Top U.S. destinations for fall 2014

Oct 09, 2014 No Comments by

Fall travel has a lot to recommend it: mild temperatures, fewer crowds and shoulder-season rates. So what are the most popular destinations for autumn escapes? SmarterTravel asked Trivago.com, which gets more than 2.5 million daily search queries from more than 175 aggregated hotel booking sites.

Trivago analyzed searches from U.S. users between June 1 and Aug. 31 to find the most popular destinations between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30. Worth noting: Of the top 30 cities, there was only one international contender, London. Read on to find out the top 10 places people are visiting this fall.

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Las Vegas

Vegas is the reigning go-to U.S. destination pretty much year-round. Come autumn, it’s still warm enough much of the time to lounge poolside, but the milder heat means it’s also a great time to venture off the Strip and take day trips to some farther-flung attractions, such as the Grand Canyon or the surrounding mountains. Closer in, check out the new SLS Las Vegas on the north end of the Strip, which just opened in August. It’s the new incarnation of what was previously The Sahara, completely gutted and reenvisioned by a team of architects headed up by Philippe Starck.

New York

Like Las Vegas, NYC never goes out of season for tourists, and in fall it has its own kind of energy. Daytime temperatures are still comfortably mild, but the chilly nights have set the trees to turning colors—and Central Park is awash in red, yellow and orange. Find a corner somewhere to take in the spectacle that is the New York City Marathon (always the first weekend in November, unless a hurricane dictates otherwise). And it wouldn’t be autumn in the Big Apple without a stop at the Union Square Greenmarket for an apple-cider donut.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

This year, Myrtle Beach launched a campaign called “The Secret’s Out: 60 More Days of Summer,” capitalizing on the fact that even in October, the air and water temperatures are typically still very summerlike on this swath of the 60-mile Grand Strand. And a bonus this year: Actors in the Magic Mike sequel,Magic Mike XXL, will be in town in early November, filming along the boardwalk, Ocean Boulevard and the towering Myrtle Beach Skywheel. The studio won’t confirm which actors will be there, but don’t expect that to diminish the crowds hoping for a glimpse of Channing Tatum.

Chicago

Autumn in the Windy City feels like, well, autumn: leaves crunching underfoot, sweaters and scarves on display, and football, basketball and hockey on TV. Those who aren’t running in the Chicago Marathon are on the streets cheering the rest on. This fall, the David Bowie exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art is the only U.S. stop for the show, which was organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. And this year, the annual Chicago Humanities Festival brings speakers such as Paula Poundstone, Patti Smith, David Brooks, Mark Bittman and Anne Rice to various venues around town.

READ MORE: The year’s most popular destinations for fall

Galveston, Texas

Galveston is the beach hangout for Houstonites, who regularly make the 50-mile drive to dip their toes in the Gulf of Mexico along the island city’s 32 miles of beaches. In October, the daytime temps average in the high 70s, so fall still invites families on weekends looking for that last blast of summer (even the Schlitterbahn Waterpark stays open on the weekends in October, long after most amusement parks have closed for the season). Away from the water, strolling the city’s historic districts—with more than 400 19th-century buildings—is another favorite pastime.

Ocean City, Md.

There was a time this 10-mile-long barrier island was mostly shuttered after the summer season’s teems of tourists from surrounding states left its beaches, restaurants and resorts. But now Ocean City entertains millions of visitors all year long, a good chunk of whom come in autumn, when the weather is still pleasant but the summer hordes no longer pack the 3-mile-long boardwalk. It can be a particularly lovely time to visit nearby Assateague Island and its famous wild ponies, or just watch an Atlantic sunrise or sunset over the bay.

San Diego

San Diego’s coastline lures visitors all year long, but autumn has its special appeal, when the beaches are relatively empty on the weekdays but the sun is still warm. Head to nearby La Jolla for some upscale shopping and dining, and catch the art and wine festival the second weekend in October. With nearly 90 craft breweries and brewpubs, San Diego has declared itself the “Craft Beer Capital of America,” and you’ll find nearly all of them represented at the 10-day San Diego Beer Week in October. At night, the Gaslight Quarter downtown is ground zero for rooftop bars and nightclubbing.

Virginia Beach, Va.

Virginia Beach’s raison d’être is as a resort town (there’s no central, downtown area), stretching along miles of beach, including its seemingly endless, 3-mile-long boardwalk. Families flock here in the summer, but fall still boasts warm days, even as the leaves begin to change colors. Water temps average about 67 degrees in October, which might make it just a little chilly for swimming but still perfect for ocean kayaking among bottlenose dolphins. And since October seems to be the month for beer festivals, Virginia Beach claims one of its own, right on the beach.

San Francisco

Visitors to San Francisco in summertime are too often in for a surprise, and a cold one at that: foggy, windy weather. The City by the Bay really shines in fall, though, when the fog takes a sabbatical, allowing camera-toting tourists those postcard snapshots of the Golden Gate Bridge. For the past 14 years, the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival has drawn close to a quarter million music lovers to Golden Gate Park over the first weekend in October. Head over to Union Square Park, in the heart of the city, on Wednesdays and Sundays through October for Union Square Live, featuring free music, dance, and circus performances.

Daytona Beach, Fla.

It’s not just the beautiful weather (daytime highs in the mid-70s to low 80s) that draws visitors to this part of the Florida coast. Each October, tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts descend on Daytona Beach for the annual four-day Biketoberfest, and music lovers converge for the Daytona Beach Blues Festival. And all year long, Daytona Beach draws tourists who want to experience the novelty of driving on the beach, thanks to the area’s famous hard-packed sand, which has been drawing motorists since the early 1900s.

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