In October, we’re well into fall, but if you’re still in a summer mood, you can stay warm in Aruba, Maui, or Greater Palm Springs. On the other hand, if you’re looking forward to sweater weather, chilly nights, and leaf-peeping, head to Boston, Providence, or Cooperstown, New York.
Festivals in New Orleans, Charlottesville, and Albuquerque will keep the atmosphere lively, a welcome change from the past year. And now that Europe is open to visitors, it could be time to spend autumn in Paris or among the vineyards of Provence or the Loire Valley.
Many of us have missed travel, and we welcome the return of the opportunities we waited for. Whether you stay close to home or venture far, seek relaxation or adventure, solitude or crowds, the words of Confucius might be fitting, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
Here are ten of the best places to travel in October.
Related: More fall vacations
New Orleans, Louisiana
The sizzling summer temperatures are over, and the festival season is keeping the sizzle in NOLA. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival returns on October 8 with a fabulous lineup of performers, and the French Quarter Festival takes place from September 30-October 2. Celebrate Oktoberfest New Orleans style on October and November weekends, and feast at the Fried Chicken Festival October 23-24. Halloween is celebrated with a parade in NOLA, of course, so don’t miss it if you’re in town on Saturday, October 23. New Orleans offers many places to stay, from the Ritz Carlton and the Hyatt Centric in the French Quarter to the elegant Eliza Jane and historic Roosevelt New Orleans. The new Kimpton Hotel Fontenot is in the Central Business District, and in the Garden District, the Pontchartrain is a classic. The redesigned NOLA Marriott Warehouse Arts District, housed in a renovated 19th-century warehouse, is conveniently located with city or Mississippi River views. In the same area, the Higgins Hotel is the official hotel of the National WWII Museum, a must-see stop on a visit to “The Big Easy.”
Cooperstown, New York
With Major League Baseball in full swing, fans can delve into the game’s history as the World Series begins with a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In the town named for American novelist James Fenimore Cooper, the Fenimore Art Museum houses a comprehensive collection of American folk art, fine art, and Native American art. Relax in a rocking chair on the veranda of the historic Otesaga Resort Hotel looking out over Otsego Lake. Take a rowboat out on the lake, do some fishing, play golf, or swim in the resort’s heated outdoor pool, and end the day with a fireside sunset cocktail. Explore the Cooperstown Beverage Trail for breweries, wineries, a distillery, and historic cider mill. October is the best time to see colorful fall foliage when sugar maples — New York’s official tree — turn to orange, yellow, and red. Autumn is also apple harvest season, and many orchards invite visitors to pick their own for delicious — and healthful — souvenirs of their visit to Cooperstown.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Autumn arrives in October, and temperatures drop from September’s 80s to averages in the high 60s. The highlight of October is the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, when hundreds of brightly colored hot air balloons sail through the skies in an unforgettable pageant. Events include chainsaw carving, skydiving, competitions, fireworks, and the thrilling “Mass Ascension,” when all participating balloons rise at the same time. Accommodations range from the budget-friendly El Vado Motel to the Hotel Albuquerque and the luxury Hotel Chaco in Old Town. The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, set on 550 acres between the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande River, is nearby. About an hour away in Santa Fe, the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado is an elegant option as well. Be sure to sample New Mexico cuisine, local wines, and stroll through Old Town to see adobe homes, cobblestone streets, and a historic church. Albuquerque offers spectacular scenery, a variety of outdoor activities, and fascinating public art and museums.
Autumn colors are just one of the reasons to visit Charlottesville in October. It’s a beautiful time for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway or for hiking in Shenandoah National Park among the fall foliage. Set in the foothills of western Virginia, the area is home to farms and orchards — and October is prime apple picking season. Pippin Hill Farms & Vineyard includes kitchen gardens, vineyards, and a cooking school for a complete culinary program. More than 30 wineries are located along the Monticello Wine Trail. This year, the Virginia Film Festival takes place from October 27-31, hosted in partnership with the University of Virginia. Places to stay in the area include the boutique Oakhurst Inn, The Draftsman, newly opened in the heart of downtown Charlottesville, and luxury resort Keswick Hall, with mountain views and dining by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Historic boutique art hotel, Quirk Hotel Charlottesville, was built around two 19th-century homes and features a rooftop lounge and a barrel-aged spirits bar.
Greater Palm Springs, California
Daytime temperatures cool down to the 80s with evenings in the 60s, so October is a great time for swimming pools, al fresco dining, and outdoor activities. In the nine Greater Palm Springs resort cities, autumn offers much to do. Explore Indian Canyons for lush scenery or head to Joshua Tree National Park for its rock formations and desert vegetation. Visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens to see giraffes, mountain lions, and more in a beautiful natural setting. Tennis fans will want to be at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the BNP Paribas Open. A preview of Palm Springs Modernism Week will be held from October 14-17. At the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa, the new family water park HyTides includes a lazy river, splash area, and two water slides. There’s a perfect place for every visitor, from the boutique Casa Cody and the charming Les Cactus to downtown’s Kimpton Rowan and the new casual island-style Margaritaville Resort. The classic LaQuinta Resort & Club offers casitas, suites, and villas.
