26 BEST Places to Visit in October in the USA

If you missed the fall foilage in September, not to worry as it gets even better in October in the USA. From east to west coast, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in October in the US.

Overall October is an excellent time to travel the US. The summer crowds are long gone, and winter hasn’t set in yet. In many destinations, particularly on the eastern side of the country, the leaves are as vibrant as ever in October.

Though, if you’re not after pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, and pumpkin patches, there are still places providing a warm escape to beachgoers.

Let’s dig into the best places to visit in October in the USA!

Best Places to Visit in October in the USA

1. Hunter Mountain, New York

Hunter Mountain – New York

Kicking off this list of best places to visit in October in the US is this destination in Upstate New York. October at Hunter Mountain is a lovely time of year with crisp fall weather perfect for exploring the area’s natural wonders.

Start your fall adventure at the Hunter Mountain Sanctuary, which is surrounded by beautiful scenery and from there, set out to explore this region of the Catskill Mountains which is home to many hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife. 

Visit the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and check out beautiful sites such as Kaaterskill Falls and Sunset Rock. If it’s colorful fall foliage you seek, be sure to go there in mid-October when the colors are at their most vibrant. After a day of hiking, exploring and driving, kick back at a brewery with some local craft beer or cider. 

2. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur – California 

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur - California (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

If you’re someone who prefers a beach vacation in October, Pfeiffer Beach is the perfect place to go for a combination of lower temperatures, fewer crowds and beautiful scenery. While you won’t see much fall foliage at the beach, you’ll see the unique purple sand that it’s known for.  

That stretch of sand combined with huge rock formations creates a picturesque seascape perfect for a fall getaway.

It might be too cold to swim in the ocean this time of year but there are plenty of other things to do in the area including Monarch butterfly viewing in Andrew Molera State Park and hiking and wildlife viewing in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Point Lobo State Nature Reserve, Garrapata State Park and Limekiln State Park. 

3. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina & Virginia

 Blue Ridge Mountains – North Carolina (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Leaf-peeping season is quite long in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the changing colors dominating the landscape from late September to late November. We find driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is not just epic in the states, but one of the best places to visit in the world come October!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469-mile stretch of stunning natural landscapes and allows for many chances to enjoy the red, yellow and orange leaves uninterrupted by buildings and urban sprawl. 

The weather is nice in October, which is the peak fall foliage time, so you can comfortably enjoy hiking the many trails and exploring the beauty of some of the oldest mountains on Earth.  

4. Shawangunk Mountains, New York

Shawangunk Mountains – New York (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

During October in the Shawangunk Mountains, you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery, remote nature areas and fewer crowds and all this is enjoyed by the backdrop of the vibrant fall colors that paint the landscape yellow, red and orange throughout the entire month. 

One way to enjoy this yearly sight is by driving along the 88-mile Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway that travels from Kerhonkson and New Paltz. Another way is by hiking in some of the nature areas including Minnewaska State Park, Sam’s Point Preserve and Mohonk Preserve. 

5. Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois

Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois

In October, the weather is still quite nice in Pere Marquette State Park. In fact, temperatures often peak around 68°F! Go hiking in Pere Marquette State Park and explore Two Rivers National Wildlife Reserve.  

As you make your way around the area, you might spot a bald eagle or two and you’ll enjoy lovely fall foliage all around. Get a better view of the area with a thrilling, high-flying adventure with Grafton Zipline. 

6. Ozark Mountains, Missouri

Ozark Mountains,  Missouri

The Ozark Mountains are spectacular in late October and temperatures are still quite warm, the crowds of summer are long gone and the leaves are changing color. Imagine a place filled with mountains, raging rivers, deep canyons, stunning waterfalls and sparkling lakes and then imagine that same place surrounded by the vibrant golds and reds of the fall foliage. 

Go hiking in the Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park and visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art before heading to the Titanic Museum.

7. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Warm temperatures with some days peaking at 85°F, spectacular scenery, an abundance of things to do and golden fall foliage… these are just some of the things that make a visit to Columbia River Gorge in October worthwhile. 

Earlier in the month is the best time to see those golden maples, pines, firs and cottonwoods and this also happens to be the best time for hiking, biking, fishing and exploring a pristine wilderness area. As you explore the park, you’ll see many scenic overlooks and waterfalls including Multnomah Falls, Starvation Creek Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.  

Be sure to take a drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway and spend some time exploring Beacon Rock State Park. 

8. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 

Wisconsin Dells

Situated along the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Dells is a beautiful place characterized by unique sandstone formations, forest and sprawling nature areas. In October, the region is even more beautiful when the leaves change color and the temperatures drop to more comfortable levels, allowing for easy hikes to view colorful vistas that can’t be seen from the road. 

Explore Devil’s Lake State Park and Mirror Lake State Park and be sure to check out the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory at Lake Delton. 

