The Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to most travel plans over the summer, and while many still feel safer staying close to home for now, others are desperate to get away for a while before the winter hits.
There’s no denying that fall is such a stunning time of year to travel, and for those who want to spend some time in nature admiring the fall foliage, social distancing is relatively easy. Here are seven destinations in the USA that are perfect for a 2020 fall getaway.
Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley is famous for its vineyards, many of which produce some of the finest wines in the world. While most tend to visit during the summer, fall sees the region glowing with fiery hues, not only from the incredible diversity of native and non-native trees, but also from the grapevines preparing themselves for the winter.
Food and wine enthusiasts love what Napa Valley has to offer. There are hundreds of wineries here, many of which are also well-versed in the art of fine dining, resulting in some exquisite gastronomical experiences. This is also the the season for grape harvesting, with some vineyards allowing visitors to take part in this annual event.
Of course, there’s so much more to Napa than just its wine…
The Calistoga hot springs and mud baths are known for their healing and therapeutic properties, while Downtown Napa is packed with quirky stores, chic cafes, and plenty of lush greenery. If you really want to treat yourself, book a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley, preferably at sunrise. You may not appreciate the early wake up call at the time, but once you’re up in the air watching the morning sun cast its warm glow over the vineyards below, the effort will be more than worth it.
Eastern Shore, Maryland
Maryland’s Eastern Shore is known for its fall festivals, with their Oktoberfest festival in particular being one of the best in the country. While these won’t be taking place amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the Eastern Shore is still deserving of a visit this fall.
Begin by spending some time at the Assateague Island National Seashore and State Park. Although the temperatures may be too cool for you to spend the day sunbathing on the beach, the wild horses that roam this dreamy spot of coastline are definitely a sight to behold. The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which boasts three distinct ecosystems, is another spot for nature lovers to visit, with such a wide array of wildlife calling this refuge home.
To appreciate the water from a different perspective, charter a boat for the day. Whether you indulge in some fishing, with Chesapeake Bay in particular known for its abundance of rockfish, or simply relax and soak up your surroundings, this is a great way to take some time out while keeping your distance from others.
The Eastern Shore has also been attracting wine enthusiasts lately. While most tend to flock to California for a wine tasting vacation, many are now recognizing the outstanding quality produced in the Eastern Shore. Follow the Chesapeake Wine Trail to sample some of the region’s finest.
North Adams, Massachusetts
Massachusetts is known for its great outdoors, as well as its incredible leaf peeping opportunities, making it easy to plan a fall vacation here if you want to stay away from the crowds. While there are several great hotels to choose from, the area is sprinkled with historic Victorian homes that you can rent through AirBnB, as well as rural farms that have transformed extra spaces into fabulous guest rooms.
Speaking of the farms in the area, these produce deliciously fresh produce that the restaurants throughout North Adams make use of. The food scene here is thriving, making it a top destination for foodies to visit.
The best way to see the fall foliage would be by taking the Mohawk Trail, which stretches out for 63 miles, making it perfect for a day road trip. You could also hike up Mount Greylock, famous for being the highest point in the state, or spend the day exploring the Natural Bridge State Park. This protected area encompasses a marble quarry that dates back to the 1800’s. Although the quarry has long since been abandoned, the naturally-formed marble arches here are a sight to behold.
Of course, you’ll likely head into the city for a visit too, and you’ll quickly be able to see why North Adams was experiencing quite the surge in tourism before Covid-19 struck. Compared to the rest of the Berkshires, North Adams is known for its edgy and trendy vibe. Its art scene became huge after the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1999, followed by a number of other museums, galleries, and art festivals.
Set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Telluride is surrounded by huge swathes of outdoor space, making it an ideal destination during this pandemic. The wild mountainous terrain that you will find here is what Telluride is famous for, with many of the area’s best activities taking place in nature.
While Telluride’s scenery is spectacular no matter the time of year, it really comes into its own each fall, when the aspens turn to a vibrant gold and the air takes on a crisper edge. There are numerous hiking trails that begin from the center of town, meaning that you don’t have to go too far for a different panorama each day. However, for some of the best views, take a leisurely walk along the San Miguel River Trail – it connects up to a few other trails too, such as the Idarado Legacy Trail and the Boomerang Trail, making it easy to extend your hike if you simply cannot get enough of your surroundings.
