The Best Places to Travel in November
We’re well into autumn, and if you’re wondering what happened to spring and summer, you’re not alone. Our unusual season of staying at home, dining outdoors, camping, road trips, and remote work and school is moving towards winter. Fall weather and changing colors on trees are reminders that natural events continue, and it’s time to get out and enjoy the scenery. We offer a few destinations that may be within driving distance, along with some further away for those of us anxious for a real change.
Related: More fall vacation ideas
Fall weather is ideal for exploring the outdoors in Sedona with its spectacular red rocks and perhaps even a vortex experience for extra energy. The rolling hills of Lexington, Kentucky and its wooded areas provide a colorful backdrop for horse farm visits. For history and late season autumn color, you can head south to Williamsburg, Virginia or to New Orleans for great dining in addition to comfortable weather.
Ski season arrives late in November, and we know there are those who can’t wait for snow. They just might find some in Mammoth Lakes, California or Stowe, Vermont, but if not, they can await snowfall in the beautiful mountain surroundings. Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah also offers fresh air and gorgeous scenery without crowds in November. On the other hand, there are sun seekers who don’t want summer to end, and they can find the perfect beach in Grand Cayman, expected to be open for visitors in November.
Related: 10 Best Fall Vacations for Foliage Views, Fewer Crowds, and Stunning Scenery
In Mexico, San Miguel de Allende will observe Dia de los Muertos traditions with adjustments for COVID-19 safety; visitors can still participate with health guidelines in mind. Wherever you go, be sure to follow local health and safety guidelines, and check the dates and hours of operation for the places you plan to visit as many attractions have reduced hours due to the pandemic.
November weather is cool and crisp with temperatures in the high 60’s and chilly evenings. Fall colors in the trees and clear starry nights are just two of November’s attractions. Located two hours north of Phoenix at an elevation of 4,500 feet, Sedona is known for stunning red rock formations and natural beauty in every direction, the ideal destination for spending time outdoors. Hiking among the hills and surrounding forest, fishing in Oak Creek, rock climbing, horseback riding, and rafting are just a few ways to appreciate the Sedona wilderness. Take a Jeep tour through canyons and rugged hills, perhaps to experience the magic of a vortex, reputed to be places of energy or power. Browse the cobblestone paths of Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, modeled after a traditional Mexican village, featuring art galleries, specialty shops for sculptures, ceramics, paintings, weavings, clothing, and gifts. L’Auberge de Sedona is the place to relax with panoramic red rock views and al fresco dining at Cress on Oak Creek. Pamper yourself at Mii amo, a destination spa with 16 private casitas set among the red rocks of Boynton Canyon. Nearby Trail House at Enchantment Resort focuses on outdoor and adventure programming, bike rentals, accessories, and expert guidance on exploring local trails.
San Miguel de Allende, México
Twice voted by Travel + Leisure readers as their favorite city in the world, San Miguel de Allende is a year-round destination. Spanish colonial architecture, art, cobblestone streets, festive markets, and delicious food are a few of the reasons for the city’s popularity. Set 6,000 feet above sea level in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, the city is located a few hours north of Mexico City. November’s visitors come for the celebration of Dia de los Muertos, from October 31-November 2, when residents honor the dead, creating altars where they leave gifts and food. Costumes, parades, and visits to cemeteries are also traditions, respecting both life and death. This year, many events have been curtailed due to COVID-19 and health concerns. In recognition of the holiday, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende has created a private experience for travelers to the city. The package includes five nights in a hacienda-style Rosewood Residence for up to four guests (starting at $2050 USD per night), a private two-hour guided tour of the local cemetery on November 1, and a personalized altar for their loved ones in the Residence in traditional Dia de los Muertos style. A puppet maker will come to the Residence to lead a workshop for the guests, in keeping with the tradition of whimsical life-sized puppets (mojigangas). A private dinner and tequila tasting (for adults) in the Residence and a traditional make-up session will be part of the celebration.
Set at the foot of Mount Mansfield in north-central Vermont, Stowe offers year-round outdoor activities. In early November, visitors might catch the tail end of the autumn leaf-peeping season, and scenic drives are a popular way to take in the beauty of the colorful foliage. Explore the classic New England village of Stowe, hike along one of the many trails, bike along a paved road or mountain trail, or explore in a kayak or canoe. Get into the ski and snowboard season with a visit to the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, and stop for a craft beer at the von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall at the Trapp Family Lodge, founded by the family of The Sound of Music fame. Skiers and snowboarders might want to wait to visit until later in the month when the ski season officially opens on November 20. With skiing for all levels, 12 lifts, a high-speed summit gondola, and more than a hundred trails, Stowe is a winter sports paradise. Lodging from bed and breakfasts to luxurious resorts includes The Lodge at Spruce Peak for luxurious slopeside accommodations. Topnotch Resort, set on a 120-acre wooded estate is convenient to five local ski resorts and offers free shuttle service to Stowe Resort. Guidelines are in place for the health and safety of visitors, and they include requirements for face coverings and physical distancing on gondolas and lifts.