9. Green Mountains, Vermont

Green Mountains – Vermont (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

It’s hard to compile a list of the places to visit in October in the US and not include Vermont. If leaf-peeping is on your mind for a fall getaway to Vermont in October, earlier in the month is best. This is when the weather is still nice with plenty of sun and comfortable temperatures for viewing this colorful yearly display which is most prominent on the mountainsides of the region.  

Go hiking in the Green Mountain National Forest and see beautiful nature areas that can’t be seen from the road. Since the weather is still fairly warm, many visitors choose to make the most of the great outdoors and stunning scenery by camping. 

10. Bar Harbor, Maine

Acadia National Park (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Located on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor is one of the more affordable destinations in the US. Bonus that it’s an amazing place to travel in October but if you want to do some leaf-peeping and see those stunning fall colors, it’s best to go mid-month.

Even later in the month, temperatures still average around 52°F which is perfect for hiking, kayaking and birdwatching. You may even see some whales swimming offshore! 

Explore nearby Acadia National Park, which is one of the best places to visit in October in the entire world! After hiking get a history lesson at the Abbe Museum and the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. If you happen to be in town early in the month, be sure to check out the Pumpkin Fest Weekend. 

11. Eastern Shore, Maryland

 Assateague (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Whether you enjoy the great outdoors, spectacular scenery, history, or culture, the Eastern Shore has it all! In October, it has comfortable temperatures averaging 63°F and plenty of sunny days. If you wait until the middle of the month, you’ll be able to enjoy all of these things along with the beautiful fall foliage the area is known for. 

Go hiking in Elk Neck State Park, explore the Assateague Island National Seashore, stroll along the Ocean City Boardwalk and search for wildlife in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. 

If you’d like to learn about local history visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and be sure to check out the picturesque Assateague Lighthouse. The Good Beer Festival in Salisbury is a popular October event in the region. 

12. The Poconos, Pennsylvania 

The Poconos, Pennsylvania (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

In October, the weather is still nice enough in The Poconos to enjoy many outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, kayaking, biking and whitewater rafting. And if you go there mid-month, you’ll also enjoy the beautiful fall colors!  

Take a scenic drive along Route 507 and enjoy spectacular views of lakes, valleys and mountains framed by vibrant leaves. Hike to Bushkill Falls and explore Hickory Run State Park, Seven Tubs Nature Area and Promised Land State Park. 

If you want to learn more about local history, visit the Asa Packer Mansion Museum and Grey Towers National Historic Site. You might even catch some of the events of the Annual Harvest Festival towards the beginning of the month.

13. Buckhorn, Kentucky 

Visitors head to Buckhorn in October for many reasons. For one, the fishing in the area is amazing and because the temperatures are cooler, there are fewer people around. Secondly, the fall foliage is amazing with the leaves of dogwoods and several other tree species turning to vibrant yellows, reds and oranges. 

Admire this display across the hills and around sparkling lakes and while you’re at it, keep an eye out for wildlife including eagles and elk. Explore the Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park and check out the historic Buckhorn Presbyterian Church which is a beautiful log building. 

14. Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
image via Satish on flickr

The temperatures drop in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in October but not enough to keep outdoor adventurers and leaf peepers away! Throughout the entire month, the fall colors are truly at their best and as you explore the area, which includes Lake Wenatchee State Park and Lake Chelan State Park, you’ll see the lush forest and countryside turned red, yellow and orange. 

Go hiking along the Lake Ann / Maple Pass Loop Trail and visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum in the nearby small town of Leavenworth. 

15. Franklin, Tennessee 

 Franklin - Tennessee (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Franklin glows in October and that’s due to the vibrant fall colors on the leaves of the area’s maples, oaks and hickories. The temperatures are still nice around 66°F, which makes for perfect conditions for exploring the lively downtown district where you’ll find galleries, shops and Victorian architecture. 

Take a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway to see some of the best fall foliage in the area and learn about the town’s Civil War History at Carter House and Carnton Plantation. The state’s biggest fall festival, PumpkinFest, takes place in late October and is well worth experiencing. 

16. Taos, New Mexico

Taos – New Mexico (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

It doesn’t matter if you go early or later in October, Taos is a fabulous vacation destination if you’re seeking comfortable temperatures and beautiful fall colors in an unexpected environment.

Situated in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this desert landscape may be the last place you’d expect to see yellow and orange fall foliage, but that’s exactly what you’ll see as you take a drive along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.  

During your visit, be sure to check out the Taos Pueblo and other historic Adobe structures. Taos has always been a hot spot for artists and you can admire local art at the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Art Museum and Millicent Rogers Museum. The Taos Balloon Rally is a popular event that takes place in October. 

17. Connecticut River Valley – Connecticut / Massachusetts / New Hampshire / Vermont

Connecticut River Valley (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Passing through four New England states, the Connecticut River Valley features protected natural areas and pristine wilderness that transform into leaf-peeping heaven in October for visitors wishing to see some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the region. 

