22 Best Fall Destinations in America and Around the World
From New Orleans to Kyoto to Tuscany, find out where you need to be to experience the best autumnal color, food and events this fall.
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Fall Around the World
While the iconic colors of New England and the Blue Ridge Parkway may be more familiar to leaf peepers, harvest festival fans and apple picking devotees in America, there are amazing spots around the globe to enjoy the spectacular change of seasons. International travelers will also experience milder weather, fewer crowds (and ergo, shorter lines) as well as lower hotel prices and airfares in the fall. Read on for Travel Channel's picks of some amazing fall destinations to experience, whether you are traveling this fall or planning an autumn getaway next year.
Apple Pie Trail, Ontario, Canada
When autumn arrives, apples are the undisputed star. Nothing quite compares with a trip to a local orchard or farmers’ market where you can find fresh-picked fruit that’s juicy, crunchy and just plain wonderful. And there's a travel destination centered on the allure of the apple: Ontario, Canada's Apple Pie Trail. The self-guided trail winds through multiple cities along the South Georgian Bay region of Ontario and features restaurants where you can stop in for a bite of something apple-based, cideries, shops, wineries specializing in apple ice wine and 28 local orchards.
Fall color ignites this stunning landscape on Bavaria's river Main, with a view of castle Festung Marienberg in the distance. Bavaria comes alive in fall, when an already scenic section of Germany plays host to Oktoberfest, autumn festivals and fairs. And mild temperatures mean autumn is also a great time to experience the beauty of Bavaria's outdoors with copious scenic hiking trails, walking and mountain biking opportunities.
See More Photos: 10 Family-Friendly Oktoberfest Celebrations
Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Pennsylvania Dutch Country, better known as Lancaster, Pennysylvania, is an idyllic place to visit during the harvest season. There are apple orchards ripe for the picking, corn mazes that hearken back to a simpler time and farmers' markets bursting with homemade baked goods and fresh produce. Just 30 minutes northeast, you’ll find “Antiques Capital, U.S.A.” in Adamstown, home to over 3,000 antique dealers, traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine and, of course, that Amish charm.
Set in Lancaster County’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Verdant View Farm is a fourth-generation working farm with cows, goats and chickens that offers guided tours and even a bed and breakfast to give visitors a taste of farm life.
See More Photos: 10 Farms Where You Can Work and Stay
This stunning view of Lochan Reoidhte in Aberfoyle shows the spectacular beauty of Scotland in the fall when trees display their wondrous autumn colors. The best times to experience fall in Scotland are September through November, when the crowds tend to dissipate and travel is more affordable. If you're traveling to Scotland in November, you might want to plan for the national holiday Saint Andrew's Day November 30, which marks the beginning of the Advent season.
See More Photos: Tour Scotland's Castles, Countryside and Culture
Blue Ridge Parkway
Winding 469 miles across North Carolina and Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway is an American favorite made even more spectacular by a breathtaking display of fall colors. It's home to Mother Nature's longest-lasting show of fall foliage, and with thousands of feet in elevation, there is no shortage of scenic overlooks.
Skyline Drive, Virginia
Virginia's Skyline Drive is beautiful year-round, but if you're looking to enjoy it in all its splendor, there's no better time to drive down the 105-mile scenic byway than in the fall. Its route along the Blue Ridge Mountains through Shenandoah National Park is not only perfect for leaf-peeping, but also offers close to 70 scenic overlooks.
See More Photos: America's Best Fall Foliage Road Trips
Japan is a country that revels in natural beauty and celebrates earth's bounty at every turn. Nowhere is that reverence for the natural world more evident than in Kyoto, where fall is an opportunity to contemplate the season's changing colors on ornate bridges or in painterly views framed in shrine and temple windows. Many temples feature illuminated fall colors at nighttime to further appreciate the magnificent reds, yellow and oranges. And fall's hues shine especially brightly at Kyoto Botanical Gardens (shown here).
See More Photos: Seven Wonders of Japan
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
Cabot Trail is a scenic highway located around the rugged, northern coastline of Cape Breton Island. Locally referred to as "Trunk 30," it passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Margaree River Valley and along Bras d'Or Lake. Highlights of the drive include the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, whale watching in Pleasant Bay, quaint fishing villages such as Belle Cote and Dingwall, and the North Highlands Community Museum in Cape North.
See More Photos: Driving Bucket List: Iconic Highways Around the World
This forested region south of Paris is a magical bouldering area that everyone should visit at least once. It has enough rock climbing to last a lifetime, and you can spend hours wandering through the forests playing on the amazing sandstone boulders. During this season, you can see the beauty of the fall foliage, which could rival the best locations in the United States. Start each day at a local bakery to enjoy a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), and be sure to grab a baguette, some foie gras and a bottle of Bordeaux to snack on at the boulder fields. On rest days, visit the town of Fontainebleau or take the train into Paris for some sightseeing.
