As the warmer days of September transition into the brisk afternoons of October, leaves begin to change and coat the sidewalks, menus swap lemonades for pumpkin spice lattes, and tank tops and sandals are switched out for sweaters and scarves. October is a beautiful month to travel, when you can—and should—take advantage of the colors, smells, and sights of harvest season, festival season, and the chance to spend those last few comfortable days outdoors.
Fall foliage peaks in October, especially in the eastern United States. Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a favorite for road trippers—leaves here turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange and the landscape exudes a golden glow. Acadia National Park, in Maine, is another great destination, where visitors can take hikes into the mountains to spot wildlife, colorful surrounding forests, and distant Bar Harbor.
But there’s more outdoor adventure to be had outside New England, before the winds of winter creep in. Queenstown, on New Zealand’s South Island, is a mecca for thrill-seekers thanks to nearby Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Southern Alps—ideal for boating, hiking, biking, or even skydiving. Meanwhile, over in the British Isles, rainy Ireland is at its most lush, and visitors can take it all in on a drive down its scenic western coast.
October brings festival season to many of America’s beloved towns. California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys kick into high gear with parties and food gatherings that celebrate the arrival of the harvest. Nashville, another favorite fall destination, is lauded for events honoring its musical roots. Further west, thousands of people gather in New Mexico for Albuquerque’s annual balloon fiesta. Of course, art is a hit year-round. Cities like Taipei and Istanbul are hot new destinations for checking out contemporary art shows and pop-up galleries.