42 Ways to Have the Best Fall Ever
Welcome to fall. Here’s how to do it right, in cities across the globe.
Summer is over, and with the change comes a new spate of seasonal activities. What’s the best way to experience fall in the world’s major metropolises? Read on for gotta-go autumn adventures.
1. This fall heralds in the new $68 million National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The center, which opens in a landmark downtown building designed by Phil Freelon, features emotional exhibits including one by Tony award¬–winning playwright George C. Wolf on the American Civil Rights movement.
2. Just a short stroll across Centennial Olympic Park, the College Football Hall of Fame pays homage America’s favorite fall sport. Guests select their favorite team when they arrive and are then treated to exhibitions on the people and games they care about most.
3. Last December, Atlanta christened its first streetcar since 1949. It takes passengers on a 2.7-mile loop, dropping them near the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the College Football Hall of Fame, the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market, and the King Historic District.
Sounds like a perfect itinerary for a crisp October day.
4. Move over, al fresco dining. Ponce City Market, in the centrally located Sears, Roebuck & Company building, is filled with restaurants from the likes of Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, and Sean Brock—the city's James Beard darlings. Less than two miles south on the BeltLine, Krog Street Market features 16 food and beverage outposts, from a dumplings stall helmed by relative unknowns to a Mexican restaurant operated by powerhouse restaurateur Ford Fry.
5. The affluent neighborhood of Buckhead is trending again, thanks in no small part to the new Buckhead Atlanta development, which created six blocks of restaurants and retail along Peachtree Road. Along Peachtree, you’ll find The Southern Gentleman, a locally owned gastropub featuring cheeky Southern fare like “duck & dumplings,” more than 75 whiskeys (to take the chill off) and preppy touches like seersucker window treatments.
6. The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the most comprehensive urban renewal efforts in the United States, repurposing 22 miles of abandoned railroad corridors into a network of parks and trails for bikers, walkers, and sightseers.
To watch the fall leaves move across the landscape of the Fens is a fine autumnal adventure in Boston, but what of other pursuits? All corners of the Hub offer something fall-forward for the curious traveler. Here are some of the best activities to keep you occupied from now until December:
1. You don’t have to go far to see glorious fall colors in Boston. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the ideal place to watch maple trees turn orange, yellow and red. They also have fantastic guided walking tours on Saturday and Sunday through October. Need one more reason to go? It’s free.
2. Forget whatever dusty, outdated notions you might have regarding living history museums. We’re talking about the Plimoth Plantation, people. Visitors can speak with natives at the Wampanoag Village, create porcupine headdresses alongside artisans, and view historical animal breeds from Wiltshire horned sheep to eastern wild turkeys.
3. For a bit of loud and raucous street life, Honkfest!’s three-day festival of brass bands is a family event that parents will want to go to. Along with a lantern-lit nighttime parade, you’ll hear the sounds of samba, afrobeat, punk, and klezmer by everyone from Sousa to Ryan Adams.
4. On October 20, join hundreds of Bostonians as they float the season’s most iconic squash (hint: pumpkins) along the Neponset River in Dorchester. Bring a costume and decorated pumpkin and you’ll get a chance to add a candle to the fleet before it floats away. For environmentalists, rest assured that all of the pumpkins are snapped up and repurposed as compost after the event.
5. Set sail from Harpoon Brewery at Rowes Wharf with several beer experts (besides your friends) and learn about the specific alchemy of hops and water that creates the locally made brews. In addition to sweeping water views, participants get a particularly spectacular view of the Hub.
6. The stunning Jordan Hall is home to the New England Conservatory’s “First Monday” concert series, and it’s impossible to beat the price or the caliber of these performances. Vocal, wind, and choral ensembles present music by Bach, Schubert, Sibelius, and others throughout the season.
7. Brush up your Shakespeare at the Boston Book Festival, which takes place October 23 to 24 in Copley Square. Featured authors include Margaret Atwood, Amanda Palmer, and more than 140 others from an array of literary traditions. As a special addition, there’s a jazz stage sponsored by Berklee College.
