K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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While there’s plenty to be said about days at the beach, time in the pool, chilled watermelon, and ice cream cones, after a long hot summer, there are few things better than the feel of that crisp, cool air that marks the start of the fall season. The turning of the leaves, the pumpkin patches, harvest festivals, corn mazes, and apple picking are something that many of us look forward to all year.
If you want to delve into it all, you’ll want to know where you can make the most of the season. These towns offer some of the best when it comes to fall activities, brilliant foliage, or even both.
Cullman knows how to do it right when it comes to fall fun. It kicks off the season with Wing Street at Depot Park, which features a wing cook-off, kids’ zone, music, chicken-themed contests, and a tent for watching Alabama and Auburn football games. But the highlight here is Oktoberfest. This town hosts one of the state’s best, attracting thousands to enjoy a car show, live music, participate or watch 5K and 10K races, watch the Miss Oktoberfest pageant, and feast on traditional German fare paired with pints of locally brewed beers.
Located 42 miles northeast of Anchorage in the Matanuska Valley, Palmer is a small town that offers a lot when it comes to fall festivities, including farms like Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak, which hosts a fall harvest festival that include a pumpkin patch, farm animals, hayrides, cattle train rides, a dunk tank, giant pumpkin zorb balls, face painting, mini-golf, food, live entertainment, and much more. Over at Reindeer Farm, you can pick up pumpkins to carve, view reindeer, ride the reindeer train or ponies, wander through the Hay Maze, and take the Spooky Walk. Plus, the nearby Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains offers stunning autumn colors.
You don’t have to venture out of the city to enjoy the many fall delights in Scottsdale, like MacDonald’s Ranch. A top fall festival in Arizona, a tractor pull will bring you out to pick your perfect pumpkin, and a petting zoo with miniature donkeys and ponies, goats, pigs, sheep, and more. Get lost in the hay maze, try your hand at gold mining and keep what you find, join in duck races, check out the Old West Town, and much more. The season’s pleasant weather makes it ideal for a hike on the over 225 miles of trails at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve or take a day trip to Sedona for leaf-peeping.
The Arkansas Ozarks offer some of the most brilliant fall foliage in the Midwest, and the beautiful mountain town of Eureka Springs is one of the top spots, with fabulous views from Lover’s Leap and Inspiration Point. It’s one of the most charming towns in the United States, and you’ll find many farms, pumpkin patches, and apple orchards within easy reach, like McGarrah Farms in Garfield, where you can pick pumpkins and berries. Or head to Farmland Adventures, which has a 9-acre Giant Corn Maze, a pumpkin patch, wagon rides, pony rides, farm animals, pig races, and more.
San Francisco Bay Area residents have been heading to the coast to enjoy the many fall attractions in Half Moon Bay for decades. Known as the “pumpkin capital of the world,” this beautiful seaside town famous for its surf hosts the annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival in October every year. It includes the Great Pumpkin Parade, a haunted house, an expert pumpkin carver to admire, costume and pie-eating contests, pumpkin beer to sip, and even pumpkin mac ‘n cheese to indulge in, along with four stages of entertainment. A pumpkin weigh-off is held on the second Monday in October, and there are nearly an endless number of pumpkin patches for picking too.
Estes Park offers it all as the eastern gateway to the Colorado Rockies, which will be splashed with brilliant golds and oranges in the fall. This is one of the best times to watch wildlife with the bugles of the elk heard throughout the valley. It’s also celebrated at the annual Elk Festival in early October with bugling contests, performances, live music, food trucks, and vendors. The Pumpkins and Pilsners Festival follows, featuring pumpkins for picking, games, craft beer, live music, free face painting and free donkey rides for the kids, and more.
Kent is one of the best spots in New England for leaf-peeping, surrounded by winding roads lined with trees bursting with gold, red, and the occasional deep scarlet hue. At Macedonia Brook State Park, you can hike the Cobble Mountain Trail for dazzling views of all the colors, while Kent Falls State Park is home to 200-foot-high waterfalls. And the CAMA Fall Festival is held for three days on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after the fall equinox, with free rides on a restored 1925 Baldwin narrow gauge locomotive.
