Travel Channel Editors Share Their Fall Travel Plans

From national parks to European hotspots, check out these autumn travel destinations from our experts.

By: Ryan Reed

In my opinion, fall is the best time to travel. Not only is the air a little cooler and the scenery a bit more colorful, but if you plan accordingly, your flight to a fall destination could be cheaper, too.

With all those incentives, the editors here at Travel Channel are looking forward to stepping away from our desks for a few days and exploring some bucket list destinations. See where we're headed, then start planning your autumn vacation.

Kelly Smith Trimble // Executive Editor

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Sunrise at Schwabacher Landing at Grand Teton National Park.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/Elizabeth M. Ruggiero

©iStockphoto.com/Elizabeth M. Ruggiero

I’m headed West for a two-week road trip to several national parks: Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier in the U.S. and Waterton and Banff in Canada. I’m pretty stoked about taking that much time off (it’s a first in 17 years of working!), and I’m also looking forward to cool weather, awesome mountains, and not having an itinerary or agenda other than a starting point, an end point, and miles and miles of curvy roads, campgrounds and trails between.

Kayla Kitts // Managing Editor

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island, Georgia

Aerial view of Tybee Island in Georgia.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/bjones27

©iStockphoto.com/bjones27

This may sound crazy, but my husband and I are celebrating the three-year anniversary of our first date with a trip to Tybee Island, Ga. The drive is roughly 3 1/2 hours from our doorstep, and we found an amazing Airbnb right on the beach. It’s a small place with just enough space for the two of us. We may go into Savannah, but we may not. We’re not making any plans. Isn’t that the point of a beach vacation?

Spending my entire life staring at the Smoky Mountains has left me a bit oblivious to other state or national parks in the southeast. In late October, I’m renting a yurt in Cloudland Canyon State Park to soak up the fall foliage and explore the outdoors in my new home state of Georgia.

Farima Alavi // Assistant Editor

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

The towers and cathedrals of Florence.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/SerrNovik

©iStockphoto.com/SerrNovik

I am traveling to Italy (Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome, Florence) and Spain the second half of September. I'm most looking forward to eating my way through these cities, and I'm especially looking forward to my four-course cooking class in Rome. Although, a wine tour and hiking in Cinque Terre are close seconds.

Shannon Petrie // Managing Editor

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Hundreds of balloons fly above Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the balloon fiesta in October.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/ivanastar

©iStockphoto.com/ivanastar

I haven’t locked in my fall travel plans yet, but someday I’d love to go to New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which takes place each October. Seeing hundreds of hot air balloons soaring through the sky would be spectacular! Beyond the balloon festival, I’d love to sample authentic New Mexican cuisine and check out the museums and cultural centers.

Paul Cox // Director, Site Operations

I’m heading to a few places this fall…

Nantahala River, N.C.: The river and the area around the gorge are very popular destinations for outdoor sports enthusiasts all year-round. The biggest attractions for me are the whitewater and the mountain biking. Summer is, of course, a great time to paddle, but I prefer the cooler months when the water feels extra crisp and there’s less baking under the hot sun. And each fall, the Nantahala Outdoor Center hosts the oldest whitewater race in the southeast. I’ll be racing again this year.

Yurt Camping at High Falls State Park, Ga.: If your friend group or family includes folks who like camping but not roughing it, “yurting” is a great compromise. They’re more substantial than tents but not so insulated from the outdoors like a cabin. And yurts seem to be popping up all over Georgia state parks. I’ll be loading up some boats and heading to High Falls State Park with family and friends in September (right before fall technically begins). I’m looking forward to waking up to the sounds of the lake just outside the door of our yurt, the smell of wood smoke from the campfire and being able to fish and kayak any time of day.

The Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: My family always has a big Thanksgiving dinner. This year, however, we’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Mexico. Our goal: Total relaxation amid the lush jungle and cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula. And if we have time, we’ll plan an excursion to some of the Mayan ruins in the area. We’ve visited Chichen Itza and Tulum, but there are so many historically significant sites to explore.

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, Mexico

The Mayan ruins of Tulum overlooking the ocean.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/traveler1116

©iStockphoto.com/traveler1116

Laura James // Assistant Editor

San Francisco

San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge at dusk.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/Ultima_Gaina

©iStockphoto.com/Ultima_Gaina

I’m planning to visit San Francisco for a long weekend this fall. The Bay Area often experiences what many people call an Indian summer, when temperatures are unseasonably warm during the fall months. While I love fall weather and watching the colors change here in East Tennessee, I’m not a big fan of winter, so I like to visit somewhere warm and get one last taste of summer-like weather before it’s time to pull out the winter coats for the next three months. It will be my first time to San Francisco, and I can’t wait to ferry to Alcatraz Island, explore Fisherman’s Wharf, see Lombard Street (also known as “the crookedest street in the world”), sample some Ghirardelli chocolate and, of course, take in the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

Ryan Reed // Editor

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Autumn sunrise in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/KenCanning

©iStockphoto.com/KenCanning

I haven’t made concrete plans yet, but I hope to do some serious leaf peeping this fall in the Great Smoky Mountains. I grew up near the beach in Maryland and spent some time in Charleston, S.C., before moving to Knoxville, Tenn., so having mountains in my backyard is a new experience and one that I’m looking forward to exploring. According to this map, the best time to head into the mountains to see the fall foliage will be from September 24 to October 1.

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