The United States is full of amazing places to visit. If we could spend our days just traveling from destination to destination, we definitely would! There’s so much to see and do in the United States, it would probably take you the better part of a lifetime.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of simply wandering, so scheduling vacations carefully is a must. While most people take their holidays in the summer or use them around the winter holidays in December and January, there’s something to be said for taking your vacation in the relatively quiet “in-between-seasons.”
Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy some of the best America has to offer. The sweltering heat of summer fades, and tourist crowds vacate many cities. Spectacular fall colors, crisp weather, cozy clothes and activities, as well as harvest celebrations and Halloween, make fall a great time to travel.
Spring is the other “in-between” season, and it usually showcases some of the best that cities have to offer. Just as spring flowers come into bloom during April and May, so too do many US cities blossom back to life with vibrant festivals and celebrations.
We picked these 10 US locales as top-notch destinations for those of you who love pumpkin patches and sweater weather. For travelers who prefer bouquets and longer days, there are also 10 of the greatest US cities to visit in the spring!
20 Visit Music City And The Great Smoky Mountains
Much like Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee are at their best during the fall. The mountain forests turn a stunning array of reds, oranges, and yellows. If you love hiking, cycling, or even camping, this could be the right autumn adventure for you.
You might also consider a trip to Music City itself. Nashville’s music scene is most alive during the fall. It hosts the Independent Music Festival, the Americana Festival, and the Music City Food & Wine Festival in the autumn months. Book-lovers will also find something to enjoy, as the Southern Festival of Books returns each October.
19 Boston Has A Back-To-School Vibe
Beantown and its neighboring cities have a certain charm in the autumn. Maybe it’s the back-to-school vibes in the air, or maybe it’s the crisp weather and brilliantly colored leaves. Any which way, Boston is a top destination for anyone looking to travel in the fall.
Boston has long been known for its literary scene, so check out some of the local bookshops. Once you’ve picked up a new book, stop for a coffee at one of the independent cafes. Hop across the Charles River to take in the fall foliage with a walk through Harvard’s arboretum. If you visit in November, you can go ice skating on Boston Common’s Frog Pond.
18 San Antonio Comes To Life When The Summer Heat Fades
While most people think of summer as the prime time for travel, many cities in the southwestern United States are actually more fun when you visit during the in-between seasons. Not only are tourist attractions less crowded, you’ll also avoid the sweltering summer heat.
Such is the case with beautiful San Antonio, Texas. As the heat fades, you’ll truly be able to enjoy attractions like the city’s famed River Walk. Explore US history at the Alamo, then stop for lunch at one of San Antonio’s best restaurants. Visit in October, and participate in the city’s Oktoberfest or Dias de los Muertos celebrations.
17 New Orleans Is Your Top Halloween Destination
Like San Antonio and other southern destinations, New Orleans comes to life when the summer heat and humidity finally leave. It’s also far less crowded in the Crescent City after September 1st.
That doesn’t mean the atmosphere of carnival leaves though. While most people associate New Orleans with February’s Mardi Gras celebrations, the city has many festivals going on all year round. September sees the annual Burlesque Festival, while the city goes all out for Halloween and Dias de los Muertos fun and festival in October. If you’re a football fan, you’ll find yourself in good company in the Bayou during the fall.
16 Fall Comes Early In Alaska
If you want to get a jump start on enjoying sweater weather and fall leaves, book yourself a trip to Alaska. The midnight sun has set, and the Arctic days are rapidly getting shorter. As a result, cities like Anchorage experience fall much sooner than those in the lower states.
Alaska is a perfect fall wilderness experience. Hiking and camping are great activities. If you prefer a more leisurely sightseeing excursion, take a ride on the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna to see fall foliage and Mount McKinley. Another amazing sight? The Northern Lights return to play across the nighttime sky.
15 Take In The Beauty Of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains
It’s difficult to recommend just one of the quaint towns strewn throughout Virginia’s stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Luckily, we don’t have to. You can visit many of them by taking a tour along the 105 miles of Skyline Drive, a scenic byway winding through the Shenandoah Valley.
