Best known for its Fall Foliage, Bonfires, Pumpkin Spice, and Halloween, October is also a perfect month for travel. October brings fewer tourists and lower prices along with harvest festivals, Halloween parties and is the best month for fall foliage. Because October is also harvest season, it’s a great time to meet locals at fairs and festivals, experience new cultures, and sample new cuisines. Here are the top 10 places to travel in the U.S. in October.
Door County, Wisconsin
Visiting Door County can feel like taking a step back in time. Comprised of 19 distinct communities and towns, Door County offers the perfect place to travel in October. Fall foliage? Check. Harvest Festivals? Check. Bonfire weather? Check. Each community offers a distinct vibe. Driveable from major cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis, Door Co. is the perfect place to travel in October.
It isn’t fall without harvest festivals. Door county is the perfect place for experiencing local culture during peak harvest season. Check out Egg Harbor Pumpkin Festival for Carnival rides, Pumpkin patches, displays, live music, and all of the pumpkin-flavored food your heart desires. If an art festival is more your scene, don’t miss Townline Art Fair in Sister Bay. Don’t forget about the countless farmer’s markets and bakeries offering local delicacies such as cherry pies and other baked goods. Travel along the Door County Wine Trail to experience some of the best wineries in Wisconsin. Sample award-winning wines at Door 44 Winery or plan your own winery tour with Door County Wine Trails. Try one of the area’s famous supper clubs, such as Donny’s Glidden Lodge or Sister Bay Bowl for dinner.
Halloween and Salem are synonymous with October. Salem celebrates its connection to the occult with festivals like the Festival of the Dead, which is a celebration that explores deaths customs, histories, and rituals. While Salem hunted happenings runs through October and celebrates Halloween with movies, costume balls, séances, hunted houses, and more. Salem is most well known for the Salem Witch trials, which resulted in the hanging deaths of 19 men and women and more than 150 people in prison caused by the accusation of witchcraft. For a deeper dive into the culture and history of Salem, visit the Salem museum for a recreation of the Salem witch trials using the actual documents from 1692.
Stay at the Classic Salem Inn, once a sea captain’s home, now a B&B comprised of 3 houses and 40 rooms. If you are looking for something more modern, visit The Hotel Salem or The Merchant, both owned by Lark hotels known for their eclectic makeovers of inns all over New England.
Asheville, North Carolina
Most of us don’t think about the South when it comes to fall foliage. Fortunately, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Carolina mountains put on a spectacular fall show. Make Asheville your starting point for exploring the parkway in both directions. To the south, drive to Pisgah National Forest, filled with waterfalls and fall foliage-covered hills. Drive north, where the curving Linn Cove Viaduct hugs Grandfather Mountain, offering some of the parkway’s most iconic views.
Asheville’s food scene is home to a rich culinary culture, including Appalacian, African, and traditional southern cuisine. Sample the food at Benne on Eagle, a restaurant that brings together African and Appalachian food. Don’t sleep on Asheville’s wine and craft beverage scene. Asheville is a great place to experience it all, from ciders to sake, wines, and cocktails. Take a wine tour at Biltmore Estate or visit one of the many breweries. Up for an adventure? Explore the Western North Carolina Cheese trail or experience the fall Apple Harvest. Stay at the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate to experience fall at Biltmore, rent a cozy cabin in the mountains or stay at The Foundry Hotel, one of Asheville’s coolest boutique properties. Whatever you decide, make sure Asheville, NC, is on your list of best places to travel in October.
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City is a beautiful city situated on Lake Michigan. Summer brings over 500,000 people to the annual Cherry Festival. With fewer crowds and beautiful fall weather, October is the perfect month to travel to Traverse City. Fulfill your lifelong goal of wine grape stomping at the harvest festival at Chateau Chantal. See the trees erupt into a symphony of yellows, reds, and oranges from a birds-eye view on a Fall chair lift ride at Crystal Mountain.
Wine tasting and beer sampling should be on your schedule, with more than 40 wineries and nine breweries within the Traverse City Limits. And with countless restaurants to try, the possibilities are endless. Book a tour with Traverse City Wine and Beer Tours for a thorough tour of some of the best wineries, breweries, and distilleries. For a fantastic brunch, try Brasserie Amie. October is also the perfect season for a visit to one of the local farmer’s markets. Don’t forget to get in a slice of cherry pie at Grand Traverse Pie Co; this is cherry country after all.
There are countless options for your stay. If you want water views, try the Beach Haus Resort or use a company like Airbnb or VRBO to rent one of the homes on Lake Michigan. If you want more of a resort feel, check into Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Enjoy golf courses, the spa, or hang out at The Den, an entertainment hub located conveniently inside.
Providence, Rhode Island
October is the peak season for fall foliage. However, there is more to see and do in Providence than scoping out the magnificent show of nature. WaterFire, a free series of bonfires on downtown’s river, is a must-see. Get into the Halloween spirit on a Haunted Boat Ride from Providence River Boat Company. Or, take as troll through Roger Williams Park Zoo for the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular taking place the entire month of October, featuring a display of thousands of intricately carved pumpkins. Stay at The Beatrice, a downtown boutique hotel located in the historic 1887 Exchange Building. If you want to get into the Halloween spirit, take the Providence Ghost Tour.
For a relaxed place to stay, check into the Dean Hotel. Its prime location is perfect for exploring, checking out the restaurant scene, and shopping. More interested in a whimsical hotel set in a classic building? Then look no further than the Graduate Hotel Providence (formerly the Biltmore). Wherever you choose, Providence won’t disappoint.
