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.
Hawaii: Tour a coffee farm
You won’t find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in the aptly-named Rainbow State. Instead, you’ll find a pot of Kona coffee, especially if you visit in November when the state hosts the ten-day Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. While you can tour one of the 650 farms year-round, during the festival, you’ll also be treated to coffee tastings, a lei contest, and the colorful lantern parade that winds through Kailua village.
Just one trip to central Idaho will have you seeing stars. We’re not kidding—the stretch of land from Sun Valley to Stanley was recently named one of 12 “dark sky reserves,” the first in the United States and the third largest in the entire world. The best spot to peep the planets is the Craters of the Moon National Monument, where you can camp out, go on a ranger-led hike, or attend a Star Party hosted by the local astronomical society. Here are other National Parks that are equally impressive at night as they are during the day.
Illinois: Shop farmers’ markets
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Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean your weekend trips to the farmers’ market have to end, too. In Chicago, shop the stalls at vibrant Green City Market all year long, where you can find seasonal produce like butternut squash, crisp apples, and sweet potatoes in the fall months. And since it’s the city’s only real “green” market selling sustainably-grown food, you can feel good about the fruits and veggies you’re eating.
Indiana: Eat pie
Pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan… you’ll find it all at Lisa’s Pie Shop, a literal slice of heaven located just outside of Indianapolis. While all of the flavors are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, leave room for a piece or two of sugar cream pie (which is also the official state pie!), filled with creamy custard and dusted with nutmeg. And if you want your dessert on the go, snag one of Lisa’s famous pies-in-a-jar.
Iowa: Hunt zombies
Help! You’re living in a post-apocalyptic world, and it’s up to you to save what’s left of the human race from the zombies. Your only weapon? A paintball gun and a handful of neon bullets. Have a blast (literally) at this themed paintball attraction, where you’ll ward off creepy zombies as you race through the park. Fans of the Walking Dead will love this one! Here are the best bucket list ideas for each state.
Kansas: Stay at a speakeasy
What’s the secret password? You’ll need to know it to get into the Underground Saloon—but fear not, it’s listed on its Facebook page. Step back in time with a drink at the hidden Prohibition-era bar, then book a room upstairs at the historic Wolf Hotel. Rumors are it’s haunted, so if you’re brave, participate in a paranormal tour of the tunnels that run underneath the hotel or simply book a spot at one of their murder mystery dinners. Don’t miss this list of the most haunted hotels in America.
Kentucky: Watch a horse race
Louisville may be best known for the Kentucky Derby, but Churchill Downs also hosts numerous races throughout the fall. Put on your Sunday best (over-the-top hats definitely encouraged) and start your day with their weekly “Stakes and Eggs” event, where you can cheer on your favorite horse and jockey pairs while chowing down on a Southern-style brunch complete with crispy bacon and buttermilk biscuits and gravy.
Louisiana: Check out Boo at the Zoo
As if lions, tigers, and bears weren’t scary enough (oh my!), for four nights in October, tiny ghouls and goblins will be running around the Audobon Zoo in New Orleans. There’s something for all ages at the annual Boo at the Zoo, where kids can trick or treat for candy, ride the zombie-themed ghost train or navigate their way through the monster maze. And, in addition to a classic costume contest, the zoo also puts on a stroller decorating contest for the mamas.
Maine: Hike Acadia National Park
Let’s be honest: There’s really never a bad time to visit Acadia National Park. But in September and October, the Maine must-visit lights up in a blaze of fiery reds, burnt oranges, and bright yellows. It’s a sight you’ll want to add to your fall bucket list ASAP, and one of the best ways to experience the stunning scenery is by via of the many trails criss-crossing through the park. Beginners can hike the easier Jesup Trail, while more advanced outdoors enthusiasts can trek up the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail. Find out 20 more of the best places to spot fall foliage across America.
Maryland: Take pictures in sunflower fields
The color-changing leaves might get all the attention in the fall, but there’s another show of natural beauty that deserves the spotlight, too: sunflowers. And Maryland has one of the prettiest sunflower fields in the country at Rocky Point Creamery. Some of the flowers bloom in July, but others hit their peak in late September, so you can enjoy them all autumn long. Arrange a photoshoot with a local photographer or follow these tips for taking the best iPhone pictures.