10 Best U.S. Cities for Active Fall Getaways

Summer is pretty much over. Naturally, this means it's time to start planning a fall vacation.

September 12, 2019

Photo By: Washington.org

Photo By: Visit Sacramento / John Hernandez

Photo By: Meet Minneapolis

Photo By: SanDiego.org

Photo By: Washington.org

Photo By: Visit Seattle / Howard Frisk Photography

Photo By: Travel Portland

Photo By: San Francisco Travel Association

Photo By: Visit Denver / Bob Ash

Photo By: Visit Long Beach

Photo By: Visit Oakland

Get Outdoors This Fall

As the heat of summer begins to subside, now is the time to plan a delightful fall getaway that takes full advantage of the season's comfortable weather. To help you decide where to go, Wanderu, a booking platform for bus and train travel, ranked the best U.S. cities for fall outdoor activities. Taking into account the number and acreage of city parks, the number of urban hikes and bike rental locations per capita, average rainfall and temperatures and ParkScore rankings, here are the ten best cities for an active fall getaway.

10: Sacramento, California

This capital city was catapulted into the spotlight in 2017 with the film release of Lady Bird. A trendy new food hall and a massive farm-to-fork scene have proven there's a lot to love about Sacramento. Get active by criss-crossing town to explore the city's thriving public art scene, which grew to prominence in the wake of its now annual mural festival, Wide Open Walls. Take a running, walking or biking tour with Sac Tour Company to check out the vibrant murals and learn the inspiration behind the artworks. Delve into the local brew scene on a pedal-powered tour with Sac Brew Bike.

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9: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis may be better known for its bitter cold winters, but this destination is well worth a visit ahead of the first frost. For one, you're never more than six blocks from a park, making it easy to stay active in Minneapolis. Take a hike or enjoy a picnic at Crosby Farm Regional Park, the largest natural park in St. Paul. Keep your eyes open for native wildlife, like cardinals, white-tailed deer and northern leopard frogs. Rent a kayak for a paddle on the Mississippi River. Or, simply watch the rowers from the University of Minnesota practice from a comfy bench along the riverfront.

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8: San Diego, California

It's not hard to plan for an active getaway in San Diego, a popular year-round destination with average daily temps in the mid-60s. However, the uncrowded beaches, spectacular sunsets and near-perfect days make San Diego especially attractive in the fall. Kayak in and out of sea caves in La Jolla, then bike from Coronado to Imperial Beach along the Bayshore Bikeway, which passes the renowned Hotel del Coronado. As a bonus, October is Kids Free Month in San Diego, so bring the kids to hop on more than 100 deals and discounts at hotels, restaurants and attractions all over town.

See More Photos: Top Things to Do in San Diego

7: Washington, D.C.

Thanks to more than 500 Capital Bikeshare stations all across the Washington, D.C. metro area, including neighboring Maryland and Virginia, it's a snap to get around the nation's capital on two wheels. Set out on the popular Capital Crescent Trail or navigate to the National Mall for galleries, museums and monuments. Stroll Rock Creek Park or the National Arboretum to take in spectacular fall foliage, which rivals the city's spring cherry blossoms. In mid-September 2019, the Washington Monument re-opens to the public after a three-year closure for repairs, making fall an ideal time for a visit.

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6: Seattle, Washington

Seattle may have a rainy reputation, but don't let that keep you from making plans for a long weekend in the fall. Begin your stay with a stroll around the 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum, which explodes with brilliant crimsons, ambers and golds in early- to mid-October. Rent a bike for a lap around Lake Washington, then take in nature's best at any of the 485 parks and green spaces across Seattle. Before you return home, make the 30-minute drive to Snoqualmie Falls. Hike the nature trails and snap a few photos of the most well-known waterfall in the state.

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5: Portland, Oregon

Fall is a delightful time of year for a visit to Portland. Make a beeline for the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a joint project between Portland and its sister city in China, Suzhou. This flourishing urban oasis has been enchanting visitors for nearly 20 years. Expect a spectacular show of fall colors. In nearby Beaverton, Cooper Mountain Nature Park beckons with nature trails and dramatic views of the Tualatin River Valley. Intown, kayaking on the Willamette River with Portland Kayak Company is a popular water-based activity. As you paddle, keep your eyes open for blue herons, bald eagles and osprey.

See More Photos: 10 Unique Breweries in Portland, Oregon

4: San Francisco, California

Clear skies and reliably pleasant temperatures make San Francisco a wonderful destination for a fall visit. Start on the Lands End Trail, a scenic three-mile trail that skirts along rocky cliffsides, wowing with dramatic views around every turn, including show-stopping glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rent bicycles from Blazing Saddles for an invigorating ride across the iconic bridge into Sausalito for samples of award-winning varietals. On the return, settle in on the ferry (with your bike) for skyline views, then explore Golden Gate Park, including the famed Japanese Tea Garden.

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3: Denver, Colorado

More than 85 miles of urban bike trails make Denver a mecca for cycling enthusiasts, as well as those eager to take in the golden-yellow aspen leaves from two wheels. Try a guided bike tour with Mile High Bike Tours, such as their popular Bike and Brew Tour. Hiking is another popular activity in fall, particularly at Red Rocks Park. Take it slow along the 1.5-mile Trading Post Trail to fully absorb the beauty of the dramatic red rock formations. Red Rocks Park is also home to an outdoor amphitheater, which hosts concerts through mid-October.

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2: Long Beach, California

Much like San Diego (#8), Long Beach is a SoCal destination popular with active visitors, especially in the fall. Book a spot on a twice-daily whale watching cruise with Harbor Breeze Cruises. Blue whales are most likely to be seen this time of year (through November). While at Rainbow Harbor, take a spin on the Ferris wheel for bird's-eye views of downtown Long Beach. Rent a cruiser bike or surrey bike from Wheel Fun Rentals to explore El Dorado Park, then pop over to Shoreline Village for a sunset walk and a scoop at Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt on the Boardwalk, a Long Beach favorite.

See More Photos: Long Beach is a SoCal Gem Packed With Family Fun

1: Oakland, California

There's a lot to love about Oakland, particularly for outdoor lovers, which may be why Wanderu gave this likeable East Bay destination top honors. Take a stand-up paddleboard out on the Oakland Estuary (you can rent one from California Canoe & Kayak), then visit the oldest bonsai tree in the United States at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, a tidal lagoon in the middle of Oakland. Rent pedal boats or canoes while you're there. Oakland boasts more than 300 days of sunshine and 2,500 acres of open space, making this destination more than worthy of an active getaway this fall.

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