The stifling temperatures and muggy days of summer are behind us. Now on to the best season of all: Autumn. Hello apple cider, crisp winds, and trees painted with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Tourists flock to North America during October to catch fall foliage at its peak. From visiting Ontario’s expansive Provincial Parks to hiking through mountains in Vermont, North America offers a bevy of awe-inspiring venues to catch unbeatable views.
Another fantastic fall destination? Europe. Europeans also enjoy Mother Nature’s autumn handiwork with the bonus of architectural masterpieces as a backdrop. Fall travelers won’t have to elbow their way through hoards of tourists, and they have the added benefit of lower prices at hotels, restaurants, and attractions. For more ideas on destinations for your fall vacation, read our list of the best places to travel in October.
Top 10 places to visit in October:
- Ubud, Bali
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Finally! A way to see the pyramids without jostling through crowds. October offers pleasant temperatures, cheaper hotels, and best of all, fewer tourists competing for the best view in popular Egyptian towns. Visit Giza for an unforgettable glimpse of the Great Sphinx, Khafre’s Pyramid, the Pyramids of Dahshour, and of course, the Pyramids of Giza. Then, head to Cairo (a mere 15-minute drive away) to visit ancient mosques and shop for unique spices, perfumes, and ceramics in the open-air markets. On October 22nd, the sun’s rays penetrate the Sun Temple, illuminating three statues of Ramses II and Amon.
What do fish on a stick, lederhosen, and dirndl dresses have in common? You’ll find them all at Munich’s infamous Oktoberfest. One of the largest, oldest, and longest-running celebrations (it began in 1810), this famous festival plays host to more than six million people over 16 days. It actually starts in September, but you can attend the final days of celebrations in October. Want to eat a sausage? They’ve got plenty. Love Bavarian music? Polish your dancing shoes! A fan of carnival rides? They’ve got those, too. Don’t even get us started on the food — from slow-roasted ox to delicious, doughy pretzels, we’re salivating already.
While in Munich, make time to see the Chinese pagoda and Japanese tea house in the city’s English Garden. The main public square, Marienplatz is lined with historic buildings, restaurants, and the Glockenspiel (the largest and most intricate cuckoo clock you’ll ever see).
Then soak up some culture at the vast Residenz Museum, one of the top museums in Munich. Have time to spare? Head off on a road trip. In six hours, you’ll reach Neuschwanstein, one of the most picturesque castles in the world. It served as inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, just to give you an idea of the romance it holds. Or, pick one of the many rewarding Munich day trips to enhance your German experience.
October offers less rain and lower temperatures in this Indonesian paradise. Expect to reach highs of 88 degrees, which is average for Bali. The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud is not to be missed. A sprawling nature reserve, this unique forest is home to temples, shrines, and over 600 Balinese Macaques monkeys. Babbling brooks, moss-covered ruins, and intricate tree roots make this a remarkable experience. Be warned: the monkeys will take any food or water from your bag (or pocket), so leave them at the hotel.
A trip to the Elephant Safari Park in Taro (a 45-minute drive from Ubud) is an excellent way to spend a day. You can ride and feed elephants, watch them perform, and enjoy a meal overlooking the magnificent scenery. Next stop: a trip to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace in the Tegalalang village just north of Ubud. Or, sign up for a more in-depth and intimate cycle or trek through the region.
While you may pay a bit more for hotel rooms (October 31st marks the end of the high season), Tahiti’s weather is fantastic at this time of year. With highs hovering around 75 degrees, and the dry season about to come to an end, you’ll be visiting at the height of perfection. Obviously, you’re going to want to spend time soaking up some rays at the pristine black-sand beaches — Lafayette Beach on Tahiti’s eastern coast is particularly peaceful.
When you’re not lounging, take a walk through Paofai Gardens and admire the water lilies in The Water Gardens of Vaipahi. Grab a snack and some souvenirs at the Municipal Market, then hail a taxi to visit the Faarumai Waterfalls. The island is known for its waterfalls, so you’ll want to travel through the Papenoo Valley to find Topatari, Vaiharuru, and Puraha Falls as well. Next, board the Aremiti Ferry for a quick trip to Moorea. Pack a swimsuit, snorkel, and mask as this island is a popular base for snorkelers and scuba divers searching for life along the coral reef.
Bora Bora is one of the most famous Tahitian islands. You’ll want to snorkel, scuba dive, or jet ski while you’re here. Oh, and maybe lie on a beach and read — or do nothing! In the mood for a beach vacay but can’t make it all the way to Tahiti? Check out other ideas for tropical vacations for your next trip.
Just because it’s not ski season doesn’t mean you won’t love Vermont. Fresh, crisp air and bright colors abound. Plus, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more charm in Vermont’s quaint towns. Don’t miss the shopping or covered bridge in Stowe; it makes a perfect selfie backdrop. Pedal along the Burlington Bike Path for an impressive view of Lake Champlain. Or, you could hike for days along Vermont’s beautiful hiking trails.
