When there’s a chill in the air and a crimson hue in the trees, you know that autumn has arrived. October is the first full month of the fall season, and it’s an invigorating time of year for many travelers. They grab a sweater and head outside for adventures, or hop in the car for a road trip to enjoy the scenery.
Food festivals, harvest events, an eclipse, and a sky filled with brilliant hot air balloons are a few reasons to plan an autumn trip. If you’re able to travel further, note that Kenya’s great migration culminates in October, and Istanbul celebrates fall with an art festival. Or head south of the equator if you’d prefer to dodge the cold and enjoy spring beauty instead.
Whatever you’re looking for in an fall trip, we’ve got you covered. Here are our 10 picks for the best places to travel in October 2023.
If you’re a fan of Malbec wine, and wouldn’t mind drinking it in springtime weather, head to this agricultural region of Argentina, located about 650 miles west of Buenos Aires. The dramatic silhouette of the Andes mountains, plus vineyards and delicious food, make Mendoza an appealing destination. And there’s plenty to do beyond wine tasting and vineyard tours in October. Take a hot air balloon ride over olive groves, grapevines, orchards, and farms; visit craft breweries along the Andean beer route; and stay in one of 21 villas at The Vines Resort & Spa, set in the Uco Valley. Another accommodation option is SB Winemaker’s House & Spa Suites, which features excellent cuisine and wines from Susana Balbo Winery. And at Entre Cielos Wine Hotel & Spa, travelers can enjoy Latin America’s only authentic Turkish hammam.
Klamath County, Oregon
The total eclipse of April 2024 is inspiring lots of people to book trips to the best viewing spots, but you can experience a similar natural event this year, in Oregon’s Klamath County. A once-in-a-generation annular eclipse will take place on October 14, 2023, and umbraphiles (or eclipse chasers) will be heading to the Klamath Falls area for nearly four minutes of eclipse viewing. You can also celebrate the natural event at EclipseFest23, too, which will run October 10 to 15 with camping, food and live music. To extend your trip, add adventures in Crater Lake National Park and Oregon Caves National Monument to your itinerary.
Less than two hours northwest of Los Angeles, Ojai is located in Ventura County among the Topatopa Mountains. October weather is warm and dry, with temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s, so lots of visitors opt outdoors for hiking, golfing, or just relaxing as they wait for Ojai’s famous sunset “pink moment.” Places to stay include the award-winning Ojai Valley Inn, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and is hosting the Ojai Food + Wine Festival from October 26 to 29. The four-day event will feature 50 top chefs, 100 wineries, and events such as a grand tasting at The Farmhouse, the Inn’s exhibition kitchen for guest chefs and culinary demonstrations.
October’s mild weather attracts visitors to special events and ongoing attractions in Houston. Just south of downtown, the Houston Museum District features 19 museums in four walkable zones: the Houston Museum of Natural Science, George Observatory, Houston Zoo, and Museum of Fine Arts. The annual Texas Renaissance Festival will be held over eight weekends, beginning October 7. There’s also the Wings over Houston Airshow (October 14 and 15) and Oktoberfest Houston (September 30). Stay at Le Meridien Houston Downtown, with an open-air rooftop bar, or Marriott Marquis Houston, which features the Altitude Rooftop & Pool, famous for its Texas-shaped lazy river. Hotel ZaZa Houston offers two locations, one in the Museum District and one in Memorial City. The 36-story luxury Thompson Houston, with a spa and stylish pool deck, is set to open in November.
Sonoma County, California
In October, autumn colors appear on the grapevines in this California region, creating a colorful landscape in shades of red and gold as the harvest continues. Mild daytime temperatures make it pleasant to be outdoors here, so you can hike in the mountains, stroll along the coast, or ride a bike among vineyards. Beautiful wineries abound here, including Vérité, Ram’s Gate, Sonoma-Cutrer and St. Francis, and you’ll find breweries, distilleries, and cideries, as well. To stay among the vineyards and rolling hills, book a room at the elegant Montage Healdsburg. For a coastal stay, consider Timber Cove or the Lodge at Bodega Bay. Hotel Healdsburg, The Lodge at Sonoma, an Autograph Collection Resort, Dawn Ranch, and MacArthur Place are other great options. The latter property is debuting a new spa, fitness center, and pool in late September.
