Planning a trip this fall? Here are some of our favorite destinations, both local and abroad—all of which are best visited during autumn months.
While Salvador is a large city, it can feel less touristy than other getaways, such as Rio. In general, Salvador is known for its cobblestone alleyways, colorful architecture, and scenic vistas where ocean and mountains collide. The best time of year to visit Brazil is arguably in September, when the weather is just hot enough for beach days, but not sweltering like it is between December and February.
With brightly painted buildings, live music, bustling street markets, and delicious restaurants, Salvador’s Pelourinho neighborhood bustles with evident culture and history. Though the area is undoubtedly a tourist attraction, it’s definitely worth a trip. Be sure to take a day trip to the nearby Bahia—home to some of the world’s most breathtaking, natural beaches and pulsing Afro-Brazilian culture. The Arembepe Beach is a tightknit hippie village, where visitors enjoy fresh produce, locally made crafts, and a friendly community that prefers living free of electricity.
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
This mountainous city has a booming nightlife, rich culture, and stunning views at every turn. But arguably, the best part of Chiang Mai is its proximity to more remote mountain towns and some of the country’s most renowned temples. You can easily spend a day out hiking among wildflowers and towering treetops and visiting spiritual centers, and afterwards return back to the chaotic streets for five star dining and tuk tuk rides to some of the city’s best cocktail bars. The best time of year to visit Thailand is mid-November, after its rainy season and before it gets too hot.
Don’t miss out on the nearby Doi Suthep, a sacred temple located high in the mountains. Lead by a tall and intricately designed staircase, you’ll head up to a glittery gold structure, where incense fills the air. Receive a blessing from one of the local monks, and write a prayer or intention on an available tablet.
On Sunday evening, be sure to visit the local market, inside of the Tha Phae Gate, down Ratchadamnoen Road. Here you can feast on tasty desserts—like mango sticky rice and roti—and buy authentic craft goods until midnight. (Unlike the famous Night Bazaar, this event hosts vendors that sell handmade products, showcasing genuine Thai craftsmanship!)
ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND
While all of Scotland is known for its lush green landscapes, the Isle of Skye is undoubtedly one of the country’s — and the world’s — most stunning places. Connected to Scotland’s northwest coast by a bridge, this island is home to quaint fishing villages, medieval castles, quirky pubs, and intriguing lochs. You’ll experience rain and mist at any time of year in Scotland, but the fall months bring beautiful golden coloring to the treetops, and the weather is serenely cool.
The 800-year-old Dunvegan Castle and Gardens are a must. Clinging to a rocky cliff, the castle is home to the famed Fairy Flag and a collection of impressive historical paintings. The gardens have been restored in the last 30 years and boast lovely wildflowers from around the world. Off the coast, seals bob in the water.
Whether you enjoy walking or not, the Quiraing trek is vital. Surrounded by pinnacles, plateaus, this segment of the Trotternish Ridge is absolutely breathtaking. The hike is approximately 4.2 miles of manageable terrain, offering some of Scotland’s most photographed scenery.
This is a place where most people go to party — but there’s so much more! Whether you’re dancing at one of Ibiza’s best nightclubs, feasting on locally caught seafood by the beach, kayaking the crystal clear waters, or watching sunset from a boat, this Spanish city is full of energy and offers countless activities to take part in. Some would say that mid-September is the best time to visit Spain. It’s not quite as crowded as July and August, but the parties and clubs are still in full swing.
Watch the city’s famously dazzling sunset from Café del Mar, a lounge music bar that serves globally-influenced cuisine. As you might expect of a Spanish island, Ibiza is known for its impressive diving and snorkeling. In the turquoise, crystalline waters, you may spot whales and dolphins meandering the area’s coves.
GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
This impressive geological canyon spreads 277 miles long and 18 miles in width, where the Colorado River flows through towering cliffs that offer striking views in every direction. You can always opt for a rafting trip or a horseback ride, but even just standing at the top of any vantage point for five minutes will take your breath away. It’s striking.
Between September and November the temperatures start to drop and the crowds thin out, compared to summer and spring when schools are out and families flock to the canyon for vacation.
This city is severely underrated. It’s been ranked one of the Top 20 mountain biking destinations by National Geographic; it’s home to the first place award winning Comfy Cow ice cream shop; and it’s been dubbed one of the most foodie cities. With a booming nightlife, impressive park system, and an overall friendly atmosphere, Louisville should be a go-to on everyone’s bucket list. Although summer can be unbearably humid, fall is crisp and cozy. Between September and November is probably best!
Don’t miss out on boutiques and restaurants around Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue, including Carmichael’s Bookstore and Heine Brothers Coffee. And be sure to make a trip to the original Comfy Cow ice cream shop, located in a pale pink Victorian-style home on Frankfort. Grab pizza and play ping pong at Garage Bar, or feast on the beer cheese pretzel appetizer at Eiderdown — paired with bourbon, of course. During the day, be sure to wander Cherokee and Seneca Parks. Flooded with cyclists, walkers, joggers, and runners — rain or shine — Louisville’s Olmstead Parks are beyond inspiring.
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Besides the obvious — it’s NYC, duh — the Big Apple has countless hidden gems and is in close proximity to upper state New York, where the forest foliage becomes a blur of golden colors. It’s the best time of year for chai lattes, cozy sweaters, rooftop bars, and wandering Times Square. Any time during the fall is nice, but keep in mind that the later in the year you go, the colder it gets. October is arguably the best time of year to visit the big city.
Be sure to take a stroll at the urban Central Park and do all cheesie touristy things, like visit the Statue of Liberty and take a ride to the top of the Empire State Building. But, keep in mind that when the touristy pleasures are said and done, there’s so much more to the state than crowded shopping centers and twinkling lights.
Get out of town and hike the backwoods of New York’s Catskills, which burst with multicolor during autumn months. Or, take a trip to the Adirondack Mountains — a massive park with a multitude of outdoor activities that accounts for 85 percent of all wilderness in the northeastern part of the United States. Here, the cool temperatures and starry skies make for the perfect camping getaway. Roast s’mores around a bonfire with friends and family for an unforgettable vacation.
TETONS AND YELLOWSTONE, WYOMING
Marvel at the hot springs and obscure geysers at Yellowstone National Park, before exploring the area’s wild and curious nature trails. But, don’t forget the state’s equally stunning and thrilling Grand Tetons — a mountain range east of the Idaho state line, booming with life and beauty. It’s enough to make your heart ache. Any time from early September to mid-November is a great time to visit Wyoming. The state’s natural beauty unfolds in every direction, with autumn-hued trees amplifying the awe-inspiring outlooks.
Don’t miss the stargazing. It’s seriously the best anywhere in the States, as the population is relatively small and therefore the light pollution is low. Spending time in Yellowstone National Park is enough to fill your heart with wonder, but pair the daylight vistas with the nighttime views of outer space, and you’ll never want to leave.