Planning a fall getaway? While New England states such as Maine and Vermont may come to mind first, thanks to their stunning foliage, apple orchards and pumpkin patches, there are plenty of places that make for a stellar visit in the fall months. Whether you’re looking for fall foliage, Oktoberfest celebrations or simply an affordable trip, we’ve got you covered with eight underrated fall destinations below.
1. Santa Fe, N.M.
Although the peak travel months for Santa Fe are in the summer — particularly July and August — this charming city is best explored in the fall, when festivals occur, the weather is cool, and the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains are filled with yellow, orange and green leaves. Founded in 1610 as a Spanish colony, Santa Fe is renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture, Native American presence and art scene that spans galleries, jewelry stores selling turquoise baubles and outdoor markets. Top attractions in the city include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, historic Loretto Chapel and Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and central Santa Fe Plaza. Don’t skip the New Mexican cuisine, hiking trails and array of fall festivals.
Our pick for luxury hotel in Santa Fe: Inn and Spa at Loretto
2. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast has earned a spot on many bucket lists, thanks to its beautiful rocky coastline, delicious Italian cuisine, and adorable seaside towns with colorful buildings, pleasant beaches, and jaw-dropping views. However, the cities dotting the coast become packed with tourists and cars during the summer months, making traffic a nightmare, hotel rates sky-high, and beaches crowded. Fortunately, many hotels are still open through October, when the weather is comfortable, crowds are thinner, and accommodation prices are reasonable. Plus, ivy-covered walls are in full fall foliage display. Be sure to book a boat tour, sample the region’s famous limoncello, and purchase handmade leather goods or ceramic pottery.
Our pick for a sea-view hotel on the Amalfi Coast: Il San Pietro di Positano
3. Edinburgh, Scotland
The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is a hilly, historic town with tons to see throughout the year. Most travelers go to Edinburgh in the summer, when the weather is warmer and the daylight hours are longer, but that also means long lines for attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, higher hotel rates and crowded streets — especially during the Fringe Festival in August. Fall, meanwhile, is a fabulous time in Edinburgh, offering colorful foliage, more atmospheric ghost tours, and warming Scottish whiskey tastings at plenty of pubs. Buy a tartan scarf to keep warm while touring the Old Town and New Town, as well as hiking up to the scenic Calton Hill.
Our pick for an upscale hotel in Edinburgh: Apex Grassmarket Hotel
4. Granada, Spain
Located in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, about a one-hour drive from the coast, Granada is an excellent alternative to the more popular cities of Barcelona and Madrid. In the fall season, rain is kept to a minimum, temperatures are far more pleasant than the hot summer months, and there are typically fewer tourists. It’s best-known for the Alhambra, a hilltop palace and fortress complex with stunning Moorish architecture. Other top attractions include Generalife, a palace built between the 12th and 14th centuries for Muslim royalty, and Mirador de San Nicolas, a scenic square with stellar sunset views.
Our pick for a romantic hotel in Granada: Parador de Granada
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Similarly in Istanbul, the weather is pleasant come fall and the peak summer tourist crowds have dissipated. Popular tourist attractions have shorter lines, including the breathtaking Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, the historic Blue Mosque built between 1609 and 1616, and the Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius. The fascinating city has a ton more to see and do, like watching the famed whirling dervishes, dining on elaborate Turkish breakfast spreads, and shopping at the Grand Bazaar, where vendors sell ornate ceramic pottery, colorful rugs, spices, nazar boncugu (evil eye) ornaments and much more.
Our pick for a luxury hotel in Istanbul: Ciragan Palace Kempinski
6. Santorini, Greece
Most travelers head to the stunning Greek island of Santorini in the summer, when there’s little rainfall and the water is warm enough for swimming. However, if the views, food, hikes and wineries are more important than beach time, autumn is a great time to visit. Crowds are far fewer, and most hotels are still open until December. The famous Cycladic architecture, hike from Fira to Oia, and beautiful luxury hotels with private pools overlooking the caldera make Santorini particularly well-suited to honeymoons and couples on vacation.
Our pick for a romantic hotel in Santorini: Art Maisons Luxury Santorini Hotels Aspaki & Oia Castle
7. Asheville, N.C.
U.S. travelers wanting to experience fall foliage often head to New England, but we think the mountain town of Asheville is worth an autumn trip. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as hikes to waterfalls and fishing, plus the fall foliage here is downright magical. Travelers can also head to an apple orchard, go on a ghost tour, eat and drink at the city’s Oktoberfest, or go to the Fall Festival at Hickory Nut Gap Farm for a pumpkin patch and hay rides. Additionally, as there are more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city, there are many spots to sample all types of local brews. And of course, no trip to Asheville would be complete without watching the Friday night drum circle and a visit to the expansive Biltmore Estate, which has a well-preserved mansion and village of restaurants, bars and shops, plus occasional live music.
Our pick for an upscale hotel in Asheville: The Omni Grove Park Inn
8. New Orleans
Although most travelers head to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, we think there’s a case to be made for the city in the fall. While temperatures are still warm, it’s not nearly as hot and humid as the summer, making walking around the city doable. Plus, there are a lot of spooky activities for the Halloween-lovers, from cemetery, voodoo, ghost, and haunted tours to the family-friendly Krewe of Boo Halloween parade. The city also hosts an Oktoberfest, and the New Orleans Saints play throughout the season. Of course, travelers should also make time to taste the city’s array of delicious eats — beignets, gumbo, and muffulettas among them — walk along Bourbon Street, hear jazz on Frenchmen Street and stroll past historic mansions in the Garden District.
Our pick for a haunted hotel in New Orleans: Bourbon Orleans Hotel
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