In Wilmington, they say to come for the fall foliage and stay for the many events. A popular destination in Delaware, Wilmington and the surrounding Brandywine Valley offers Insta-worthy splashes of color while driving the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway. Scenic rides on the steam- and diesel-powered train are available via the Wilmington and Western Railroad, and over a weekend in mid-October, the Hagley Craft Fair features a specialty food market, unique artisans, and alpacas. Plus, pumpkins, hayrides and corn mazes can be enjoyed just north of downtown at Ramsey’s Farm.
There are many fall activities to enjoy in Bradenton, including pumpkin patches, but the highlight here is Hunsader Farms. Starting in October, visitors can enjoy the annual Pumpkin Festival, which includes a corn maze, hayrides, a petting zoo, face painting, music, more than 100 craft vendors, and tons of food along with U-pick options. It’s one of the best spots in Florida for fall festivities.
In Dawsonville, you can enjoy all sorts of outdoor adventures, including hikes to waterfalls, along with some of Georgia’s best fall festivities. Pick a pumpkin at Bradley’s Pumpkin Patch, which also offers regionally-made jellies, jams, and soaps. Or, head to Uncle Shuck’s to get your perfect pumpkins, enjoy a corn maze, a corn cannon that shoots out ears of corn, hayrides, a goat walk, and a haunted maze on weekends in October.
Hawaii offers warm weather year-round for enjoying spectacular beaches so it’s not a state most equate with the fall, but in Honolulu, visitors can enjoy an unforgettable sun-and-sand getaway along with the Hale Koa Oktoberfest. Held in late September, it’s hosted by the Hale Koa Hotel and includes authentic German food and beverages, a beer hoisting contest, and a live Oktoberfest band. In early November, the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival features a roster of more than 150 internationally renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, and winemakers and mixologists.
One of the most charming towns in the Midwest, Galena is home to many historic buildings that date from the pre-Civil War era. It is also known for, reportedly, a few ghosts, with tours that will bring you to the most haunted spots, ideal for Halloween. But the fall highlight is the Galena Oktoberfest in early October, with plenty of beer, bratwursts, live polka, and a beer stein endurance contest.
Nestled in the heart of Indiana’s Amish Country, Shipshewana is a great place to learn about Amish communities and enjoy fun fall activities. Take a buggy ride with Buggy Lane Tours for a look at the Amish experience while enjoying the beautiful autumn colors or walk the Pumpkinvine Trail, known for its brilliant foliage. The Shipshewana Swap Meets offer locally grown pumpkins, gourds, and more.
There’s lots of fall fun to be had in Sioux City, with the highlight Fall Fest. Held each year on the second weekend of October, it offers a pumpkin roll, pumpkin catapult, pumpkin decorating, mask-making, costume contests, a train ride, scavenger hunt, and more. Fall hikes can be enjoyedat the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center too.
Marietta Farm is located in Andover and features a pumpkin slingshot, cannons to shoot corn and pumpkins, a corn pit, an inflatable bouncer for the little ones, and more. You can enjoy Greater Andover Days, which includes a parade, fireworks, KidFest, live entertainment, a fishing clinic, a beer garden, an ice cream social, a hot dog eating contest, a craft fair, a carnival, a car show, and more.
From Stearns, you can enjoy colorful foliage at Crack in the Rocks, a series of giant fissures through massive slabs of sandstone. By hiking the Blue Heron Loop Trail, you’ll pass through the natural passageways that provide fantastic photo-ops, especially in autumn. Visitors can also don their Halloween costumes and hitch a ride on the pumpkin train, which rolls into “creepy wooded areas” and through a historic tunnel on its way to a haunted house experience and other Halloween activities hosted at Barthell Coal Camp.
After a hot, steamy summer, New Orleanians embrace fall in a big way with plenty of festivals, football, and pumpkins. Enjoy the City Park Pumpkin Patch, which not only includes pumpkins for sale but hayrides and a bounce house. On Saturdays at Sugar Farm, there’s pumpkin picking, face painting, horse riding, and more. If you’re here around Halloween, with the city’s colorful and creepy history, you’ll have all kinds of haunted tales to uncover and spooky places to explore, from Scout Island Scream Park to Boo at the Zoo, Ghost Manor on Magazine Street, and plenty of eerie but intriguing cemeteries with above-ground tombs.
Maine is famous for its striking seasonal foliage, and there are plenty of pumpkins and fun fall festivals to celebrate the season too. But the town of Ogunquit is a definite paradise for autumn lovers. Experience the beauty of the season while strolling Marginal Way and enjoy OgunquitFest, one of the Northeast’s biggest fall festivals with a pumpkin patch, local arts and crafts, a costume parade, horse-drawn wagons, a scavenger hunt, and ghost tours. Just strolling the streets is enjoyable, with shops decked out for the season.
