The Best Fall Trips and Activities in Each of the 50 States – Lifehacker


Fall is a beautiful and practical time for a trip: The scenery in the northern part of the country is particularly exquisite, the southern part offers a little warmth for anyone still clinging to summer, and each state offers something cool to see or do.
We’ve gathered together a fun fall attraction in each state to help you plan your next trip. If you don’t want to travel far, you can find your home state’s special fall offering and take a mini-roadtrip. And if we’ve left our your own favorite fall activity or attraction, let us know in the comments.

(Click on the “all slides” option in the upper right corner of any article page for a quick access link to the state[s] of your choosing.)
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Alabama is known for its various collegiate goings-on—if you’ve ever experienced Bama Rush TikTok inAugust, you know what we’re talking about—but they all boil down to serious school pride. Go experience some of that for yourself, and hit up a Crimson Tide or Auburn Tigers game.
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Viewing the Northern Lights is the top-recommended fall activity by the city of Anchorage itself, and for good reason: “True night skies” return to Alaska in the fall and winter, making the aurora borealis extremely visible for the first time in months. Start your day with a glacier cruise, and when you’ve had your fill of ice—and otters, seals, whales, and other sea creatures—look to the skies for a memorable visual display.
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Arizona’s tourism website admits “fall may look a little different” in the warm state, but fun autumnal activities still abound. We recommend the Local First Arizona Fall Fest, which celebrates “all things local to Arizona,” so you’ll get to experience what makes the state so great in the season. It takes place Nov. 5 and features 200 vendors showcasing local businesses. Plus, it’s pet-friendly.
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Arkansas is known as the Natural State, and even prepares an annual day-by-day update on fall foliage so visitors can know exactly when and where to see amazing displays of color. There are loads of camping options, but have you considered a lodge? Try Lookout Point Lakeside Inn in Hot Springs, where you’ll have an incredible view of Lake Hamilton as the leaves change. Check out a tour of the bed and breakfast above.
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You may not associate fall with beaches, but if you’re already missing summertime or want one last warm hurrah before the cold really sets in, why not head to San Diego? With temps that usually remain in the high 70s through October, you can relax for a while before heading to the San Diego Zoo, where kids get in free all month. Check out the zoo safari’s Autumn Festival on the weekends to let your kids hang out with scarecrow characters and enjoy mazes, music, and more.
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Drive along the Gold Belt in Colorado to see the aspens change colors. The route climbs 5,000 feet above Canon City so you’ll have an incredible view, all while staying warm and cozy in your vehicle. It takes five hours to drive the whole thing, so pick a destination or two—like Pikes Peak or the Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument—to shorten the journey if you want.
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Connecticut is one of those states that’s known for its beautiful fall scenery, but you can get a unique view of the changing leaves by taking a zipline tour. Try Adventure Park in Storrs or HighFlyer Zipline in Mashantucket.
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You might think festivals are a summertime activity, but Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival is a major fall attraction, for good reason. This year’s fest in Dover goes from Sept. 22 to 25 and includes camping options so you can enjoy nature and tunes. You’ll see Halsey, My Chemical Romance, Dua Lipa, Weezer, Zedd, Charlie XCX, and more, so there’ll be something for everyone in your family, provided you’re all cool.
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You probably don’t need to be told to visit Disney World when you head to Florida, but during the fall, there is one special event there you won’t want to miss: The Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. Experience cuisines from 25 global destinations through Nov. 19.
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We could just recommend pumpkin patches and scenic hikes, but the states have more than that to offer in the fall. Georgia has a village called Helen, known as its “Little Bavaria.” There are scheduled hikes there, so you’ll catch some beautiful foliage views, but you can also enjoy learning about the history of the Cherokee Indians and gold miners who once inhabited the area. A charming, recreated village just screams fall, right?
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On Sept. 16 and 17, you can attend the annual harvest celebration in Lahaina, Maui. The Chinese Moon Festival is free and showcases locally-grown produce as well as Chinese traditions. Grab some moon cakes, admire some lanterns, and give thanks for tasty fruits, veggies, and grains from around the state. Honolulu has its own Celebration Under the Moon on Sept. 11, too.
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Have you heard of the Trailing the Sheep Festival? If you’re local to Idaho, you probably have, and if you’re not, it’s worth a look. Head to Hailey from Oct. 4 to 9 to experience sheepdog trials, sheepherding stories, the Big Sheep Parade and more. You’ll come away a sheep expert with some great stories.
