house (Wisconsin takes cheese seriously), and have a meal out on a patio watching the boats go by.
If you aren’t a fan of the cold weather or snow, the fall is the perfect time to visit Milwaukee.
Thanks to Hannah and Adam Lukaszewicz from Getting Stamped for highlighting why Wisconsin is more than just the Green Bay Packers and cheese (though we have to admit, it does have some pretty amazing cheese selections!).
White Mountains, New Hampshire
The best fall getaway in New England is New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The White Mountains offer excellent hiking including parts of the Appalachian Trail. There are 48 peaks in the White Mountains that are 4000+ft high.
Whether you are hiking, biking, fishing or one of the many other activities to try while visiting, the White Mountains are an ever-present canvas of beauty. Once you have had your fill of the outdoors, check out the White Mountain’s unique craftwork shops by local artisans or shop the quaint antique shops.
If you are not a big shopper or trying to keep spending to a minimum, cruise the Kancamagus Highway. The Kancamagus is a stretch of highway 56 miles with breath-taking views of the White Mountains, waterfalls, and endless foliage. Don’t forget your camera!
Of course, all that activity will bound to make you work up an appetite, so enjoy the wide-ranging culinary offerings throughout the White Mountain region, including many micro-breweries that offer great food and spirits. Cap off the perfect stay by enjoying the hospitality of a White Mountain bed and breakfast or resort hotel. There is nothing like waking to a vista that makes you say “Wow!”
Thanks to Frank Parrott of Nothing But New England for “wowing” us with these awesome pictures and stories as to why the White Mountains in New Hampshire are an area we cannot afford to miss as we all plan our upcoming fall travel plans!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio is a perfect spot to explore the expansive park and also enjoy fall colors in central Ohio.
The beautiful colors range in yellows, oranges to burnt reds from all the local trees that grow in the area – this is also a wonderful time of year to see some of the iconic waterfalls in the region including the boardwalk hike to Brandywine falls which is a spectacular and easy walk to do and experience.
There are so many adventure and recreational activities available in the park from kayaking, hiking, biking to bird watching activities to keep you busy on your weekend getaway in the national park.
Thanks to Noel Morata from Travel Photo Discovery for these inspiring words as to why Cuyahoga National Park is the perfect place to enjoy the natural beauty that the fall season offers.
Located just 10 miles south of the popular Branson, Missouri you’ll find the lesser known Ridgedale, Missouri which is the perfect fall getaway for those who are looking for scenic views, family-friendly activities, or a couples weekend. A cozy place to stay in Ridgedale is Big Cedar Lodge – a romantic, rustic resort that offers something for everyone.
In the fall, look out from your hotel room balcony or cabin porch and enjoy the autumn leaves that are wild with color. There are complimentary paddleboards, kayaks, and paddleboats for those who want to experience the scenic views of Table Rock Lake – lake boats and pontoons are also available for rent.
On cooler days, the Cedar Creek Spa is perfect for relaxing and after, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the eight on-site restaurants.
Another spot to enjoy the fall scenery is Top of the Rock where Big Cedar offers golf courses, a driving range, fine-dining restaurants, a wine bar, and scenic nature trails. In the evening, sip on the beverage of your choice at the Buffalo Bar while taking in the beauty of a sunset over the Ozark Mountains.
Thanks to Logan and Kallsy from Pages of Travel for including a location that isn’t too far away from us and we will definitely be adding this to this year’s fall travel itinerary!
What an amazing collection of destinations that will hopefully inspire you to book a trip this fall season. We have been fortunate to visit several of these locations but there are many that we haven’t but are certainly now on our radar.
Thanks to all of the amazing travel bloggers from around the world that shared their favorite spots in North America but of course, this is only a small number of places and we could easily write a whole series on this very topic. Please feel free to share your favorite fall destination in the comments below. Enjoy your upcoming fall travels!