The Best Places to Travel in October
Summer is officially over now, and many of us are noticing the chill in the air and restlessness that often comes with the changing seasons. For those who look wistfully upon summer’s end, planning a fall trip will definitely chase away the blues. Crowds are thinning in national parks and in most tourist-popular cities, making visits easier and less costly.
October events, fall colors, faraway places, and exotic locales beckon. Travelers can choose a convenient destination not too far from home for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see Mount Rushmore. They can head to Nashville for a lively weekend filled with live music or to Baltimore or Chicago to explore crowd-pleasing metropolitan areas of the U.S. Or venture to New England for classic autumn treats like maple syrup, colorful foliage, and a warmup for Halloween.
Europe’s busy tourist season is slowing to a more moderate pace, making it the perfect time for a trip to Prague or Sardinia. Any time is right for a trip to Hawaii, and the small, sparsely populated island of Lanai lets guests choose between an active or restful vacation.
Those with serious wanderlust might choose to venture further around the globe to Bali or Nepal. History fans will love walking among the pyramids in Egypt or floating down the Nile. Israel, with its varied terrain and unique melding of ancient and modern, offers delicious cuisine, excellent wines, and fascinating cities.
Wherever you choose to go before the busy holiday months, you’ll find that a trip to somewhere new or to an old favorite destination is the ideal transition between summer’s end and the winter season ahead.
Halloween celebrations, decorations, and costume parties seem to be gaining in popularity each year, and if you’re a fan of the haunted holiday, you might consider a trip to the place that makes it a month-long event. The kick-off is the annual Haunted Happenings Grand Parade on Oct. 4. Later that night, Elvira herself introduces the Salem Horror Fest, featuring classic horror films nearly nightly until Oct. 14. The Salem Arts Association provides a seasonal exhibit exploring the city’s history, witchcraft, and Halloween. The Haunted Dinner Theater at the Hawthorne Hotel features an interactive performance, and visitors can see the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera with live organ music at Gothic Grace Church.
Other events include readings of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, ghost stories, parties, costume balls, and the Salem Zombie Walk on Oct. 6. Many events are family-friendly, and there’s even a parade for costumed dogs. The Creepy Clown Run and Devil’s Chase are 5K and 10K runs, and the Salem Psychic Fair and Witches’ Market runs through the month. Getting to Salem is convenient from Boston via train or a one-hour ferry trip. Surrounded by trees changing their colors in the autumn chill, Salem is an ideal place to enjoy fall foliage — a bonus for visiting in October.
Music City has become one of the most sought after vacation spots and it seems that many visitors never leave, with a reported 100 new residents each day. It’s no wonder, with the exceptional entertainment, dining, and lots more to love. Known for country music and home to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum, Nashville’s music scene also includes gospel, bluegrass, soul, and blues. The famous Grand Ole Opry House and historic Ryman Auditorium feature popular performers, and over 180 venues offer nightly live music. A full-scale replica of the Parthenon built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition can be seen in Centennial Park.
History buffs will also enjoy visiting antebellum mansions such as Belle Meade Plantation and the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. October’s weather is moderate with less humidity than summer and temperatures are in the low 70s, making it a great time to visit. Over 100 city parks include hiking trails, bike paths, gardens, and wildlife. The recently opened Bobby Hotel in Nashville’s historic Printers Alley is a destination in itself, with a retrofitted 1956 Scenicruiser tour bus in its rooftop bar for a decidedly unusual spot to enjoy a cocktail. Original art by famed songwriter and visual artist Bernie Taupin adorns the lobby, which also features a chandelier constructed of auto parts.
There’s a chill in the air in October, perfect for exploring the Windy City and its walkable neighborhoods. Millennium Park is a favorite starting point — home of the shining Cloud Gate sculpture, popularly known as “The Bean,” and one of Chicago’s most photographed spots. The city’s Riverwalk, a pedestrian path with marvelous views, cafes, bars, boat docks, and restaurants (Beatnik on the River is a great new spot), should be on every visitor’s itinerary. For another view of the river and Chicago’s impressive architecture, boat tours are both educational and fun.
Art lovers will not want to miss the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the country’s largest art museums, and home to classics like Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, and Chagall’s stained glass windows, as well as ancient treasures and modern art installations. The Chicago International Film Festival, Marathon, Columbus Day Parade, and Halloween celebrations are more reasons to visit in October. A stay at the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton Chicago will add luxury, comfort, and convenience from the moment you enter its stunning lobby. The hotel’s Torali restaurant, an Italian steakhouse, and rooftop bar with fireplace, cushy seating, and greenery are perfect options for dining and cocktails. Shoppers will love the mall, just an elevator ride down, as well as browsing along the Magnificent Mile, home to nearly 500 retailers.
Comfortable temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower hotel rates, especially if booked in advance, make October an excellent time to visit Egypt. Shorter lines welcome tourists to the pyramids at Giza, built as tombs for the Pharaohs and guarded by the Sphinx. Explore ancient mosques in Cairo and shop the open-air markets for ceramics, textiles, spices, perfumes, and other souvenirs. The annual Abu Simbel Sun Festival is celebrated on Oct. 22, the birthdate of King Ramses II, one of two days of the year when the sun aligns and illuminates the statues in the inner sanctum of the great Sun Temple.
