Looking for the best places to visit in October in USA? Get inspired to explore! Whether you’re seeking those classic fall colors, fun festivals, or Halloween destinations, October in the US offers an incredible variety of options.
Best Places to Visit in October in USA
October in the US means pumpkin patches and apple picking, hayrides and haunted houses. From the delicious to the terrifying, October is the perfect month for cultural activities across the country.
Traveling in October often yields better prices and smaller crowds, too. Take advantage of off-peak prices while the kids are all in school and parents are busy.
Note there is a holiday weekend in October (the second Monday), so you’ll want to avoid popular spots if you’re seeking more affordable travel.
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Best Places to See Fall Colors in USA
Fall colors in the USA are iconic.
The deciduous trees start losing their leaves in preparation for heavy winter snow falling on bare branches. But, before those leaves fall, they shift from standard green to a wild variety of reds, oranges, and yellows.
This fiery display offers a last hurrah before the depths of winter take over.
If you’re keen to see this beauty for yourself, there’s no better place to travel in autumn than New England.
But while the region is synonymous with autumn colors, there are several other places to see fall colors in the US that you just shouldn’t miss!
Best Places to Visit in New England in Fall
New England in the fall offers a stunning display of color. From the multitude of state parks to the rolling Appalachian Mountain Range, this region is a must for fall colors!
An autumn road trip through New England is required, with every bend of the road providing more beautiful vistas.
1. New Hampshire and Vermont
New Hampshire and Vermont are utterly idyllic this time of year.
Plan a weeklong road trip, staying in quaint B&Bs along the way as you explore the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Hopefully, both will be colorful mountain ranges during your trip!
2. The Berkshires
In Western Mass (few locals actually say the full state name of Massachusetts), you’ll find yourself in the Berkshires.
October in the Berkshires is a jaw-dropping scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Rent a cabin and bask in that natural, blissful beauty.
Looking to get outside? Hike the trails of Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine. The Beehive and Cadillac Mountain are personal favorites.
The beauty of October in New England is only countered by the volatility of the weather. You could get warm days of sunshine or early snow. You never quite know, so it’s best to be prepared for anything!
With luck, you’ll enjoy clear blue skies as a backdrop to those vibrant autumn leaves.
Mid-October is usually a safe bet for leaf-peeping, but keep an eye on general seasonal conditions to see if it will be an early or late color change.
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Best Places to See Fall Colors Outside of New England
New England gets most of the attention for the best place to see fall colors in the US. But it’s certainly not alone!
4. Autumn in Michigan
Michigan’s fall colors are another sight to behold. While the state hasn’t gained the same reputation as the New England states, it’s a fantastic alternative to the more popular Vermont fall road trips.
5. Visit Virginia and West Virginia in the Fall
Another alternative option: Virginia and West Virginia. Virginia is for Lovers and West Virginia is known as Wild and Wonderful, so you’re bound to fall in love with this natural beauty.
Road trip along the 105-mile Skyline Drive to bask in the beauty of the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This autumn road trip must be on your bucket list!
6. Explore Upstate New York
One of the best states to visit in October is NYS.
Leave NYC and you’ll quickly reach the Hudson Valley, making Upstate New York another stunner of a trip.
From natural beauty to the renowned local food and drink scene, this region boasts plenty to entertain you for a long weekend.
Check out the local farms and small breweries and wineries in the region to complete your fall-themed fun.
Love Halloween? Check out The Blaze in New York’s Hudson Valley for The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.
Located in an 18th-century landscape, over 7,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns are designed and put on display for visitors to be amazed at.
That’s not all! There’s a planetarium, a windmill, the Headless Horseman and much much more.
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7. Southern Appalachia in Autumn
Asheville, North Carolina (Lin Cove Viaduct picture below), and Chatanooga, Tennessee, are both popular autumn destinations in this region.
Throughout the region, there are plenty of small towns to explore and boundless vistas for those who enjoy hiking.
Take advantage of an extended October vacation, with hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for elk-spotting and leaf-peeping.
Best Festivals in October in the USA
October festivals range from food-focused to outdoor fun. Add these fun October festivals to your calendar and book your trip accordingly!
8. Cape Cod
Wellfleet OysterFest: Held on Cape Cod, MA, annually the weekend after Indigenous Peoples Day (more commonly referred to as Columbus Day)
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: Held every October over a 9-day period, this hot air balloon festival attracts visitors from around the world. Follow the crowd, this is one October event you absolutely cannot miss.
Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival: Typically held every October (the 2020 event will be in November), the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival extends your summer vibes with the warmest water temperatures of the year plus extraordinary food and drink. Let your tastebuds wander.
The Trailing of the Sheep: Ready for a quirky alternative? Head to Idaho and join the Big Sheep Parade during this annual October festival. Bonus points for their Scottish connections!
12. Portland, Maine
Harvest on the Harbor: Head to Portland, Maine, to enjoy eclectic local food before you continue your New England road trip for fall colors. Portland’s restaurant scene is booming!
13. New Orleans
Voodoo Music & Arts Festival: Visit New Orleans to see some of the world’s top bands and artists perform in New Orleans’ historic City Park.
14. San Francisco
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival: San Francisco in October offers comfortable temperatures and this recently-added annual festival.
It’s an alternative (or addition) to the more traditional Fleet Week events. Head to Golden Gate Park with a picnic and enjoy the tunes!
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Best Halloween Celebrations in USA
Halloween is a favorite US holiday, but there are definitely some places that do it better than others. Check out these top places for Halloween and plan your next costume!
(Just remember the tips from above. Learn the history and understand cultural appropriation first.)
15. Salem, Massachusetts
Learn the terrible history of the Salem Witch Trials, but then learn the stories of modern witches and Halloween celebrations.
Salem celebrates its past and present all October-long. Check out the Haunted Happenings for details.
» Read next: One Day in Boston Itinerary
16. Sleepy Hollow, New York
Sleepy Hollow, of literary Headless Horseman fame, attracts plenty of visitors to the Hudson Valley in New York throughout the month of October.
Visit Philipsburg Manor or Lyndhurst Castle, depending on how much fright you can handle.
17. San Antonio, Texas
Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in San Antonio, Texas, with ofrendas, poetry, dancing, local vendors, and more!
This free, two-day event honors Mexican and Latin American traditions, attracting big crowds every year.
18. St. Helens, Oregon
Head to St. Helens for a town-wide celebration a la Halloweentown, the old-school Disney Channel film.
The town revives its role annually.
Bonus: Fans of the Twilight films can also visit a film location while there.
19. New Orleans, Louisiana
Second only in scale to Mardi Gras, the Halloween celebrations in New Orleans are massive.
This city is vibrant all year-round, but Halloween highlights the locals’ particular affinity for costumes and masks.
20. New York City, New York
For the Dogs: Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade in NYC. It’s an annual classic!
And, for the humans, the NYC Village Halloween Parade is another classic.
Check out Bootsy The Corgi looking dashing for the show. Give Bootsy a follow on Instagram!
Have I missed your favorite place to visit in October in the USA? Tell me in the comments.
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Read next | Fun things to do in the USA this fall
About the author: Amanda Walkins is a freelance travel writer and digital content strategist. She grew up in New England but now calls bonnie Scotland home, after several stops in between. Read all about expat life and travel in all the countries she’s lived.