October is an exceptional month to travel in the United States. The hot and sometimes downright miserable summer temperatures felt in many parts of the country have cooled down by October. There are also some holidays and traditional autumn events occurring in October that are worth traveling for.
Regional October Temperatures in the United States
Average high temperatures in October hover in the 50s in northern states, from Washington to Maine, and places in Upstate New York and Northern Michigan might even see the first snowflakes of the season.
In the southern reaches of the country, from California to the Southeast, average highs are in the 70s. October is a great time to visit San Francisco and the Northern California coast, when all that summer fog clears up and the region experiences uncharacteristically sunny skies and a crowd-free “Indian summer.” Small bands of the United States, mostly in Texas, Florida, and the Southwest, enjoy temperatures in the 80s during October.
If you want great weather but want to stay far away from a hurricane zone, head to the Southwest. Temperatures in the Southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico won’t be unbearably hot like they are in summer, and nights won’t be freezing like they are in winter.
Average October Temperatures for Top Tourist Destinations
When packing clothing for your trip, make note of the average temperatures in these top 10 tourist destinations in the United States (High / Low):
- New York City: 65 F / 50 F (18 C / 10 C)
- Los Angeles: 78 F / 59 F (26 C / 15 C)
- Chicago: 62 F / 43 F (17 C / 6 C)
- Washington, D.C.: 68 F / 51 F (20 C / 10 C)
- Las Vegas: 81 F / 59 F (27 C / 15 C)
- San Francisco: 69 F / 54 F (21 C / 12 C)
- Hawaii: 87 F / 72 F (31 C / 22 C)
- Grand Canyon, Arizona: 65 F / 36 F (18 C / 1 C)
- Orlando, Florida: 85 F / 66 F (29 C / 18 C)*
- New Orleans: 80 F / 63 F (27 C / 17 C)
Hurricane Season Occurs in October
When May 15 and June 1 arrive, they signal the beginning of hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic, respectively. In general, there is more potential for hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean to make landfall in the coastal states, from Florida to Maine, as well as along the Gulf Coast states such as Texas and Louisiana. Bottom line: If you're planning a beach vacation, be aware of the potential for hurricanes from May 15 to November 30 (when the season ends) and make sure to pay close attention to local weather warnings before and during your trip. If you do choose to travel to a hurricane-prone region during this season, look for flexible airfares and hotels to avoid getting stuck traveling during a storm.
October Holidays and Events
Events celebrated across the United States each October include Columbus Day, Halloween, and the colorful fall foliage. The public holiday of Columbus Day, on the second Monday of the month, gives many Americans a three-day weekend, which is perfect for a mini-vacation to check out the country's best fall foliage, where leaves are ablaze in shades of red, orange, and gold.
Without storms to knock the leaves off of trees and perfectly crisp temperatures, the Northeast enjoys the longest season for foliage viewing, and leaves remain picture perfect through late October. Be careful not to procrastinate on making Columbus Day weekend travel plans—hotels in popular destinations fill up quickly.
Harvest festivals, apple- and pumpkin-picking excursions, and Halloween celebrations also make October an exciting time for travel. No need to head to Germany to experience an authentic Oktoberfest; many U.S. cities hold their own Oktoberfest celebrations that include Bavarian beer and food served in beer gardens. October is also a great time to visit the country's national parks. High season for the parks is long gone, and local hotels and restaurants get rid of high tourist prices to attract visitors.
October Weather Resources for Top Tourist Destinations
These resources give you an idea of what kind of October weather to expect in some popular U.S. tourist spots. See also this interactive weather map for current weather conditions in the United States.
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- Washington, D.C.
- Las Vegas
- San Francisco
- Grand Canyon
- New Orleans