Discover the best places to visit in October in the USA, including Blue Ridge Parkway, Bend, Mammoth Lakes, and more. October is the perfect time for a vacation! 🧳
October is the perfect time for traveling. October brings stunning beautiful fall foliage, weather in October is perfect for outdoor exploring, and thinner summer crowds at some of the USA’s best national park and city destinations to visit. From vibrant autumn hues showcasing in national parks to cities dressed up with haunted attractions and Halloween spirit, wineries bursting with fresh harvest flavors ripe for tasting, and scenic drives in the US to enjoy brilliant colors.
October in the US is one of the best times of year to visit. One of the best things about this month, that it brings cooler weather but remains warm enough to still enjoy fall activities across much of the country. It’s an excellent time with thinner crowds to visit places like Yellowstone National Park and major cities hosting frightful events. October includes many spots in the USA putting on a seasonal charm ideal for getaways whether looking for destinations boasting peak fall foliage or wanting cities filled with spooky festivities.
For those seeking the best way to see blazing reds and golds swathing mountains and valleys or trying wines and foods fresh off branches and vines, October offers ideal conditions. From stunning parks presenting ever-changing leaf colors to the ultimate haunted urban settings, these are some of the best places in the US to visit in the fall month of October. Here’s some best places to travel in the middle of the fall season.
East Coast Destinations with Incredible Fall Foliage
When you think of fall in the USA, the first places that likely come to mind are the incredible colors spreading across New England and the Appalachians. Here are some of the best places to visit in the US during October on the East Coast to take in lush fall scenery.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
One of the most spectacular places to see fall foliage is Shenandoah National Park. In early October, colors start appearing at higher elevations first before moving to lower areas by mid-month. One of the best ways to experience Shenandoah in October is by taking a drive along the park’s famous Skyline Drive overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains swathed in vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. Stop at overlooks for classic views or take trails like Dark Hollow Falls and Old Rag Mountain to see the colors up close. Don’t miss Big Meadows and the Byrd Visitor Center for especially beautiful vistas.
Acadia National Park, Maine
In terms of East Coast autumn destinations, Acadia National Park deserves a spot at the top. Located on the rocky Maine coastline, Acadia explodes with rich fall hues that dramatically blanket its forests, granite peaks and rugged shorelines. Some of the best ways to experience peak foliage in Acadia are by hiking trails like Beehive, Precipice and Jordan Pond Path or taking the scenic Park Loop Road overlooking Frenchman Bay Gleaming in shades of copper and gold. After soaking in the colors, relax by getting lunch or a drink overlooking the vibrant landscape in Bar Harbor. Late September to mid-October is the prime visiting window.
Catskills Region, New York
Another foliage favorite is New York’s Catskill Mountains, conveniently located about 100 miles north of NYC. Inspiring artists and nature lovers for decades, the Catskills really shine in mid-October as oranges, yellows and reds take over. For classic views, take the 20-mile Catskill Scenic Trail or hike to Kaaterskill Falls, one of the highest in New York. The tiny village of Tannersville makes a quaint homebase with antique shops and cafes surrounded by the colorful peaks waiting to be explored.
Finger Lakes, New York
In western New York, the Finger Lakes become magical when emerald hillsides transform into vibrant autumn palettes. The mix of maples, oaks, ash and beech trees throughout the rolling hills surrounding these slender lakes creates dynamic color. Watkins Glen State Park and its Gorge Trail showcase some of the most intense hues. After taking in the colors, visit farm stands and markets to pick apples, sip cider and sample seasonal treats. Late September into October is when you’ll see spectacular colors at their peak.
