Ah, October. The Goldilocks time to travel, when everything’s just right. Weather, crowds, and prices are all moderate, and the only thing over the top is the schedule of events and festivals.
We’ve scoured the world for the best this month, whether you want to chop your way through the home of karate, immerse yourself in an alternative Day of the Dead, or even tackle some hikes in an unexpected European mountain range. Here are 10 top places to travel in October.
1. Arcadia, Greece
October is great for . . . an alternative outdoor vacation in the heart of the Mediterranean.
To Renaissance writers, the Arcadian ideal was a shorthand for earthly paradise. To modern travelers, the IRL Arcadia can offer much of what they dreamed, located in a quiet corner of Greece in the Peloponnese that’s easily overlooked by those rushing to fly and flop on one of its many islands.
Pause, though, and dawdle on the mainland and you’ll be rewarded by a different vision of the country. Come here in fall to go mountain biking, horse riding, or even mushroom foraging; the Menalon Trail here was the first in Greece to earn “leading quality” status from the European Ramblers’ Association, a mark not only of its high-caliber maintenance but also its sustainable impact on local communities. Follow its almost five-mile length via shepherds’ tracks and steep valleys, and you’ll see why the ancient Greeks considered this area the home turf of Pan, the untameable god of the wild.
There’s ample centuries-old human history here, too, whether cliffside monasteries Prodoromos and Philosophos that date back to the Byzantine era or villages like Bytina and Dimitsana. And don’t leave without picking up a jar of fir-tree honey, a signature product of this region thanks to the millennia-old fir forests that cover the 6,500-foot-high Mount Mainalo.
Where to stay: Manna
- Book now: Manna
Come to this mountain retreat for a Greek riff on wellness, surrounded by fresh mountain air in a property originally built as a sanatorium in the 1920s and rebooted as a 32-room boutique hotel that opens this fall.
How to get to Athens
If you can, hop on the affordably priced Fifth Freedom flight that Emirates operates between New York and Athens—those throwbacks are always a bargain—or try the Delta service from Atlanta or American from Chicago, both of which are seasonal and end this month. It’s a 2.5-hour drive to the Peloponnese from there.
2. San Antonio, Texas
October is great for . . . celebrating border culture, both haunted and hungry.
Don’t assume you need to cross the border to immerse yourself in a swirling, impactful celebration of Dia de los Muertos—the largest such gathering stateside is right here, a nod to San Antonio’s close cultural and geographical connections to Mexico.
For two days, October 28–29, expect the city to celebrate the afterlife via a special Day of the Dead river parade and the usual trappings of a citywide festival—think live music and entertainment, food and craft stalls plus a huge, open altar exhibition. Expect bunches of marigolds (cempasúchil), paper cutouts, and the chance to nibble on pan de muerto.
The Tasting Texas Wine & Food Festival coincides with this celebration, running on Maverick Plaza from October 26 to 29, which includes special dinners at restaurants around the city as well as stand-alone events like Southern Hospitality, a chance to graze buffet-style on the best the city’s chefs have to offer.
Where to stay: Thompson Riverwalk
- Book now: Thompson Riverwalk
The two-year-old, 162-room hotel, housed in a 20-story building right above the River Walk in the emerging Arts District has two noteworthy F&B spots—a swanky restaurant by local chef, and James Beard finalist, Steve McHugh, and a casual rooftop restaurant for maximum views, the Moon’s Daughters.
How to get to San Antonio
There’s direct service from the West Coast on AA, Delta, and Southwest, or try JetBlue or United from the Tri-State area.
October is great for . . . celebrating the Caribbean’s musical heritage.
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, October 27–29 will mark the return of the country’s World Creole Festival. Anchored by Windsor Park Stadium in the capital, Roseau, it’s intended to champion music indigenous to this island, which also has influences from both Great Britain and France. It caps Creole heritage month and draws more than 10,000 visitors from around the globe to hear music like bouyon, which emerged on the island in the 1980s and has become popular across the entire Caribbean region.
While you’re here, don’t miss the local rum, which comes spiked with bois bandé, a local bark said to have aphrodisiac qualities. Also, take time to loll in the hot springs around Wotten Waven—a dip or two here is said to be skin-rejuvenating.
Where to stay: Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort
- Book now: Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort
Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort is an unusual all-inclusive option, as its rates don’t just bundle F&B; activities like lionfish catching and hikes to the likes of Trafalgar Falls and Titou Gorge are also gratis.
How to get to Dominica
American Airlines services Dominica nonstop from MIA at least twice weekly this month, a new connection that’s unlocked the island for a quick weekend getaway.
4. Okinawa, Japan
October is great for . . . experiencing a martial art in its spiritual home.