The town of Oakland hosts the Autumn Glory Festival, which draws tens of thousands for a 4-day celebration that includes over 75 events, including fall foliage tours, a float contest, a turkey trail, a craft show, and much more. Plus, it’s the perfect base for exploring the beautiful Deep Creek Lake Area, which includes seven state parks. Each one has scenic trails for hiking, but Swallow Falls State Park is home to one of the best. The Canyon Trail leads to three different waterfalls. You can also get lost in the Cove Run Farms Corn Maze, enjoy the petting zoo and hayrides, and pick pumpkins at the Klotz Korn Shack.
Located in The Berkshires, a rural region of western Massachusetts famous for its fall color, Lenox is a great place to be to experience the season. Enjoy scenic drives and take part in the annual Lenox Apple Squeeze, which celebrates the apple harvest with performers, artisans, musicians, farm stands, and lots of apple cider, hot and cold, throughout the weekend.
Marquette boasts a stunning setting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, famous for its vibrant fall foliage. The color frames the shoreline, a half-dozen lighthouses, over 75 waterfalls, and miles and miles of hiking trails. Throughout the area, there are ghost towns, graveyards, and sanatoriums for chilling Halloween thrills too.
The North Shore runs for over 150 miles between Duluth and the Canadian border, skirting Lake Superior to provide one of the most scenic autumn drives. Rugged cliffs and sparkling blue waters are on one side, while the Sawtooth Mountains and acres of colorful trees are on the other. Hike the trails or take a gondola ride up Moose Mountain for a bird’s-eye view. In the town of Duluth, enjoy the Lake Superior Harvest Festival that kicks off the season in mid-September with live music, crafts, family activities, and one of the biggest and best farmers’ markets. There are also haunted tours of the historic SS William A. Irvin, a Lake Superior steamer where you’ll submerge yourself in the horrors aboard.
Rolling Fork is home to Farmer Jim’s Pumpkin Patch which hosts multiple mazes, corn pools, and hayrides out to a pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkins. It also hosts the Great Delta Bear Festival in October which features an excellent lineup of live music, games, and activities for the kids, a chainsaw woodcarver, arts and crafts vendors, lots of food, and fireworks.
If you’re looking for a place with endless attractions for the whole family, Branson is it. Visit Shepherd of the Hills Farm to pick pumpkins, take a Jeep hayride, and build a scarecrow. At Silver Dollar City, you can enjoy the Harvest Festival, which features incredible displays from local artisans by day with thrill rides and jack o’lanterns after dark. Sycamore Creek Family Ranch offers a corn maze, hayrides, old-fashioned family games, a hay bale fort and corn bin, and more. And that’s just a start!
Often ranked among the country’s best small towns, Whitefish is a great base for exploring the gorgeous color in nearby Glacier National Park, and it also offers plenty of its own. The Flathead “Straw Bale” Maze and Pumpkin Patch is a favorite with the maze, pumpkin patch, a barrel train ride, a Giant Barn Jungle Gym, bungee trampoline, and more. It also hosts the epic Great Northwest Oktoberfest with German food and beer, music, and competitions like stein holding, log sawing, and keg hurling.
The historic AppleJack festival draws 60,000 to 80,000 visitors every year to Nebraska City in mid-September to celebrate the apple harvest over three days. Hosted at Arbor Day Farm, it includes picking apples in the orchard, just about every type of apple dish you can imagine, including apple pie and caramel apples, multiple craft fairs, live music, face painting, a corn maze, and giant pumpkins.
The fall foliage is stunning around the emerald waters of Lake Tahoe, and you’ll find plenty to do to celebrate the season. Incline Village is Nevada’s mountain bike capital, with the opportunity to pedal along the Flume Trail and take in jaw-dropping views from high above the water. Enjoy live entertainment, dinner, drinks, music, dancing, and an auction at The Chateau at Incline Village Fall Fest, or attend the Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch at the Rideout Community Center. It offers hayrides, carnival games, a petting zoo, pony rides, a cakewalk, a costume contest, pumpkins, and more.