Scenic Drives for Stunning Fall Foliage
Some of America’s most famous drives showcase sheer beauty in autumn, often with tunnels of color lining the roads. From the Blue Ridge Parkway to Vermont’s Route 100, add these scenic byways to your October travels.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia
Hands down one of the most spectacular places to see fall colors in the USA is on the Blue Ridge Parkway bridging North Carolina and Virginia. As America’s longest linear park traveling 469 miles through the ancient Appalachian Mountains, vibrant hues coat the endless ridges in October. Over 200 overlooks let you take in sweeping vistas of blazing fall forests carpeted between rolling peaks. Top stops include Cumberland Knob, Doughton Park and Graveyard Fields in North Carolina and Peaks of Otter and Apple Orchard Falls in Virginia. But almost anywhere you stop will overflow with stunning colors.
Vermont’s Route 100
For quintessential New England scenery, it’s hard to beat Vermont’s Route 100 in autumn. Traveling 182 miles the length of Vermont, the road winds past quaint towns, weathered barns, covered bridges, and open fields backed by mountains erupting into warm shades of red, orange and amber. Stop at farm stands popping up along the route stocked with apples and cider before finding a grassy knoll overlooking blazing maples and evergreens to soak it all in. Vermont really puts on an incredible show of colors, with Route 100 one of the best ways to witness it.
U.S. Cities Offering Fall Fun
While places focused on fall vistas easily top October bucket lists, U.S. cities also burst with autumn magic. Between foliage-draped parks, seasonal events, glowing lanterns, chillier air and more, add these urban destinations to your list.
Portland is simply lovely in October as forests and gardens ignite into warm tones contrasting cool, damp skies. The city fully embraces fall with pumpkin patches, corn mazes, football and seasonal microbrews. Forest Park and the International Rose Test Garden display beautiful fall colors while Saturday markets overflow with squash, apples and other harvest bounty. Don’t miss seasonal events like Fresh Hop Fest or Spirit of Portland’s Halloweentown. With cooler weather, it’s an ideal time to explore Portland’s coffee shops, food carts, shops and taprooms.
New York City
New York City positively glows in October as trees speckling its parks and lining brownstone-embedded streets morph into varying shades of amber, copper and burgundy. Meander through Central Park, its 141 species of trees ablaze in color, stopping to admire ornate fall displays at Conservatory Garden. Wander through artisan markets in Brooklyn stocking pumpkins and everything apple or maple. At night, make your way to The Rooftop at Pier 17 to watch the glittering Manhattan cityscape across the East River with cooling breezes. And don’t miss the incredible Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, just one of many fall events happening in the city.
Portland, Maine positively glows once October arrives and the harvest season kicks into high gear. The charming port city is known for its lighthouses, lobster rolls and thriving food scene that truly sings with hearty, seasonal flavors like pumpkin, squash and fresh seafood this time of year. Portland’s historic cobblestone streets lined with brick buildings also burst with fall foliage as leaves change in harborside parks. Late October brings cooler days ideal for long ambles along the Eastern Promenade Trail overlooking the vibrant landscape or exploring peaks and ponds on hiking trails just minutes from downtown. Don’t miss seasonal events like the Harvest on the Harbor Food & Wine Festival or take a day trip along the coast to soak in blazing fall vistas at places like Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.
Boston positively shines in October with cooler days perfect for long ambles along the Harborwalk overlooking faded copper waves with pops of cranberry red from changing trees in the foreground. Harvard Bridge creates Instagrammable views as the Charles River reflects orange foliage speckling both shores. At night, cobblestone streets around Beacon Hill and Back Bay shine with amber light streaming from gas lamps as leaves collect in alcoves. Don’t miss seasonal events like Fluff Festival or Festival of Pumpkins and you’ll discover why Boston is one of the best U.S. cities to visit in autumn.
Philly also makes for a fabulous fall weekend getaway being an easy drive from most East Coast cities. Fairmount Park dazzles with warm hues draped over its sprawling acres in October, looking lovely as a backdrop to sites like Boathouse Row or the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Schuylkill River Trail also captivates when traveled by foot, bike or boat. At night, cozy up to the flickering fire pits lining Center City’s Dilworth Park, glowing with seasonal decorations. With mild weather, lower hotel rates after summer and festive fun, October is an appealing time to take in Philly’s historical charms and striking seasonal beauty.