Not a fan of mountain climbing? A moderate two-mile walk will get you from Molly Stark State Park to the much lower summit of Mt. Olga; it’s just over 520 feet. Your reward: expansive views of fall foliage at its peak.
All that walking will work up an appetite. Why not indulge in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after experiencing the factory tour in Waterbury – no judgement here! Or, learn how maple syrup is made at the Bragg Farm Sugar House & Gift Shop in Montpelier.
Have a dog? Bring him (or her) to Dog Mountain, a mountain-top haven for our four-legged friends in St. Johnsbury. It even boasts a dog-friendly chapel and gallery.
A trip to Canada is cleansing for the soul. Not only will you eat well and be greeted by friendly folk, but the vast, beautiful landscape will help you forget what ails you. Tourists flock to Ontario to witness Mother Nature’s breathtaking work. Treetops are on fire with bright colors, and the air is fresh and crisp.
A mere three-hours north of Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park is home to some of the province’s most captivating panoramas. Whether you want to hike for a day or camp for a weekend, you won’t be disappointed by the calming atmosphere. If you’re on a leaf-viewing mission, try to visit some of Ontario’s other top-rated parks. You might even glimpse a bear or two.
Never seen Niagara Falls? What are you waiting for? This world wonder is made even more impressive when it’s surrounded by fall colors.
Step back into medieval times in this UNESCO World Heritage City. Bruges boasts impeccable architecture; delicious food; and romantic canals, which dissect the town. Visiting in the fall allows you to escape the heat and crowds that plague this Belgian district during the summer months. Spend time in the Historic Centre, soaking up the culture and Gothic buildings.
Bruges looks like a postcard, no matter the weather. Take a boat cruise along the famed canals and visit the Rozenhoedkaai, a truly romantic and picturesque pier. We dare you NOT to take a photo with this as your background.
The smell of chocolate will sweeten your stay, especially once you’ve tasted the delicacy for which this region is most famous. Dumon Chocolatier, nestled in the most adorable brick building, should top your list. Nearby lies Ostend, a port city on the North Sea coast. Visit the Atlantic Wall Museum, walk along the boardwalk at Plage d’Ostende, and step inside the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. If you’re up for exploring a little farther afield, consider taking a day trip from Bruges.
When you’re not sampling food, swimming, or lounging poolside, visit Maui’s Punakea Palms Coconut Farm, hike through Haleakala National Park, or follow the Pipiwai Trail. Swim with dolphins, test your courage on an outing with Oahu Shark Dive, or experience the history at Pearl Harbor. Then head to Honolulu, Oahu’s capital, to walk through Diamond Head State Monument — the stunning vista is worth the hike. If you have an itch for surfing, scratch it at Waikiki Beach.
Those who savor peace and quiet will love laid-back Kauai, a less touristy island with plenty of tranquility on offer. Ten miles long and 3,600 feet deep, Waimea Canyon is the optimal spot to appreciate nature. Then head for the skies — a helicopter ride will help you see the impassable, untouched beauty along Kauai’s coast.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you’re looking for fall colors, this national park won’t disappoint. Stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for optimal access to this foliage-viewing mecca. Kids will thank you forever (well, at least for a couple of hours) after a trip to see over 10,000 sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. You’ll also top their best parents list if you take them to make pottery at Fowler’s Clay Works.
Now that they’ve been placated, head to the main attraction – Great Smoky Mountains National Park This spectacular park boasts over 800 miles of roads and hiking trails, all with astounding views of more than 100 different species of trees. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is an easier option for those pushing strollers or struggling with mobility. Cades Cove, the most popular spot in the park, sits in a valley surrounded by tree-covered mountains. You can drive along the 11-mile loop or get out to walk the trails, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a deer, black bear, or coyote.
Other popular hikes within the park include Chimney Tops, Andrews Bald, Rainbow Falls, and Alum Cave Bluffs. Kids will do well with less serious terrain — Kephart Prong Trail and Porters Creek are your best bets for family-friendly trails. You might also want to consider seeing the highlights of Nashville while you’re close by.
There’s no better place to celebrate Halloween than this haunted town. Home to the famed Salem Witch Trials, this historic haunt highlights its murky past in a myriad of ways. A visit to the Salem Witch Museum will transport you back to the trials of 1692. Stop by Crow Haven Corner, Salem’s oldest witch shop for books, candles, jewelry, and a magic ritual and spell. Don’t miss the Salem Psychic Fair & Witches’ Market for a psychic reading. It’s a perfect place to find magical gifts (spell kits and voodoo dolls included) and runs throughout October. Finish your day with a ghostly walk. The Salem Haunted History Night Walking Tour is particularly spooky.