It’s almost fall y’all! It’s time to start planning those sweater and boots weekend getaways. If you don’t get much fall weather where you live, you can always escape to somewhere else for that fall feeling. For inspiration, here’s some of my favorites and what I consider some of the best U.S. cities to visit in fall. So start planning!
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Unless otherwise noted, all of the cities on my list – as always – are based on personal experience. Check local guidelines for any travel issues and mask mandates.
Chicago is always a good idea but it’s really a good idea in the fall of the year. The weather is still pretty warm in September, with October and November getting cooler. For the most part, the humidity is gone. There are signs throughout the city that winter is on the way but Chicago has a way of making the best of it.
What to do
Stay in the Loop at the Silversmith Hotel. The block where the hotel is located is one of my favorite blocks in the whole city. Walk to Millennium Park, sip coffee, listen to street music and nosh on autumn goodies from Goddess and the Baker. Head over to “Restaurant Row” on Randolph Street, where you can enjoy sidewalk dining or takeout from one of the many delicious eateries there. Take an architectural tour on the Chicago River and relish all the fall colors in Chicago.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is one of my favorite and best US cities to visit in fall. The weather is cooler and the summer crowds have thinned out. I’ve visited in September, October and November. Each month was perfect. In all my years of traveling to Vegas – since 2007 – there was only one time I needed a coat in October. And it was only for like a day. The best thing is, it’s the desert, so even Vegas cooler temps means it’s still warm enough to relax by the pool. Most of them are still open in the fall.
what to do
Stay at Bally’s on the central strip. It’s connected to the Paris Hotel so you can use the amenities at either property. Bunch on eggs benedict and mimosas on the terrace at Mon Ami Gabi, one of the BEST spots on the strip. Get a bird’s eye view of Vegas from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Watch the fountains at the Bellagio from chef Julian Serrano’s Lago, restaurant while nibbling on tapas. Inside the Bellagio, be sure to check out a fall themed wonderland in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Get outside: autumn sunsets in Vegas are sublime.
I’ll admit, good fall foliage color in the south is hit or miss. It varies from year to year depending on our rainfall and temperatures. BUT the weather in autumn can’t be beat. Atlanta ends up with vibrant blue bird skies and temperatures perfect for exploring. Even into November sometimes. The city is a top contender for one of the best US cities to visit in fall and you might just get lucky and hit the jackpot with some golden hued trees.
what to do
Stay in Midtown at one of my favorite Atlanta hotels, the W Atlanta Midtown. You can walk everywhere from there. That comes in handy if you want to avoid Atlanta’s notoriously bad traffic and not rent a car. Take advantage of perfect fall weather by visiting one, or several, of the city’s outdoor spaces. Ponce City Market’s Skyline Park on the roof overlooking the Atlanta skyline is the ideal place to start. Visit Piedmont Park or the Botanical Gardens. Walk the Beltline. Sip cider, tear into tacos and eat biscuits. Don’t miss – actually you can’t miss – all the street art. It’s everywhere! Atlanta in fall is a force to be reckoned with.
San Antonio, Texas
If you are one of those people that wants to hold onto summer just a while longer, take a trip down to San Antonio for the fall. It’s just far enough south to still be in the 70’s during the day, even into November. Visiting during October puts you in the city during the popular Dia de los Muertos and the city hosts several events to celebrate it. San Antonio and area also puts on a big harvest season in November with corn mazes and special fall activities. You might not get the autumn color but you certainly get the vibe.
what to do
Stay at the Marriott Riverwalk, steps away from the color and fun of the Riverwalk. Float it – there’s even a hop on/hop off tour – walk along it but certainly don’t miss out on it. Have a burger at Boudro’s Texas Bistro or dip some chips in queso and sip a prickly pear margarita at one of the many Mexican restaurants that line the Riverwalk. Make time to visit the Alamo or a mission tour and the Tower of the Americas. If you are in town for a few days, San Antonio has a super pass that includes four downtown attractions including the Tower of the Americas.
Fall is THE perfect time of year to visit Savannah. While you may not get much leaf color on the trees in coastal Georgia, you will get lower humidity. The temps are just right for exploring all those squares Savannah is famous for and sipping cocktails on the many rooftop bars. If you still want some beach time, add a day trip to Tybee Island. Early fall is prime time for golden colors in the marsh.
What to do
Stay at the Hyatt Regency on River Street or just a few blocks over at TRYP by Hyatt. Ride the Savannah trolley to see as much of the city as you can. Shop Broughton Street and try Savannah honey from the Savannah Bee Company. Enjoy a steak at Belford’s or binge on all the southern food – fried chicken – you want at The Lady & Sons. Save room for dessert or cocktails at the Top Deck Bar located above the Savannah River in the Cotton Sail Hotel. Autumn in the Savannah is ahmazing!
St Louis, Missouri
A Midwestern city isn’t usually what comes to mind when people think about leaf peeping season but put St Louis on your map because it’s a perfect city for autumn travels. The weather is mild and the trees are gorgeous. It’s a great time to enjoy one or all of the parks the city is renowned for. City Museum, which has a many outside features, the St Louis Botanical Gardens and even a national park, the Gateway Arch, are all perfect for fall.
What to Do
Stay downtown at the Union Station Hotel. There is so much to do around Union Station now. There’s the aquarium, the Wheel and much more. Eat St Louis barbeque and try all the other goodies this area is known for. Gooey butter cakes, frozen custard, toasted ravioli and St Louis style pizza, are just a few of the tasty delights found in the Gateway to the West. You can even catch some of the “Mother Road” or Route 66 in various areas of the city. My favorite is the Maplewood neighborhood. St Louis also has plenty of breweries for the beer lover. Catch an Oktoberfest celebration to round out your fall experience.
