The Top 11 Best Cities in the U.S. to Spend the Fall
Somehow, the summer is already over. Fall colors are appearing, kids are heading back to school, and it’s actually pleasant enough to go on that three-hour walking tour of the city without the need to take frequent breaks under the nearest tree shade.
Along the East Coast—especially in New England—and throughout the Midwest, nature is having its autumn moment, with trees transitioning from green to a gorgeous palette of gold, rusty reds, and coppers. Sure, the air can be a bit chilly, and you’ll have to don a sweater or light jacket, but this is the time to head out to see all the pretty autumn foliage, take a refreshing hike after the work day is done, or choose a new destination to explore on a road trip getaway.
So, go ahead and grab your PSL as you discover the best cities to visit in the fall, whether it’s a fall vacation or road-tripping across the country, including:
- Austin, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Bloomington, Indiana
- Chicago, Illinois
- San Francisco, California
- Boise, Idaho
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Asheville, North Carolina
Let’s get started!
1. Austin, Texas
In the fall, Austin is slowly but steadily cooling off from the blanket of heat that typically starts around April. Mid- to late fall is one of the best moments to enjoy Texas, especially if you love camping and hiking. Driving an hour or less in any direction from Austin for a weekend getaway and you’ll find yourself in the middle of some incredibly beautiful state parks, including Bastrop State Park, Buescher State Park, and Pedernales Falls State Park.
Music is the native language of this capital city (even Austin’s airport boasts live music all over the terminal!), so take a walk through the downtown area for a really fun and lively afternoon. Plus, Austin City Limits (ACL) is one of the country’s most exciting music festivals and takes place over two weekends in October. If you’re interested, be sure to get tickets in advance!
The restaurants in Austin are fantastic and many are nationally renowned, but the food truck courts in Austin are really thriving. Try to make your way through as many as you can during your stay to experience some of the most creative, flavorful foods you’ve ever had.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
In New England, autumn arrives in style, with some stunning foliage to boot. In this historical city, you can take a walking tour or follow the Freedom Trail, and be sure to make time to stop in Quincy Market when you get hungry from all that history.
One of the best fall activities in the Boston area is visiting Walden Pond, where the trees offer a spectacular backdrop of fall foliage over this famous body of water. You can even pair the outing with a trip to Nashoba Valley, the perfect spot for sampling local wines and apple picking.
And, of course, if you’re there around Halloween, a day trip to Salem is inevitable to creep yourself out—just be sure to book any tours in advance.
3. Bloomington, Indiana
In the autumn months, this small town, centered around a university, boasts a truly spectacular display of fall foliage due to the density and variety of trees that cover the land. Nearby, Lake Monroe is a picturesque spot for an autumn picnic, or you can enjoy the lake view while you chow down on the yummy brunch at Scenic View Restaurant.
Join the students for a festive fall football game, or stroll through the incredibly wooded campus of Indiana University, which is arguably one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country.
For a lazy Sunday drive to do some leaf peeping, make the short trip to the rolling hills of the Hoosier National Forest, where the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area will offer you dreamy views of the fall foliage.
4. Chicago, Illinois
By mid to late September, the breeze from Lake Michigan gets just a touch cooler—these are the last days before the frigid winter arrives. Use this magic, autumnal moment to catch a concert at Millennial Park, stroll or jog along Lake Michigan, walk along a slightly less crowded Michigan Avenue, and peruse the fun boutiques, cafes, and bars in trendy Wicker Park.
Even as the city’s foliage transforms, you can surround yourself with green at the Garfield Park Conservatory, which is actually free to visit. Another must-do while you’re staying in Chicago is taking an architecture boat tour to hear all about the city’s incredible buildings as you glide down the Chicago River.
When it gets chilly, the best fall activity is heading inside to experience some of the world’s most magnificent cultural institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, and Shedd Aquarium.
5. San Francisco, California
If you haven’t heard, San Francisco doesn’t really do summer weather in the summer months. Instead, residents endure foggy, clammy days from June to August, just waiting for September to finally arrive and bring its higher temperatures and clear and blue skies over the city’s hills.
This means it’s the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors at Dolores Park or the world-famous Ocean Beach, where you can try surfing with the pros—or just watch other people surfing. Autumn is also the best time to head to the Marin Headlands, a national park with rugged beaches, hiking trails, and intriguing wildlife. Plus, if you’re in town by late August, you’ll be able to join the party at Chinatown’s Autumn Moon Festival.
