If you are looking for a beautiful place to visit on vacation this fall, here is a list with the best destinations to enjoy this charming season.
With the tourists long gone, the off-peak season allows for easier navigating down crooked Lombard Street and across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re with kids, take a cable car over the city’s steep hills to Ghirardelli Square for some chocolate.
A jumbled collage of colorful neighborhoods and beautiful views, San Francisco draws those free-spirited types who have an eye for edgy art, a taste for imaginative cuisine and a zeal for adventure. It’s really not surprising that songwriter Tony Bennett left his heart here: The city boasts jaw-dropping sights, world-class cuisine, cozy cafes and plenty of booming nightlife venues — there’s no shortage of ways to stay busy here. Spend an hour or two sunning yourself alongside sea lions on the bay, admiring the views of the city from Twin Peaks, or strolling along the Marina. And for the quintessential San Franciscan experience, enjoy a ride on a cable car.
Often described as Los Angeles’ more refined northern cousin, cool and compact San Francisco takes the big-city buzz exuded by its southern counterpart and melds it with a sense of small-town charm. Here, you’ll discover a mishmash of culture flourishing throughout San Francisco’s many vibrant quarters. Follow the crowds to the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf area (which offers spectacular views of Alcatraz) before heading along the bay to the Presidio for a glimpse of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. But don’t forget to save time for the Mission district, The Haight and The Castro for exposure to all of the different varieties of the San Francisco lifestyle.
New York City
Really, when can’t you go to New York? It’s the city of all seasons. But if you plan your trip for autumn, you can catch the true splendor of Central Park’s trees and get a head start on your holiday shopping in trendy SoHo.
Cool, cosmopolitan, crowded, constantly evolving … the Big Apple blends big-city splendor with small-town charm. Amid Gotham’s iconic landmarks and towering skyscrapers, you’ll experience a vibrant culture permeating each of the city’s distinctive neighborhoods and boroughs. Follow trendsetters to the East Village and Brooklyn to check out indie boutiques, iconic bakeries, and trendy coffee shops. Afterward, peruse the racks of the sleek shops lining Fifth Avenue, admire the cutting-edge art collections at the MoMa and the Met, catch a memorable show on Broadway or sit down for a meal at the latest “it” restaurant.
As the most populous city in the U.S. — set at the forefront of food, fashion, and the arts — NYC requires stamina. But don’t let the Big Apple’s frenetic sights and sounds intimidate you from soaking up its grandeur. Wander through the concrete jungle and you’ll discover roaring taxicabs pouring down bustling blocks, fast-paced pedestrians whizzing past on their way to marquee galleries and innovative cocktail bars and Times Square’s neon lights flickering at all hours. And yet, the city’s twinkling lights and chaotic corners also invite you to embrace every New York minute, explore every flourishing enclave and create your own urban adventure. There are virtually endless ways to occupy your time in the city that never sleeps, but before you leave, stop and look around — what’s here today will be transformed into something bigger and better tomorrow.
The cool fall weather in Jackson Hole is sublime, with temperatures hovering in the 60s. Autumn also ushers in a few festivals, plus you’ll find plenty of opportunities to hike in Grand Teton National Park or to the Granite Hot Springs.
Sandwiched between Grand Teton National Park to the north and miles of national forest in every other direction, the Jackson Hole valley has remained relatively isolated from the burgeoning travel industry. Instead it has survived on local industries like logging, ranching and, during the 19th century, fur trading. But recently, Jackson Hole has encouraged the rise of tourism. Former blue-collar settlements like Jackson and Grand Teton now boast notable art and performance venues, and mega ski resorts have transformed the region into an up-and-coming winter wonderland. When planning an opulent getaway, many people don’t give western Wyoming a thought. To those travelers, we say: Think again.
Sure, you won’t encounter the glitz and glam of Aspen or Lake Tahoe, but the beauty and vastness of the Jackson Hole region has caught the attention of Hollywood celebs like Harrison Ford and politicos like former Vice President Dick Cheney. Yet, even with its fresh and luxurious upgrade, Jackson Hole remains first and foremost the heart of mountain country, with rugged trails and miles of open space that recall a time before the West was won.
