It’s no wonder why fall is everyone’s favorite season: changing leaves, crisp breezes, cozy sweaters, and the spicy smell of cinnamon adorning every sweet treat. It’s hard to not be enticed by autumn and even harder to not embrace it with a getaway. No matter what region, there’s a beautiful fall destination in your near future!
Leaf Peeping and New England Charm
The pièce de résistance is New England in the fall. It’s impossible not to be charmed by the vivid changing leaves, the beautiful Colonial homes and the small towns that are nestled among the lush treescapes. It’s home to dozens of fall foliage festivals in Warner, NH from October 11-13, Salisbury, CT from October 11-13, and Burke, VT on September 28, just to name a few. And if you’re looking for something a little more niche in your fall festival, they have you covered. You can immerse yourself in an iconic fruit of fall with Applefest at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, MA, embrace the savory flavor of everyone’s favorite recipe addition at the Garlic & Harvest Festival in Bethlehem, CT, or fulfill your dream of combining pumpkins and boats at the Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest and Regatta in Damariscotta, ME.
Regardless of when you visit New England in the fall, you can always see their most popular attraction, fall foliage. There are famous drives for leaf-peeping like Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont, the Acadia Loop Road in Maine, the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts, and the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, which come along with stops for cider, antiquing and other little discoveries along the way.
Syrahs and Seafood
Perpetually perfect weather means the Pacific Northwest is never too hot or too cold. It’s almost always ideal for your favorite hiking trail, al fresco dining, outdoor events and for vineyards. Walla Walla, Washington is a booming wine region with nearly 3,000 acres of grapes, known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrahs. An excellent way to immerse yourself in this vino-centric destination is to visit during their Walla Walla Wine Fall Release. You’ll be first in line to enjoy their newly released wines and enjoy winery tours with the vineyard owners. In addition to the front row wine releases, there will also be live music, art festivals and opportunities to reserve a seat at the table to try all your new favorite wines paired with locally sourced farm-to-table dinners.
If wineries don’t make you go Walla Walla, then don’t miss the Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival in Port Angeles, WA. With over 17,000 square feet of space dedicated to food and beverages, expect to leave with a full stomach. For $30 you can gain entry to the Community Crab Dinner. Where you can pull up a seat at the long line of red-checkered tables, tie on your bib and break into a whole fresh Dungeness crab, clarified butter, farm-fresh corn on the cob and coleslaw. After indulging in a bounty of culinary delights, you can learn about the environment of the Olympic Peninsula’s aquaculture, agriculture and maritime traditions as well as their culture through Native American history and traditions, with a portion of the festival proceeds promoting and supporting environmental education for the Olympic Peninsula.
Golden Fried and Gold Rush Days
You may assume that fall in the South is just summer with pumpkins and while it’s true that the weather stays a few degrees warmer, it also means you get an array of one-of-a-kind events. Take for example the World Chicken Festival in London, Kentucky, the home of Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every last weekend of September, you’ll find a celebration and tribute to his heritage and legacy. Bring your best chicken imitation for the Struttin’, Cluckin’ and Crowin’ Contest, and indulge in a piping-hot fried delicacy from the World’s Largest Skillet, which is filled to the brim with hot oil serving up fried chicken drumsticks and breasts.
Gold isn’t just a color of fall foliage. It’s also the iconic precious metal celebrated in Dahlonega, Georgia’s Gold Rush Days Festival. In celebration of Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold, the site of the first major gold rush in the United States. Over 200,000 visitors come to partake in festivities that range from Hog Calling contests to antebellum past times to the coronation of a King and Queen of the festival. While the gold rush of the past was all about hitting it big and making a name for yourself, this festival believes in giving back. A portion of funds goes towards the Empty Stocking, which sponsors the Christmas holiday for families in need, and scholarships for local high school students.
Big Scares and a Little House
The heartland has more than just apple picking and pumpkin patches. Known as The Haunted House Capital of the World, Kansas City has a collection of haunted houses that will make your fall fun and frightening. Taking over deserted warehouses in Kansas City’s West Bottoms, these haunted houses are grade-A terrifying. Boasting the nation’s oldest continuously operated haunted house, these scary delights are a full 30-45 minutes and 4-5 stories of heart-pounding excitement. With a journey to hell at the Edge of Hell, where you’ll end your night with a trip down a five-story spiral slide, or at The Beast, where you’ll be stalked by, you may have been tipped off, a beast that is looking for vengeance for a scorned life.
If a full night of terror doesn’t sound like a good time, what about everyone’s favorite frontier pioneer and author, Laura Ingalls Wilder? Only 90 minutes southeast of Minneapolis is Pepin, Wisconsin, Laura’s birthplace, which holds Laura Ingalls Wilder Days. This celebration has an assortment of Little House on the Prairie activities with pioneer games, fiddle-playing, and a spelling bee. And just a short 7-miles north of Pepin, you can visit a reconstruction of the log cabin in the Little House in the Big Woods.