John Huba

Festivals, harvest-season goodies, and lower prices: in these cities, fall travel is both savvy and sublime.

Santa Fe

21 of 22

You know it's chile harvest season in this southwestern city by the smell of roasted peppers emanating from roadside stands. A few great places to try them, in a non-taco format: gastropub Fire & Hops, which tops its poutine with cheese curds, bacon, and green chile gravy; and new café Kitchen Window, where the Red Chile Brownie is accented with peppers and candied pecans. In early October, it’s a quick drive to hike the foliage-lined Aspen Vista trail, about 14 miles from downtown, or take in the “hot air” at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

America's Best Cities for Fall Travel

Santa Fe

You know it's chile harvest season in this southwestern city by the smell of roasted peppers emanating from roadside stands. A few great places to try them, in a non-taco format: gastropub Fire & Hops, which tops its poutine with cheese curds, bacon, and green chile gravy; and new café Kitchen Window, where the Red Chile Brownie is accented with peppers and candied pecans. In early October, it’s a quick drive to hike the foliage-lined Aspen Vista trail, about 14 miles from downtown, or take in the “hot air” at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

John Huba

America's Best Cities for Fall Travel

Even bears prefer Chicago during the autumn.

“It's cooler, the trees on Michigan Avenue are 
turning colors, and it's a great time to visit Brookfield and Lincoln Park zoos," says Lillian Polz, the head of a Chicago marketing firm. "The animals that were lethargic
 during the summer—like the bears and big cats—are all in their best winter 
coats and are much more lively."

No doubt, the crisp air and vibrant fall foliage can put a spring in your step. And for travelers, autumn offers added incentives: summer crowds have dissipated, hotel rates have wafted downward, and in many cities, the best local experiences are ready to shine. In San Diego, you can find the most summery temperatures of the year, along with emptier beaches and better surf. In Portland, OR, you can taste the city’s famed microbrews at their fresh-hops best. And in Orlando, FL, you might get downright teary-eyed at the significantly shorter lines for Space Mountain.

Then, of course, there's the seasonal scenery. "Santa Fe is at its most beautiful and arresting in autumn," says Melissa Carl, who does cultural excursions with Curious Oyster Seminars. "The weather remains brilliant, and 
the changing of the leaves makes for an almost sublime experience. A quick 
drive up to the Santa Fe ski basin, when all the aspens are in color, is
 like living in a Georgia O'Keeffe painting."

Did you enjoy this article?

Share it.

Explore More