As summer fades in the Midwest, Chicago gears up for cooler days ideal for long walks or bicycle rides along Lake Michigan, showcasing gorgeous sunrises over shifting fall hues dotting its shores and gleaming off downtown’s mirrored marvels. Millennium and Grant Parks dazzle in red and amber as a lively events calendar including Open House Chicago, Chicago Marathon, Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Chicago International Film Festival pack October weekends. It’s one of the best months for soaking in seasonal beauty across Chicagoland paired with cultural events minus peak visitor crowds.
National Parks Before Winter Closures
For outdoor enthusiasts, October brings ideal weather conditions for exploring national parks before seasonal closures. Cooler temperatures coupled with fewer visitors make it one of the best times to take in these natural wonders.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Far less crowded than other American national parks in October, Olympic National Park in northwest Washington state unveils its most magical seasonal beauty once summer fades. With over 90 inches of annual rainfall, Olympic erupts in verdant shades of emerald contrasting blazing golden larches and vine maples. The park’s diversity allows visitors to explore Pacific coastlines lined withdriftwood, traverse temperate rainforests bursting with warm hues, view dynamic glaciers, and traverse alpine meadows under bluebird skies. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in this incredible fall landscape which is an amazing place to visit in October in the USA.
Glacier National Park, Montana
While portions of the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park close after September, October still allows visitors to drive up to Logan Pass. That means you can take in panoramas of sharp, snow-dusted peaks and remnants of glaciers before heavier winter weather creeps in. Cooler fall temperatures are also perfect for hiking trails like Grinnell Glacier Trail and the Highline Trail running along the Continental Divide. The park’s famous red “jammer” buses also operate on select routes through mid-October. Capture Glacier National Park dressed in fall finery before it closes most operations by the end of the month.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Crisp air and smaller crowds coupled with dazzling overlooks make October a fabulous time to visit the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. With summer thunderstorms giving way to bright bluebird days, hike rim trails like Bright Angel, South Kaibab or Hermit’s Rest to marvel at the colorful canyon while enjoying cooler temps and glowing golden landscapes around you. Daytime highs average in the 70s on the South Rim, ideal temperatures for exploring overlooks and trails before heavier nighttime cold settles in later in autumn. Lodges and facilities also remain open, making October an exceptional month for avoiding crowds and heat while exploring America’s second most visited national park.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
October also brings thinner crowds and gorgeous fall shows to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado as trembling gold aspen leaves contrast glacier-capped mountains. Elk bugling choruses reverberate around at sunset and mornings often dawn crisp and clear, perfect for hiking. Popular trails like Bear Lake and Emerald Lake Loop glow under saturated blue skies contrasting blazing yellow trees and imposing summits. At higher elevations around 10,000 feet, trails may have patches of snow but are still hikeable. While sections close come November, the park still can be enjoyed in October without summer’s bigger crowds nor winter’s heaviest snows.
Wine Regions to Experience Fall Colors and Harvest
For wine aficionados, October means fall harvest coinciding with stunning shows of autumn color surrounding sleepy towns and rows of vines, plus celebrations showcasing new vintages without summer tourist rates. Sip exceptional pours against the season’s captivating backdrop by visiting these premier wine regions.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Oregon’s Willamette Valley positively glows in October when endless vines ignite into dazzling yellows and oranges between evergreen pines under sunny skies. The region’s cultivated hills, benches and hillsides make for ideal pairings between Pinot Noir and seasonal beauty. Base yourself in charming Newberg, McMinnville or Dundee with their tasting rooms, eateries and cafes surrounded by color. Don’t miss special events like Fall Vineyard Fest or Cellar Harvest Fest to sample new releases. With cooler weather ideal for sipping bold reds on vibrant patios, Willamette Valley is one of America’s most stunning wine countries to explore in autumn.