6. Boise, Idaho
Early autumn is one of the most beautiful moments to be in the capital city of Boise. The Botanical Gardens puts on a fun Fall Harvest Festival, but for a more rigorous adventure, check out the many miles of trails that spread out from the Foothills Learning Center. Head inside for a visit, then take in some pretty views of foliage and perhaps stumble upon an owl or coyote.
The Boise National Forest is undoubtedly a top destination for nature lovers, with hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, rolling meadows filled with wildflowers, and mountainous landscapes where the wild things are (think elk, moose, and bears).
When it’s time for happy hour, you’ll be overwhelmed by your choice of about 20 breweries in town—not to mention the up-and-coming urban wineries and the 17 wineries just outside the city in the Snake River Valley.
7. Williamsburg, Virginia
In such a storied city as Williamsburg, there are plenty of haunted spots you can learn all about on one of the many walking tours for the perfect Halloween adventure. Rent a kayak or pontoon boat and float around the famous James River for a relaxing view of the incredible fall colors this town has to offer.
York River State Park is an excellent spot for hiking and cycling, and Historic Jamestown’s Island Loop Drive is another favorite destination for cycling through nature. Regardless of whether you’re a history buff, enjoy the opportunity to travel back in time at the 300-acre Colonial Williamsburg historic area, the world’s largest living museum.
8. Nashville, Tennessee
If you’re aiming to find the best fall destination, look no further than this Tennesee town. Every Saturday afternoon in September, you can chill out in the grass at Centennial Park and enjoy a free concert. Be prepared for some awe-inspiring sights when you take a scenic drive along the historic Natchez Trace Parkway that ends about 400 miles later in Natchez, Mississippi. You’ll get the best views of the stunning fall foliage in the area—and spot some deer and wild turkeys along the way!
Besides its passion for music, Nashville also loves to celebrate the state’s world-famous beverage: whiskey. From Sept. 30 through Oct. 1, you can explore the wide world of whiskey at the Nashville Whiskey Festival.
9. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Even though Tulsa might not be your typical fall destination, autumn weather in Oklahoma is a great excuse to spend lots more time outdoors. Head to the Greenwood District to understand an important moment in Black history, and check out the businesses that are prospering there today. Centennial Park is an oasis of green in the city and the place to be for taking lots of selfies with lovely views.
Don’t miss out on the Tulsa Club Hotel to admire a gorgeous specimen of Art Deco in the middle of downtown Tulsa. Grab a drink at the glamorous bar, have dinner at the restaurant, or spend a night or two for a classy staycation.
10. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is another destination that definitely breathes a little easier in the autumn, with temperatures dropping from over 100 degrees down to the 70s. Get the party started by hopping aboard the popular Ales on Rails, which is Arizona’s take on Oktoberfest. Sip on a refreshing craft beer from a wide variety of local breweries while lounging on a train taking a slow, scenic ride through Verde Canyon.
Although it’s no New England, take advantage of the beauty of the Wild West with the jeep tour of the Sonoran Desert, a hike up Camelback Mountain, or a day of kayaking down the Lower Salt River.
When you’re in the mood for some creative inspiration, head to Roosevelt Row to check out the city’s art galleries and studios. Plus, from Nov. 12 to Nov. 13, get yourself to Bell Bank Park to indulge at the state’s annual Taco Festival.
11. Asheville, North Carolina
This trendy North Carolina city is quite popular year-round, but nature really puts on a glorious show of fall foliage during this season. Walking around town or driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway across the Appalachians is a relaxing way to see the fantastic variety of fall colors, but for seriously stunning views you won’t soon forget, go for a hike at Black Balsam, Craggy Gardens, or Mount Pisgah.
When you want to have some good old-fashioned fun without working up a sweat, check out the Eliada Corn Maze and then get yourself on a hay ride.
Want to spend the fall in a new city?
This fall season, you could go somewhere new—because why not? Landing offers fully furnished apartments in over 375 cities throughout the U.S., allowing you to travel on your own terms and enjoy all these cities during their best months. We also offer flexible leases that make it easy to move somewhere new whenever you feel the urge for a change of scenery. Learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you today!