8 Fall Getaways You’ve Never Thought Of

8 Fall Getaways You’ve Never Thought Of

Life is finally cooling its jets and slowing down with comfortable weather, rather than the broiling days we’ve been having in the Southwest for the past millennia.

(Editor’s note: It’s been 3 months.

John: It’s a hyperbole!)

And even with the kid’s back in school, that doesn’t mean you should slum it at home until Christmas. Make the most out of the shoulder season and treat yourself to a fall getaway. There are plenty of day trips and weekend getaways to see the fall colors, taste freshly harvested fruits, and delight in the autumn vibes.

Santa Ana, California

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This post is the first in series called “Santa Ana is way better than Hollywood.” A hidden gem of Orange County, Santa Ana is the perfect escape from crowded Hollywood while offering many of the same amenities, just more conveniently packed together.

Why should you visit?

If you head downtown, also known as the Artist Village, you can find everything you need for a night out: trendy theaters (The Frida Kahlo Theater), lively bars (Copper Door), rambunctious concerts (Yost Theatre) and delicious food (Crave Restaurant), all wrapped together in a Latinx style.

Autumn is a great time to visit to feel the artsy vibes when the weather cools down, the leaves shine with fall colors, and artists from all styles come out each Saturday for an enchanting Art Walk.

Parking at the central garage is roughly USD$4-7.

Olympic National Park, Washington

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A bit flashier than Santa Ana, but we won’t fault Olympic National Park. Expanisve and diverse, Olympic offers travelers wide fields to picnic in, gorgeous beaches for surfing, a temperate rainforest (1 of 3 in the Western Hemisphere), and stunning waterfalls.

Why should you visit?

Come Autumn, Olympic National Park is decked out in fall colors, making it an absolute paradise to hike through fields of huckleberry leaves. You may need to brave the occasional rain shower, but storm watchers will delight at the coastal storms.

If you’re looking to explore with a guide there are fantastic Olympic national park tours with small groups from Seattle.

Survivalists and forages will be delighted to know that the local huckleberries will be in season.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Grab your basket and put on your sunhat for an escape back in time to Lancaster County, otherwise known as a Amish County. An overlooked gem of the East Coast, this Pennsylvania county is a delightful city escape that will lead you to the heartland of Dutch U.S.A.

Why should you visit?

There’s no better time to visit Lancaster than when the harvest comes in. Fresh fruit and baked goods flood every market, offering foodies delectable treats as they roadtrip through romantic covered bridges. Bring the kids along for a day and pick your own fruit at Cherry Hill Orchards, which rotates its fruits throughout the season – or visit one of the many adventure farms like Cherry Crest which offer amazing meals along fun activities for the little ones.

The foodie delights extend to a variety of festivals, such as the Whoopie Pie Festival (Saturday, September 9th).

Boston, Massachusetts

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New England is the epicenter of the fall foliage craze, with roadtrippers burning rubber from Boston and beyond to explore the countryside. Why stay in the city then? Well, I’ll tell you…

Why should you visit?

A stroll along Freedom’s Trail offers one of the most enchanting fall foliage experiences in the states – and you don’t even have to leave the city! Despite the pleasant weather, crowds will have thinned out, leaving you plenty of space to relax in Boston’s cozy parks.

The good weather and small crowds also make it a perfect time to explore the city, so slip on your tennis and join the Movie Mile Walking Tour to see where all the create Bostonian/Matt Damon films were shot.

Plus, it isn’t that far from Salem, Halloween Capital U.S.A.

Acadia National Park, Maine

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A hidden gem of New England, Acadia National Park is one of the most stunning coastal national parks.

Why should you visit?

By September the summers crowds will have all but faded out, leaving the roadways clear. If you’re into the fall foliage craze, then October is the perfect month for you, as many of  the trees will be sporting their new orange and yellow colors.

Either join a guided ranger hike to get an in-depth look at the park with an expert ranger or set out on your own across the dozens of zigzagging trails of all skill levels.

Cruises and boat tours along the coast offer some of the best views of the park, many of which are provided by local park rangers.

Sedona, Arizona

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Though the West Coast isn’t known for its fall foliage, Sedona is one of the few magical places to enjoy the changing of the seasons. Here you can also stand atop a towering hill to see the may colors shine across the landscape.

Why should you visit?

These seasonal shift in Sedona also comes with comfortable weather for exploring the hills, valleys, and plateaus of this stunning region. Casual hikers and nature junkies alike to explore the red rock landscape.

If you want a to get off your feet for a bit you can join a guided Sedona tour to see the highlights of red rock country, such as the Chapel of the Holy Cross or Snoopy Rock.

Wine connoisseurs will delight in the variety of vineyards that dot the region, plus various chocolate shops that compliment the trip. If you’re not a wine fan, then the micro-brewery tours are right up your alley. Pay as you go or package it all together in one great day trip.

Within the city artists can wander down Gallery District to see both public artworks and local galleries.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is a classic cowboy town that’s worth its own blog post. Like Sedona, it enjoys warm, comfortable weather, while prices are down as the summer crowds depart.

Why should you visit?

Jackson Hole is perfect in Autumn as the summer crowds are gone and away, while there’s still plenty of open trails to explore before winter closes them down. In the middle of that you have another stunning destination for fall foliage.

Beyond heading to the nearby national parks, Jackson Hole itself is a delightful town to explore. Like Sedona, it has a lively art community that comes out for the first week of September in a variety of public art shows and events for the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival. Complimenting this event is the lovely PInk Garter Theatre, which offers a continue stream of shows from concerts to wilderness documentaries.

Those looking to hit the trails should hop on a “fat bike,” a mountain bike with giant wheels that let you easily navigate the wild country and muddy trails.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

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One of the best kept secrets of the East Coast, the Great Smoky Mountains is another fall foliage hot spots outside of New England. Late September is the start of fall season here as the colors steadily descend from the highest peaks down throughout the park.

Why should you visit?

The fall foliage adds a delightful flavor the park, however it is a great escape just on its own.

If you’re traveling with family make sure to head to the Cataloochee Valley or the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to spot elks grazing throughout the season in their natural habitat. Or hop in a classic hayride for a leisurely ride through the region.

Those looking for a more panoramic view can hop on teh Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to discover the full breadth of the national park.

It’s gateway city of Gatlinburg is also filled with festivals and activities in Autumn, such as Shoktober – a month-long extravaganza centered around the Gatlinburg Space Needle complete with haunted houses and wicked shows – Ripley’s Fright Nights, and even it’s very own Oktoberfest.

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John Gray

A poet by heart and an editor by trade, I have traveled across the world in pursuit of my studies and to criss-cross destinations off my bucket list. While a student at the University of Iowa, I traveled to Cuba, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, where I lived for 6 months. I am currently planning a return trip to see the Great Barrier Reef and Western Australia.

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