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Autumn is all about trees, but you can take your foliage-viewing up a notch by visiting an arboretum. Morton Arboretum in Lisle hosts a Fall Color Festival from Oct. 1 to 31 that features a mystery dinner at a mansion, a costume-party Boo Breakfast, and a glass pumpkin patch with over 4,000 hand-blown pumpkins. These are all the fall activities you’d normally do, but somehow cooler.
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The West Side Nut Club Fall Festival is taking place in Evansville from Oct. 3 to 8, and you should totally go. You’ll find over 130 food vendors, free entertainment, carnival rides, and two parades. Over 200,000 people attend the Nut Club Fall Festival every year, making it the second largest street festival in the country.
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If you’re looking for a spooky fall activity as opposed to a more aesthetically-pleasing one, the Ax Murder House in Villisca might be the destination for you. The site of most brutal unsolved crime in the state features daytime tours and free admission, but you can also stay overnight by appointment. There are overnight tours, too, and they all take you through the house and out into the backyard cemetery. While this place is technically open in the spring and summer, too, it’s a must-see in scary season.
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Do you associate state fairs with summer? If so, you’re probably not in Kansas anymore. The Kansas State Fair takes place from Sept. 9 to 18 in Hutchinson and if you go, you’ll see piglet races, weigh the state’s largest watermelon, and look upon a buffalo made from 700 pounds of butter. With rooms for nursing mothers, free entertainment, and plenty of carnival activities for kids, this is a great family destination to end your summer and welcome in fall.
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If you want a unique view of all the changing leaves, check out Kentucky’s Big South Fork Scenic Railway. You’ll see scenic vistas, forests, mountain streams, and rivers as you whiz through beautiful Appalachia. The Shadows of Autumn: Fall Color Express tour is designed for leaf-lovers such as yourself; you’ll head through a bright gorge into Barthell Coal Camp, then take a guided tour through the old mine and check out the historic town.
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We’ve already discussed college football in the fall, but tailgating is even better. Louisiana State University has some policies in place to keep the whole thing “respectful,” but you’ll still have a blast getting ready for Tigers games with the fans. As LSU puts it, “Tailgating has become a part of college football all across the country but for Tiger fans, it is an art form.” They say over two-thirds of the fans tailgate for five or more hours before every game. You should be one of them.
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Maine has a ton of fall festivals, which makes sense since the state is notorious for its leafy autumnal offerings. The Fall Foliage Festival runs Oct. 8 and 9 in Boothbay, the Freeport Fall Festival extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, and the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor takes place Nov. 19 and 20, so you have plenty of options throughout the season. Grab delicious meals, check out the scenic views, and enjoy live entertainment and crafts from local vendors.
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At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, you can attend something called the ZooBOOO! It’s stylized like that, which tells you they take this seriously, but it’s also been going on for 39 years, which tells you it’s beloved. There are games, contests, entertainment, and free trick-or-treating opportunities for your kids. Plus it’s a great time to teach them about some of the creepy-crawlies ad slithery snakes that you might usually avoid on your zoo trips.
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Yes, there are farmer’s markets and foliage tours in Massachusetts, but you know that if you’re gonna take a fall trip, you have to go to Salem. Check out the Salem Haunted Happenings, which runs through the month of October and is all about witches. There are historical tours of the graveyards where the real-life Salem residents accused of witchcraft are buried, plus local restaurants and bars run specials on food and drinks. There’s a massive street party on Halloween, too.
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Cider is a big part of fall, but in Michigan, you’ll find Rochester Hills’ Yates Cider Mill, which will add to your experience in a big way. Yates has been producing cider at the water-powered mill since 1863. Or try Vander Mill Cider Mill & Winery in Spring Lake if you’d like a more adult-centric vibe. They have hard ciders and regular ciders made of locally-grown apples and other fun ingredients, like poblano peppers, so this will be a little different than the hot apple juice you buy after you finish your local corn maze.
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With Thanksgiving on the way, you might want to stop by Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Onamia to get a better understanding of what life was like for the Indigenous peoples who first inhabited this country. Enjoy the art and culture of the Ojibwe tribe with some help from the Minnesota Historical Society, and don’t forget to pick up some locally made arts and crafts at the trading post, which has been restored.
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Do you like hot-air balloons? What about live music? The Natchez Balloon Festival, taking place from Oct. 14 to 16, is the perfect fall destination for you. There are crafts, games, food vendors, and more, but the real draw is the hot-air balloons you’ll see drifting overhead as you enjoy the carnival and your food.
