Fall brings a cornucopia of colors — bright reds, oranges and yellows — and the scenery is more vibrant in some parts of the U.S. than in others.
Take New Hampshire, for example, where the foliage is expected to lure as many as 3.2 million people to the small state this fall — to a financial benefit of an estimated $1.4 billion, according to the state’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development.
But fall is about more than leaf-peeping. It’s about celebrating local traditions, the bounty of a region’s crops and uniting a community. And pumpkins, of course. GOBankingRates identified some top attractions to visit this fall, and did some research, sourced from Travelocity, about what it would cost to fly to an airport near the destination for a few days to soak in the local color.
America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade & Celebration
- Location: Plymouth, Massachusetts
- Date: Nov. 19-21
- Cost: Free
- Airfare: Philadelphia to Boston, $109
In the fall of 1620, the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, with 102 people aboard. They set out for the New World with the goal of finding a place to freely follow their religion or to own land. About three months later, they found their way across the Massachusetts Bay where these pilgrims established their new home in the village they called Plymouth. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared what came to be known as Thanksgiving.
Today, Plymouth, Massachusetts, is a year-round destination for visitors interested in taking in nature, the area’s cranberry farms, the seashore, history, whale watching and Plymouth Rock. It is celebrating the 400th anniversary of Thanksgiving all fall, highlighted by the weekend-long celebration. The parade will be held Nov. 20.
Wine Country Fall Festival
- Location: Willcox, Arizona
- Date: Oct. 16-17
- Cost: $35
- Airfare: Las Vegas to Tucson, Arizona, $171
Willcox Wine Country is an association of Arizona farm wineries and vineyards in Cochise and Graham counties in southeastern Arizona. It produces about three-fourths of Arizona’s wine grapes, according to the association.
The Wine Country Fall Festival features the products of 16 Arizona wineries and 30 non-winery vendors, including food trucks, artisan food, fine arts and entertainment. Ticketholders receive a commemorative wine glass and 10 tasting tickets.
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Circleville Pumpkin Show
- Location: Circleville, Ohio
- Date: Oct. 20-23
- Cost: $20 presale wristband for one day of unlimited rides
- Airfare: St. Louis to Dayton, Ohio, $222
The Circleville Pumpkin Show is a classic small-town festival and a tribute to everything pumpkin. The town of 12,000 typically attracts about 400,000 visitors over the four-day festival, and they look at the displays of home arts and crafts, view the parade, enjoy the amusement rides and take in an art show. And then there are the baked goods, which are gobbled in huge numbers. Attendees buy about 100,000 pumpkin donuts and 23,000 pumpkin pies during the Pumpkin Show.
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N.C. Pecan Harvest Festival
- Location: Whiteville, North Carolina
- Date: Nov. 5-6
- Cost: Free
- Airfare: Washington D.C. to Wilmington, North Carolina, $171
North Carolina produces between 3 million and 5 million pounds of pecans each year, spread over about 2,000 acres of land, according to the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association. The bulk of the commercial pecan business is located east of Interstate 95, in eastern and southern North Carolina, and that’s where you’ll find Whiteville and the N.C. Pecan Harvest Festival.
The annual event features food, crafts and entertainment — and of course, a pecan parade. Join in for the nutty fun.
Autumn at the Arboretum
- Location: Dallas
- Date: Through Oct. 31
- Cost: $12 to $17
- Airfare: Airfare, Phoenix to Dallas, $113
Take in the colors of fall at Autumn at the Arboretum, which features 150,000 autumn flowers against a background of pumpkins, squash and gourds. The event offers a variety of activities, depending on the day of the week you choose to visit, along with a hay bale maze, entertainment, a pumpkin patch and more. Take in cooking demonstrations and see how to incorporate the herbs and vegetables on display in the 3 ½-acre food area, A Tasteful Place, into your own cooking
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Sever’s Fall Festival
- Location: Shakopee, Minnesota
- Date: Through Oct. 31
- Cost: $17 for ages 4 and older; 3 and under free
- Airfare: Chicago to Minneapolis, $97
Celebrating its 25th annual event, Sever’s Fall Festival is billed as the Midwest’s original fall festival and the home of its largest corn maze. A number of corn-y events are included in the cost of admission, including the corn maze challenge, a corn pit and straw bale maze, as well as an obstacle course, zip lines, pig races, a kiddie train and plenty of entertainment. Tickets may only be purchased online as a COVID-19 precaution.
Leavenworth Oktoberfest Markt
- Location: Leavenworth, Washington
- Date: Oct. 1-3, 8-10 and 15-17
- Cost: Free
- Airfare: San Jose to Seattle, $117
Organizers of the annual Oktoberfest celebration in the Bavarian-style village of Leavenworth shifted gears on the annual Oktoberfest celebration because of COVID-19 restrictions this year. It’s taking on a street fair atmosphere, featuring 100 local vendors, artists and crafters. Traditional Oktoberfest food will be sold – but no beer.
In the early 1960s, Leavenworth leaders decided to renovate the downtown to resemble a Bavarian area, with the Alpine-style hills of the region serving as the backdrop. It now is a top tourist destination in the Pacific Northwest.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
- Location: Kona, Hawaii
- Date: Nov. 4-7
- Cost: $5 festival button covers most events
- Airfare: Los Angeles to Kona, $280
The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates the area’s unique culture and works to support Kona’s coffee heritage. The four-day event features a variety of events, including a recipe contest, farm tours, barista training, coffee-themed art exhibitions and more.
The first event was held in 1970, and organizers say it’s the longest-running food festival in the 50th state. The timing aligns with the coffee harvest. Kona coffee is a $14 million a year business, with 650 farms cultivating coffee across about 3,500 acres.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
- Location: Croton-on-Hudson, New York
- Date: Select nights through Nov. 21
- Cost: Tickets start at $24; ages 2 and under free
- Airfare: Atlanta to Newark, New Jersey, $97
Croton-on-Hudson is a village in the town of Cortlandt, about 40 miles north of New York City. The waterfront community is nestled between the Hudson River on the west and Croton Bay on the east, and Hudson Valley magazine listed Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt as one of the best places to view foliage and the colors of autumn in the valley.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze takes place on the grounds of the historic Van Cortlandt Manor and features more than 7,000 hand-carved illuminated jack o’lanterns. New this year is the skyline of New York City, created from pumpkins.
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Georgia Apple Festival
- Location: Ellijay, Georgia
- Dates: Oct 9-10, Oct. 16-17
- Cost: $5, Ages 10 and under free
- Airfare: Charlotte, North Carolina, to Atlanta, $160
The 50th anniversary of the festival is this year, and it’ll be celebrated with all things apple. Over two weekends, there will be vendors galore offering their arts and crafts, food and more. Plus, there’s the traditional parade and antique car show.
Ellijay is in the Appalachian Mountains, and is billed as “the heart of Georgia’s apple country.” The peak season for Georgia apples is late August to December, and Ellijay-grown apples are known for their taste, aroma and juice.
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