Conway is in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, one of the best places to surround yourself with the vibrant colors of fall, with the reds, oranges, and yellows peaking from late September through late October, depending on the year. Take a walk to Sabbaday Falls, just a half-mile from the trailhead, enjoy the views of Mount Washington just north, or take a scenic drive just about anywhere in the area. One of the musts is a ride via the Conway Scenic Railway departing from town, which showcases views of the famous Crawford Notch.
Vernon hosts the Great Pumpkin Festival at Heaven Hill Farm between mid-September and early November. There are 40 different activities to enjoy, including a 10-acre corn maze with a different wacky theme every year, hayrides, farm animals, games, an arcade, and gem mining. Of course, there’s a pumpkin patch too. The food stands include one of the most popular fall treats, apple cider doughnuts. You can also enjoy spectacular foliage in Wawayanda State Park.
Taos is a picturesque artsy town that’s fun to visit year-round, but in the fall, you can enjoy the Taos Fall Arts Festival, which showcases emerging and established artists, along with breathtaking autumn colors. Some of the very best can be viewed along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway loop, which stretches from Taos to Eagle Nest and Angel Fire. Aspens range from luminous yellows to dark orange, golden and red cottonwoods. Keep an eye out for eagles, black bears, and elk along the way.
There’s so much to do in and around Lake Placid during the fall. One of the top destinations in the country for fall color and activities, views of the autumn foliage can be enjoyed right from downtown. The maple, oak, beech, and birch around the lake will be bursting into fiery red, vivid yellow, and orange hues. There are fall festivals worth planning a trip around, too, like the Flaming Leaves Festival in early October, with tasty BBQ, a variety of vendors, lawn games, and chairlift rides to the top of the ski jump to take in the vistas from above.
Asheville and the surrounding area boast some of the most colorful autumn foliage in the region. Hike the 1.2-mile Rough Ridge stretch on the Tanawha Trail off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, or see it from above in a hot-air balloon. Biltmore Estate always offers fun events along with lots of fall colors, while Pack Square Park downtown hosts Oktoberfest. It includes a wide variety of beer and hard cider tastings along with Bavarian staples like bratwurst, pretzels, and traditional sides, plus stein hoisting, costume contests, ax tossing, races, and more.
Fall in Fargo brings beautiful weather, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, horse-drawn carriage rides, petting zoos, and more. Local wineries offer grape stomping, and there are canopies of colorful trees to enjoy while walking or biking along the river. Halloween is a great time here, too, including haunted attractions at Moorhead’s Haunted Farm.
Come to Logan to enjoy the dazzling color at Hocking Hills State Park, with 10,000 acres of oak, hickory, hemlock, maple, and sassafras that light up the landscape. There are incredible rock formations and waterfalls that are dotted throughout, while hiking trails wind past the brilliant hues at Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave. Climbing and rappelling, zipline rides, and kayaking are all possible too. Head to Walker Farm to enjoy pumpkins, gourds, a corn maze, and wagon rides on Saturday and Sunday throughout the season.
During the month of October, Claremore hosts the Claremore Main Street Fall Festival and a Food Truck Festival with lots of food trucks, live local musicians, a Kids’ Zone, and late-night shopping. Shepherd’s Cross holds an annual pumpkin festival every weekend in October with a hay maze, petting zoo, hayrides, and other family-friendly activities. If you’re here around Halloween, “Halloween Night at the Museum” is hosted at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, allowing kids to trick or treat their way through while wearing costumes.
Located just east of the Cascades in Central Oregon, visitors to Bend not only enjoy frequent bright blue skies and lots of fall colors but the opportunity for a ton of outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, rafting, horseback riding, and golf. The annual Fall Festival is a weekend-long event that takes over downtown, closing streets so that live music, food carts, local artisans, and breweries can be enjoyed. Bend Oktoberfest brings the chance to sample seasonal local craft beers, select Bavarian wines, eat unique foods, and enjoy events like the bendhamershlagen, yodeling contests, and wiener dog races.
One of the most charming small towns in Pennsylvania, Jim Thorpe is a quaint area in a valley surrounded by trees that will be splashed with color in the fall. Visitors can even take a steam engine train right through the foliage and, in October, enjoy the fall festival with food vendors, crafts, and local artisans displaying their works.
A stroll through the tree-lined streets of Providence provides fantastic leaf peeping in parks and historic neighborhoods. Roger Williams Park is home to over 5,000 trees, and you can even take a free tour to discover the best spots. There are eight miles of winding roads for a scenic drive, a Japanese garden, a botanical garden, ten lakes, and the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Plus, the zoo hosts the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular with thousands of intricately carved pumpkins.