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The Roots N Blues Festival in Columbia takes place from Oct. 7 to 9 this year and features not only blues performances and delicious food, but a memorial run, too. Enjoy all your favorite festival and street fair faves, like barbecue and kettle corn, then run for a good cause before enjoying some tunes. Get passes here, where three-day general admission wristbands start at $180.
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Do you want to see leaves, but also snow? And wildlife? There are nine scenic travel corridors in Western Montana, and you can see it all from Bitterroot Valley to the Blackfoot Corridor. Plan your trip around a long, peaceful drive that can be as rugged as you want it to be. You could stop into small towns for history and culture lessons, luxuriate in fancy lodging, or really rough it with some backcountry exploration. Find a trip planner here.
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If you like to get in a good workout on your vacations (for some reason), consider the Monument Marathon in Gering. It’s taking place Sept. 24, just in time for you to enjoy the scenic views of Scotts Bluff National Monument while you run a full or half marathon. The marathon raises money for student scholarships and finishes at the Five Rocks Amphitheater. (Honorable mention for top fall activity in Nebraska goes to the “Junk Jaunt,” a 300-mile yard sale that extends through 35 to 40 central towns from Sept. 23 to 25. Consider that if you don’t feel like running a marathon any time soon.)
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Some people love camping in the fall when the weather is crisp and that campfire just hits different. Some people do not. If you are among those who prefer more luxe lodging, may we recommend a houseboat? You can rent one for the weekend at Cottonwood Cove Resort Marina just outside Laughlin, then spend your time admiring the scenic views around Lake Mohave from on Lake Mohave. That’s a sick way to take in some foliage.
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So you want to take a hike that gives you a view of the changing leaves but has some kind of payoff at the end? New Hampshire’s got you covered. The state has tons of waterfalls you can visit for an extra-special foliage tour, like Sabbaday Falls, which is accessible after a relatively fast hike that includes a nice wooden walkway you can post on your Instagram to compete with everyone else who’s just heading to a regular old pumpkin patch this year.
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Head over to Cape May Point State Park or the Meadowlands Environment Center throughout the fall to see migratory birds heading out of New Jersey and making their way south for the winter. Jersey has more than malls and beaches: The state is home to lots of marshes, ponds, and forested islands that make bird-watching a breeze. Saying goodbye to the geese is a fun, unique way to usher in the fall season, but there are loads of winter birding opportunities in Jersey, too.
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In Las Cruces, you can enjoy the Renaissance ArtsFaire from Nov. 5 to 6. While this isn’t your typical autumn activity, imagine how much fun you’ll have dressing up, taking in the entertainment across two stages, watching historical re-enactments, taking a canoe ride, and dropping your kids at the “children’s realm” before grabbing some much-deserved wine. (Or is it mead? Does it matter?)
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One of the most fun things to do in New York City is the Feast of San Gennaro, which takes place in Manhattan’s Little Italy every September. This year, it runs from Sept. 15 to 25. Enjoy Italian eats like gelato and rice balls, pick up arts and crafts, and play games. This year’s Grand Marshall is former NASA astronat Michael J. Massimino, which is also pretty cool.
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Fall in North Carolina is known as Oyster Festival Season. Did you know that? There are a bunch of oyster festivals in October and November. Try the NC Oyster Festival on Ocean Isle Beach on Oct. 15 and 16 or the First Flight Rotary Oink and Oyster Roast in Kitty Hawk on Oct. 8. There’s food, sure, but also arts and crafts and entertainment to celebrate “all things oyster.”
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From Sept. 9 to 11, Bismarck’s United Tribes Technical College is having its annual International Powwow. The event draws dangers and singers to compete in one of the last large outdoor events on the northern Great Plains powwow circuit. The dancers are evaluated on their performances, their knowledge, and their regalia and it’s a great opportunity to lear about the rich Native American culture of the country.
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Lots of theme parks do spooky events in October, but none are quite like ZOMBIEzi Bay (a play on Zoombezi Bay, which is what the water park in Powell is usually known as). Opening night is on Sept. 16 and the scares last every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night through October. You get four haunted houses, two “scare zones,” six amusement rides, and a warning upfront that children under 13 should not attend because it’s too scary. Horror lovers, this one’s for you.
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If you think Bigfoot once walked the Oklahoma terrain, head for Honobia from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 to be among your fellow believers at the Bigfoot Festival and Conference. You can “explore the lure of Bigfoot and discover what new information some prominent Bigfoot field researchers have to share,” per the website, but there are also helicopter rides, craft and food vendors, and live music to keep you occupied. There’s even a Bigfoot Outpost to stock up on merch, which will have to tide you over if you don’t end up seeing the creature itself.
