Dreaming of a fall vacation? Dreaming is nice, but making it happen is even better! There’s no better time than fall for a cozy trip to a cabin, a scenic road trip or outdoor fall getaways to a National Park. There are fewer crowds, stunning fall foliage and beautiful views at every turn, almost no matter where you go. However, there are a few places that top the list for the best fall vacation destinations. From East Coast to West, these destinations are absolutely stunning in the fall and definitely deserve a spot on your bucket list. Short on inspiration? Keep scrolling and let us help you pick your next fall vacation.

New England Road Trip 

best fall getaways

For the ultimate fall foliage road trip, New England (the six most Northeastern states in the US) is your best bet. Fly into Boston and take your pick from a fall vacation in the small towns of Connecticut and Rhode Island, the charm and history of Boston, the mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont, beaches and forests in Maine or so much more. From apple cider donuts and apple picking to cozy cabins, scenic drives and fall colors, New England offers everything you need for a perfect fall getaway. 

Best time to catch fall colors: late September to early October

Great Smoky Mountains

Another fall road trip that offers scenic colors and leaf-peeping around every turn? The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. Numerous scenic drives are the perfect way to gain some elevation and see the fall foliage from above. Of course, there’s lots of hiking as well if you’d rather summit some peaks on foot! Either way, you’ll find fall colors galore, plenty of waterfalls (over 100!) and small towns to explore along the way. 

Best time to catch fall colors: October

Aspen, Colorado

Looking for more West Coast options? You’re in luck, because the Northeast isn’t the only part of the US that offers amazing scenery for your fall getaways. If you’re looking for your fall foliage with a dose of adventure, why not head to Colorado? Aspen—a small town in the Rocky Mountains known for its (you guessed it) outdoor adventures and forests of aspen trees—has incredible colors come fall. From hiking to bike rides to scenic drives, or even just a few days of exploring small-town Colorado, you’ll find lots to do in Aspen.

Best time to catch fall colors: mid-September to early October

New York City

New York is a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list—and fall is a great time to visit! Crisp fall air and cool days offer a break between summer’s humidity and harsh winter weather. Soak in the fall colors at Central Park, with a bike ride around Brooklyn or with a visit to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for plenty of fall foliage. Of course, you should make time to see the sights of New York City as well. On a budget? Check out our favorite free and cheap things to do in New York before you go. 

Best time to catch fall colors: early October

Blue Ridge Mountains 

fall road trips

The massive Blue Ridge Mountain range extends from Pennsylvania all the way down to Georgia, which means there’s plenty of options when it comes to where to visit. If you’re looking for fall colors, visit the Northern sections of the ridge if you’re traveling earlier in the fall. Head south if you’re looking to plan a trip later in October or even November. Plan a hiking or camping trip, or hit the road for an epic road trip! The famous Blue Ridge Parkway (beginning just south of Asheville, North Carolina and extending all the way up to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia) is one of the best fall road trips! 

Best time to catch fall colors: varies, late-September through October 

Sedona 

Sedona, Arizona has long been a hidden-gem, but it’s quickly gaining popularity for its health and wellness resorts, engaging arts community and beautiful scenery. Autumn is a great time to visit, with cooler temperatures making outdoor adventures much more manageable. Besides, the fall foliage offers a stunning accent to the red rocks and other desert scenery. Come for a yoga retreat, a road trip, hiking or more. This off-the-beaten-path destination is perfect for fall getaways to rest and relax.

Best time to catch fall colors: early to mid-October

Acadia National Park 

If you’re looking for plenty of fall colors, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Acadia National Park in Maine. Though it’s a bit more off-the-beaten-path than many National Parks (a 3-hour drive from Portland, Maine and 5 hours from Boston, MA), that only means it’ll be sweeter when you finally get the chance to explore it. It’s smaller than many other National Parks (and also less crowded), but still full of forests, rocky beaches, and wildlife. Climb Cadillac Mountain for incredible sunrise views, take a scenic drive and see the stunning fall colors at every turn, or explore the rocky coastline dotted with forests and lighthouses. 

Best time to catch fall colors: early to mid-October

San Francisco 

fall getaways

Need a city escape? San Francisco is a great city to explore in September and October. Clearer days and not-too-cold weather in these months means ideal sightseeing opportunities for your fall getaways. Even better, San Francisco offers plenty of things to do both indoors and outdoors. Head to the nearby Muir Woods or hang out on one of SF’s many beaches for a day outside, or explore some of San Francisco’s free and cheap things to do for a budget-friendly day in the city. 

Best time to catch fall colors: mid- to late October

Utah

If some of Utah’s famous National Parks (Zion National Park, anyone?) are on your list, autumn is a great time to visit! You’ll get cooler weather, fewer crowds and fall colors too. What else could you want? Head to Zion for some famous hikes, or take a trip to Arches National Park or Bryce Canyon for an even quieter experience. Bonus? These parks are also known for their stargazing—which is especially wonderful on clear days in the fall, when meteor showers between October 8 and November 17 make for stunning stargazing. 

Best time to catch fall colors: mid- to late October

Go camping at a National Park

national parks fall

Not seeing anything on this list that catches your eye? Why not go camping in a National Park near you? Generally, National Parks tend to be a lot less crowded in the fall, after the summer rush. Besides, with 63 parks to choose from, there’s no shortage of options. From Alaska to Hawaii, California to Maine, you can find parks near you no matter where you live. Check out this fall foliage prediction map to find the best time to plan your trip if you’re hoping for fall colors! No National Parks near you? Don’t forget about State Parks and National Forests as well, many of which are even less crowded than the larger parks and make for great fall getaways.

*Prices were accurate at the time of writing, but flight prices are dynamic and subject to change. All flights are priced for dates between September 20, 2021 and November 15, 2021.