Santa Barbara, California
There may already be one Californian destination on this list, but Santa Barbara definitely deserves a mention too. With this region home to such a huge array of different trees, fall hits Santa Barbara pretty slowly, with the city taking on a more subtle progression of color rather than a sudden, vibrant burst.
Although Santa Barbara may have quite a large population, there are so many slices of outdoor space here, making it easy to scape the crowds. The Los Padres National Forest sits just behind Santa Barbara, with numerous trails for visitors to choose from.
The beaches of Santa Barbara more than warrant a visit too. For those who want to try their hand at some surfing, the waves here are usually quite dormant in the spring and summer, but spring into action come fall. El Capitan State Beach is great for surfers seeking an adrenaline rush, while Campus Point and Rincon are all legendary too. If you would prefer to relax on the sand, head on over to Jalama Beach. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some of the 28,000 gray whales that migrate past the coast here twice a year.
Think it’ll be too cold to relax on the beach?
Think again – Santa Barbara is surprisingly warm in the fall when the Santa Ana winds blow in, making it worth being near a beach.
While you will want to limit how much time you spend in the city, you can’t visit Santa Barbara without indulging in a little retail therapy. With its open-air, Spanish-style layout, Paseo Neuvo is the place to go, which you will find in downtown Santa Barbara. This shopping destination is known for being the finest in the city – in addition to the numerous international brands you will find here, you will also come across the OROGOLD Santa Barbara store. Stop by for free product demonstrations and a luxurious VIP facial featuring real 24K gold.
Savannah takes on a calmer and quieter air in the fall, making this the perfect time to visit. You won’t have to deal with the intense heat and humidity of the summer, meaning that you’ll easily be able to spend more time outdoors and away from the crowds.
If you’re staying downtown, a brief stroll around the city will reward you with architectural delights, along with numerous city parks that offer up pockets of respite when things get too busy on the street. While there are countless indoor attractions throughout the city too, keep in mind that most of these will be operating on a limited entry basis.
To explore Savannah’s wilder side, head on over to Skidaway Island State Park, where you will find a mix of salt marsh and maritime forest habitats. Fort McAllister State Park is only ten miles from the heart of Savannah and stretches out for 1,725 acres, with its focal point being an earthen-work fort that was once used to defend the city during the American Civil War.
The eclectic coastal city of Virginia Beach may be a popular spring break destination, but it’s also a prime spot to visit in the fall. As you can tell from the city’s name, its beach is one of its highlights, with 38 miles of shoreline ensuring that people can easily keep their distance. Early mornings are the best time to visit – not only will there be fewer crowds, but the sunrise coming up over the horizon, as well as the dolphins frolicking in its warm glow, will be one of the most memorable sights of your life.
If you would like to see the spectacular marine life up-close, take a kayak trip out into the water and then spend some time dipping and diving with the dolphin pods and turtles. There’s usually a 90% chance of a sighting with each trip in the fall, giving you pretty good odds!
Speaking of the sea…
Virginia Beach is famous for its fresh seafood, especially when it comes to oysters. You’ll find these being served just about everywhere in the city, with the beautiful balance of sweetness and brine coming from Virginia Beach’s perfect location at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay. If you can’t get enough of the oysters, take a boat tour out to the Lynnhaven River, where you will be able to learn more about these creatures and sample some straight from the water.
Foodies will love all of Virginia Beach’s other fall produce – there are 16 pick-your-own farms dotted around nearby. These are ideal for bagging some fresh ingredients that you can then cook up yourself if you’re staying at a holiday home instead of a hotel. From figs, apples and blackberries to kale, squash, and sweet potatoes, you really will be spoilt for choice.
Another must-visit in Virginia Beach is the First Landing State Park, which earned its name by being the first site at which colonists arrived when Jamestown was first settled. There are miles of trails to choose from here, as well as kayak rides through the tidal marshes and swamps. False Cape State Park is another spot to visit if you would like to see some wildlife, with everything from wild horses to bald eagles to more than 300 species of migratory birds being spotted here.
Round off your visit with a shopping spree – Lynnhaven Mall is a favorite amongst the locals. Being the largest mall in the region with 1,170,000 square feet of space, there are hundreds of stores to browse here. Don’t forget to visit the OROGOLD Virginia Beach store in the mall too so that you can treat your skin to some luxury skin care.
With Covid-19 still rife in many areas, people are now choosing their fall vacation destinations based on proximity to home. If you happen to live near to one of the above locations, then now is the perfect time to book yourself in for a short break that will take you away from the stresses of this pandemic.