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Head down the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway to take in some stunning fall colors as walnut leaves go gold and grapevine leaves opt for red and orange. Find travel guides here so you know exactly when and where to stop for the best views—and wine.
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Every year in October, visitors to Doors Open Pittsburgh: Downtown get the chance to enter buildings in the city that are typically off-limits for the average person. The goal is to celebrate Pittsburgh’s architecture, heritage, and neighborhoods by letting curious attendees peek inside places they usually can’t go. Plus, you’ll get lovely views of the city and be directed to plain-view spaces you might not normally notice, too.
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Pumpkins are cool, but jack-o-lanterns are cooler. Luckily, you can see 6,000 of them at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. This year’s Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular theme is television shows and the zoo promises the jack-o-lanterns—carved specially for the event by Passion for Pumpkins—across the Wetlands Trail will have something for everyone, from fans of Mr. Ed to The Walking Dead. It runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 31.
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From Oct. 14 to 16, enjoy the Antiques, Fine Art & Design Weekend in Greenville. In its 36th year, the annual show charges $10 for a three-day admission. You’ll see dealers from across the country showing antiques, art, and other fun finds, plus you can buy an extra ticket to attend the swanky Preview Party the Thursday before the events kick off.
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If historic stuff is more your speed this September, you can also consider the annual Northeast South Dakota Celtic Faire and Games from the 17th to 18th. Concerts, workshops, dance performances and classes, and history buffs will be available to give you a full understanding of how Celtic people lived.
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If you love country music, there’s nothing better than a festival, and one of the best ones takes place in the fall in Tennessee. Country Thunder goes from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 this year at Bristol’s Motor Speedway and features Morgan Wallen, Jason Aldean, Chris Young, and more. Go camping, enjoy the speedway setting, and bring in winter with one final jam.
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This annual celebration of German culture in New Braunfels is not to be missed. Wurstfest takes place from Nov. 4 to 13 this year, so you have plenty of time to go enjoy beers, sausages, and polka this fall. No, really, you might just find that you love accordion music.
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Do you like street art? What about dancing? The Urban Arts Festival, a free annual event, takes place at Salt Lake City’s Gallivan Center on Sept. 21 ad 22 and features over 150 artists. There are over 150 vendors offering up goods and arts from the automotive, fashion, and virtual reality realms and beyond.
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Head to the 34th Annual Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival if you love to knit, if you enjoy sweaters, or if you have a passion for fuzzy animals. The event takes place Oct. 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $8 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. This year’s festival will celebrate women in farming while offering up the fleece sales and fiber arts contests attendees have always loved.
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Virginia advertises wine and oysters as two of the most notable exports from the state, so why not enjoy them both at the annual Stratford Hall Wine & Oyster Festival on Sept. 17 and 18? Local food trucks, breweries, artisan booths, music, and more await you for a $35 ticket fee (and that fee is $25 if you don’t plan to do any tasting, though you really should). Wear your coziest fall outfit and curl up on a blanket to enjoy this autumn tradition.
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Washington is full of opportunities to camp, but the state advertises its glamping—or, glam camping—accommodations heavily, too, especially in fall. Picture it now: You’re cozy and warm in a beautiful, decorated cabin, sipping tea and looking out at the foliage through your window. If you want to go out and explore, go ahead! If you want to stay in and read a book, no one is judging you. ry the Waterfront Olympic Peninsula Cabin in Sequim or the Mount Rainier Cabin in Packwood.
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West Virginia invites you to “celebrate the legend” of the terrifying Mothman in Point Pleasant on Sept. 17 and 18 during a special Mothman Festival. Dress up like a moth, enjoy moth-themed vendors, and check out live music before hearing expert guest speakers or taking a bus tour to see if you might be able to find the mythical man lurking in the shadows. This is the kind of creepy stuff that’s perfect for pre-Halloween fun.
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The Green Bay Botanical Garden wants to celebrate fall—and invites your whole family to attend. The Fall Family Festival takes place this year on Sept. 24. Enjoy fall colors, crafts, and games, plus family-friendly entertainment, scavenger hunts, and more. Plus, there is a “sensory-friendly” time from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so no one will be overwhelmed.
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The Jackson Hole Aerial Tram is open year-round, but only in fall can you see the beautiful colors of the foliage around the area from high above. In 12 minutes, the tram goes up 4,139 feet, giving you views of the Tetons, Jackson Hole Valley, and all the mountain ranges in the area. It’s a quick trip—plus you can get waffles at Corbet’s Cabin—that is perfect for a busy family.
 

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