Cooler weather may mean the start of hibernation for many, but in Chicago, it’s like a rebirth. Summer activities are ending and the city comes out to enjoy crisp weather and seasonal fun. Here’s how to experience the fall awakening:
1.For the past 50 years, the Chicago International Film Festival has greeted the season with more than 130 films from 50-plus countries. This year’s goes from October 15 to 29.
2. For those who want to keep the party going, head to Wine Riot, the following weekend on October 16 and 17. An entrance fee of $60 gets every participant a glass that can be filled endlessly with 250 international wines. Taste the world without leaving Union Station.
3. There are so many architectural gems in Chicago and too little time. Luckily, Open House Chicago, put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, gives the public that chance to wander through 200 buildings across Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods—for free. You still have to move fast. The event only happens for 48 hours, on October 17 and 18.
4. The Mac & Cheese Fest offers samples of unique takes on the dish, like smoked mozzarella and gouda. The event is one day only, on October 24, and tickets start at $60.
5.Take a quick trip back in time at the 2015 Record Ramp where attendees listen to old records while shopping vinyls starting at $10. The event is happening on October 18 at the Vintage Garage.
There are plenty reasons to escape to the West Coast this fall—outside of maintaining that tan you’ve worked on all summer.
1. The Broad Museum finally opened in Downtown L.A. in September, containing nearly 2,000 works from Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of contemporary art, including Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Jeff Koons, and Roy Lichtenstein. Admission is free, but tickets need to be reserved here.
2. Though rainfall has been scarce in L.A. this year, there’s some in the form of the wildly popular Rain Room at LACMA, which brought in throngs during stints at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Barbican Centre in London. The exhibition begins November 1; reserved tickets will be available online to the general public beginning October 21.
3. Added bonus: If art enthusiasts book their room through L.A.’s Museum Season promo, those staying at least two nights at area hotels from October 5 through November 15 will get special vouchers for two free adult admissions, and store discounts at 25 of L.A.'s best museums, including LACMA.
4. It’s true that the city is known for its car culture, but cycling has picked up speed in the past few years, in part due to CicLAvia, a one-day event that closes down designated street routes to vehicles, leaving it open only for bicyclists, skaters, and pedestrians. The festival celebrates its fifth year in Los Angeles on Sunday, October 18, with its central meeting point in blossoming Downtown L.A.
5. There’s hardly a more beautiful time of year to visit wine country than the fall when the changing colors of the vines and the more temperate weather make for leisurely outdoor sipping. Though the harvest was an early one this year due to the drought, there are still plenty of goings-on at the area’s many coastal tasting rooms, including food trucks, live comedy, and music at Malibu Family Wines, as well as art gallery exhibitions and talks at Cornell Winery.
6. It’s also apple-picking season in SoCal. There are plenty of u-pick farms in Yucaipa, Oak Glen, and Julian, where you can pluck your own fruit off trees for juicing, pie-making or snacking, or even pick up some delightfully tart hard cider from Julian Hard Cidery to bring back home as a quaffable souvenir.
If you don’t want summer to end, head to Melbourne, where the temperature is heating up instead of cooling down.
1. Arbory Bar and Eatery, located amid trees between platform 11 of Flinders Street Station and the Yarra River, is considered the city’s longest bar. The spot offers treats for both strolling through and for folks looking for shade and a cold one.
2. Got a craving for the old U.S. of A.? Buy a ticket for Out on the Weekend October 18), an Americana music festival featuring local and U.S. bands—including Dawes and Tex, Don, and Charlie—at Seaworks in Williamstown on October 18. While the music is definitely American-inspired, the food selection is distinctively local, including Rafael Rashid’s concepts from Juanita’s Peaches to All Day Donuts.
3. Soak up the strengthening sun with a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens to check out the flowers, then stop for lunch in the sunshine at Jardin Tan, chef Shannon Bennett’s French–Vietnamese fusion café.