New Orleans, Louisiana
With the summer heat in the rearview mirror, the festival season begins in New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, and Oktoberfest New Orleans are why New Orleans makes the list of best places to travel in October. Not to mention the Fried Chicken Festival falls in October; who can resist that? What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a NOLA parade?
Let’s not forget some of the best food in America can be found in New Orleans. With the proximity to the ocean and influences by African, French, and Spanish, New Orleans is known for its Cajun and Creole cuisine. No trip to New Orleans is complete without visiting some of the most well-known restaurants such as Dooky Chase’s, Cafe Du Monde, or one of my personal favorites Willie Mae’s Scotch House, serving the best-fried chicken I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.
Stay at Hotel Peter & Paul, a unique boutique hotel that captures the essence of New Orleans. If you are looking for something quaint and in the French Quarter, look no further than Audubon Cottages. The possibilities are endless. Since there are fewer tourists, accommodations are easily accessible, one of the many reasons New Orleans is one of the best places to travel in October.
Hudson Valley, New York
Hudson Valley has it all: hot cider, pumpkin patches galore, cozy sweaters, and epic fall foliage. October brings apple picking and cider sipping (see what I did there?). Check out the hard cider at Angry Orchard brewing or get a nice warm cup of cider at one of the many farmer’s markets. Then celebrate Halloween with the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor (make reservations in advance), where there are more than 7,000 pumpkins displayed each night, including the New York City Skyline, recreated with pumpkins. Get lost in the Legend of Sleepy of Sleepy Hollow told by master storyteller John Kruk at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside.
With dozens of wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries to choose from, it would be difficult to visit them all. Why not book a tour with The Brew Bus with a custom tour.
In the heart of town on Warren Street, check-in to the cozy 27 room Rivertown Lodge with their woodfire burners and bikes to borrow, you will be set up to experience the best parts of fall.
You might think of ski slopes and powdery snow when you think of Aspen, however, the beautiful trees that Aspen is named for really show off this time of year. The vivid fall foliage set against snow-capped mountains is difficult to top when it comes to fall. The cooler temperatures, fewer tourists make Aspen an Idyllic location to take in the beauty and bounty of fall. While there is no exact science to predict fall foliage colors, there are maps to give you an estimate or check with your hotel’s concierge, who can give you an idea of where to go. Visit Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed peaks in the state. Snowmass, Ashcroft, and Independence pass are some of the best places to experience the magic of fall foliage.
Visit Hops Culture for lunch or White house tavern for Aspen’s best burger. Clark’s Aspen is perfect if you want to enjoy a cozy diner atmosphere and great food. Don’t forget to indulge in Aspens brewery scene with a visit to Aspen Brewery, one of the first microbreweries in the area.
With countless hotels to chose from, Hotel Jerome is a perfect place to stay during this time of year. Horseback riding, ride a jeep through the backcountry, Rock climb, hike Colorado’s most iconic peaks. Hotel Jerome offers it all and will plan your activities for you. If you are looking for luxury, check out Viceroy Snowmass. Prefer camping? Check out the Best Places to Camp in Colorado.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is known as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States, clearly reflected in its architecture, art, cultural centers and food. Customs and traditions passed down over generations are some of the many things that make Albuquerque so unique. One of the most photographed and spectacular festivals, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta makes Albuquerque one of October’s best places to travel. See hundreds of ornate balloons ascending during the exhilarating “Mass Ascension,” when all participating balloons ascend simultaneously. Make sure to take time to learn about the local culture by visiting one of the local Pueblos. Several pueblos and tribes hold regular tours and have excellent visitor centers with information about Native American cultures and beliefs.
You cant visit New Mexico, home to one of America’s most cherished regional cuisines, without visiting some of the local restaurants. New Mexican cuisine is based on native ingredients such as corn, beans, squash,, and chiles and incorporates Mexican, Native American,, and Spanish flavors. Try authentic New Mexican food at Church Street Cafe or have an authentic Native American experience at Indian Pueblo Kitchen.
For a true New Mexico experience, stay at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm. Set among 25 acres of lavender fields, ancient cottonwood trees, and lush gardens, Los Poblanos is rustic yet refined. If you prefer a low-key Bed and Breakfast Check in to Canon Del Rio Bed & Breakfast.
Napa Valley, California
October marks the culmination of Harvest season in Napa and Sonoma. By mid-October, fall colors are on full display in the vineyards, and festivals celebrating the end of harvest are all around. Become a Wine Maker for the day with Jason Holman of Holman Cellars. Pick the grapes, and learn the art of winemaking through touch, smell, and taste. Check out one of the numerous harvest parties hosted by many of the vineyards.
With 6 Michelin-starred restaurants in the area, there is no shortage of excellent food experiences. The legendary French Laundry is one of the best restaurants in the world, no argument there. However, with its high prices and difficulty securing a reservation it may not be a possibility. The good news is there are plenty of restaurants that are worth the trip. Want the Thomas Keller experience without the price tag of The French Laundry, don’t miss Ad Hoc. Bouchon is Thomas Keller’s take on a French bistro, and it doesn’t miss a beat, grab a Croque madame or the world-famous chicken. With too many fantastic restaurants to name, you will never go hungry or disappointed on your fall tour of Napa.
Napa can be expensive, however, there is a range of accommodations including classic hotels, B&B’s, and vacation rentals. For a charming Napa experience, check into the Wine Country Inn or a traditional B&B at the Hennessy House in downtown Napa.
Where are your favorite places to travel in October? What did we miss? Let us know!