St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments is a noteworthy stop. Visit South Sinai for luxury hotels and international restaurants as well as top-notch diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. Another option is a Nile River Cruise by steamship, cruise ship, or a budget-friendly traditional Felucca. Whether you choose one of the many guided tours or prefer the flexibility of setting your own pace, Egypt is an awe-inspiring destination.
Lovers of history, religion, and current events will enjoy touring this tiny country with its amazing variety of landscapes. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Israel’s north is all hills and forests while most of the south is desert. The beach resort of Eilat offers views of the Red Sea and a diver’s wonderland at Coral Bay, not to mention gorgeous Dolphin Reef, brimming with bottlenose dolphins. Israel is home to spectacular wineries, most offering guided tours. Some cities are very modern, while others provide a fascinating glimpse into ancient history.
Your first stop should be Tel Aviv, known for its beaches, nightlife, and thriving arts community. Less than an hour’s drive north is Caesarea, a coastal town with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean along with Roman ruins dating from its days as the area’s largest port. Jerusalem, a sacred city for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, must be on your itinerary. See the iconic Dome of the Rock shrine, Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark and example of Islamic architecture. Visit the site of the Crucifixion, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall. Jerusalem’s first ever Oktoberfest at the First Station, a family-friendly center for cultural entertainment and activities, is the place to sample excellent craft beers. A variety of tour options and pleasant October weather will make your visit unforgettable. Stay at the David Citadel, a luxurious and convenient home base with spectacular views across the Old City Walls.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague deserves a top spot on anyone’s bucket list for a multitude of reasons, and autumn in this fascinating city allows visitors the freedom to explore its wonders without the usual hordes of tourists. A comfortable fall-like chill also makes October a favorite time to spend in the City of a Thousand Spires. The amazing architecture of Old Town Square is the backdrop for numerous shops, galleries, restaurants and pubs. The Charles Bridge, joining the two sides of Prague, is an impressive 14th-century structure and popular pedestrian area.
Warm soups and hearty stews will top the menus accompanied by their well-known first-rate yet inexpensive beer. Street food is an option, with autumn offerings including mulled wine, sausages, fried cheese sandwiches, and trdelnik, a fluffy, hot, sugar-sprinkled pastry. The Prague Castle, the John Lennon Wall, and perhaps a paddle-boat cruise on the Vltava River in addition to a variety of museums will round out your trip. Prague is famous for its fine garnets, and one of those deep red gemstones would make an exquisite souvenir.
This smallest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands is nine miles off the coast of Maui and accessible by a short flight from Honolulu or ferry from Maui. A Dole pineapple plantation once dominated the island’s 141 square miles, but today Lanai is primarily a place to enjoy its beaches, forests, and rugged terrain. October temperatures average in the mid-70s with little rainfall, although temperatures vary throughout different parts of the island, and Lanai City’s 1,700 feet of elevation mean cooler temperatures there.
The Lanai Culture and Heritage Center is a free museum dedicated to preserving and communicating the history, folklore, customs, and culture of the island. Lanai is secluded, so relaxation comes naturally to visitors who seek it. Others will find much to do: horseback riding, hiking, boating, snorkeling, diving, golf, and off-road driving to explore the varied landscape. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai on the southeastern coast of the island features lagoon-style pools, botanical gardens, a luxe spa, and convenient access to the island’s activities. Several dining options, including Malibu Farm, Nobu for Japanese cuisine, and One Forty for steak and seafood, offer guests varied restaurants and cocktail lounges on the property. The all-day fitness center and new yoga studio give guests the opportunity to continue or begin a healthful program during their visit.
October temperatures in Baltimore warrant a light sweater or jacket, a welcome wardrobe addition after the warm summer. It’s a special time, with Free Fall all month, featuring more than 300 free performances, events, workshops, and exhibits from at least 90 cultural organizations. Maryland Fleet Week goes from Oct. 3-9, offering the opportunity to tour naval ships representing the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Historic planes and an air show by the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds are part of the event, along with food, entertainment, exhibits, and more than a dozen naval ships and 2,500 sailors.
Brew fans might visit for celebrations surrounding Baltimore’s 10th Annual Beer Week. The city is home to Edgar Allan Poe’s final resting place and family home, now refurbished as the Poe House and Museum, a National Historic Landmark. For some pre-Halloween eeriness, visit Poe’s grave at Westminster Burying Ground or watch a live performance of the author’s literary works at the Annabel Lee Tavern during October, the month of his death in 1849. There’s much to enjoy in this waterfront city, with its diverse neighborhoods and Chesapeake Bay seafood. A stay at the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore on historic Recreation Pier would enhance any visit to Charm City.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
An hour from Ngurah Rai International Airport, Ubud’s rainforest, ravines, and terraced rice paddies create an unforgettable environment. Known as the cultural center of Bali for its art museums, music, architecture, and dance, the city hosts performances of the traditional Balinese Tek Tok dance at the Bali Cultural Center. The Ubud Art Market is the place for visitors to buy silk, clothing, handmade baskets, Balinese crafts, and souvenirs. Nearby, the Ubud Palace, Puri Saren Agung, is a striking example of local architecture. In central Ubud, the magnificent Hindu temple Pura Taman Saraswati also celebrates classical Balinese architecture. Dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Saraswati, the patron deity of Ubud and goddess of music, art, and learning, the temple is open to visitors.