4. There’s nothing that signifies the start of summer quite like an outdoor drink. Start the season with locals at one of the beer gardens spread around Melbourne’s inner-north. Choose from the classics like The Standard in Fitzroy or a more contemporary setting like the outdoor area at Brunswick’s Howler.
5. Indulge your inner culture-hound with one, or several, trips to the 30thMelbourne Festival, taking place October 8 through 25. There is expression of every kind from theatre and dance to art and music with a selection of free and paid events.
6. Dreamily of another summer locale? Get a taste of Argentine life at the Meyers Place Latin Festival October 11), a block party in the centre of the city, happening October 11. There will distinctively Argentinian food, drinks, music and market stalls. Bring the kids – there are activities catered specifically to them.
New York City
There is never a shortage of things to do in New York City, but the combination of tolerable weather (not too hot and not too cold), an influx of annual festivals, and gorgeous fall foliage less than an hour away, makes fall a particular perfect time to visit.
1.The New York Film Festival is happening from September 25 through October 11 at the famed Lincoln Center. Unlike most exclusive festivals, the public can pop in for a film for just $25. You can purchase tickets here.
2. People participating in the New York City Wine and Food Festival (October 15 through 18) can spoil themselves at rooftop feasts, all-you-can-eat tastings, cooking classes, and celebrity chef encounters. Times, prices, and locations vary, but you can find out all the details, on the event's official site.
3. Pick a spot to watch the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 1. Bring a mug of your favorite (spiked) coffee and cheer on 50,000 runners from around the world. Next? Head to a nearby bar; post-run celebrations happen all day long.
4. Comedy is another everyday treat in the big apple, but the very best all gather in one place for the New York Comedy Festival, which happens November 10 through 15.
5. From Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks, there are hundreds of small towns, hiking trails and lakes ripe for exploration outside of the concrete jungle. Travelers can opt for an afternoon trip to Bear Mountain, via a Circle Line cruise or rent an Audi from SilverCar and head upstate for a full weekend of apple picking, hiking, and hot cider.
6. It wouldn’t be Halloween in New York without the famous Village Halloween Parade. Arrive by 7 p.m. if you’re planning on marching, or sit on the sidelines and watch as the impressive selection of ghouls walk by. For those with fur-kids, there is also the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade on October 24.
Portland is pure Americana come Autumn: The air becomes crisp, leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes are the hot new accessory. Then, there are the events and sightings that are just so Portland.
1. The usually-quiet Sauvie Island on the Columbia river, just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, becomes the weekend destination for urbanites wanting a day of hayrides, apple cider, and DIY pumpkin-picking from the fields. Kruger's Farm is the classic spot for fall activities on the island, and offers one of its best deals: $26 for two 15-pound pumpkins, two tickets to the corn maze, two caramel apples, and two ears of roasted corn.
2. For the 28th year, you can taste 60 varieties of apples (and several pear varieties) at Portland Nursery's Apple Tasting, a free event held in October. Spotted: delicious, relatively rare apple types (Ashmead's Kernel, Orondo Rose, Rubinette), a fresh-pressed cider demonstration and tasting, live music, and a scarecrow-decorating contest.
3. All summer we drank Raptor Ridge's cold, refreshing Rosé, Pinot Gris, and Gruner Veltliner, but now that it's chilly outside, there's nothing better that curling up at home with a big glass of their Barrel Select Pinot Noir, which is aged in French oak. The vineyard is also running a meditation, yoga, and tasting event, called Yoga in the Vines, on November 5.
4. The Oregon Olive Mill at Red Ridge Farms is the only Olioteca (grower and producer of olive oil) in the Pacific Northwest, and at their free Olio Nuovo Festival every November, visitors celebrate the end of olive season with tastings of the newest batch of unfiltered EVOO.
5. The husband and wife chef team at the Country Cat start making Autumn Squash Soup with Apple Cider and Brown Butter; Clyde Common debuts a fantastic Butternut Squash Latke; and Portland Brewing unveils their draught-only Rico Sauvie Pumpkin Ale with Spices, a play on the pumpkin frenzy on Sauvie Island.