Even by North American standards, Vancouver is a young city. But what it lacks in history it compensates for in scenery. Surrounded by mountains and beaches, Vancouver is both an urban and a natural playground: Its chic atmosphere, high-fashion boutiques and fondness for health-conscious eating have earned it the nickname “Hollywood North.”
Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting and skiing will beckon to your adventurous side. Looking for a little R&R? Try lounging along the 11 miles of beaches or in one of the numerous parks. During the cold weather, you can duck inside one of the top-notch museums or swing your young kids by one of the family-friendly attractions, like Granville Island or the Capilano Suspension Bridge. When you add excellent shopping, dining and nightlife scenes to the mix, you’ll see why many praise Vancouver as a go-to getaway for the multi-faceted traveler.
“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago. She outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them.” Although he made up his mind about the Windy City before it even reached its 50th year, Mark Twain’s impression of Chicago has proven long-lasting. America’s third-largest city has been described in a myriad of ways throughout its lifetime. When Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were competing for the right to use their forms of electricity to illuminate the 1893 World’s Fair, Chicago was known as a city of industry (a reputation memorialized by the Museum of Science and Industry). When Prohibition set in, notorious mobsters like Al Capone transformed Chicagoland into their own dangerous playground. And intense immigration surges throughout the 20th century brought a host of new identities to the Windy City, including Greek, Polish, Italian and Jewish.
Today, Chicago remains just as diverse, boasting a thriving arts scene, various shopping districts and a cornucopia of eateries. First-time Windy City visitors are sure to have their eyes to the sky for at least a day or two. Chicago’s skyscrapers and public art is absolutely worth admiring: Tag along on a Chicago Architecture Tour or pass a few hours in Millennium Park and you’ll find yourself spending lots of time looking upward. For a different perspective, head Willis Tower’s Skydeck or 360 CHICAGO for the bird’s-eye view before diving headfirst into all the city has to offer — from exceptional museums to pizza that takes delicious to whole new depths.
A stroll down the Freedom Trail and through Boston Common feels oh so nice with a little chill in the air. Fall weekends are perfect for leaf-peeping, so get a car and head west along Route 2 toward Concord and Fitchburg for some colorful foliage.
Boston — or “Bahston,” as the locals say — is not only a hub for baseball, brownstones and bookish collegiate types. It’s also home to America’s first large free municipal public library, the first subway system, the first public school and the first public park. To say the city is historic would be an understatement, but this wicked-smart college town doesn’t linger in the past, either. A well-rounded trip to Boston integrates the classic with the contemporary: Split your time between cherished sites like the Paul Revere House and Faneuil Hall and cutting-edge attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts. Venture to Beacon Hill and you’ll stumble upon the graceful mansions of yore juxtaposed with chic boutiques and innovative hotels.
The city’s darker side has garnered a rough-and-tumble reputation thanks to Hollywood appearances in gritty films like “American Hustle” and “The Town,” but Boston’s cool, cosmopolitan personality pervades its trendy restaurants, urban parks and modern museums. Passionate residents are still rooting for their beloved Red Sox, but they’re also venturing to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway for a free yoga class or meandering to the edgy SoWa Open Market for some antique shopping. So, grab a stool and join them at their favorite pub to chow down on oyster shooters and New England clam chowder, or venture to the Back End to try imaginative sushi creations at restaurants cropping up around town. You’ll need more than a few days to experience the city’s wealth of cultural and historical offerings, but meandering along Boston’s cobblestone streets is a great way to start your exploration.
Now void of camera-toting tourists, Yellowstone is ready for you to watch its beautiful transition from summer to fall without interruption (except by maybe a buffalo or two).
With dramatic peaks and pristine lakes, Yellowstone is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Multicolored pools swirl around hot springs; verdant forests weave past expansive meadows; and volatile geysers launch streams of steaming water toward the sky. With so much unspoiled natural beauty, it’s no wonder everyone suspected John Colter (a scout for explorers Lewis and Clark) was embellishing when he first described Yellowstone’s geothermal curiosities in 1807. Nowadays, there’s no doubt that the park is indeed extraordinary. While you traverse the park’s 3,000-plus square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers and waterfalls, be prepared to share the trails with permanent residents like buffalo, elk and sometimes even grizzlies.
