If you didn’t get to travel this summer, don’t worry. Many great destinations are at their best in fall.

(If you live in the southern hemisphere, this should read “if you didn’t get to travel this winter, no worries. Many great destinations are at their best in spring”.) 🙂

Without any more ado, here are my choices for fall destinations.

Canadian and American Northeast

Maine, Vermont, Ontario, Quebec. Come September, kids go back to school, and the throng of tourists in these states and provinces diminishes. In late September and October, the leaves turn colour, from green to bright yellows, orange and reds. The weather is still comfortable and ideal for hiking. The only caveat: you will need a car to explore the countryside, as public transportation is poor to non-existent outside of the urban centres in these areas.

Not so much into leaves? How about beer? Waterloo, Ontario stages the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. This year (2013), it’s happening October 11 to 19. (The largest Oktoberfest is held in Munich, Germany.)

Mexico (mountains and Pacific coast)

By November, the rainy season tapers off on the Pacific side of Mexico, and in the colonial towns of the interior. This is the perfect time to explore those regions, before the holiday/high season prices and tourist crowds hit. Places I have visited and recommend are: San Miguel de Allende & Guanajuato, Morelia & Patzcuaro, or Oaxaca (all inland), as well as Zihuatanejo (near Ixtapa), and Puerto Escondido on the coast.

Costa Rica (Pacific coast)

For the same reasons as Mexico, the Pacific side of Costa Rica can be visited more peacefully in November and early December, before the holiday crowds. The Pacific side is dryer than the Caribbean side. Manuel Antonio is the best known beach resort, but there are many more. Try Montezuma (nothing to do with the famous “revenge”) for a low key beach with plenty of waves. The mountains of the interior are also cool and sunny. Check out Monteverde for cloud forests, butterflies, and what has to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world (if you can spot it): the quetzal.

Italy

Italy, one of the most visited countries in the world (for good reason) can be crowded, expensive, and stiflingly hot in summer. Comes fall however, a visit here becomes cheaper and a lot more manageable. In addition, many food and wine festivals are in full swing, such as the Chianti Classico Wine Festival (Greve, Tuscany) in September, the Eurochocolate festival of Perugia (Umbria) in October, and San Miniato Truffle Fair in November (Tuscany).

Peru & Bolivia

Fall (and also Spring) is an ideal time to visit these two Andean countries, especially if you plan to hike the Inca trail, or do one of the other multi-day treks in the highlands. The weather will be dry, not too cold, and the paths will not be muddy. If you are camping, remember that nights can be quite cold (near freezing) at altitude, especially in September (or June).

China

If you want to visit the main tourist cities: Bejing, Shanghai, Xian, then this is the ideal time to do it, weather-wise, especially from mid-September to mid-November. Try to avoid Golden Week however, a one week holiday in early October when everyone visits their relatives and transportation is packed. The ethnic Southwest (around Kunming) is warmer and offers comfortable temperatures into late November and beyond, when the weather is actually dryer than earlier in the fall.

Nepal

If you intend to trek in this part of the world, then September to November is the ideal season to do it: not too cold and not too hot, with clear, dry days when you have a much better chance of glimpsing the snowy mountain tops. Everest and Annapurna (at over 8000 metres) have their summits covered by clouds for most of the year. Of course this is when all the other trekkers are coming too, so make your reservations well in advance.

What other destinations would you recommend in the fall? Share your ideas with other travel nuts!

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