In McBee, you can enjoy the fall festival at McLeod Farms with a corn maze, pumpkin chunking, a costume contest, food, and lots of family fun. Pick your own pumpkins from the patch or buy one off the shelf. The highlight for many is the dessert recipe contests.
There are lots of colors to be found in the Black Hills, from Spearfish Canyon to Custer State Park. Custer is a great place to base yourself, especially if you want to attend the Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival held for three days just after the fall equinox. It’s quite the experience to feel the thunder of the massive herd of buffalo, and you can even watch cowboys and cowgirls round them up. It also includes some 150 arts and crafts vendors, a chili cook-off, and more. In nearby Rapid City, the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival is held around the same time with wagon rides, a giant pumpkin weigh-off, a pumpkin catapult, and more.
One of the best places to enjoy fall foliage in Tennessee is at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg. Enjoy the annual Autumn at Anakeesta festival and a jaw-dropping view from the mountaintop. You can take in the vista while riding the scenic Chondola or whizzing across a zipline. From the AnaVista Tower, you can see as far as Kentucky on a clear day while surrounded by color.
The northeast Texas town of Paris hosts the Festival of Pumpkins. There’s a pumpkin decorating contest and a costume contest where you can win cash prizes, numerous unique vendors, a bungee jump, and activities for the kids, like pony rides. Indulge in fair food favorites and enjoy live music too. Right downtown, there’s a pumpkin patch throughout much of October too.
Between Park City, Midway and Heber City in the Heber Valley, you’ll have a ton of fall activities that can be enjoyed among some of the most colorful landscapes in the West. Visit the Kohler Creamery hay maze and pumpkin patch to witness a working dairy farm and take part in a challenging hay maze. Your reward for making it out is ice cream and a pumpkin. One of the highlights of the season is the Heber Valley Railroad Pumpkin Train which includes a scenic ride, entertainment, and a pumpkin cookie. There’s a pumpkin patch and other attractions at the depot too.
Stowe is one of the best towns in the country for those who want to be surrounded by magnificent colors that frame pretty church steeples and covered bridges. The Trapp Family Lodge Oktoberfest in mid-September includes beer and Austrian foods, Austrian music, a strolling accordionist, and lawn games. Later in the month, Stoweflake Mountain Resort hosts the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival with live music, kids’ activities, a chili cookout, and a trebuchet contest.
Fredericksburg is popular among history buffs, and it also offers plenty of fall fun. Belvedere Plantation offers pumpkins to pick with wagon rides that will bring you out to the patch. There’s also a corn maze, a barrel train, a slide, a fun barn, and more. Braehead Farm hosts a fall festival with a corn maze, scavenger hunt, and pumpkin patch that comes complete with the “Great Pumpkin.” There are farm animals, playgrounds, and a corn pit too.
You’ll have a long list of fun things to do in Snohomish in the fall. With lots of farms in the area, that means lots of pumpkin patches too. That includes Swan Trail Farms, which offers a u-pick adventure, fall foods, and a country store. There’s a kids’ corn maze, wagon rides, a tractor pull, farm animals, a cow train, slides, duck races, and so much more. Craven Farm is the town’s original pumpkin patch, with a corn maze and hayrides included too. And, at Stalker Farms, you’ll find some of the best haunted attractions for Halloween.
Harpers Ferry is one of the best destinations in West Virginia for enjoying stunning foliage. It’s just an hour from the capital, and at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, you can hike numerous trails that deliver some of the very best views, including the less-than-a-mile Jefferson Rock trail, which offers especially impressive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A top travel destination in Wisconsin, Egg Harbor is picture-perfect in the fall. Door County is a popular getaway in the Midwest for fall colors and the charming town of Egg Harbor hosts the Pumpkin Patch Festival, marking one of the biggest weekends of the season coinciding with the peak of fall colors. It includes live music, pumpkin and scarecrow displays, carnival rides, arts and crafts vendors, a silent auction, food, drinks, and more.
A stay in Jackson Hole brings the chance to enjoy the wide array of gorgeous colors and abundant wildlife in Grand Teton National Park. Oxbow Bend and the Ditch Creek/Shadow Mountain area are two of the top spots. Plus, you can join in the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, which has drawn thousands of art lovers for 30 years as one of the premier cultural festivals in the Rockies.