“The Valley Isle” is lovely in October, considered part of the shoulder season and one of the best months to visit. There’s always much to do on Maui, from beach days to driving the road to Hana or experiencing sunrise on Mt. Haleakala. The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival returns to Kā’anapali from October 13 to 15, with top chefs and culinary demonstrations. Places to stay range from bed and breakfasts to plush resorts. In the Wailea area, stay at the five-star Four Seasons Resort Maui, where the first season of White Lotus was filmed, and enjoy the spa and Dos Hombres Cocina Pop-ups. Or choose Wailea Beach Resort with its new Olakino adults-only wellness sanctuary and pool. Kā’anapali Beach Resort is home to resorts, villas, and cottages, and Kā’anapali Beach Hotel, The Plantation Inn, Royal Lahaina, and the Westin Kā’anapali Ocean Resort Villas are other great options. For a more secluded stay, consider Hāna-Maui Resort, accessible via the hotel’s Plane to Paradise package or the scenic road to Hana.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Move over, Denver — Albuquerque is a mile-high city, too. And you can head even higher in altitude on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, a thrilling ride to the 10,378-foot peaks of the Sandia Mountains, where panoramic views await. Sunny weather and mild temperatures in October are the backdrop for the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, set for October 7 to 15. During this event, 500 balloons float in the clear skies, a sight so incredible it attracts thousands of visitors each year. Stay nearby at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa between the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande River. At the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town, the authentic flamenco venue Tablao features world-class performers. About an hour away in Santa Fe, stay at Bishop’s Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, or Inn of the Five Graces.
A beloved vacation destination in summer, Italy sees fewer tourists in the autumn season, so if you’d like a quieter Italian escape, October is your friend. Naples, popular for Pompei and pizza, is home to the National Archaeological Museum and the ruins of Herculaneum. Stay at the five-star Romeo Napoli overlooking the Gulf of Naples with a heated rooftop pool and views of Capri and Mt. Vesuvius. The Capri Palace Jumeirah is a luxury option in Anacapri. The Puglia region in the south offers stunning beaches, wineries, and the conical houses called trulli. In Salento, Palazzo Daniele’s eleven luxury suites are housed in a 159-year old family palazzo with original frescoes and mosaic flooring. Masseria Torre Maizza in Fasano features ancient olive groves, a rooftop bar, and a private beach club. On the Amalfi coast, the elegant cliffside Borgo Santandrea now offers four new suites and a renovated beach club experience. And set among Montepulciano’s vineyards in Tuscany is Borgo San Vicenzo, a 21-room luxury property. If you’re headed to Rome, stay at the elegant Hotel Eden.
Like Italy, London is quieter in the post-summer months, but there’s still plenty going on. West End theaters have a full schedule of hit shows, and Oktoberfest at London Bierfest, set for October 19 and 20, is a Bavarian-style party in the heart of the city, complete with music, brimming beer steins, and German food. If you can’t make that one, take a look at other Oktoberfest events scheduled this month. London Cocktail Week is set for October 12 to 22 and recognizes the city’s cocktail scene, and the Bloomsbury Festival (October 13 to 22) celebrates the area’s history and culture. Halloween is fun in London, too. Excellent hotels throughout the city include The Standard, The Connaught Hotel, DUKES London Mayfair, Four Seasons Hotel at Park Lane, Hotel Café Royal, Brown’s Hotel, and Flemings Mayfair. The Dorchester enhanced its opulent style with renovations completed early this year. And if you like Beaverbrook Town House in Chelsea, and are looking to stay a bit outside the city, consider Beaverbrook’s sister property, a famous country house set in Surrey.
Colorful fall foliage draws visitors to Boston every year. Whether you’re strolling the historic streets of Beacon Hill, wandering along the Freedom Trail, or enjoying the waterfront, those East Coast leaves will have you looking up. You might also marvel at the annual Head of the Charles Regatta (October 20 to 22), when more than 11,000 local and elite rowers take to the Charles River, with spectators watching from river banks and bridges. Autumn also brings Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the city as early as late September, and events include a parade, live music, and beer gardens. Visitors can get into the Halloween spirit with a Haunted Boston Walking Tour, which includes a stop at Boston’s oldest cemetery. Stay at the Hotel Commonwealth near Fenway Park, the Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall, or the Hotel AKA Boston Common. The Four Seasons Hotel Boston recently reopened after a major design update.