In Japan’s tropical answer to Hawai‘i, October 25 is Karate Day or heiwa no bu, the martial art of peace. The sport is said to have originated here, when the islands were an independent kingdom for several centuries apart from the Chrysanthemum throne, and there are more than 400 dojos on the main island now. Come to learn a few moves from the free demos all along Kokusai Street in the capital of Naha.
Even better, this is the ideal time to be outdoors here, as the temps hover comfortably in the high 70s or low 80s; it’s the end of the beach season, so you can find a few secluded sand spits somewhere on one of the 6,000-plus islands that comprise this corner of the country. Take a one-hour boat ride from Naha for a day trip to Aharen Beach.
Make sure to stay up late, too, for some impressive live music in the venues around the island. Thanks to the longtime U.S. military base here, the tropical island cluster has become the hard rock hub of the country, producing a slew of its best riff-strikers like metal legends Taia.
Where to stay: Halekulani Okinawa Resort
- Book now: Halekulani Okinawa Resort
This 360-room outpost of the luxe Hawai‘i hotel was one of the first true high-end properties to open here in some time when it debuted in summer 2019. Japan’s pandemic-induced border closures have kept it as pristine as it was within weeks of opening.
How to get to Okinawa
Head to HND, the handier, international hub in Tokyo that has elbowed aside onetime focus NRT: Look for flights there from JFK on ANA or JAL, plus LAX on American, among others. The flight time is just under three hours from there to Okinawa.
5. Sonora Island, British Columbia
October is great for . . . spawning salmon and the grizzlies that love them.
For the first two weeks of this month, you can still arrange a grizzly bear tour and see these beasts roaming their natural habitat, snacking at will on a salmon or two. Half of Canada’s entire population of grizzlies lives in B.C., which vastly increases your chance to spot them; expect to see adults and cubs in ample numbers.
Those salmon are a stand-alone appeal for humans, too: The chilly rivers teem with spawning fish through the beginning of this month, whether coho, steelhead, or pink—all five main species pass through the waters here. Stand on the waterside and watch with awe, or head out on a boat for a catch-and-release fishing session on the river.
Where to stay: Sonora Resort
- Book now: Sonora Resort
Sonora Resort is a glamorous ranch-style hotel set in a rugged countryside ideal for any get-up-and-go traveler with its own indoor tennis court, nine-hole putting green, and fly fishing ponds. Its 88 rooms are spread through a dozen, widely distributed lodges, maximizing both privacy and connection to nature.
How to get to Sonora Island
The closest hub is Vancouver, which has nonstop service from the East Coast on JetBlue and Air Canada, and flights from LAX and ORD, too on American and United. From there, the best connection is a 50-minute puddle jumper—book a seat with the hotel’s reservations team and fight for a seat with the best chance of taking a few snaps of the jaw-dropping views en route.
6. Viti Levu, Fiji
October is great for . . . glorious weather and national celebrations.
Sure, the weather is warm here this month—expect it to hover around 80 degrees during the day, with much lower humidity than in the summer—and the rainfall low before the wet season properly starts. Come this month, though, for a chance to immerse yourself in the country’s culture, as it celebrates Fiji Day on October 10.
This marks the date when the nation emerged from British rule in 1970, and locals will dress up in period costumes dating back to the 1870s, when it was first annexed on October 10, 1874, to reenact the Deed of Cessation. There is a military parade—brace yourself for some ear-splitting cannon blasts—as well as a celebration of the dual cultures that dominate Fiji today: native Fijian and Indian. Expect market stalls filled with headpieces and sarongs, plus lots of music and parades.
Where to stay: Nanuku Resort Fiji
- Book now: Nanuku Resort Fiji
The 500-acre private estate sits on the south coast of Viti Levu, the largest of the 300 or so islands in this nation, and operates much like a safari camp on a luxe all-inclusive basis. Its sustainability efforts, under the Batiwai Project umbrella, are world class.
How to get to Viti Levu
Head to Fiji on the country’s national carrier with direct flights to Nadi, the main airport, from LAX and SFO.
7. Western Massachusetts
October is great for . . . the ultimate fall foliage adventure.
Sure, travelers may assume the only place worth visiting in Massachusetts in October is Salem, but why not head a little west instead and shuck off the shuddery associations? Better to focus on some of the leaves on the slopes of the Berkshires: Usually, it’s at peak for the first couple of weeks this month, as the oaks, maples, and more change colors before carpeting the ground. The best route to follow is the Mohawk Trail, a 63-mile track taking in 50,000 acres of state parks and forest that opened in 1914, the first such scenic trail in the region.
On the first Sunday of the month, North Adams hosts a downtown parade celebrating the season. Don’t worry if you can’t make it that weekend: You can still hike the 14-mile or so Ashuwillticook Rail Trail or the shorter round trip of 5 miles on the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail; both once carried trains but have now been repurposed for walkers. Stop off, too, at Mass MOCA, the installation-heavy museum en route, as well as the so-called Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, right at the end of its blooming season heavy with dahlias, roses, and asters.
