The dog days of summer are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In no time at all, pumpkin patches have begun popping up on every corner, and pumpkin spice has taken over your coffee order. Plus, there’s no shortage of fall festivals coming up. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting autumn’s arrival since you packed away your flannel late last year, we have the perfect trip ideas for you. From local fairs to seasonal food and beer fests, nothing says fall quite like the festivals on this list. So, grab your plaid and get to planning your fall adventures around some of the best fall-themed festivals the U.S. has to offer.
Deep in the heart of Texas, there is an extremely large patch of pumpkins. Perfect for camera-lovers and children alike, Autumn at the Arboretum is a must-see for the local Dallas resident and visitor. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is among the top arboretums in the world and is known for its 66 acres of Japanese Maples, stunning sculptures and beautiful pergola surrounding White Rock Lake. In the fall, the Arboretum is transformed during its autumn festival, when the theme of the park is It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown™. While here, check out the “Great Pumpkin,” a spectacular, oversized pumpkin covered with marigolds. Then, crowd around with the Peanuts Gang, snap a selfie with Charlie Brown and explore the hay bale maze with Pig Pen. Presented by the construction firm Rogers-O’Brien, Autumn at the Arboretum’s creative displays feature more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash. Take in the scent of 150,000 autumn flowers to truly immerse your senses in that fall feeling.
It wouldn’t be a complete fall trip to Dallas, however, without the thrilling rides, fried favorites and lively performances at The State Fair of Texas®. Happening at the same time as Autumn at the Arboretum, plan your trip to Texas the right way when you secure tickets for both of these fall-favorite events. Autumn at the Arboretum is September 21 to October 31. The State Fair of Texas goes from September 27 until October 20.
Portland is nestled on a peninsula that extends out to Casco Bay, perfect if you’re looking to enjoy the crisp fall air while admiring beautiful waterfront views. In addition to its picturesque beauty, Portland has a prominent food scene. It’s even been deemed the “Foodiest Small Town in America,” which is why it makes sense that the city comes together for its annual Harvest on the Harbor™. This fall gathering of foodies initially began as a way to spread awareness for the city’s budding restaurant scene back in 2007. Over a decade later, local, independently owned restaurants work hard at providing crave-worthy food for festival attendees. The festival is not limited to food either. While partaking in the festivities, sip on the best beers, ciders, wine and spirits made by local brewers and distillers.
While in Portland for the Harvest, there’s plenty more to explore. The city has something for everyone, including the Portland Museum of Art, laidback breweries and Victorian-era homes such as the Victorian Mansion museum. While you’re here, you can even plan a daytrip to Casco Bay Islands or Cape Elizabeth. However, it’s imperative to head back to the mainland for some fine East Coast cuisine during the Harvest, which takes place October 17-20.
While you might associate Miami with the summer months, the city has a lot to offer during fall as well. If you’re looking for unexpected fall fun, you don’t want to miss the Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival. Here, you can cool off from the South Beach heat with some pumpkin-flavored ales at one of the Pumpkin Beer Bars. The Pumpkin Food Court has several food tents lined with pumpkin takes on culinary favorites, such as pumpkin curry shish kabobs and pumpkin pizza. Navigate your way through the cornstalk maze or try your hand at decorating a pumpkin. The best part? The carnival rides, of course. Whether you’ve got kids or you’re simply a kid at heart, you will love the twists and turns of the bumper cars or the serene views on the Ferris wheel. Don’t forget to immortalize the moment with some fall photos. There’s a photo opportunity – and a pumpkin – waiting for you at every haystack. The Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival takes place October 26-27.
Be sure to check out some of Miami’s other must-see sites during your visit. Admire the exceptional architecture in the Art Deco District or head to Calle Ocho and Little Havana for a taste of the local culture. If you love a good photo opportunity, visit Wynwood’s warehouse district to explore the Wynwood Walls.