Asheville, North Carolina
Our next contender for best US cities to visit in fall comes from my friend and fellow blogger Christine from Uncorked Asheville. Find even more fall Asheville tips on her blog.
Nothing beats an Asheville, North Carolina autumn, especially in those blue-hued mountains. If you are looking for mild fall weather with vibrant fall foliage that tops the leaves in New England – I say this as a Connecticut native – why not head down the Blue Ridge Parkway into Western North Carolina?
What do to
Once you land in town, head over to the Omni Grove Park Inn for one of their infamous sunsets over the city of Asheville while sipping on a fall cocktail from The Edison. Then, visit Biltmore to tour America’s largest home and peek at their gorgeous gardens while getting those foliage views from the loggia. Don’t forget the Stable Café where you can eat lunch in the former yet fancy horse stables.
Of course, no fall trip to Asheville would be complete without a waterfall hike. As Asheville locals, we recommend Graveyard Fields in the early fall and Dupont State Forest as the season progresses. You might also want to stop at nearby Mount Pisgah, Fryingpan Tower, and Black Balsam for views and easy to moderate hikes
Little Rock, Arkansas
I have this crazy love affair going on with Little Rock. I went for the first time in 2018 with the kind people of Visit Little Rock but I’ve been back to LR and Arkansas so many times in the past two years, it’s not even funny. Sometimes it’s just passing through and stopping for for a fancy meal or just tacos. Sometimes it’s a night or two to catch up on my Locally Labeled Passport. Whatever the case, Little Rock is one of my favorite cities to visit whenever BUT in the fall, it’s seriously special. Even though Arkansas is in the south, you are almost guaranteed to see more autumn colors there.
what to do
In normal non 2020 years, Little Rock has some epic fall festivals. There’s the Brunch Fest in September and The World Cheese Dip Championship is held every October. Then in November, it’s time for the long running Cornbread Festival. Even though the festivals were affected in 2020, I’m manifesting that they will happen again soon by posting about them.
For now, visitors to Little Rock can enjoy, diverse neighborhoods, the cutest downtown, street art and some of the best food I’ve had the pleasure of eating. Didn’t I already mention cheese dip? Stay at the Capital Hotel, right in the heart of everything. Stroll through sculpture gardens and along the Arkansas River. Get to know the Clintons a little better at a presidential library. You’ll want to return to Little Rock again and again just like me.
Autumn is a unique time in Washington DC. The summer crowds have disappeared and you have a chance to see more of the city and its incredible sites without so many people. With an abundance of outdoor spaces and trees, there’s plenty of areas to see red and golden colors right in the city. The weather should be just about right, at least into October and early November. However, pack an umbrella or rain jacket just in case.
What to do
Stay downtown for a truly posh DC experience or if you choose to stay across the state line in Alexandria or Arlington, Virginia, it’s a beautiful drive along and over the Potomac River to the Washington Mall. Visit the Lincoln Memorial – and all the other memorials – while you’re at it. Pack a picnic and eat it while gazing at the Washington Monument. Plan a decadent brunch or a gin tasting. Washington DC is a city to be savored and autumn is the perfect season to do it.
If there’s one cowboy town I’d move to, it would be Jackson. I’ve been lucky enough to visit in every season and fall is gorgeous in Jackson Hole. However, it does come early and it’s not unusual to see new snow on the Tetons in September. The aspens and the grasses take on a deep golden color that signals winter is coming fast. By late October and November, it can be downright cold. So, while you don’t get as long of an autumn in Jackson as some of the other cities on my list, what you do get, is worth every fading fall minute.
What to do
Stay downtown at the historic Wort Hotel and visit their famous Silver Dollar Showroom Bar. Shop the town square and pose under the iconic antlers that decorate it. Have coffee, fresh roasted right in Jackson, at the Cowboy Coffee Co to keep you warm. Eat pizza or get a taste for local brews from Roadhouse Brewing Company. Visit the Elk Refuge to see wildlife on the move and Grand Teton National Park for views that will take your breath away. Most of all, relax and take it all in. It may just become your cowboy town too.
It’s impossible to compile of list of the best US cities to visit in fall without including a city in Montana. While there are more mountainous towns in Montana, Billings is situated in just the right spot in the southeast part of the state to experience autumn a little bit longer than cities in higher elevations. And you still get great views, good hikes and a plethora of interesting park sites in the surrounding region for day tripping. Billings is the perfect place to escape the crowds but still be close enough to the action or not.
what to do
Stay in an Airbnb in adorable downtown Billings and treat yourself to Montana’s only walkable brew trail. The trail includes 6 breweries, 2 distilleries and 1 cider house. Eat at Stella’s Kitchen & Bakery and indulge in the biggest cinnamon roll you’ve ever laid eyes on. Have a steak at Jake’s Downtown. Take a day trip to Little Bighorn National Battlefield or to Pompey’s Pillar, the site where Captain William Clark or THE Lewis and Clark, stopped on their famous expedition. There is so much to do and so much fun to be had in Billings in the fall.
So what’s your go to best US city to visit in fall? Do you have one that should be added to my list? I’d love to hear what it is. Let me know in the comments.
Trip Planning Resources
Are you ready to start planning a fall trip? Use Skyscanner for the best deals on plane tickets or Expedia for a package deal including rental cars. Booking.com is also a great resource for hotel rooms and stays. Last but not least, don’t forget to purchase trip and travel insurance to protect you while traveling.