As summer comes to an end, it’s time to start planning fall travel if you haven’t already. Leaf-peeping trips are always popular this time of year, as photos of fall foliage begin to pop up everywhere you look, but we’ve selected some surprising spots for you to jet off to in the coming months. From the countryside of Vietnam to the beaches of the Florida Panhandle, these are Fodor’s top ten places to go this fall.
By Michael Alan Connelly
Feeling the sudden urge to go on safari? Namibia’s mostly dry climate makes it a suitable option year-round, but September and October are the best times to spot game due to slightly warmer weather. Also worth seeing is the stunning Coastal Desert, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the best night-sky views in the world. And thanks to Air Namibia’s new direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg, it’s easier than ever to visit.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Namibia Travel Guide
The Florida Panhandle
Not quite ready to say goodbye to summer? Head south to the soft quartz beaches of the Florida Panhandle—more beautiful than what you’ll find on most Caribbean islands, for the record, and certainly among the best in the United States. After Labor Day, crowds thin out but the water is still warm, so take advantage of the mostly uninterrupted 100-mile stretch of sand between Pensacola and Panama City. To mix it up, add on side trips to Apalachicola and Florida Caverns State Park.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Panhandle Travel Guide
Has harvest season put you in the mood for a vineyard visit? If so, make your way to the idyllic countryside of Piedmont, where vineyards of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato region produce Barolo, a bold red that's often called “the king of wines.” Fall is festival season in Piedmont, including, most notably, the International White Truffle Fair in Alba (mid-October to mid-November). There’s also sparkling wine to be tasted in Asti, but make your home base in Turin, which is consistently overshadowed by Milan but is a worthy destination in its own right.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta Travel Guide
Are you in the need for some serious culture? Joining the ranks of The Getty Center, LACMA, and the Geffen Contemporary, The Broad (open September 20) is a sleek-looking, new contemporary-art museum in Downtown Los Angeles. The pet project of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, the museum will serve as the home of the nearly 2,000 pieces in the Broad collection, featuring one of the finest selections of post war and contemporary art in the world. Artists represented include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Cindy Sherman, Andreas Gursky, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Rauschenberg.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Los Angeles Travel Guide
Pilsen, Czech Republic
Are you a beer lover? The 2015 European Capital of Culture, Pilsen, has been hosting events all year, but September’s Slunce ve Skyle Festival celebrates small breweries throughout the Czech Republic. If you miss that, you can always visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, the largest in the country and must-see for beer lovers. And, of course, don’t forget about the Brewery Museum, an institution dedicated solely to tracing the history of beer production.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Western Bohemia Travel Guide
Looking for an exotic escape? It’s been forty years since the end of the Vietnam War, and there’s never been a better time to visit this rapidly developing nation. September, October, and November are some of the slowest months for travelers, and the weather at this time is generally pleasant throughout the north and south. There’s a lot to see and do in Vietnam, but you definitely shouldn’t miss Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and picturesque Halong Bay.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Vietnam Travel Guide
Want to photograph dazzling landscapes? Get ready for the trip of a lifetime in Chilean Patagonia, home to aquamarine lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, granite peaks, and an abundance of wildlife. Hikers and nature lovers flock here in January and February, so head there in the fall months to beat the crowds but still enjoy nice weather. Just note that many hotels and attractions shut down between May and September, so October, November, and December are the months to consider.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Southern Chilean Patagonia Travel Guide
Care to travel in time? We hardly need to make a case for why you should go to Cuba as soon as possible, but we’ll remind you that it’s getting easier every day for Americans to head to Havana and experience its retro charms. Of course there’s more to see than just the capital, including some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. If you wary of hurricane season, fear not: El Niño is expected to minimize the region’s tropical storm activity this year.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cuba Travel Guide
Do you like a mix of big city and outdoor oasis? In Philadelphia, you get both. Sure, the big news around town is the Pope’s impending visit, but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the city has made some huge improvements in recent years, transforming derelict and underutilized public spaces into green, pedestrian-friendly zones. Earlier this year, Philly introduced its first bike-share program, meaning it’s easier than ever to get around, something you should take advantage of while the weather is still nice.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Philadelphia Travel Guide
Do you like to be on the cutting edge? One of the oldest winemaking regions in the world, Georgia, is emerging as a top destination for oenophiles thanks to its diverse, distinct varietals—think 500 indigenous types of grapes. It’s easy to sample them all in the capital of Tbilisi—be sure to read our Beginner’s Guide to Tbilisi’s Burgeoning Wine Scene—where you’ll find the best bottles the country produces in one budget-friendly city with dozens of new wine bars and tasting rooms.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Georgia Travel Guide