Fall is one the best times of the year to travel, and that’s because, in most places, it’s the shoulder season. That period right before or after the peak season when the weather’s nice, the crowds are low, and prices are cheaper. Also, the changing of the seasons means that fall has some of the most beautiful colors of the year.
Vermont is very well-known because it’s the home of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. During the fall, the trees come to life; they get super colorful. Throw in an incredible array of craft breweries, an awesome farm-to-table movement, and the fall harvest, and Vermont is looking pretty damn good.
If you don’t have a lot of time, go to the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. It’s an easy escape from the city- super accessible by train or you can rent a car and makes you feel like you’re thousands of miles away. I went here a couple of years ago during the apple harvest, and it was just a really great experience. It’s just really folksy and feels like a totally different side of New York.
The ultimate fall road trip is going through the Appalachian Mountains right as fall is turning in mid-October. There’s an incredible 470-mile road that goes from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through forests of maple, oak, and dogwood.
You can go there for the aspen trees that give the town its name and turn yellow rather than orange or red in the fall. Weed just got legalized in Colorado, so if you’re into that, there’s plenty of trees to enjoy in Aspen.
Quebec is that the cities are so close to large swaths of the Canadian wilderness. For example, I was just in the Jacques Cartier National Park a couple of months back. This was one of the most incredible places I have ever been, and to see this during the fall color change would be incredible. Even Gatineau Park just over the border from Ottawa, Ontario was gorgeous in the fall colors.
I went there last summer for a fishing trip way up north. But even further north than that is Churchill on the edge of the Hudson Bay, which is one of the premier places to see polar bears in the wild. There’s a population of about a thousand polar bears in the area, and every October and November, they migrate from their summer homes to the edge of the Hudson Bay to hunt seals.
Oaxaca is one of the most colorful parts of Mexico, and it’s great to visit in the fall because this is where the Day of the Dead celebrations are the strongest. The surf is the biggest in the summer, but there’s still are waves. If you’re looking for unspoiled beach breaks in Mexico, this is your spot, and the food is amazing. This is the home of mescal and mole.
Not the state of Georgia in the United States, but the country of Georgia. One of the oldest civilization centers in Europe and one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world. I’ve been wanting to visit Georgia for a very long time, and I’ve been told that the fall is the best time to visit because of the colorful forests and the annual wine harvest.
When people ask me for advice on traveling to Italy, I don’t tell them where to go so much as when to go because a lot of people go in the summer. That’s when the heat is unbearable, the crowds are insufferable, and all the locals close down the shops and take off for a full long month vacation in August. Anywhere in Italy is good to go in the fall.
You should probably take advantage of the temperatures and go down south, which is usually the hottest. You can go to Puglia, which is a really interesting part of the country. It’s the heel of the boot of Italy, and it has all this Hellenistic Greek influence and these really unique houses. Not to mention, the fall is wine season, and Italy makes some nice wines. You have to go there and try the wines in the fall.
Like Italy, Spain is a great place to visit during the fall. In the summer it’s super crowded, and it gets super hot, especially in Andalusia and in the south.
If you visit Barcelona head up to the Costa Brava where you can check out the castells. It’s a tradition of people climbing on top of each other to create these giant towers, and it happens from July until September. The castells happen all over Catalonia, not just the Costa Brava. It should be pretty easy to find them.
Furthermore, the beautiful town of San Sebastian, the Basque Country has its annual film festival in the end of September. If you’ve never been before, it’s totally worth it. Its a great film festival, great food, great people, great city.
Actually, I should probably clarify that even though it’s Oktoberfest, it technically starts in mid-September. The dates were changed hundreds of years ago from the original time in October, but it kept the name. So don’t show up late and miss it. But if you do go, you can have the wildest party in Europe.
Speaking of summiting peaks, there is no better time to visit the biggest mountains of them all than visiting the Himalaya in the fall. Even if you don’t plan on summoning Mount Everest, it’s very important that you visit between September and November, the warmer drier months before winter kicks in and after the monsoons. No matter where you go in this region, you’re bound to strike gold.
Tibet is always a fascinating place to visit, but it requires you to get a permit and join an organized tour. Those organized tours can get you all the way to Everest Base Camp, though.
Bhutan, although it’s not a cheap one. It decided to avoid the issue of too much tourism by creating a $200 per day visa for all tourists who visit the country. It is expensive to get there, but that does include all of your ground costs and an organized tour. So you’re not going to have to worry about crowds because that visa was designed to keep tourist numbers low.
If you prefer more freedom to do your own thing, head to Nepal right across the border. It also has access to Everest, and it’s been a very popular destination with travelers for decades.
Heading south into the Indian subcontinent, I am recommending Rajasthan, which is the most colorful state in India and great to visit in October/November. I went to Rajasthan for a couple of weeks and traveled to all these places. I went to the Pushkar Camel Festival, which was incredible. It’s where thousands of nomadic camel traders come to buy and sell camels. There’s also a camel beauty contest. It’s unbelievable.
There’s a lot of Stans out there, and they’re all great to visit during the fall. All of these former Soviet countries were linked over the last thousands of years by the Silk Road, the two-thousand-year-old trading route that literally sewed the world together.
Fall is a great time to visit Central Asia because you won’t get stuck in the heat of the deserts of Turkmenistan, and you won’t get caught in the snow in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. I was lucky enough to visit Kazakhstan in the fall and I can vouch it is an incredible place to visit, especially during this time of year.
For Southeast Asia, I am recommending Vietnam And that’s because this country, because of its location, has two monsoons. There’s one in winter; There’s one in summer, and in the fall you kind of get right between both. So you’re going to have dry weather, which is really important because when I went there. I went there probably in August, it was still kind of raining.
All are just dreaming about Bali, but the fall in Sumatra is where it’s at. That’s because there’s not too much rain, making it the perfect time to visit the forests of northern Sumatra and hang out with the locals that make this place famous. The Man of the Forest also known as “orangutans”.
It’s not technically falling down there because it’s in the southern hemisphere, but it’s spring. Springtime in Australia is the right time to visit, particularly if you’re trying to go to the outback, which gets way too hot in the summer. It’s also a great time to visit the Whitsundays, which is the access point for the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re in the mood for a road trip, check out the Great Ocean Road leaving from Melbourne and wrapping around the southeastern coast of the Australian continent.
For South America, I am recommending Peru, and that’s because the weather at this time of year makes it perfect for trekking. I am trying to get to Machu Picchu, and we all know we don’t want it to be too hot when you’re trekking around looking at ancient ruins.
Beyond that Lima has one of the best food scenes on the planet. You have access to the Amazon over the mountains and surf breaks on the coast. So Peru for me is looking really good this fall.
Now, if you’re feeling like taking a big trip, the falling season is the best time to go on Safari. Crowds peak around the great wildebeest migration that happens anywhere between July and September out in the Serengeti. But by September, crowds begin to fizzle back down, and that means that you have the entire Serengeti to yourself.