Finger Lakes Wine Trail, New York
Upstate New York’s glacier-scoured Finger Lakes spring to life when vibrant vineyards contrast deep blue waters during the fall foliage crescendo in October. Departing from delightful towns like Geneva, Penn Yan and Hammondsport, four official wine trails wend through 140+ wineries in the region, most family-owned and boutique. Come autumn, trees peppering acres produce dynamic shows of color from Sycamore and Oak trees mingling around vines left with crimson leaves. Schedule your visit towards October’s end to catch harvest and sample seasonal releases without summer tourist crowds. Don’t miss enjoying a glass on a lakeview patio or deck to fully soak in the Finger Lakes amazing fall charm.
Charlottesville lets you easily couple history and wine amidst Blue Ridge Mountain beauty glowing in October. The town’s pedestrian Downtown Mall lined with restaurants and shops connects to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent mountaintop plantation estate. From its gardens and groves overlooking vineyards and rolling peaks swathed in autumn hues to wine tastings on the town’s doorstep, Charlottesville shines as a fabulous fall escape. Top area wineries like Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards and Veritas Vineyard & Winery offer stunning settings to sip vintages ringed by the Virginia countryside gleaming in warm autumn hues.
Small Towns Bursting with Fall Charm
Sometimes the most charming and scenic places to soak in beautiful autumn landscapes are off the beaten path in pastoral small towns and villages. Add these to your October travels for overload of fall charm.
Tucked into the Cascade Mountains’ Alpine forests turning amber and crimson, Leavenworth’s Bavarian Village transports visitors straight to Oktoberfest with its European facade and flavors. Brats, pretzels and beers pair perfectly with sunny bluebird days and crisp air ideal for hiking and biking along Icicle Creek gorge swathed in color. Don’t miss autumn events like Hüttenfest or an Overnight Stay in the Village’s castle, Hatley Castle where you’ll wake to incredible views of sheer fall beauty all around.
Charming Woodstock Vermont epitomizes fall in New England flanked by the Green Mountains erupting into warm autumn hues. The Ottauquechee River forming the heart of town captivates with its covered bridge spanning waters reflecting lush colors. Alongside country stores, farm stands and sleepy B&Bs, historic sites like the Billings and Marsh Rockefeller National Historic Parks invite peaceful rural wanders under kaleidoscopic canopies. Stop by a maple farm to see syrup made firsthand while sampling seasonal treats before catching an aerial show of colors by riding the lifts up Mount Tom or Killington Peak.
Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee
Picturesque Leiper’s Fork located just over an hour from Nashville immerses visitors in quintessential autumn charm. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its preserved buildings from the 1800s now housing shops, galleries and eateries, the tiny town charms under glows of fall color. Ambling country lanes invite exploring trails along the Harpeth River or through farm-dotted hollows under patchwork valley quilts of autumn tones. Don’t miss specialty harvest events in October like the annual Pumpkin Festival to sample why Leiper’s Fork makes a perfectly charming October escape steeped in fall nostalgia.
The Great Outdoors Await In US National Parks
Crisper air, golden landscapes and thinner crowds in October make it one of the best times to enjoy the great outdoors across the USA from hiking under fall foliage to wildlife viewing before heavier winter weather.
