Last Minute Getaways for Fall in the Southern US
3 min

Fall is a unique time to travel and see your destination in a totally new light, thanks to the ever-changing leaves. There’s a last minute getaway for everyone, whether you’re trying to soak up the last of the summer heat or embrace the cooling temps. Here are five fall trips to add to your must-do list across the Southern US

Autumn days in Mobile, Alabama

Did you know Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras? Learn about the colorful festival and tradition by heading to the William & Emily Hearin Mobile Carnival Museum at 355 Government Street. You’ll see interesting floats and costumes, historical photographs, and exhibits highlighting this majestic carnival.

You can’t visit Mobile without strolling along Dauphin Street – especially in the fall! Referred to as Mini Bourbon Street for its resemblance to New Orleans’ French Quarter, this historic area is worth a visit. Stop in Loda Bier Garten (251 Dauphin St.) for a burger and a brew, and grab a treat at Mo’ Bay Beignet Co (451 Dauphin St.). before walking a block south to see the Harriet Tubman mural at 467 Dauphin St.

Need a break from all that walking and wandering? Enjoy a movie at Crescent Theater at 208 Dauphin St. This historic independent venue features new and old movies, including international, locally-produced, and independent films. Check the schedule to see upcoming showings and live performances. And be sure to check out exclusive deals on affordable vacation rental in the region, like this stately stunner near downtown!

Leaf peeping in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are part of the Rocky Mountains that spread across northern Colorado and New Mexico. Soak in all the fall colors and amazing mountain views by driving the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway

The route starts at the oldest building in America – the Palace of the Governors – and heads through Santa Fe to the Santa Fe ski basin, a 15-mile loop away. Starting out in Santa Fe, stop at Cafe Fina at 624 Old Las Vegas Highway to get breakfast takeout. The cloud cakes (ricotta pancakes made with berries and maple syrup) are a must. 

Drive to Hyde Memorial State Park to picnic among the trees while nomming on your breakfast treats. See the leaves in all levels of light by staying in a vacation lodge nearby.

Pro tip: Stargazing in this high desert mountain range is otherworldly! Bring a telescope or binoculars to hike at night and take in the celestial show! Or, drive to an overlook and watch the sun go down as the stars become visible – a truly magical experience.

Soak up the last of summer along Florida’s Emerald Coast

This 100-mile stretch of the Florida Panhandle includes Destin. Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” here you can try deep-sea fishing for snappers, marlins, and grouper. When you get hungry, head to the Back Porch at 1740 Scenic Highway 98 to dig into oysters, amber jack, and yellowfin tuna. 

Get some air and try parasailing off Fort Walton Beach! This family-friendly activity involves getting strapped to a parachute and being pulled behind a boat. It’s an awesome way to see the coast. You can even spot sea turtles or dolphins from the boat or in the air!

Next, drive to FL-12, Sopchoppy to visit Apalachicola National Forest. This more than 632,000-acre forest is the largest National Forest in the state! Here, you can check out two designated bike trails (including a rail trail that follows an old railroad route), or go fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and swimming.

There are many affordable vacation rentals in Destin with amazing views of the gulf! Book a last minute stay at this stunning beach rental and soak up the sights and sounds of the sea. Whats more, this rental property is located in the only gated beach community to boast two separate beach experiences!

The pier at Fort Walton Beach - one of the best spots to book an affordable vacation rental in fall.

The pier at Fort Walton Beach – one of the best spots to book an affordable vacation rental in fall.

Fall waterfall hunting in Texas

When looking for water in Texas, head to Texas Hill Country near the middle of the state. Gorman Falls at 1201 Colorado Park Road is just under two hours from Austin, and reaches 65-feet tall in the height of hydration! Gorman is a “living waterfall” because it continues to grow each year! Currently, it has reached 650-feet-wide and 60-feet-thick after millions of years of water flowage!

Stop by Hamilton Pool Preserve at 24300 Hamilton road, just 45 minutes from Austin to cool off in a 50-foot waterfall with an overhanging cave! The greenish blue water reflects off the surrounding rocks and laps the sand at the beach. Reservations are required for entry to this 232-acre Travis County Park, so be sure to book ahead of time. Consider extending your time in Austin and book an affordable vacation rental like this dog-friendly house with outdoor grill, hot tub and pool. Invite some friends and enjoy adventuring on your own 5-acre slice of paradise!

Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas has a myriad of waterfalls! Check out Cattail Falls, a 3-mile hike off Oak Spring Road east of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. The 80-foot falls feature multiple pools, red rocks, and lush vegetation in high water years. The trail to the falls is a local favorite! But it isn’t likely to feature crowds – a perfect immersion into Big Bend National Park!

Savor the season’s harvest in California’s Temecula Valley wine country

Temecula Valley is famous for diverse wines that feature flavors of French, Italian, and Argentinian grape varieties. Whether you’re into rosé or chardonnay, you’re sure to find something to sip here!

Take a self-guided tour at Temecula favorites like Hart Winery at 41300 Ave Biona (no reservations required) and stop at the tasting room to try a wine flight of favorites like Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. Head to Mount Palomar Winery to meander the Tuscan-inspired grounds and stare in awe at the 360-degree views of the surrounding valley while sipping Dolcetto or Meritage. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on-leash!

Looking for a less-popular escape? Take the Calle Contento Wine Trail off Rancho California Road, to stop at smaller wineries. Akash Winery at 39730 Calle Contento Road is family owned and operated and features favorites such as Sauvignon Blanc, rosé, and Petite Sirah. Or, drive to 41720 Calle Cabrillo to visit Briar Rose Winery, a boutique winery offering small lot, artisan wines from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvinon to Red Mission. Reservations are required and children are not allowed on-site.

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