See More Photos: 10 Affordable, Under-the-Radar Paris Restaurants
Spend one weekend in New Orleans during the fall, and you will quickly understand why visiting the Big Easy in autumn is a must. This city keeps locals and visitors busy with countless events from late September through November, including Oktoberfest, the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, the Louisiana Seafood Festival and the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience, a three-day Halloween weekend concert series. New Orleans also hosts costume events, such as Boo at the Zoo at Audubon Zoo, and fun street events on Bourbon and St. Ann Streets in the heart of the French Quarter.
See More Photos: Top Things to Do in New Orleans
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague in the fall is alive with food festivals, including the annual Carp Harvest Festival, combining fish, beer and fun. It's just one reason to visit Prague in the fall. September tends to feature clear and dry weather and snow typically begins to fall in November.
See More Photos: Things to Do in Prague
Sleepy Hollow, New York
The setting of the famous Washington Irving short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this village in southern New York, an easy drive from Manhattan, embraces its literary legend. Take a lantern-lit walking tour (given April through November) through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (where Irving is buried), where Irving is laid to rest, or check out a famous spot from Dark Shadows: the vampire Barnabas Collins' crypt. Things really get creepy in October, though, when the Horseman's Hollow "haunted experience" transforms a local historic home (pictured) into a terrifying tour through the Headless Horseman's Sleepy Hollow. Horseman's Hollow is only for the most intrepid thrill-seekers, but events like the Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayride are available for those looking for Halloween fun without heart-stopping terror — though don't be surprised if this hayride has a Headless Horseman sighting.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Temperatures cool and one of Mexico's most unique — and biggest — holidays, the Day of the Dead (Oct. 31-Nov. 2) happens in the art-filled creative hub of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This charming colonial-era city in the Mexican highlands is also an ideal destination in November, when rain is less likely.
New York City Halloween Parade
The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is one of the biggest in the country. The mile-long event takes over Lower Manhattan every year. The parade showcases giant puppets, more than 50 bands, dancers and exotic costumes. Members of the public are welcome to march in the parade — as long as they’re wearing a costume, of course.
See More Photos: Top 10 Halloween Parades
The Great Vermont Corn Maze
Nothing says fall quite like a corn maze and the Great Vermont Corn Maze is the largest in New England. What makes a corn maze great? A 32-foot underground tunnel and a 30-foot cabin cruiser that "sails" on top of the corn. This third-generation dairy farm unveils an entirely new maze design in North Danville, VT, each year.
See More Photos: Top 10 Corn Mazes
As the season changes to fall, local aspen trees turn an intense, glowing yellow (September is said to be the best time to see those fall colors) that when set against Aspen, Colorado's snowcapped mountains and clear blue skies, is an incredible fall sight. This beacon of stunning outdoor scenery can be enjoyed on over 100 miles of hiking trails most of which stay snow-free until November (but always check the forecast before you set out).
Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
Also known as the Harvest Moon or Moon Festival, this annual holiday celebrated in Asian countries including China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines is a harvest festival that has been honored since the Tang Dynasty. In mainland China the 3-day Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is the second biggest holiday of the year (right behind the country’s spring festival). Experience Mid-Autumn fun closer to home at Chicago’s Moon Festival.
See More Photos: Dining in China: Essential Etiquette and Customs to Know
Vermont's Woodstock Pumpkin and Apple Festival
Don’t just eat desserts at the Woodstock Pumpkin & Apple Festival at the Billings Farm & Museum in Vermont—try your hand at the cider press and making apple and pumpkin ice cream for yourself. The festival offers all kinds of activities that folks of all ages will enjoy, like bowling with pumpkins, taste-testing apples, taking wagon rides around the farm, and getting a delicious whiff of homemade apple butter on the stove in the museum’s kitchen.
Peak fall color in Tokyo runs from mid-October to mid-December, when maple trees turn an intense red and the famous Japanese gingko trees turning bright yellow. Yoyogi Park in the heart of Tokyo is a great place to take in the fall color. Locals also celebrate the imported American holiday of Halloween in October, and some of the best costumes and revelry can be found in the Shibuya Crossing neighborhood and Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan. Fall also means delicious seasonal treats, like baked sweet potatoes, Japanese chestnuts, sanma fish and matsutake mushrooms.
Nebraska City AppleJack Festival and Carnival
Apple up with Nebraska City’s AppleJack Festival, where if you go home without eating at least five apple dishes, you’ve done something wrong. We’re talking apple pie, apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, apple salad, apple fritters, candy and caramel apples, and more. You’ll also find live music, several craft fairs, a classic car show, carnival, and contests like apple pie baking and even apple peeling.
See More Photos: 10 Amazing Fall Festivals Worth a Road Trip
This vineyard near San Gimignano illustrates the stunning vistas that fall (roughly Sept. 23-December 20) brings to Tuscany, when Italians celebrate seasonal harvests of olives, porcini mushrooms, chestnuts and truffles with plenty of food and wine festivals to revel in the local bounty. Read more about autumn opportunities on Visit Tuscany's website.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is lovely any time of year, but cooler temps and thinner crowds make it especially nice in the fall. Another reason to travel to Charleston in fall: the annual Preservation Society of Charleston's The Fall Tours: Homes, History & Architecture, capitalizes on some of the country's most beautiful properties and gardens.
See More Photos: A Travel Channel Editor's Top Charleston Picks