With days of summer vacations behind you and the prospect of holiday travel still far off in the distance, the frequent flyer in you must be itching for a quick getaway. Whether you can only swing a long weekend away from the office or you’re ready for an extended adventure, there’s a fall travel destination out there that was meant for you. Take a road trip to Arizona to explore the dusty desert sans stifling heat, or catch a plane to Ireland to experience the lush landscape without the crowds (you won’t regret it).
Best of all, this time of year, resort and flight prices drop as peak vacation season comes to a close. That leaves you free to enjoy a serene escape at a fraction of the cost. Picture the crisp orange, yellow, and red foliage you’ll see if you spend a weekend in Boston, or imagine an intrepid journey to Bhutan just in time for the Jambay Lhakhang Drup festival. Ready to book your flight? Consult this list of the best vacation spots for fall to excite your inner travel bug.
Why Fall: During October and November, the parks in Boston transform into the quintessential image of fall foliage. Hues of gold and ruby coat the trees and the ground, making this city the perfect place to experience the season (especially if you hail from a city like Los Angeles where no such fall foliage exists).
Must-Do: Pay a visit to historic Salem and embrace the Halloween season at the Salem Witch Museum, or stay in the city for a special exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. There’s no better way to see New England than with bike ride through the crisp fall air around the Boston Common or by the Charles River waterfront. After a day of exploring the fall foliage, unwind indoors with a tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery to get into the Oktoberfest spirit.
Why Fall: While you’ll find the magical landscape of Ireland to be a bit colder and wetter than in its peak tourism season during the summer, cheaper airfare, sparsely crowded attractions, and bright foliage in contrast with evergreen hills make up for the chill in the air. Fall is also the season of festivals in Dublin. You’ll want to take in the country’s culture at the Dublin Fringe Festival, the Dublin Theatre Festival, and the Belfast International Arts Festival.
Must-Do: Spend ample time exploring the scenic hills of Dublin. The best way to see the sights is to join a walking festival. These guided treks provide access to landscapes and overlooks you couldn’t find on your own, and are perfect for the avid hiker looking to see the country by foot. When you’re ready for a reprieve from the fall weather, have dinner on the water at La Peniche where you can enjoy fine food while floating on Dublin’s Grand Canal, or explore the Irish Whiskey Museum for a truly Irish outing.
New Brunswick, Canada
Why Fall: New Brunswick in the fall is the best spot to take in scenic, colorful landscapes and cozy up for some fall weather. The season boasts the city’s best farmers markets, brewery tastings, hiking, and whale-watching. Put on a big sweater, and explore the sights and tastes.
Must Do: Plan a scenic drive to take in the fall leaves (check out this leaf-peeping map to discover all the best routes to take this season). You’ll also want to spend time on the water to see the sights and catch a glimpse of the sea life. Whale-watching excursions offer prime views of marine creatures, as well as spectacular views of this underrated destination.
Why Fall: Between September and November, nearly 50 major celebrations occur in Bhutan, making it one of the best vacation spots for the fall. This sparsely populated country is one of the happiest in the world, and you’ll want to partake in all the celebrations and culture with the friendly community.
Must Do: If you make the trek to this Himalayan nation, you have to experience the ornate temples and peaceful dzongs (a type of monastery). The most popular destination in Bhutan is known as Paro Taktsang (aka “Tiger’s Nest”), a sacred Buddhist monastery perched on a cliff high above the ground. You’ll want to devote an entire day to hiking beneath prayer flags to the monastery and taking in the incredible views.
Why Fall: Sedona, Arizona, may be known for its sweeping desert landscapes and red rocks, but it’s also home to some of the best fall foliage accessible on the west coast. For a quick getaway from city life, look no further than Sedona for scenic hiking, college football, and stargazing.
Must Do: If you’re seeking spiritual renewal, you’ll want to visit Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park for mindful meditation away from it all. For more traditional fall finds, take a scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89A toward Flagstaff to see leaves that will make you think you’ve traveled to New England, and get outdoors for a hike on the West Fork Oak Creek Trail.
Why Fall: With the summer tourist season winding down but winter weather still not in full swing, fall is the perfect time to visit Croatia’s northwestern capital. The nightlife in Zagreb takes off in autumn, with clubs on the fringes of town—out of sight for most tourists—hitting their stride. Even if you’re not in town for a party, there are plenty of cultural offerings here during this time of year.
Must Do: Head to the Lisinski Hall opera house for an elegant night featuring performances by the Zagreb Philharmonic and other musicians (be sure to wear your finest clothes, as the hall has kept up the tradition of dressing up for a night of live music). If film is more your thing, November brings an international crowd to the Zagreb Film Festival. There’s also no bad time to explore the historic city; pop into any gallery or pub that peaks your interest.
Where is your favorite fall vacation spot? Share in the comments below.