Fall is a great time to visit the South. With mild temperatures and low humidity, the autumn season brings a refreshing change to the Southern states. If you’re planning an autumn getaway in the South, check out these top fall destinations.
Are you ready to embrace the crisp air, the rustling leaves, and the cozy vibes that only fall can bring?
What better way to welcome fall than by exploring some of the most captivating destinations the South has to offer during this enchanting time of year? From charming historic towns to breathtaking natural landscapes, the South boasts an array of fall-fabulous spots that are just waiting to be discovered.
Best Places to Experience Fall in the South
Whether you’re looking for fall foliage and leaf-watching trips, a scary ghost tour for spooky season, or fun fall festivals for the whole family, these Southern destinations have you covered!
Camp under the fall foliage, take in incredible mountain views, stay at the most haunted hotel in America, and more during fall in the South.
There’s no doubt about it: the South is perfect for a fall getaway!
Fall is the perfect time to take a trip to the mountains. Located in northeast Alabama on top of Lookout Mountain, Mentone is a small mountain town full of local craft shops and natural beauty.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Mentone
The best thing to do in Mentone during the fall is go leaf-peeping. Hike the trails of DeSoto State Park, see the waterfall at DeSoto Falls, and drive through Little River Canyon National Preserve for the best views of the changing leaves.
Enjoy some time exploring the downtown area amidst the falling leaves. The main street is lined with local shops and restaurants, like The Groovy Goat and the funky Wildflower Café.
Where to Stay in Mentone
The Mentone Inn Bed and Breakfast is the one of the town’s best places to stay. Located ring in the downtown area, you’re just steps away from shopping and dining and a short drive away from amazing nature experiences.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Set against the beautiful Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is an amazing fall destination in Arkansas. Since the city is located in the northern part of the state, it’s one of the first places in Arkansas to start showing off its autumn leaves.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Eureka Springs
There are plenty of beautiful hikes in the Ozarks for leaf-peeping. If you’re up for a 1.5 hour drive and a 2.9 mile hike, head to Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag) for some of the most incredible fall foliage in the state. This massive rock juts out of the Ozark National Forest for a picture-perfect view of the changing colors.
In town, you can enjoy an open-air tram tour or a golf cart tour of the city. Learn about the city’s history and admire the historic architecture against the backdrop of the beautiful fall leaves.
Where to Stay in Eureka Springs
Want to stay at one of America’s most haunted hotels? Spooky season is the perfect time to do so! The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is known for its paranormal activity, so stay the night (if you dare). Another great haunted hotel in Eureka Springs is the 1905 Basin Park Hotel.
If you’re not into the paranormal, there are other places to stay. Despite it’s name, the Arsenic and Old Lace Bed & Breakfast Inn is not haunted and offers a luxury stay in a Victorian home. Eureka Springs is also a great place for a cabin getaway, so check out cabin rentals on VRBO like this lake-view cabin with a hot tub.
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Florida may not be a top destination on your list for fall travel, but there are many great reasons to visit during the autumn season. Fernandina Beach is a great fall getaway. The beaches are less crowded, you can get great deals on accommodations, and the ocean temperature is still warm enough for water sports.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Fernandina Beach
Enjoy the milder weather that fall in Florida offers by hitting the trails. Explore nature trails at Fort Clinch State Park or the Amelia Island Trails, either by foot or by electric bike.
Autumn is also a great time for dining under the stars. Check out the top restaurants in Fernandina Beach for al fresco dining where you can enjoy water views and great company. Downtown Fernandina Beach has plenty of great restaurants as well as local shops and history you can explore after dinner.
Where to Stay in Fernandina Beach
Fernandina Beach has tons of hotels, bed & breakfasts, beach house rentals, and resorts for any budget. And you’ll get great deals in the fall. Check out the Seaside Amelia Inn or the Sea Cottages of Amelia for a getaway close to the beach. The Omni Amelia Island Resort is a great resort getaway on the water.
Dahlonega is a quaint town nestled into the North Georgia Mountains. Fall is the perfect time to visit Dahlonega and enjoy a mountain getaway.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Dahlonega
During the fall, you can enjoy the Gold Rush Days Festival, celebrating the town’s Gold Rush history. You can even spend a fun Mystery Weekend in Dahlonega exploring the town’s history and local shops.
And October is the perfect time to enjoy a ghost tour of Dahlonega’s haunted past.
It’s also a great time to get out and hike the mountain trails and see the foliage. Check out the nearby Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain, or Amicalola Falls.
Where to Stay in Dahlonega
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Bowling Green, Kentucky goes big for the fall season. From amazing foliage to pumpkin picking to haunted history, there are plenty of reasons to visit Bowling Green during autumn.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Bowling Green
You won’t want to miss the Jackson’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival every weekend through the end of October. This festival is full of all fun from wagon rides to pumpkin patches to corn mazes. Looking for more mazes? There’s also the Chaney’s Diary Barn Corn Maze, and the Scarecrow Trail at Lost River Cave.