The mountain forests put on a spectacular show every autumn, dressing up in their brightest seasonal colors. Take a drive on a sunny fall afternoon, or make it a workout by hiking or biking. You can also stop off in towns like Staunton or Waynesboro during this classic fall adventure, where you may find other seasonal activities and treats.
14 Enjoy The Best Of Harvest Season In Lancaster, PA
The city of Lancaster has its charms, but Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is home to many small towns. The county is dotted with idyllic farms and Amish communities. It might be better known to you as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and these rural roots make it a prime location to take in the bounty of the harvest season.
Explore outside the city, and enjoy some rustic goodness by going apple-picking in local orchards, or have some fun in corn mazes. You’ll find plenty of farmers’ markets and homemade goods here. One of the largest antique markets in America can be found in Adamstown, with more than 3,000 antique dealers participating.
13 Enjoy The Ozarks At This Central Missouri Getaway
Lake of the Ozarks is a popular summertime getaway for many people in Missouri. It gets better in the fall as the summertime tourist crowds disperse, and the mercury drops to more pleasant temperatures.
You’ll also have a better chance to truly enjoy the natural beauty of this state park and the surrounding Ozark Hills. The fall foliage here is a real treat, with shades of scarlet, gold, and orange for you to enjoy as you hike, pedal across a rough mountain bike trail, or enjoy a horseback ride. You can also visit wineries, a golf course, or take a scenic drive. You can also camp at the park in one of their rustic outpost cabins.
12 Visit Vermont For A Classic New England Fall
Like other places on this list, it’s difficult to recommend just one city or town to visit for a classic Vermont fall. The Appalachian Mountains are ablaze with color, and the crisp air will inspire you. Plus, it’s easy to cozy up in your favorite sweaters.
Stowe is mostly known for its winter-time activities. It is, after all, one of the east’s most famous ski resorts. But the town is nestled in forested slopes, making it an ideal location to see both the fall colors and enjoy a hike on a sunny, crisp fall afternoon. Take an 11-mile drive from Waterbury to the resort, and you’ll enjoy the colors as you pass through 2 state forests and 3 state parks.
11 Experience The Best Of The Grand Tetons
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a great destination to put on your bucket list at any time of year, and many people have added “see the Grand Tetons” to their travel goals anyway.
Fall is probably one of the best seasons to make this goal a reality. The camera-toting crowds have left with the summer weather, which means you can enjoy Grand Teton National Park and the Gros Ventre Range in peace. Take a ride on the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram for stunning, 360-degree views.
In town, you’ll find restaurants, shopping, and even spas. Be sure to step out in the evening to enjoy some of the darkest nighttime skies in America.
10 DC Is The Ultimate Spring Destination
Winter in DC means snow, and summer means sweltering heat and crowds of tourists. Unless you like tramping through snow or sweaty crowds, you’d do best to visit in the spring or fall.
Washington is considered one of the premier springtime destinations in the whole country because it’s stunningly beautiful. The city’s impressive monuments are framed by more than 3,000 blossoming cherry trees. Book your trip mid-April for the best chance to engage in some of the best cherry blossom viewings outside of Japan. And, of course, there’s a cherry blossom festival that corresponds with the flowering of the trees.
9 Savannah Is In Full Bloom In The Spring
The South is known for many things, including a wide variety of lush vegetation. While summer might be the peak of the growing season, it’s also humid and often downright unpleasant, with humidity making the mid-90s temperatures feel even warmer.
Springtime sees cities like historic Savannah, Georgia, at their absolute best. It’s not too hot, and the flowers are coming into bloom, much like the rest of the city. Enjoy a stroll through the city and take in architecture from the Victorian and Regency periods. When you’re through, take some time to sit back and sip some sweet tea for a real local treat.
8 This Alaskan Retreat Is A Cool Springtime Destination
Spring in Alaska can be, well, a little icy. If you want to view the aurora borealis (aka the Northern Lights) without being chilled to the bone, however, visiting in the spring months is a great plan. The sky is still dark enough before the midnight sun arrives.
Travel about 50 miles north of Fairbanks to the tiny resort community of Chena Hot Springs. This community is home to an alternative energy research center and the Aurora Ice Museum. You can stay warm by enjoying a dip in the hot springs. During the day, take in the surrounding glaciers before viewing nature’s most spectacular light show when the sun goes down.