Although Yellowstone attracts about 3 million visitors every year, chances are — unless you spend your entire trip at Old Faithful — you won’t see much of them. Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres creep from the northwest corner of Wyoming into the edges of Idaho and Montana, offering plenty of untouched territory to explore. Carve out a day or two to take in the view at Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs. But save some time for the trails through lesser-known regions, like the hot springs of the West Thumb Geyser Basin and the untamed wildlife dotting the Lewis River Channel and Dogshead Loop. While the sheer number of trails and wildlife-watching opportunities may seem daunting at first, remember: You can always come back.
Acadia National Park
Sprawling across the eastern coast of Maine, Acadia National Park is full of outdoor opportunities to enjoy in the fall. Hike, bike or take a leisurely stroll on Cadillac Mountain, Precipice Trail or along the Carriage Roads to admire the kaleidoscopic foliage.
Vacationing in Acadia National Park turns you into a pioneer: Each trail leads to rugged, untouched land just waiting to be captured by your camera lens. Cobalt waves crash on the jagged granite slabs topped with spruce trees that jut out from the shore. Harbor seals sun themselves on abandoned chunks of bedrock off the coast as peregrine falcons scream down at you from the skies. Rocky trails and rustic carriage roads thread around the inland trees and ponds, begging for exploring. Needless to say, the park is for your typical outdoor enthusiast, with a huge focus on adrenalin-pumping activities like horseback riding, biking, hiking — even rock climbing.
Now that the humidity has dropped, strolling through the historic cobblestone streets of the Battery or sticking your toes in the sand at Folly Beach is even more enjoyable. After working up an appetite, enjoy Charleston’s specialty: Lowcountry cuisine.
Centuries-old mansions, Spanish moss-draped trees, spooky cemeteries, cobblestone walks: in a word, Charleston. As you walk the gas lamp-lit streets at night, past horse-drawn carriages and the antebellum architecture, you just might think you’ve traveled back in time. But just because this South Carolina city is proud to celebrate its heritage doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past: Charleston boasts innovative restaurants, interesting shops, contemporary art galleries and the world-class Spoleto Festival USA. This is the place to experience the genteel South — after all, it was the home of suave “Gone with the Wind” character, Rhett Butler.
History pervades almost every aspect of the Holy City, from the majestic homes-turned-museums to the landmarks that promote the city’s role in United States history. Civil War buffs should head to Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the War between the States was fired. Meanwhile, shopaholics looking for locally made goods should peruse the Charleston City Market. When you’re ready for a day at the beach, the city’s got you covered there, too. Several beach towns, including Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palm and Folly Beach, offer sun, sand and gentle waves.
As the weather cools and the crowds thin, Paris makes for an even more tempting getaway. You’ll feel as though you have the city to yourself: no long lines at the top attractions, no inflated hotel prices and no fighting for that perfect cafe table.
The City of Light draws millions of visitors every year with its unforgettable ambiance. Of course, the divine cuisine and vast art collections deserve some of the credit as well. The gentle River Seine rambles through the city, flanked by stately museums, centuries-old churches, and blocks of Rococo- and Neoclassic-design architecture, further enhanced by charming trees and glowing streetlamps. Peppering the Seine’s cobbled walks and graceful bridges are impossibly chic Parisians, probably on their way to the market, cafe or cinema.
Containing world-class museums, fashion, cuisine, and an atmosphere all its own, Paris is also a city of “many splendors,” as Ernest Hemingway recalled in his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.” Visit the Centre Pompidou, enjoy gourmet pastries, shop couture on the Champs Élysées or hit the boutiques in Les Halles, take in the view atop the Eiffel Tower, or even plan a day trip to Versailles Palace. But don’t miss out on the simple pleasure of meandering the marvelous arrondissements (districts).
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