For scary events, check out the UnSeen BG Haunted History Walking Tour, the Reel Sites Reel Scary Tour about famed horror director John Carpenter, and the Skeleton’s Lair Scream Park, named one of the scariest haunted attractions in Kentucky.
Where to Stay in Bowling Green
New Orleans, Louisiana
Autumn in New Orleans brings cooler weather and lower humidity. This is the start of fall festival season and spooky activities in the Big Easy.
Must-Do Fall Activities in New Orleans
September marks the beginning of the fall festival season in New Orleans. You won’t want to miss the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, or the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival.
The weather is perfect for joining in on the spooky celebrations in this haunted city. Take a haunted walking tour, explore a haunted house, and watch the Krewe of Boo annual parade.
Where to Stay in New Orleans
Spooky season is the perfect time to spend the night in one of New Orleans’ haunted hotels. Try the 14th floor of the Hotel Monteleone, find the ghostly bride at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel, meet the spirit of a young girl at the Lafitte Hotel & Bar, or see if you can last at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, the most haunted hotel in the city.
There are plenty of non-haunted places to stay as well. Stay in the middle of the action of the French Quarter by booking a room at the Holiday Inn French Quarter, the New Orleans Marriott, or the Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter.
This maritime city makes a pretty picture in the fall with its cobblestone streets. October marks the start of oyster season in Maryland, and Baltimore is one of the best places to experience it, along with other festive fall activities.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Baltimore
Go for an oyster crawl in the bustling Fells Point district with a stop at the Thames Street Oyster House.
Other great October activities include the Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival, taking a ghost tour, and visiting Edgar Allen Poe sites like his House and Museum, Burial Grounds at Westminster Hall, and Annabel Lee Tavern.
Fall foliage and hiking trails are just a short trip away. Sugarloaf Mountain, just an hour and 15 minutes away, is one of the best spots in the state for peeping fall colors. For something closer to the city, try Gunpowder Falls State Park or Patapsco Valley State Park.
Where to Stay in Baltimore
Home of Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi), Oxford is more than just a college town. This small town has plenty to offer in the fall fun department.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Oxford
Explore the Oxford on a Historic Double Decker Bus Tour where you’ll get to see the Ole Miss campus, the historic Downtown Square, and more awash in fall colors. Another great spot for fall foliage is Lamar Park, Oxford’s outdoor arboretum.
Then head to Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, to tour the grounds and house. Fall is the perfect fit to the author’s Southern Gothic vibe. You can also walk the Bailey’s Woods Trail on the property to see more changing leaves. The head to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, the city’s oldest religious structure, to tour the historic cemetery and find Faulkner’s grave.
Where to Stay in Oxford
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina has some of the best fall foliage in the country. Thanks to its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains with more than 100 species of deciduous trees and extreme elevations, this area has one of the longest and most vibrant leaf seasons.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Asheville
Go for a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and other scenic byways for some of the best fall leaf-peeping in the South. There is endless opportunity for hiking along this route. Check out trails like Mount Mitchell, Skinny Dip Falls, and Craggy Pinnacle.
Asheville also has tons of festivals in the fall. From Oktoberfests to craft fairs to vintage flea markets, there’s always something going on in Asheville. Check out events like the Asheville Vegan Fest, Asheville Art in the Park, and the LEAF Festival.
Then go for a haunted pub crawl to combine the city’s haunted history with its best brews.
Where to Stay in Asheville
The historic Omni Grove Park Inn is famous for its sunsets and has hosted notable patrons like F. Scott Fitzgerald. For a bit of luxury, stay on the Biltmore Estate with their options of the Village Hotel, The Inn, and Cottages.
If you’re looking to stay in Downtown Asheville, check in to the Foundry Hotel or Aloft Downtown Asheville. For a mountain getaway, check out cabin rentals on VRBO, like this relaxing mountain cabin or this country log cabin.
Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina has fall festivals, great outdoor activities, and cooler weather to enjoy during the autumn season.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Greenville
“Fall for Greenville” is the premier fall festival in town. Full of food and music, this free festival takes over the city during the fall. You also won’t want to miss Greenville’s Oktoberfest, the Renaissance Fair, or the Punk Flea Market that happen each year.
And hop on a paranormal walking tour for a spooky good time in Greenville.
For seeing the fall foliage, you won’t have to venture far. Falls Park on the Reedy adjacent to downtown is one of the best places to see fall colors. If you want more hiking, head out to Paris Mountain State Park or Caesar’s Head State Park for some great views and amazing colors.
Where to Stay in Greenville
The Embassy Suites Downtown Riverplace puts you right on the greenway for the Falls Park on the Reedy and has its own rooftop bar with great views of the city.
Or stay at the iconic Westin Poinsett Greenville. This 1920s hotel has been restored to its former grandeur and is within easy walking distance of the restaurants and entertainment in Downtown Greenville.