If you can’t make it to a northern destination in time to see autumn’s colorful foliage, head south to Virginia, where nature is still putting on a show in November. With temperatures in the 50’s, there’s a chill in the air that makes it a pleasure to be outdoors. Hiking trails take visitors through wetlands, forests, and historic sites like an 18th century cemetery and archaeological excavations. Visit Colonial Williamsburg’s new exhibitions including “Early American Faces,” and see the works of early American folk artist Edward Hicks. Enjoy Haunted Williamsburg, with ghost stories, costumed storytellers, and candlelit walking tours, or learn about the area’s Black history with a dedicated walking tour through Williamsburg. Each year at Thanksgiving, the Jamestown Settlement features Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia, exploring how the English colonists and Powhatan Indians gathered, preserved, and prepared foods. Stay in luxury at the Williamsburg Inn, Newport House Bed and Breakfast, or for family fun, the recently renovated Great Wolf Lodge with story time, kids activities, and Paw Pledge for the health and safety of guests.
Mammoth Lakes, California
Located in California’s Eastern Sierra about 35 minutes from the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, the town of Mammoth Lakes welcomes visitors throughout the year. In summer, camping, boating, hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and horseback riding provide plenty to do. In fall, throughout October and into November, fall colors of red, gold, and orange paint the hills and trails, and there’s a definite chill in the air. Then comes ski season, set to begin this year in mid-November. Mammoth’s long snow sports season usually lasts well into June. A mix of trails for experts to beginners makes Mammoth Mountain ideal for all levels, and there’s also cross country, snowshoeing, and Nordic skiing. A scenic drive with stops for photos, a trip to Mono Lake with its unusual tufa formations, or a day trip through Yosemite are all ways to enjoy the Mammoth Lakes area. Explore Mammoth Village for shopping, dining, entertainment, and lodging. Stay at the pet-friendly Westin Monache Resort with studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites, or one of the area’s many hotels, guest houses, or campgrounds. Be sure to arrange lodging before heading to Mammoth, and be familiar with local health and safety guidelines.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
If you’re seeking plenty of social distance, spectacular scenery, unique geology, and clear starry skies, consider a visit to Bryce Canyon. November weather is a bit unpredictable — part of the fun — with the possibility of snow or brisk, dry, late autumn days. Located in southern Utah, about four hours from Salt Lake City and about the same distance from Las Vegas, a trip to Bryce Canyon will involve some time driving on scenic roads. As an International Dark Sky Park, Bryce Canyon is ideal for stargazing. Ranger programs include hikes, geology talks, plant and animal tours, and rim walks. Schedules vary during the year, and some have changed as a result of COVID-19, so check ahead. Visitors to Bryce Canyon are fascinated by the tall spires called hoodoos, formations of limestone rock carved by erosion and weather. A series of natural amphitheaters or bowls are filled with the hoodoos, creating a memorable sight, especially at the most famous Bryce Amphitheater. The park’s 18-mile main road travels from the entrance in the north to its highest elevation in the south, which is over 9,000 feet. Camping is available in summer, and the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge is located within the park, with cabins, suites, and lodge rooms as well as a variety of food options.
New Orleans, Louisiana
November is a great time in New Orleans for many reasons. The weather is dry and cool, with temperatures mostly in the high 60’s, ideal for strolling through Jackson Square or joining a walking tour of the French Quarter, Garden District, or even a cemetery. The traditional Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos, remembering the dead on November 1-2, is celebrated by many in New Orleans, and a cemetery visit would be most timely. Delicious food and New Orleans go together, whether you’re looking for coffee and a beignet, po’ boy, muffaletta, or a special dinner at recently reopened Commander's Palace or other classic NOLA restaurant. Thanksgiving in New Orleans would be a memorable experience. The National World War II Museum tells fascinating stories of the events of the time, and there are other museums for every interest including art, history, nature, Mardi Gras, and more. Hotels, restaurants, attractions, and events are reopening with COVID-19 health guidelines in place. Stay at the 1908 Beaux Arts style Ritz-Carlton New Orleans in the French Quarter or the historic Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District. Be one of the first to stay at The Chloe, a 14-room boutique hotel set in a renovated 19th-century home in the heart of Uptown NOLA.
Colorful fall foliage and cool weather attract visitors who want to drive, bike, or stroll among the autumn scenery in Bluegrass Country from October through early November. Lexington Cemetery, a nationally-recognized arboretum, includes more than 200 varieties of trees, ponds, and interesting monuments, perfect for exploring both history and nature. One of Kentucky’s most beautiful areas, the Kentucky River Palisades is especially picturesque in fall, perfect for a hike or kayak along the river for another perspective. Home to 150 horse farms, Horse Country offers exclusive tours for behind-the-scenes access to championship thoroughbred farms. One of the most prestigious horse farms available to tour is Claiborne Farm, a 3,000 acre, 109-year old farm that has been visited by Queen Elizabeth. Bourbon is also an attraction, with many of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries reopening for tours under strict health guidelines for safe visits and tastings.