10 Fantastic Fall Trip Ideas in the Southeast

From Foliage to Fancy Hotels, Coast to Orchards, Fall's Great in the Southeast

From glorious leaf peeping to seasonal spookiness, nature travel, and pre-holiday culinary opportunities, fall is one of the best times of the year to plan a visit to the beautiful and diverse southeastern region of the United States. Check out this list of 10 fun fall trip ideas to discover some of the interesting places to see and things to do during a fall getaway or day-trip to the Southeast.

  • 01 of 10
    Little boy laying on his back in a pile of colorful autumn maple leaves.
    ••• Cyndi Monaghan/Getty Images

    Nature's autumn palette of crimson, orange, and gold: Enjoy a spectacular display of fall color across the Southeast, usually beginning as early as September in the higher elevations of the mountains and gradually progressing to the east and west of the mountains during October and early November. Although each year is different, these typical peak fall foliage guides will give you a general idea of when and where you might expect to see the beautiful shades of autumn in the Southeast. 

  • 02 of 10
    Ripe wet apples on tree after rain.
    ••• picturegarden/Getty Images

    Explore apple festivals, apple butter festivals, and apple picking to take in the picturesque landscapes, great local music, home-baked apple pies, and just being outdoors. Sunny days of crisp mountain air beckon visitors from near and far to the region's apple orchards to experience an array of apple-inspired celebrations throughout the fall season.

  • 03 of 10
    The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC
    ••• kathieysworld.blogspot.com/

    The mountains of the Southeast offer picturesque vistas, an array of invigorating outdoor activities, and several exquisite ​romantic resort destinations like the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Enjoy a cozy fall mountain escape at one of these top-rated mountain retreats, which each offer a unique set of amenities for a memory-making romantic getaway.

  • 04 of 10
    A pink, yellow, and blue sunset frame a snowy scene on the coast.
    ••• Christopher Seufert Photography/Getty Images

    Quiet beaches, history and mystery, fresh seafood, and coastal culture hold allure during the fall in the Southeast. Something the locals know and many travelers overlook is that the fall season is widely considered to be the best time of the year to visit the beautiful coastal areas of the Southeast. The beach crowds leave, hotel rates drop significantly along with the high humidity levels of summer, and the cooler temperatures are perfect for beach walks, tennis and golf, nature tours, and outdoor dining. Enjoy a driving tour of the Outer Banks sans the summer traffic, see the legendary coastal wild horses, stay at a luxury beach resort for less, or explore the maritime history and regional culture at coastal museums and fall festivals.

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  • 05 of 10
    Focused female chef plating salad tweezers restaurant kitchen.
    ••• Hero Images/Getty Images

    The growing popularity of culinary travel, including cooking demonstrations and classes, creative dining experiences, food festivals, winery visits, and vacation shopping for regional specialties has prompted many resorts, restaurants, and shops to create new and exciting culinary adventures. Formats range from short demonstrations or half-day classes to multi-day destination resort packages. For fall travelers, many cooking destinations offer an array of holiday food and wine classes and workshops to help you get into the spirit of holiday entertaining.

  • 06 of 10
    Tomb statue at Bonaventure Cemetery.
    ••• Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images

    Some say that Southern hospitality is not always as it seems, especially after the sun goes down and the ghosts, shadow people and other spirits of the Southeast become restless with the night. For lots of fun during your fall visit, you can decide for yourself with one of these popular ghost tours of some of the most haunted places in the Southeast.

  • 07 of 10
    Virginia Wine Trails
    ••• Wikimedia Commons/ForestWander

    Virginia celebrates Virginia Wine Month each October with an array of unique wine experiences in beautiful settings from the mountains to the coast. First celebrated in 1988, Virginia Wine Month has grown to become an eagerly awaited annual highlight as Virginia's wine production has grown to be ranked as one of the best in the nation.

  • 08 of 10
    Girls in traditional Bavarian dress marching in Oktoberfest parade.
    ••• Dennis K. Johnson/Getty Images

    In the spirit of Munich, Germany's, annual 16-day festival, many communities and organizations throughout the Southeast celebrate Oktoberfest. Some Oktoberfest celebrations last one day, while others continue for several weeks, each with its own unique format and traditions. Bring on the beer and sausages.

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  • 09 of 10
    Birding in North Carolina
    ••• Google/cc

    The North Carolina Birding Trail connects a network of designated birding sites throughout the state. Home to more than 460 bird species found in North Carolina, the trails are organized into three regional sections from the coastal plains to the mountains and include information about historic sites, scenic sites, tours, guides, events and more. You'll see painted buntings, shorebirds, birds of prey, and wild swans, among many other winged beauties.

  • 10 of 10
    "Donut Burger" at the Kentucky State Fair.
    ••• Wikimedia Common/Chris Kuehl/cc 3.0

    Celebrating the rich agricultural heritage of the region, state fairs and hundreds of county and community fairs in the Southeast attract millions of visitors each year. A great way to experience the Southeast of today with a touch of the nostalgia of yesterday, these fairs offer fun for all ages and a variety of interests. You'll be glad you stopped for the cotton candy, bright midway lights, farm exhibits, rides, and entertainment that only happen at the fair.