Another favorite attraction is the Ubud Monkey Forest, a 30-acre animal park with hundreds of long-tailed Macaques in their natural habitat. Long a popular tourist destination, Bali boasts lodging of all types. Among the newest is the luxurious Capella Ubud, with exquisitely decorated tents hidden among trees with views of rice terraces, rain forest, valleys, or the sacred Wos River. Modern amenities include private salt water pools, daybeds, decks, and several dining options.
Rapid City, South Dakota
Summertime crowds at national parks have dwindled, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s just right for visiting Rapid City, gateway to several national parks and a destination in itself. Best known, perhaps, is Mount Rushmore, just 30 minutes away, the monument to four presidents that was dedicated in 1927. Also in the Black Hills, the Crazy Horse Memorial, world’s largest mountain sculpture, is a work in progress begun in 1948 to honor the Lakota leader and the heritage of North American Indians.
Badlands National Park, an immense area of rock formations, rugged terrain, prairie, and dark skies for stargazing is also accessible from Rapid City. Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument attract explorers to their underground passageways, crystal formations, long tunnels, and ranger-led tours. Custer State Park is home to diverse wildlife, including deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, elk, coyote, and buffalo. The Black Hills Powwow, one of the nation’s premier American Indian cultural events featuring indigenous singing, dancing, drum groups, and art will be held Oct. 5-7. In historic downtown Rapid City, bronze statues of presidents line the streets. Visitors can choose campgrounds, cabins, or hotels, including the historic Hotel Alex Johnson.
A tiny mountain nation offering a diverse selection of experiences and landscapes, Nepal is a mystical place set among some of the world’s highest peaks. Clear skies and spectacular views make October one of the best months to visit Nepal. Accommodations vary from local guesthouses for backpackers to five-star hotels for those seeking a luxurious holiday. Trekkers can hike for days and look forward to a hot meal at a cozy lodge in the evening.
Rafting the Nepali River, bungee jumping into a Himalayan gorge, climbing, and paragliding are some of the adventures awaiting visitors. Others prefer strolling through the medieval city of Kathmandu in search of palaces, shrines, temple art or that perfect silk scarf at one of the many street markets. Nature lovers can explore the national parks seeking exotic birds, rhinos, tigers, elephants, and much more. The diversity of attractions Nepal has to offer sets it apart from many other destinations.
Ideal October weather and less crowded Mediterranean white sand beaches boasting crystal clear emerald water make Sardinia a perfect fall getaway. Hiking, horseback riding, and boat excursions to picturesque grottos are best enjoyed in the moderate fall climate. Discover the autumn festival season, rich in local traditions and culture, offering the opportunity to mingle with the welcoming residents. If you’re lucky, you may even pick up a few lifestyle tips from Sardinia’s renowned and beloved centenarian population.
The island boasts archeological sites dating back to the Bronze Age as well as the outstanding Museo Archeologico Nazionale, showcasing artefacts covering thousands of years of history. Enjoy fresh seasonal Sardinian dishes such as suckling pig, hand-made pasta, and of course, local wines like their signature white Vermentino and reds such as Carignano and Cannonau. Sardinians have been producing wine since the 16th century, and early fall is harvest season and a reason for celebrating. Cagliari, on the southern coast, is the island’s capital and largest city. Its medieval section, Il Castello, once home to aristocracy, rises from its seaside coast. Popular cities in the north include Olbia and Sassari.
Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
If you’ve never heard of the NEK, as it’s referred to by locals, here’s a little background. The name was coined by Governor George Aiken in 1949 and popularized by Vermont writer Scott Wheeler. It’s a place to get back to nature before the holiday frenzy with a dose of untouched beauty, wide open pastures, and locally produced culinary delights. Peak foliage, or “leaf peeping” season, runs from mid-September through mid-October. Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, boating, and sunset lake cruises.
Equally enticing is the fresh maple syrup from Couture’s Maple Shop and B&B and cheese from Jaspar Hill Farm, produced with milk from their cows and aged in their expansive underground cellar. Enjoy exceptional beer at the Hill Farmstead Brewery and visit Kingdom Brewing LLC and Caledonia Spirits for their selections of craft brews. You can bring your furry friends to the Dog Mountain Fall Dog Party for live music and farm fresh local food on Oct. 6. This doggie paradise is complete with swimming ponds, hiking trails, an art gallery, and Dog Chapel. NEK lodging includes the “rustic and modern” Hotel Vermont in downtown Burlington with a fitness center, free bike rentals, and dog-friendly rooms.