Yellowstone National Park
As one America’s most iconic wilderness wonderlands, Yellowstone National Park dazzles in October with fall touches that enhance rather than mask its sheer splendor. Thinner crowds, lovely weather, rutting wildlife and blazing yellows to fiery oranges dressing ridge and valley make it prime to visit. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound to see elk bugling, grizzlies scavenging and wolf packs prowling at lower elevations before denning up for winter. Hike around shimmering Yellowstone Lake or to Artist Point before sections close in early November to marvel at Lower Falls gleaming with rainbows under glowing forests all around. From fly fishing on the Yellowstone to soaking in steaming pools like Boiling River with awesome views, enjoy America’s first national park dressed in stunning autumn finery.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington
Marking the border between Oregon and Washington while slicing through the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area ranks among the most spectacular autumn escapes in America. Sheer cliffs, forests, waterfalls and volcanic peaks gleam under blue skies while displaying a kaleidoscope of fall beauty in October. For gorge views bathed in seasonal splendor, hike trails like Angels Rest, Latourell Falls or Dog Mountain bursting with color around you. Hit Rowena Crest for a twisting drive overlooking the gorge swathed in warm autumn tones or paddle the chilled waters to feel truly immersed in the natural wonderland’s fall spectacle.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Spanning two southern Appalachian states, Great Smoky Mountains National Park witnesses an incredible fall display thanks to its rich diversity of trees. When autumn arrives, hickories, oaks, maples, birch, buckeye and more erupting with every imaginable fall shade coat the park’s ridges, valleys and forests. For breathtaking views, take Newfound Gap Road, a scenic drive offering incredible vistas. But routes like the Blue Ridge Parkway and trails like Charlie’s Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs and Andrews Bald immerse you in the colorful landscape. Early to mid-October offers peak conditions before colder weather arrives.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Nestled high in the Sierra Nevada mountains on the California and Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is a perfect place to visit any time of year, but October brings here some special charm. It’s a stunning alpine lake that puts on a dazzling fall show. As aspens and other deciduous trees surrounding its cool blue waters ignite into warm shades of amber and gold, Lake Tahoe becomes one of the best places to visit in October in the USA. Temperatures are crisp but sunny, making it ideal to take in the color while hiking, biking or taking a scenic drive along the lake. Some of the best vistas are from Emerald Bay on the California side or Sand Harbor on the Nevada side. The annual Autumn Food and Wine Festival also happens in late September, allowing visitors to taste bold mountain reds and hearty stews while admiring Tahoe dressed in seasonal splendor.
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom
Tucked into Vermont’s rural northeast corner, the area known as the Northeast Kingdom becomes a kaleidoscope of blazing fall beauty when October arrives. With fewer tourists than southern Vermont, it’s perfect place to visit for lovers of secluded walks. Visitors can immerse themselves in the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows encapsulating thick forests and coating rolling farmlands. Base yourself in quaint towns like St. Johnsbury or Craftsbury to sample maple ciders, hike peaceful trails like Wheeler Mountain, or take scenic drives down country lanes with vistas overlooking vibrant green mountains dotted with white church steeples. Be sure to visit nearby Hill Farmstead Brewery, which offers acclaimed farmhouse ales perfect for crisp fall days.
Final Thoughts About Best Places To Visit In October In USA
When searching for the best places to visit in the USA, late September and October brings an abundance of perfect destinations to explore. From vibrant fall foliage blanketing rolling hills to cities bursting with fall festivals and haunted attractions, October is the ultimate time to visit. Temperatures are still warm enough across most of the country to enjoy long sunny days immersed in colorful landscapes along scenic drives or while hiking amazing trails.
National Parks unveil thin crowds and stunning views that can’t be matched. It’s one of the best months to visit Yellowstone and witness wildlife prepare for winter against vibrant backgrounds. The list of best places in the US to see peak fall foliage in October is long but highlights like Vermont and North Carolina encourage travels to trek specifically for the views. Cities too shine in October when seasonal decor transforms urban parks and neighborhoods into beautiful fall scenes. Several host haunted attractions and events creating an exciting autumn atmosphere.
When considering the weather, thinner summer crowds yet retaining sunny days ideal for outdoor exploring across much of the USA, October includes many of the most perfect times to visit. From sampling new vintages fresh off the vines in wine regions to biting into just-picked apples at orchards exploding in warm hues, October offers some of the best things to do across the country. Whether wanting to visit a new national park, explore a city dressed up for Halloween or simply amble country backroads bursting in seasonal beauty, October gives travelers abundant places to craft their ideal fall getaway.