16. Asheville, North Carolina
Featuring “one of the longest and most vibrant leaf seasons,” the Blue Ridge Mountain area is ideal for nature lovers. Before arriving, you can check out the region’s fall color report, map, and leaves schedule at exploreasheville.com, then take a scenic drive or a brisk hike. For a bigger adventure among the leaves, choose from several zipline tours. Enjoy in the season by picking your own apples or taking a haunted tour in Asheville. No matter the time of year, a visit to the Biltmore Estate is worth the trip. America’s largest home, the French Renaissance abode features 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.
17. Columbia, South Carolina
There are many places around Columbia, South Carolina, to experience the changing leaves – from Congaree National Park and Cayce Riverwalk Park to Main Street. Visitors can take part in numerous festivals throughout the season, including the food-centric Palmetto Peanut Boil, South Carolina Oyster Festival, and the Five Points Chili Cook-Off. In October, there is the South Carolina State Fair, filled with fried food and spooky events, such as Deceased Farm, featuring six frightening buildings, three outdoor zones, and two acres of spooky corn fields.
18. Hilton Head, South Carolina
Milder weather, fewer people, and lower hotel rates make this beach destination worth a fall trip. Bike or walk on Hilton Head’s 64 miles of public pathways and nature trails, or stroll along the beach, which can still be enjoyed through the season. Experience the island’s local animals with an Island Explorer dolphin tour or an Alligator & Wildlife Boat Tour. Back on land, visitors in November can check out the Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival’s classic car show. If cars aren’t your thing, then there is always shopping in town or bargains at Tanger Outlets.
19. Tybee Island, Georgia
This popular seaside spot can still be enjoyed in the fall, but without the crowds. Located 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, this Georgia barrier island is known for its wide, pristine beaches and has been a vacation destination since the late 1800s. With the summer heat fading, it’s still an ideal time to enjoy the weather and scenery of the island, whether you are kayaking, sailing or biking. For something more unique, there is the Annual Pirate Festival, with costumes, a Thieves and Gypsies Market, and activities for adults and kids. Get more festive by learning about the island’s haunted history with the Tybee Island Historical Society or at the Fort Pulaski National Monument. Fall is also the start of oyster season, and the shellfish can be savored at local restaurants.
20. Key West, Florida
The southernmost point in the continental U.S., this island located about 90 miles north of Cuba has plenty of reasons for a visit, from its weather and water to its food, culture, and history. In late October, many flock to the city for its famous Fantasy Fest, described as a “10-day party in paradise for grown-ups.” Visitors can also come during the rest of fall for a more tranquil vacation, with average highs of 84° F and lows of around 76° F. One perfect way to experience the beauty and good weather of the island is with a sunset at Mallory Square — an impromptu nightly party featuring musicians, artists, food vendors, and more.