6. Fall ingredients from local farms are also incorporated into desserts: Raven & Rose makes warm apple hand pies and an oat cake baked with warming cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, served with toasted barley ice cream. Beloved ice cream shop Salt & Straw starts serving its fall-only flavors, including Candy Corn, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Spiced Goat Cheese & Pumpkin Pie, and Ruby Jewel is scooping Pumpkin Pie ice cream made from local pumpkins and vegan Harvest Apple Ice.
In San Francisco, fall means Indian Summer—the year’s most reliably warm weather that often lingers into November. It’s the season every San Franciscan looks forward to most. Luckily, few tourists have caught on … yet.
Making the warm nights even richer, fall signifies the start of the city’s best festivals and events. In case you need more persuading, here are more reasons to book a trip to the City By the Bay stat:
1. One of city’s most popular concerts, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (October 2nd - 4th) kicks off every year during the first weekend in October. Over three days, dozens of bands and musicians take over Golden Gate Park to play free shows (repeat: free shows!). This year, expect appearances from Charles Bradley, Neko Case, Steve Earler, T-Bone Burnett, and more.
2. Two weeks later, on October 17 and 18, another uber-popular concert takes place: the Treasure Island Music Festival. What to expect: two days of dance-ready music, art installations, live comedy, and a ferris wheel on the tiny island between San Francisco and Oakland. This year’s headliners include The National and Deadmau5.
3. The most exciting time of the year for wine connoisseurs takes place during fall the wine harvest in Napa and Sonoma, a short 60 miles from San Francisco. Many wineries have harvest parties or immersive learning experiences to compliment your wine sipping. Plus it’s one of the only places in the Bay Area that gets real foliage—just imagine bright orange and gold vineyards against the green hills.
4. Among many San Francisco foodies, fall is a favorite season for produce. The farmers markets, like the popular Saturday market at the San Francisco Ferry Building are filled with artichokes, eggplant, and early winter squash—and many of the city’s seasonally driven restaurants showcase the fall bounty in their dishes.
5. Thanks to the dependably warm days, no wind, and thinner crowds, fall is also the best season to head outdoors. Charter a boat around San Francisco Bay (or to the Farallon Islands for whale watching), hike the Marin Headlands’ winding coastal trails, or pack a picnic for Ocean beach and light a bonfire to warm up as the sun goes down.
New England may try to lay claim to fall foliage drives, and Renaissance festivals may happen nationwide, but when it comes to autumnal living, Washington, D.C. is doing it right.
1. The Maryland Renaissance Festival, now in its 39th year, is one of the biggest and most freewheeling festivals of its kind in the country. Held on weekends from late August through October 25th, Renn Fest sprawls out across 27 acres in Crownsville, Maryland, and depicts life in a fictional English village called Revel Grove.
Things to look forward to: There’s the 140-odd artisans selling their crafts, taverns full of beer, and food stands peddling turkey legs, “steak on a stake,” fresh seafood, and sandwiches. The village also abounds with performers ranging from a Shakespeare troupe and bawdy balladeers to jugglers, magicians, and even a sword swallower.
2. It’s not New England, but the Mid-Atlantic sure has its own fall foliage beauty. Visit the U.S. National Arboretum to see its collection of bonsai trees in full seasonal splendor in the Autumn Bonsai: The Colors of Nature exhibit at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, or wander through some of the city’s other natural spaces such as Rock Creek Park and the National Mall.
3. If you’ve got a car and a little bit of time to kill, consider the 75-mile trek out to Shenandoah National Park, known for its amazing vistas of Skyline Drive.
4. Fall weekends are a great time to take a short trek out of the city and into the nearby farms of Maryland and Virginia. At Butler’s Orchard, you can jump on hayrides, navigate corn mazes, and pick pumpkins as part of their annual Potato Festival, or pick apples on their pick-your-own farm.
5. Meanwhile, George Washington’s former home hosts its own Mount Vernon Fall Harvest Family Days (October 24-October 25), offering wagon rides, a straw bale maze, apple roasting,18th-century dancing demos, and wheat treading in its barn.