Where to stay: Warfield House Inn
- Book now: Warfield House Inn
The family-owned, 14-room property in Charlemont is on its own 180-acre mountaintop preserve and working farm. During the summer it’s renowned as a wedding venue, but by fall it’s well suited for a hike around the grounds.
How to get to Western Massachusetts
There’s an airport in Bradley, Connecticut, served by Frontier from Atlanta, Breeze from Fort Myers and Raleigh-Durham, and several other low-cost carriers. For Northeasterners, Amtrak’s service to Springfield or Pittsfield is the handiest.
October is great for . . . a star trek.
On October 14, 2023, the biggest celestial event of the year will take place, a solar eclipse—and the first of its kind in 11 years. It’s what’s called an annular eclipse, where the moon is just far enough from the Earth that it doesn’t entirely obscure the sun, but rather creates a dazzling ring of fire effect as it moves. It will be visible in much of the western USA, but one of the best spots to enjoy it will be Ely, Nevada, which sits directly in the path of totality—there, the eclipse will last for around 3.5 minutes starting from 9:24 a.m.
The area is celebrating its status as an eclipse spotter’s favorite via a five-day Ring of Fire Eclipse Festival, which starts on October 11. It will feature UFO events at the local White Pine Museum and the chance to ride the Nevada Northern Railway to view the eclipse, accompanied by NASA-affiliated interpreters.
Where to stay: Hotel Nevada
- Book now: Hotel Nevada
Dating back to 1929, this 64-room property was a celebrity favorite as it has hosted guests like actor Jimmy Stewart, singer Charlie Rich, and actress Ann Rutherford. It has just undergone a much-needed upgrade after a recent renovation.
How to get to rural Nevada
The easiest option for most visitors is Salt Lake City airport in Utah, a 3.5-hour drive away—it’s one of Delta’s main hubs, and the carrier connects it to most major cities across the country. If you’d rather not drive that far, check the once-daily commercial flight from SLC to EKO, operated by Delta subsidiary Skywest.
9. London, United Kingdom
October is great for . . . classic cocktails and country walks.
Instead of the New England countryside, consider heading to England’s New Forest this fall. The name is a misnomer, an almost millennium-long holdover from William the Conqueror’s time, who called it the Nova Foresta. Today, it’s one of the largest undeveloped tracts of pasture and forest in the entire country at more than 71,000 acres. There are some 140 trails and walks quilting the countryside from which you can enjoy the fall colors: Don’t miss the quarter-mile-long Knightwood Oak trail, named after a redwood-like oak tree at its heart whose trunk has a 24-foot circumference.
Head back to the capital for London Cocktail Week, October 12–22, which hits its 13th year in 2023. Pick up a wristband for £15 (around US$19), and then ricochet between more than 300 bars in the capital, where you’ll score cut-price drinks as an LCW insider when you flash that band. Expect the same assortment as last year, including master classes, special pop-up venues, and chances to meet master distillers.
Where to stay: Chewton Glen
- Book now: Chewton Glen
Did someone say tree house? There are 72 standard rooms here, but the real appeal is the 14 spots that allow you to crash amid the canopies 35 feet above the ground, indulging your inner kid.
How to get to London
There are budget carriers like Norse and Play, offering cut-price no-frills trips from the East Coast. Also consider JetBlue’s new service from BOS and JFK—there’s even a daytime flight from the latter, which means you don’t need to worry about struggling for shut-eye on a red-eye.
October is great for . . . indie culture in an alternative setting.
Come in the first week of the month to enjoy the four-day Tamar Festival, which runs October 2–6 and coincides with the joyous festival of Sukkot. Its name, which means “date,” is intended to symbolize the end of the harvest season, and the eclectic programming showcases creatives of all kinds at several sites at the foot of Mount Masada. Concerts take place in the evening and at sunrise.
From October 12 to 14, indie music festival InDnegev is held out in the wilds of the Negev Desert in the country’s southern reaches. Think of it as the Middle Eastern answer to Glastonbury or Woodstock, a chance to enjoy more than 100 shows featuring both well-known names and upcoming performers. It started in 2007 and has grown ever since, drawing around 12,000 fans each year. The lineup in 2022 included Afghan Whigs and Tess Parks, as well as local talents like Evyatar Banai and Shlomi Shaban.
Where to stay: The Beresheet Hotel
- Book now: The Beresheet Hotel
This 111-room five-star resort sits right in the Negev Desert, overlooking the Ramon Crater, the 24-mile-long so-called erosion cirque, created millions of years ago when this land was under water—take a thrilling Jeep tour to see it up close.
How to get to Israel
It’s easy to reach Israel from American’s main hubs, with flights on Delta, El-Al, and United from Miami, Los Angeles, NYC, and San Francisco.