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Best Places to Visit in October
Fall is here, and in many regions the leaves have changed and are ready for their close-up. While in some destinations you'll still have to contend with foliage-seeking tourists, other top spots to travel to in October offer a bit more breathing room after the departure of summer crowds. Taking into account these factors, as well as expert opinion, traveler sentiment and array of sights (among others), U.S. News chose the best places to visit in October. Have a favorite? Vote below to influence next year's list. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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Nothing beats seeing the vibrant foliage take over Asheville in fall. With more than 100 deciduous tree species showcasing vivid hues of red, yellow and orange come October, this North Carolina destination is a leaf peeping paradise. A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the landscape and take photos at numerous overlooks. Plus, the mild fall weather is ideal for a scenic hike through the Pisgah National Forest or a stroll around the colorful Biltmore grounds.
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October falls at the end of this Indonesian island's peak dry season, meaning you can enjoy great weather without the crowds and high accommodation rates of the busier summer months. Daytime temperatures hover between the high 80s and low 90s, providing ideal conditions for swimming, surfing and sunbathing at beaches like those in Kuta and Sanur. Travelers with children will also enjoy cooling off at the Waterbom Bali water park. What's more, tourist hot spots like Uluwatu Temple and Tanah Lot Temple are less likely to be packed in October, making it a great time for sightseeing.
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The most beautiful time to visit Acadia National Park is October, hands down. That's because by mid-October, this Maine park is blanketed by vibrant fall foliage, both along the coast and high atop its many mountains, making it the best time of year for leaf peeping here. And starting Oct. 7 every year, Cadillac Mountain (the tallest peak on the North Atlantic seaboard) becomes the first place to see the sun rise in the U.S. Remember to bundle up before venturing out to catch a sunrise, as it can be quite chilly at the peak early in the morning.
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Serengeti National Park's wildlife-viewing opportunities are incomparable, and visiting in October at the end of its dry season offers certain benefits. October is one of the Tanzanian park's warmest months, with average temperatures sitting in the low 80s. And while you might encounter a few short rain showers, October is generally still quite dry, meaning you'll find fewer mosquitos and sparse vegetation – which makes it easier to spot animals – during game drives. The best place to catch a glimpse of migrating herds this time of year is in the Northern Serengeti.
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By October, Santorini's notoriously packed tourist season is officially over, leaving lower prices on accommodations and plenty of room to enjoy the Greek island's compact streets, top-notch wineries and picturesque stretches of sand like Kamari Beach, where you'll find black volcanic sand and clear blue water. What's more, the temperatures are still excellent for swimming or taking a scenic hike from Fira to Oia, with highs hovering in the low 70s during the day.
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Japan may be famous for its spring cherry blossoms, but Kyoto's many beautiful shrines, temples and pavilions shine even brighter among the orange- and red-hued trees that dot the city in October. Strolling the tree-lined Philosopher's Walk or taking in the leafy views from the Kiyomizu-dera Temple's verandah atop peaceful Otowa Mountain will leave you with unforgettable memories of this Japanese city. Plus, if you time your visit around Oct. 22, you can catch two popular festivals, the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages) and the Kurama no Hi Matsuri (Kurama Fire Festival).
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If you don't mind splurging a little, October is an excellent time to visit this popular California wine destination. October is harvest season in Sonoma, and the warm weather makes the month a superb time to spend some time outdoors while wine tasting at various wineries. Additionally, October is when the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, a fun-filled event that showcases some of the area's best wine, beer and food, takes place. Keep in mind, though, that October is one of Sonoma's busiest months of the year, so you'll want to book accommodations and wine tastings well in advance.
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Vienna's revered cultural sights, such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the MuseumsQuarter Wien, are best experienced in early October during the Long Night of Museums. This annual event, which takes place throughout Austria, offers access to plenty of museums and galleries both big and small until 1 a.m. Film lovers will also enjoy the Viennale Vienna International Film Festival, which starts in late October. Plus, fewer tourists during this time of year means travelers will spend less time waiting in lines and more time getting to know the locals and their culture.
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October falls within the Southern Hemisphere's spring season, so expect to enjoy long, sunny days and beautiful blooming flowers during an October visit to Sydney. Average daytime temperatures rest in the 70s this time of year, meaning you can comfortably check out Sydney Harbour's world-renowned sights, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Garden, and go swimming and surfing at iconic beaches like Bondi and Coogee. What's more, October is when two of Sydney's most popular events – the Night Noodle Markets and Sculpture by the Sea – occur.
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For smaller crowds and more affordable accommodations and airfare, head to luxe Aruba in October. During this low season month, hotels slash their prices up to 50%. Plus, the island experiences some of its warmest weather (think: daytime temps in the high 80s) come October, so you can stretch out and enjoy various water sports on popular shores like Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. Though October can be rainy, showers tend to be brief, leaving plenty of time for fun in the sun.
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Spring is in full swing in Santiago come October. Enjoy spectacular views of this Chilean city and its gorgeous flowers from the top of San Cristóbal Hill or Santa Lucía Hill. Then, take advantage of the comfortable 70-degree weather while exploring the artsy Bellavista neighborhood's brightly colored streets or strolling through the Plaza de Armas, where you'll find can't-miss sights like the Metropolitan Cathedral. After a long day of sightseeing, unwind with an empanada and a glass of Chilean wine at the Central Market.
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After the sky-high prices and thick crowds of summer are gone, Nantucket becomes a much more manageable place to visit. Daytime temperatures hover between the high 50s and mid-60s in October, providing cool yet comfortable weather for leisurely strolls at Surfside Beach and Jetties Beach, as well as hiking and bird-watching at the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. What's more, October brings a slew of fun events to this Massachusetts island, including the Nantucket Cranberry Festival and an annual Halloween parade.
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Outdoorsy travelers will love visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park in October. Fall foliage in this Tennessee and North Carolina national park typically reaches its peak in mid-October, making for picturesque drives along Newfound Gap and breathtaking hikes past waterfalls on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Keep in mind that the park tends to be busiest in October – especially on weekends – as the foliage attracts a lot a travelers, so consider visiting on a weekday and arriving before 10 a.m.
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Punta Mita#14 in Best Places to Visit in October
A trip to Punta Mita is all about luxury. In this exclusive Mexican peninsula, you'll find lavish resorts, world-class golf courses, excellent fishing opportunities and stunning white sand beaches where you can enjoy a variety of water sports activities, including parasailing, scuba diving and kayaking. October marks the end of Punta Mita's rainy season, meaning you'll likely encounter showers, but they'll mostly be brief. What's more, by the end of the month, you can expect the heat and humidity of summer to start to subside.
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Albuquerque, New Mexico, sees pleasantly warm weather in October that is ideal for wandering along the cobblestone streets of Old Town Albuquerque and visiting the zoo, beach and botanic garden at ABQ BioPark. But the city's main draw is its world-famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. For nine days in early October, the sky fills with hundreds of quirky, colorful hot air balloons. Arrive early to catch the Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension, then stay until the evening for fireworks displays, laser light shows and the Balloon Glow, when airborne balloons illuminate the night sky with their lit burners.
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