20 US cities that look even better in the fall
Autumn is a magical season: the leaves change from green to golden yellows and crimson reds, food is ready for picking, and the crisp temperatures beget cozy scarves and warm drinks.
Here are twenty US cities where, according to locals and travel experts, fall colors add a little something extra to the place:
Kerry Sherin, guest experience coordinator at TurnKey Vacation Rentals, recommends visiting the Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville to enjoy the mild temperatures and beautiful fall colors.
“September through November are great months to hit Music City, soak in the fall colors, enjoy great weather, catch awesome music, and of course eat fantastic food,” says Sherin.
The fall foliage in Denver really comes into its own in October, when the weather cools down and the cottonwood trees turn a brilliant yellow.
See the fall colors in all their glory along the High Line Canal — a sixty-mile-long trail with local parks and views of the Denver skyline.
San Antonio, Texas
Fall is a great time to visit San Antonio because, as Kerry Sherin explains, the temperatures drop out of the triple-digit range. You’ll be able to stroll along San Antonio’s Riverwalk—lined with restaurants, bars, and hundred-year-old cypress trees—without breaking a sweat.
“For a fun experience, take a water taxi to the new Pearl Brewery area, a historic brewery complex now offering dining, shopping, a farmers’ market, and event space,” says Sherin.
Kentucky owes its bourbon reputation to an abundance of oak trees, and Louisville is no exception. The scarlet oak trees typically turn a deep red in the fall.
“I love to walk along the river,” says Michael Motamedi. “The leaves are the colors of an oil painting and, with a couple of restaurants along the river, it doesn’t hurt that you can stop for some live music and a Rabbit Hole cocktail when you get thirsty,” he says with a wink.
Motamedi made the move from Toronto last year and appreciates the warm autumn temperatures: “There’s something to be said about a beautiful fall when you don’t have to be terrified of a winter that’s looming!”
Salt Lake City, Utah
By fall, the tourists have cleared out and the fall colors start coming in—that means lower prices and the chance to see vibrant foliage when driving or hiking around the Cottonwood Canyons.
“For a family friendly adventure, check out the Utah State Fair in September, which includes a rodeo and western music festival,” suggests Kerry Sherin of TurnKey Vacation Rentals.
Every fall, Philadelphia’s lush greenery turns to a vibrant arrangement of reds, yellows, and oranges. Surround yourself with color in Franklin Square— an eight-acre public space in the center of the city.
Bring a picnic (or grab a burger at the local hot spot), hop on the carousel, and enjoy the autumn buzz.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
A fall foliage trip along the Mississippi River is a lovely alternative to the typical New England destinations, and a stop in the Twin Cities shouldn’t be missed.
“St. Paul is a great town 365 days a year, but it’s particularly beautiful in the fall,” says local resident Michael Gottsacker. “The weather’s great and its verdant landscape is at full fall peak—including on the bluffs of the Mississippi River.”
Gottsacker, a twenty-year resident of St. Paul, recommends a stroll down tree-lined Summit Avenue to see the Minnesota Governor’s Residence and the historic house where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived.
San Diego, California
This city by the sea offers fall colors with summer temperatures well into November. For a great vantage point on the changing hues, walk the trails around Palomar Mountain State Park where large fir and cedar trees offer shade, while the black oaks change color and lose their leaves.
Adventure lovers can snorkel in San Diego’s La Jolla cove and surf at Mission Bay Park, where they can spot the rare phenomenon of bioluminescence.
In fall, the bright autumn colors bring Boston’s Federal-style architecture to life. “To experience the foliage while surrounded by the city’s skyscrapers makes for an interesting juxtaposition of nature and modern buildings,” says Robbin Watson, Boston local.
“Walk the Freedom Trail from start to finish,” says Watson. “Since the weather will be a bit cooler, a several-hour walking tour will be manageable.”
Chicago is one of those cities where every season is true to form—if you’re looking for a time of year when it’s not too hot and not too cold, fall is the best you can hope for.
The trees turn gorgeous shades of yellow and red, and the season plays host to fascinating festivals, like the Hyde Park Jazz Festival in September.
New York City, New York
With nearly 60 million visitors every year, a trip to New York City hardly needs a reason—but the fall colors are a bonus.
“I moved here in the fall, so it’s always a very romantic season for me,” says Todd Rappaport. “The weather is amazing and the parks are gorgeous.”
To enjoy the fall foliage, Rappaport suggests going up high. “I love the High Line. That’s my favorite place to take people who are visiting New York for the first time,” he says.
Anchorage is a city surrounded by vast natural beauty that is amplified in the fall when the leaves turn into glowing yellows and rusty oranges.
The city offers several hiking trails where visitors can witness the contrast between colorful leaves and snow-covered mountaintops.
“Fall is my favorite time of year here,” says Atlanta resident and luxury travel blogger Nadeen White. In early fall, the weather cools down but the sun is still shining and there are incredible spots for leaf peeping.
For great views of the autumn colors, White recommends taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to hike. “Hike to the top of Stone Mountain to take in the beautiful fall foliage. Every weekend in October they have a pumpkin festival with puppet parades and costume contests,” she says.
Providence, Rhode Island
Rhode Island may be a small state, but the Renaissance City bursts with color in the fall. Peak foliage usually happens in late October—just in time for Columbus Day weekend.
Travelers can head up to the tree-lined Prospect Terrace Park on the east side of the city to appreciate the fall foliage. In return, there are panoramic views of the Providence skyline and its colorful tree canopy.
Seattle has the unfortunate reputation of gray skies and rain, but local resident Melissa Dailey says we have it all wrong.
“My favorite month of the year is September because that’s when we have the best possible weather—temperate, dry, and often sunny, with beautiful blue skies,” says Dailey, the traveler behind You Can Culture Leap.
“You can enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage in south Seattle by taking a stroll around Lake Washington in view of Mount Rainier,” she suggests.
This New England capital city is small but mighty—tucked away in the foothills of the Green Mountains, it’s a beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and connect with nature.
To truly enjoy the fall foliage, head up to the 194-acre Hubbard Park and stroll along one of its hiking trails. Rest your tired legs on the Cliff Street outlook and take in the colorful canopy of hemlock and white and red pine trees.
A kaleidoscope of color hits the nation’s capital every autumn. Stroll past some of America’s most important cultural monuments and memorials when they’re framed by the bright autumn hues.
To really immerse yourself in the trees, head to Rock Creek Park, a good place in the city for biking, running, and even horseback riding.
Pittsburgh is a fantastic fall destination because of the variety of ways you can enjoy the colorful landscape. “Instead of just driving or walking by, the beautiful colors can be viewed from Pittsburgh’s rivers by kayak,” explains Pittsburgh resident Christina Paonessa.
Not into sports? No worries: “Passengers on the incline cable car on Mt. Washington get amazing views of the skyline and surrounding landscape on the way up, with the reward of a breathtaking panorama at the top,” says Paonessa.
Connecticut’s fall foliage can take visitors through towns, vineyards, and parks, but the capital city of Hartford is a great place for leaf peeping.
Make your way to Bushnell Park, the oldest public park in the United States, to enjoy some of the great tree-lined walks. You might even run into a performance and festival that brings the place to life!
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
The historic town of Harpers Ferry is an incredible place in fall—bordered by the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, it’s an area filled with lush vegetation that transforms with the seasons.
It’s one of the few towns that sits on the Appalachian Trail, so there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy: mountain biking, canoeing, and rock climbing can get you up close and personal with the annual fall foliage
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