There’s nothing quite like a fall getaway to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. From the canopy of colors to the pumpkin- and scarecrow-adorned streets of downtown, autumn is a great time for a trip to Gatlinburg.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is one of the best places in the South for fall colors. Snap some pictures on the Gatlinburg Bypass, at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome, and Anakeesta Mountain Top Theme Park.
Enjoy all the fall fun Gatlinburg’s attractions have to offer. There’s no shortage of warm apple cider, fall-flavored moonshine, caramel apples, corn mazes, and haunted adventures. You won’t want to miss out on OktOBERfest, the Wyile Cider Barn at Foxfire Mountain, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, or this highly-rated ghost tour of Gatlinburg.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg is a popular cabin getaway spot. Check out the amazing cabins you can rent on VRBO, like this home with breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and Downtown Gatlinburg, or this cozy and romantic log cabin.
If you’re looking for more of a hotel-style without losing that mountain feel, there are plenty of lodges in Gatlinburg. Try the Lodge at Buckberry Creek, the Bearskin Lodge on the River, or the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park.
San Antonio, Texas
For the best fall colors in Texas, head to the Texas Hill Country. San Antonio is a great city to start in. With mild weather and amazing history, there is so much to enjoy during the autumn season in San Antonio.
Must-Do Fall Activities in San Antonio
Just outside of San Antonio is Lost Maples State Natural Area, one of the best spots for fall foliage in the state. The park’s Bigtooth Maple has amazing colors during the fall, and there are plenty of hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, and camping opportunities while you enjoy the colors.
San Antonio is also an excellent place to celebrate Día de Muertos. Commemorate the Day of the Dead with the largest Día de Muertos celebration in the U.S. There is live music, outdoor festivities, and vibrant celebrations, making this one of the best fall festivals in the country.
A haunted history ghost tour is also an excellent way to enjoy the fall season in San Antonio.
Where to Stay in San Antonio
San Antonio is one of the most haunted cities in Texas, so there are plenty of haunted hotels to stay in during spooky season. The Menger Hotel is said to be haunted by Teddy Roosevelt. The Emily Morgan Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in America. And the Hotel Gibbs is haunted by ghosts from the bloodiest battle of the Alamo.
Of course, there are plenty of non-haunted hotels in San Antonio, too. Hotels situated on the River Walk, like the Hotel Contessa and the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, are the best places to stay for sightseeing.
Located in the Shenandoah Valley, Charlottesville is a great place for fall fun in Virginia. The picturesque town is perfect once mid-October hits and the leaves start changing color.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Charlottesville
Take a scenic drive to Shenandoah National Park, one of the best spots for fall color in the South. Drive along Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s fall color all around Charlottesville.
While you’re out for a scenic drive, make a couple pitstops. From wineries and vineyards to presidential homes, the Charlottesville area is great to explore.
There are more than 50 wineries in the area, making this one of the top wine destinations in the South. Take a private wine tour from Charlottesville to get a taste of Virginia’s best wines.
And three former presidents have called the Charlottesville area home; you can visit the homes of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison easily while you’re out enjoying the foliage.
If you’re in the mood to explore Charlottesville’s spooky side, then a dark history ghost tour is definitely in order!
Where to Stay in Charlottesville
Fayetteville, West Virginia
A charming small town in West Virginia, Fayetteville is the perfect place for a fall getaway. The town sits on the rim of the New River Gorge National Park, making it a great spot for leaf-peeping in the West Virginia.
Must-Do Fall Activities in Fayetteville
Fall brings the New River Gorge to life with vibrant colors, especially on the New River Gorge Bridge spanning the river. Thrill-seekers will love seeing the fall foliage while speeding along a zip line over New River Gorge.
Other great spots around Fayetteville for fall foliage include Hawks Nest State Park at Lover’s Leap and Babcock State Park at the Glade Creek Grist Mill.
Want a haunted vibe? Head to the ghost towns of abandoned coal mines like the Kaymoor Mine, Nuttallburg, and Thurmond.
Where to Stay in Fayetteville
Best Time to See Fall Colors in the South
When will the leaves change color in the Southern states?
The fall color change down South happens later than it does in the Northeast. And since there is a difference in climates between states, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly when the colors will be vibrant. If you visit most Southern states in early October, you’re likely too early for the best fall foliage.
Peak fall color in the South is typically late October to early November. You might not even see the best colors until mid- to late November, especially further south. In more northern states like Virginia and West Virginia, the color change can happen as early as mid- to late September.
You can check out this Fall Foliage Prediction Map to see when the colors are supposed to pop this year.
And even if you don’t get just the right time for the South’s fall colors, there are still plenty of fun things to do in the region during autumn!
Read next: 10 Incredible Fall Destinations in Georgia
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What are your favorite fall destinations in the South? Let me know in the comments!