The Best Fall Activities in Every State
From the spookiest ghost tours to the most scenic hikes, here are the best ways to spend the fall months in each of the 50 states.
Alabama: Attend the National Shrimp Festival
Let’s just say Bubba from Forrest Gump would definitely approve of this annual Alabama event. Whether you take your shrimp fried, boiled, Cajun-style, or even in a taco, you’ll find it all at the National Shrimp Festival, where some of the nation’s top chefs compete for king (or queen) of the crustaceans. After you’ve had your fill, enjoy live music as you wander through the art fair or stop by the sand sculpture contest on the beach. These 15 other American food festivals are worth a pit stop.
Alaska: Ride the Alaska Railroad
All aboard! Winding through the mountains, a train ride on the Alaska Railroad is a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the state. There are special events in the fall, too, like the Kid’s Halloween Train, featuring a magic show and coloring contest. And for the adults, hop on the Great Alaska Beer Train, where you’ll sip assorted microbrews and dig into a multi-course meal courtesy of the Glacier BrewHouse. Want to plan another train-themed trip? Check out the 15 most luxurious rides around the world.
Arizona: Experience the Wild West
Arizona takes the whole “No-Shave November” very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one of the highlights of the western-themed Helldorado Days is the beard contest. If major mustaches aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other frontier town festivities to partake in, like gunfight reenactments, line dancing, and a parade. Stay late one night for Tombstone at Twilight if you want a spooky ghost tour of the historic Birdcage Theater.
Arkansas: Do a trunk or treat
Trick or treating is so last year. This year, in Arkansas, cities and neighborhoods are opting for the much safer (yet equally as fun) trunk or treating. Often held in the parking lots of schools, malls or other public places (the one in Conway is held at the Chamber of Commerce, for example), trunk or treats involve loading up the back of your car with candy and gathering with friends and neighbors who do the same. Then the kids go from car to car, instead of from house to house. As long as there’s chocolate involved, we’re in.
California: Stomp grapes
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Making the perfect bottle of wine isn’t about getting your hands dirty—it’s about getting your feet dirty. During prime harvest season in the wine valleys of California including Napa and Sonoma, many vineyards allow you to stomp your own grapes in barrels with your bare feet. Plus, some even throw in dinner and a T-shirt for staining. Find out the 28 activities to add to your fall bucket list.
Colorado: Listen to elk bugling
Rocky Mountain National Park is stunning any time of the year, but in the fall, it offers something extra special: elk bugling. It’s the loud, somewhat spooky sounds that bulls make during the mating season, which runs through September and October. Hear (and see!) the majestic beasts in person, then head over to neighboring Estes Park for the annual Elk Fest. There are elk-inspired arts and crafts for the little ones, Native American dancing, and yes, even a bugling contest.
Connecticut: Go antiquing
One person’s trash is another’s treasure, as the saying goes. And it definitely holds true along the Connecticut Antique Trail, featuring everything from backyard flea markets to major auction houses to charming antique shops. It’ll be hard to hit all 60-plus dealers in a day, so book a room at one of the state’s cozy bed and breakfasts to rest up before you hit the shops the following day. Not sure where to start? Steal one of the expert secrets to scoring the best deal.
Delaware: Take a ghost tour
Encounter the ghosts of prisoners past on a paranormal investigation of historic Fort Delaware, one of the state’s most haunted spots. This isn’t your average ghost tour, either—this is full out Ghostbusters, complete with temperature sensors and data recorders. You’ll spend three hours roaming the abandoned hallways and tunnels, searching for any paranormal activity. Not getting chills yet? This list of the 12 creepiest things ever caught on camera will definitely give you the heebie-jeebies.
Florida: Meet a manatee
Fun fact: The best time to see (or should we say, “sea”) these magnificent marine mammals is in the fall and winter when the Florida waters have cooled off a bit and the manatees come out of hiding. Three Sisters Springs on the Crystal River is one of the most popular spots for a sea cow sighting. Paddle out on the water in a kayak or take a guided “swim with the manatees” tour.
Georgia: Visit a haunted house
Enter at your own risk. Frighteningly real monsters and seriously spooky special effects have made Georgie’s Netherworld attraction one of the world’s premiere Halloween haunts. While the actors aren’t allowed to touch you (Phew!), the hour-long house tour definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, so come prepared to scream. Love being scared? You won’t want to miss this list of the best haunted houses in the United States.