Sure, fall is typically the time of year when you’re shopping for back-to-school shirts for the kids and swapping your summer attire for cozier clothes. But it’s also a great time of year to book a memorable vacation. Temperatures are cooler and more tolerable, crowds are lighter, and rates are lower, making it a practical option if you’re thinking about taking a break or didn’t get a chance to book a trip during summer.
You definitely deserve the break—but where are you headed? Breathtaking locations abound, and you’ll have a wonderful time exploring the beauty of different areas while enjoying the crisp fall weather. Whether you’re in the mood for something quiet and relaxing, something historic and unforgettable, or something lively and upbeat, you’ll find a wonderful option in this list of places to visit.
Charleston is among the most beautiful spots to visit at any time of the year if nothing but for its historic properties. During fall, however, it seems to come to life differently. Founded in the late 17th century, the city is packed with remnants of bygone eras—think cobblestone streets, period homes, and horse-drawn carriages. Being in Charleston is a bit like stepping back in time.
Given its rich connection with its history, it’s no wonder that the city is also considered one of the most haunted in the nation. Why not take a tour of its ancient graveyards during Halloween? If you’re not into scares, set off on a guided walking tour and explore the city’s most noteworthy spots. Many of the ancient homes are beautifully preserved as museums, allowing you a peek at what life was like during different eras. It tends to get a little warm during the day, so stick with a lightweight T-shirt and jeans or pants with comfortable walking shoes. Stash a light cardigan sweater in your bag so you can easily layer up if winds pick up.
Sure, a trip to Telluride is typically more of a winter activity, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy fall in this beautiful town. Known for its exquisite foliage, epic trails, and humbling views of the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is a geological delight complete with rugged peaks, sedimentary rock, and volcanic rock. As for what to do when you’re here, there’s plenty to see and experience during fall.
For starters, it’s the perfect place to get out and experience the wonders of Mother Nature. Bike Prospect Trail from the ski zone to Mountain Village, or go for an easy hike along the San Miguel River Trail. If you’re more inclined to relax while you take in the scenery, have a seat on one of the gondolas and enjoy the eight-mile journey that ultimately leads to Mountain Village. Cool-weather is a given in this high-altitude location, so dress accordingly. A long-sleeved top, pants, robust boots, and a women’s fleece vest serves as the perfect outfit for warding off the chill.
There’s no question that Southern California is beautiful year-round. However, fall is an especially great time to visit Santa Monica. Summer finds it packed with tourists and incredibly hot, but fall brings more tolerable temperatures and slightly sparser crowds. That makes it easier to enjoy the upbeat ambiance at the open-air 3rd Street Promenade and take in the attractions at the legendary Santa Monica Pier.
Though it’s the off-season, there’s a lot to do here as the year comes to an end. The coastal spot is a shopping and dining hub, but there’s also plenty of cultures to soak up. Take in the amazing art galleries at Bergamot Station, or head to Broad Stage if you’re in the mood for a live show or two. Soak up every minute of the flawless coastline views as you bike along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. You’ll want to keep a swimsuit handy for your adventure in Santa Monica, along with at least a pair of pants to wear when shorts and skirts don’t quite do the job.
Naturally, visitors are primarily drawn to legendary Cape May during summer. But those sun-drenched days are only rivaled by the crisp fall months after. As one of the oldest resorts in the country, it’s home to an array of historical attractions that are well worth the visit. Take in the beauty of the Cape May Historic District, featuring some 600 old-world buildings brimming with Victorian-era character.
Indulge your outdoorsy side with a hike on the Higbee Beach Loop Trail, a three-mile trek where you’ll experience woods and beaches in equal measure. Rent a kayak and explore the wetlands, go fishing, or catch glimpses of the whales if you’re lucky. Make some room during your trip for a visit to the Harriet Tubman Museum, the Cape May Lighthouse, and the 18th-century Colonial House. It’s typically pleasantly cool during the daytime, so make sure you have a light jacket on hand. Evenings tend to be cooler—something like a cashmere turtleneck will help you stay comfortable on dinner dates and nighttime strolls.
Fall is a wonderful time of year to enjoy a memorable excursion and make some memories. Whether you’re traveling solo or with the family, soak up every minute of the beautiful weather—and make sure you’ve got some cozy attire in your suitcase, too!