As you explore the area, you’ll see quaint, down-home bed and breakfasts, antique stores and stately opera houses. Take a ride on the Essex Steam Train or Riverboat and see the landscape from a different angle, explore the Gillette Castle State Park and learn about local history at the Connecticut River Museum. 

18. Great River Road, Mississippi +

Great River Road,  Mississippi.

The Great River Road, which travels along the Mississippi River through ten states, is one of the country’s top driving routes and one of the best times of year to do this drive is in October when the fall foliage is at its peak and the landscaped is splashed with various hues of yellow and orange. 

Along the way, you’ll find many national monuments, museums, parks and cultural attractions. The region is also a hot spot for bird migration and is said to be one of the top places on Earth for birdwatching. 

19. Upper Peninsula, Michigan

marquette, michigan (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)
Drone aerial view of Wagner Falls near Palmer, Michigan in fall.

Michigan in the fall is a sight to behold, and the Upper Peninsula is a highlight. There are many reasons to visit the Upper Peninsula region in October besides nice weather with temperatures averaging 60°F.

For one, this is the time of year when the fall colors peak and with over four million acres of protected forest, you won’t miss the colorful maple, aspen, beech, oak and sycamore trees! 

Explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Marquette, go hiking and waterfall viewing in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, visit the Soo Locks Maritime Museum and check out the views at Arch Rock. Be sure to check out the Fall Harvest Craft Show and the On The Farm Fall Festival, which features live entertainment and antique and craft vendors. 

20. Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah 

Cache Valley

In October, the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway makes for the perfect leaf-peeping road trip. While traveling through this epic route, which includes the Cache Valley, the Bear River Mountains and sparkling Bear Lake, you’ll see natural limestone structures, farmlands, rolling hills and towering peaks that are made all that more stunning when set to the brilliant fall foliage. 

The weather is still comfortable too so you may even get a chance to take a hike into the backcountry to get even better views of the landscape. 

21. Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
image via Brad Sims on flickr

From mid to late October, the Ozark National Forest is one of the best places in the country to view spectacular fall foliage that paints the mountains in dazzling shades of red, yellow and orange.  

Admire raging rivers and sparking lakes bordered by this colorful display and since the weather is still very nice this time of year, you can comfortably hike on the trails that wind through the more than one million acres of pristine wilderness.  

22. Isle of Palms Beach, South Carolina 

 Isle of Palms Beach

The Isle of Palms is one of the most scenic islands in South Carolina! Good news – it’s still quite warm at Isle of Palms Beach in October and that includes the ocean water! Spend a day sunbathing on this beautiful stretch of sand or swimming in the clear, calm waters. 

Take a stroll along the scenic boardwalk, go kayaking or fishing and explore the downtown district and its eateries and shops. The sunsets here are spectacular, so watch at least one during your visit!

23. Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

Sagamore Bridge (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

Cape Cod isn’t just a summer beach vacation destination; it’s also an amazing place to visit in October when the air cools to a comfortable 56°F and the leaves on the trees change color.

If you want to see those oaks and cedars when they’re at their most colorful, the best time to go is in mid or late October and it doesn’t matter if you’re inland or along the coast as evidence of the changing season is all around! 

Admire views of small villages, lighthouses and scenic bays set against the deep golds and reds, explore the Cape Cod National Seashore, hike along the Cape Cod Rail Trail and learn about local history at the Heritage Museum & Gardens and the Provincetown Museum. 

24. Jackson, Wyoming 

Jackson - Wyoming (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

There’s nowhere else quite like Jackson in October.  This is the time of year when you can see snow-capped mountains and spectacular fall foliage at the same time in nearby Grand Teton National Park!  

This area is one of the most iconic in the US, especially during the fall. Those shades of red and yellow contrasting with the mountain peaks are something to see. Visit the National Elk Refuge, learn about local history at the Jackson Hole Historical Society, check out the National Museum of Wildlife Art and enjoy hiking, rafting and fishing in pristine wilderness areas. 

25. Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia

Amicalola Falls State Park (Best Places to Visit in October in the USA)

The shining star of Amicalola Falls State Park is its namesake 729-foot Amicalola Falls which is the tallest waterfall in Georgia. However, there’s so much more to this beautiful nature area including nice temperatures that make hiking to the falls a breeze.  

Anytime in October is prime time to see the colorful leaves on the oaks and maple trees that frame the stunning vistas throughout the park this time of year. Head to Amicalola Zipline & Aerial Park for a high-flying adventure to get a look at those changing leaves from a different angle!

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

 Petrified Forest National Park

Ending this list of best places to visit in October in the US is this Southwest destination. In October, temperatures in the Petrified Forest National Park straddle the 75° mark which is comfortable for the Arizona desert! That means ideal conditions for exploring the fascinating natural wonders including the petrified logs that the park is named after. 

The park is located along the iconic Route 66 so the area is steeped in history and culture. In the park itself, you’ll see beautiful scenery consisting of colorful badlands and sweeping hills. 

Explore the Rainbow Forest and its museum, admire the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock and check out Puerco Pueblo!

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About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.