7 Ennis Showcases The Best Of Texas Hill Country
Head west from Austin and north from San Antonio, and you’ll find yourself smack-dab in the middle of Texas Hill Country. Ennis is one of the charming communities located among the rolling terrain here.
This slice of “real Texas” is a treat in the springtime, as the hills come alive with bright blues, whites, yellows, and purples as flowers begin to bloom. Check out Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, or tour the wineries of the area on a Wine & Wildflowers tour. Another great stop is Llano. If you have the time, take a tour of the area, and enjoy dusty cowboy towns, swimming holes, and scenic caverns.
6 This Michigan Town Is Famous For Its Tulips
Most people know tulips as a sure sign of spring. While crocuses and snowdrops come up early, daffodils and tulips bloom a little later when the weather is warmer. If you love tulips though, you might think you need to book a trip to the Netherlands to take in rolling fields of them.
Or you could book a trip to Holland, Michigan, which is famed for its annual Tulip Time Festival. You may think you’ve been transported to Amsterdam if you visit in mid-May when more than 4 million tulips are blooming. Parades, carnival rides, and traditional food from the Netherlands are all on the itinerary here.
5 Enjoy Springtime Splendor In Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina, is easily one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. The streets are lined with historic mansions and paved with cobblestones, giving the entire city a vintage feel. You may very well wonder if you’ve managed to time-travel to the past or landed in Europe.
Blooming flowers and pleasant springtime temperatures enhance the city’s beauty. Take a stroll along the Waterfront Park, and view the Cooper River. The annual Festival of Houses and Gardens, which takes place through the month of April, is a great way to experience both the architecture and azaleas and magnolias in full bloom.
4 This Is America’s Number One Springtime Escape
Another item many people have on their bucket list of US travel is the Grand Canyon. And, after crunching the numbers, US News & World Report discovered that the Grand Canyon is actually considered the best springtime destination in the country!
Summer temperatures in the canyon soar and can hit dangerous levels, not to mention the number of tourists from June to September. In the spring, you may find some seasonal deals, and you’ll definitely enjoy shorter lines. While the daytime temperatures may be more comfortable, you’ll likely want to pack a sweater or two for the cold desert nights.
3 This Town Is The West Coast’s Answer To DC
If you live on the west coast, you may not feel like trekking all the way across the country to DC or Philadelphia to view the cherry blossoms. The good news is you don’t have to.
While some people might recommend Portland’s waterfront cherry blossom display, there’s a better choice. Skip Portland, and travel to the state capital of Salem, Oregon, which hosts its own cherry blossom festival at the Oregon Capital State Building and Park. You can also get a gander at a 40-acre tulip festival from late March to April. If you’re traveling with children, check out the Enchanted Forest theme park nearby.
2 One Of The USA’s Hottest Travel Destinations Is A Springtime Delight
The quaint town of Asheville, North Carolina, has been quietly making its mark on the US travel scene for some time. It exploded in popularity, however, when Lonely Planet named it the United States’ hottest new travel destination in late 2016.
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Asheville. There are plenty of activities and festivals throughout the year, but springtime has a special charm. Check out the North Carolina Arboretum, or schedule a hike along one of the many scenic trails through the Appalachians. For an added springtime touch, visit the gardens at Biltmore House, where more than 130,000 flowers bloom each year.
1 There’s Never A Bad Time To Visit Albuquerque
We had a hard time trying to decide whether it was better to visit Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the spring or the fall. In the fall, thousands of hot air balloons take off into the bright blue sky during the International Balloon Fiesta. It’s a stunning sight.
Springtime, however, boasts a number of different and colorful fiestas. The city celebrates its history in April, notably with the Gathering of Nations, a festival celebrating Native and Indigenous cultures. In May, you can enjoy a wine and jazz festival. The temperatures are also mild, and hours of sunshine invite you to explore this amazing desert destination.
Sources: TravelChannel, Travel + Leisure, NatGeo, Thrillist, Reader’s Digest, Insider, Lonely Planet