Fall festivals aren’t exclusively about pumpkins and carnival rides. In the Arizona desert, specifically Scottsdale, they’ve found a way to embrace fall in their own unique way—and it involves tacos and tequila. The Arizona Taco Festival is the first ever taco festival in the world. There’s so much to do here, we can’t even taco-bout it. Surrender yourself to the Holy Hot Sauce Tent where you can taste and judge fearsome and diverse hot sauces. Expect your fair share of live music when you visit the Taco Truck Zone. If that’s not living la vida loca enough for you, pay a small price to sample over 100 different tequilas. Yes, you read that right. Tacos and tequila, a hot chili pepper eating contest and a chihuahua pageant? Sign us up. The Arizona Taco Festival takes place October 12-13. There are also several events leading up to the festival, like Margarita Wars, Rock the Guac and Taco Tuesday. You can click here for all the happenings going on leading up to the event.
To round out your weekend trip, there’s plenty more to explore in Scottsdale. Roam through the lush desert landscape of the foothills of McDowell Sonoran Preserve. If you’re more into the art scene, explore Old Town, your destination for galleries, boutiques, breweries and popular restaurants. Be inspired when you visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Butterfly Wonderland and Cosanti.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Experience something unexpected when you take a break from the Las Vegas Strip during your getaway. During the beginning of October, the city’s RiSE festival takes an anti-pumpkin approach to ringing in the fall months. This Mojave Desert event begins with one day of live music and ends with the largest lantern release party in the world. Each lantern is 100% biodegradable, so you can partake in this event worry-free. Write wishes, hopes, love letters, manifestations, mantras or whatever calls to you on your lantern before releasing it to the sky. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the change of the seasons than this. While participating, stop by one of the local food trucks and take advantage of the convenient shuttle that will take you to and from the event. RiSE takes place October 4-6.
After you’ve released your lanterns into the sky, make time for all the other popular attractions Las Vegas is known for. Stop into one of its many casinos, experience the bright lights that illuminate The Neon Museum™ or see an unforgettable show.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® in New Mexico brings about a different way to welcome fall. You don’t have to be up in the sky to feel like you’re floating in the clouds. For nine days in October, the event features jaw-dropping sights. During the Special Shape Rodeo, balloons shaped like cartoon characters, helicopters and even rocket ships take to the sky. When the sun goes down, the balloons appear to glow in the twilight, earning the nighttime event the name Special Shape GlowdeoÔ. The flight of these spectacular balloons is set against the autumnal skies of the Rio Grande Valley, making for a breathtaking sight. If you can take your eyes off the sky, there’s plenty to do on the ground, too. Witness incredible sculptures come to life at the Chainsaw Carving Exhibition or learn about the science behind hot air balloons at the 7-Eleven Balloon Discovery Center. There are also live musical performances and fireworks. The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is October 5-13.
While in Albuquerque, don’t miss the other exciting attractions the city has to offer. Take a bike ride along the Sandia foothills, or check out the sunset views from the Sandia Peak Tramway & Ski Area, located 10,738 feet up in the Sandia Mountains. Walk through charming Old Town or learn about the history and culture of the Pueblo people at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The sky’s the limit during a fall trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In downtown Washington, D.C., there’s a place where all of your beer dreams can come true. At the Snallygaster Beer Festival, feel like a kid on Halloween night as you take your pick of over 400 highly sought-after brews. And in true Halloween fashion, you can only do this on one day of the year. Now in its eighth year, the festival offers attendees beer from more than 150 of the finest American and international beer connoisseurs, producers and brewers. However, that’s not all. The best way to enjoy a good glass of your favorite pale ale or deep lager is with a meal from one of the local food trucks. After getting your fill, enjoy the live performances. Needless to say, you don’t want to miss out one of biggest beer events. Have a favorite brewery from home? See if they’re making an appearance here. The Snallygaster Beer Festival takes place on October 12.
Don’t limit yourself to one event while in Washington, D.C., this fall. From October 11-13, visit the Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour, which takes place at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia home. Enjoy live music, wine and views of the Potomac River. On the same weekend, find yourself at the All Things Go Fall Classic. Taking place in Union Market, this festival features delicious foods and live performances from Chvrches, Léon, Sneaks and more.
Ready to experience all the flavors of fall at one of these festivals? Make the most of your getaway with exclusive rates on accommodations and airfare from Vacations by Marriott.