Providence, Rhode Island
Magnificent fall foliage is a major attraction in Providence during autumn, with cool weather to match. WaterFire, a free multi-sensory experience highlighted by a series of artistic bonfires on downtown’s rivers, is returning this year. Explore Providence on a boat tour, or get into the Halloween spirit on a Haunted Boat Ride. Visit Roger Williams Park Zoo for the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular from September 30-October 31, featuring a display of thousands of intricately-carved pumpkins. Providence is a convenient getaway from just about anywhere in the northeast, and its arts district, restaurants, history, and entertainment make it a great destination. Be one of the first to stay at The Beatrice, a downtown boutique hotel located in the historic 1887 Exchange Building, and dine at Bellini for Italian cuisine. Also downtown, Graduate Providence features ornate details from its setting in the original 1922 Biltmore as well as the Norwich Spa for pampering and salon services.
When your wanderlust can only be satisfied by European sojourn, a visit to France might be the answer. Your first stop might be the cafés and boulevards of Paris where you can stay at the iconic Hôtel de Crillon and relax with a cocktail at the rooftop bar or at La Réserve Hotel & Spa, steps from the Champs-Elysées. A few miles away near the Château de Versailles, the Waldorf Astoria Versailles-Trianon Palace offers classic luxury, a Guerlain Spa, and restaurant by Gordon Ramsay. Less than an hour away by train, the Loire Valley is lovely in October with autumn colors, mild weather, and harvest season — although the timing varies each year. Stay at the historic Hotel Château du Grand Lucé with its plush rooms and magnificent gardens. Or choose the Relais & Château Les Hauts de Loire, set in an 1860 hunting lodge on the wine trail among the castles of the Loire. In Provence, France’s oldest wine region, five-star Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa is located on a 100-acre estate with vineyards and olive groves. For an unforgettable vacation, float along one of France’s canals in a luxury barge, lounge on the sundeck, or pedal through local villages with Belmond Afloat in France. New airline, French bee, offers fares as low as $139 one way between Newark Airport and Paris Orly.
Aruba, located in the southern Caribbean Sea outside of the hurricane belt, is an ideal October island escape. Rainfall is minimal, and trade winds maintain a moderate average temperature of 82 degrees. Gorgeous beaches and all that goes with them — swimming, snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing — are there for visitors, but those who leave the sandy shores to explore will be fascinated by Aruba’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Arikok National Park features caves, rock drawings, desert landscape, and hiking. In Oranjestad, shops, art galleries, and the Archeological Museum make for an enjoyable day away from the beach with an opportunity to learn about Aruba’s history. Stay at The Ritz-Carlton Aruba for five-star luxury, 24-hour casino, and plush spa. Overlooking Palm Beach, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino features an adults-only pool with private cabanas, and the Hilton Aruba offers a Sunset Concierge culinary experience. Pamper yourself at the spa or saltwater pool at Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort. For an all-inclusive experience, stay at Divi and Tamarijn set along Druif Beach.
It’s leaf peeping time in New England, and you don’t have to go any further than Boston Commons to see fall colors. While you’re there, walk the Freedom Trail to explore some of the city’s historic sites. The annual Fall Pumpkin Float in the Boston Common Frog Pond is planned for Friday, October 15, setting the stage for Halloween with jack-o-lanterns and spooky activities. The Head of the Charles Regatta, the world’s largest two-day rowing event, will be held October 22-24. The Boston Marathon returns on October 11 with a reduced field of 20,000 runners. Hotels in a variety of price ranges and locations give visitors lots of options. The Mandarin Oriental offers luxury in the Back Bay area, and The Envoy’s rooftop features skyline and harbor views. The boutique Whitney Hotel is set in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, and The Boxer is near the city’s North End. Modern and economical, YOTEL Boston is located in the Seaport area. The Inn at Hastings Park, classic and luxurious, is located about 20 minutes away in historic Lexington.
October’s weather is warm and dry in Maui, Hawaii’s second-largest island. Between the busy summer and the end-of-the-year holiday season, October is an ideal time to visit. In West Maui, the historic whaling town of Lahaina is home to excellent restaurants and a lively nightlife scene. The Kaanapali Resort and Kapalua are located in West Maui, and the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua features two golf courses, six restaurants, and a destination spa. The Hyatt Regency Maui is set on 40 acres along Kaanapali Beach, and the Kaanapali Beach Hotel has just completed a renovation. The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival comes to Kaanapali October 7-10. In South Maui, the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea offers five-star beachfront luxury. Families love the Grand Wailea with its variety of pools, waterslide, and ocean activities. The new Hana-Maui Resort features oceanfront bungalows, private lanais, and sandy beaches. No time for the scenic road to Hana? Take the Plane to Paradise and get there in minutes from Hawaii airports.