The 7 Fall Vacations You Need to Book Now

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fall travel to book now
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While there’s certainly no “bad season” to travel, fall is absolutely one of our favorite times given the temperate weather, typically fewer crowds after the peak-season hordes disperse and the fact that nature really shows off during the months of September, October and November. It’s totally reasonable that you may be tempted to take advantage of the unparalleled leaf-peeping opportunities across the United States—from the Poconos Mountains and Lake Placid, New York to Aspen, Colorado and Yosemite National Park—or go glamping in a recreation area not far from home. Then again, with reasonable post-summer rates in Europe (hello, Paris) and spring temps south of the equator, the options for far-flung getaways are endless, too. The one thing to consider? Skipping spots that tend to be impacted by hurricanes. Other than that, the world is—quite literally—your playground. Scroll on for seven buzzy fall travel destinations you’ll want to book before everyone else does.

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Crowded Toyko street in fall.
© Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

Best for Foodies

1. Tokyo, Japan

If you’ve been scrolling through your Instagram feed lately and it seems like everyone on the planet is eating their way through Tokyo, that’s because tourists are flocking to Japan in droves since the country opened its borders—and that trend will most certainly continue in the fall, according to Kayak. The dynamic capital city stands out on a global scale as a feast for the senses—with taste being at the top of the list. Book a street food crawl through to sample traditional delicacies like yakitori, okonomiyaki and takoyaki or snag a coveted reservation at a Michelin-starred sushi spot. In between bites, admire the foliage.

Quaint houses below mountains in Madeira.
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Best for Families

2. Madeira, Portugal

Beyond its namesake wine, the island of Madeira ranks among the best destinations for traveling with kids in tow (trust me, I just took my two-year-old son). The capital city, Funchal, has botanical gardens, cable car rides and many parks. You can book half-day Jeep tours to pack in all the scenic sights—UNESCO-protected trees, natural swimming pools and volcanic shores—and guided levada hikes or hop on a boat with a movie theater and game room to explore the golden-sand beaches of Porto Santo. Bonus: the first half of the fall is before the cruise ships come to port, so you’ll enjoy shorter lines and unobstructed viewpoints for family photos.

A woman walks toward clear blue waters with a palm tree beside her.
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Best for Beach Lovers

3. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

“The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is less traveled and more unspoiled than the more tourist parts of this beautiful Central American country,” reveals Jason Susinski, Director of Product, Kensington Tours. Since it’s dry seasons during the months of September, October and November, it’s the perfect time to explore the fine sand beaches and soak up the rays away from the crowds. Puerto Viejo is definitely one of the most spirited, sun-splashed destinations in the area. Just south of town, you’ll find Playa Cocles, a popular spot for locals and visitors to hang out, catch a few waves, and watch the sunset.

Two friends ride bikes in Berline
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Best for Culture

4. Berlin, Germany

One of Europe’s most zestful and captivating cities, Berlin is a hotbed of culture. It’s a fantastic option for travelers interested in new exhibits, concerts and unique attractions.  Among the new happenings? The Edvard Munch show at the Berlinische Galerie opens in September.  Fotografiska Berlin, the contemporary museum of photography, art and culture, is slated to open in the fall. “There’s also the annual Berlin Festival of Lights in October. It’s such a vibrant time of year. The monuments, historical buildings, squares and streets become the canvas for light artists from all over the world to create their masterpieces,” explains Susinski.

A farm in Vermont on rolling hills in fall.
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Best for Fall Foliage

5. Woodstock, Vermont

Woodstock tops virtually every list of the best places to visit in the fall because of its spectacular foliage. Fiery hues and crisp temps are all the more reasons to hit the hiking trails in Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and check out Sugarbush Farm. A classic autumn escape for reasons beyond the leaves that burst into a red, orange and yellow display in late September, this Vermont town is packed with New England charm. Historic buildings—including the photogenic pink sandstone Norman Williams Public Library that dates back to the 1880s—surround the central square. You’ll also find many independent shops and farm-to-table restaurants to savor the bounty of the season.  

Sedona landscape with mountains in back and cactus in front.
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Best for Adventure

6. Sedona, Arizona

Boundless adventure, pleasant weather and picturesque red-rock scenery crowned by blazing foliage make Sedona the ultimate fall escape. Active travelers will love myriad hiking trails through some of the beautiful desert scenery. Oak Creek Canyon and Sugarloaf Loop Trail are ideal for beginners. While more experienced trekkers might enjoy the popular 3.9-mile Devil’s Bridge Trail or the more challenging Cathedral Rock Trail. Spirituality seekers can seek out powerful energetic vortexes. More adrenaline-pumping thrills come from Jeep tours and hot air balloon rides If you need a break from all the quad-torching action, book a massage at one of the many day spas in the area.

Paris sidewalk cafe in fall.
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Best for Shopping

7. Paris, France

Paris is always a good idea. That’s especially true when mild temps and stylish Parisians breathing in a sigh of relief since the summer tourists departed gives the city a wonderful joie de vivre. (Plus, Kayak reports it will be one of the most popular international travel destinations this fall.) The streets are basically a runway IRL with locals and visitors with overstuffed suitcases full of fashionable threads strutting down the Champs-Élysées. Paris is home to world-famous department stores such as Galeries Lafayette Haussmann as well as vintage shops and independent boutiques in Le Marais. Not to mention that every designer and upmarket European brand has an outpost in the cosmopolitan French capital.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...