Midwest

Photo by Lisa Corson

Kansas City, Missouri

The season brings some of Kansas City’s best festivals, like the Plaza Art Fair (September 24–26) and Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest (September 25–26, October 2–3). Most notable, however, is the American Royal World Series of Barbecue (September 16–19). The largest barbecue competition in the world returns for its 41st anniversary this year, with concerts, rodeos, and enough pork ribs and beef brisket to keep you warm through winter.

When you need a break between meat sweats, KCMO's other claim to fame can help: live music. Cozy up on a cool night at Green Lady Lounge or the Blue Room, two of the city's best jazz clubs; or dress up for an evening performance at the Kauffman Center. Standout concerts this season include Martina McBride, Paula Cole, and Ben Folds joined by the Kansas City Symphony.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Kansas City This Fall.

Photos by John Yuccas and Heidi Ehalt

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Perhaps the most anticipated opening in the entire Midwest is Minneapolis’s Owamni, the first proper restaurant from the Sioux Chef founder Sean Sherman and his business/life partner, Dana Thompson. A sobering history lesson that starts with the neon sign near its entrance (“You Are On Native Land”), Owamni avoids the colonial implications of cane sugar, dairy, and wheat flour by leaving them off the menu and instead embracing indigenous techniques and ingredients through such rarely seen offerings as bison tartare, preserved rabbit, and pulled duck tacos with pickled squash and nixtamalized corn.

As for other activities worth a look within the metro area this fall, Paisley Park recently unveiled a limited, never-before-seen display of Prince's custom shoes; the Walker Art Center will highlight the abstract paintings of Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu starting on October 16; and St. Paul’s two-year-old Allianz Field stadium is hoping to host another playoff run for its beloved Minnesota United FC team as high-octane soccer matches continue to corral a growing number of new fans.   

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Minneapolis This Fall.

Southeast

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Baltimore, Maryland

Oyster season begins on October 1 in Maryland, and that, plus the long-awaited relief from the oppressive summer humidity, make fall an ideal time to explore Baltimore. The bustling bar district Fells Point (which locals simply call Fells) is ideal for an oyster crawl, and the best ones include a stop at the locally loved Thames Street Oyster House, where the adventurous can order the silver-tiered Grandiose Shellfish Tower—resplendent with fresh oysters, jumbo shrimp, cracked lobster tails, and stone crab claws.

On the culture front, this is the time to visit Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum. Founder Rebecca Hoffberger is curating a special show before she retires and passes on the reins; the museum won TV host John Oliver’s competition to host his “weird art” exhibition in November.

The Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture is also a timely stop. Its permanent collection recounts 400 years of the area’s past, and additional exhibitions look at the present, like the current Make Good Trouble: Marching for Change, about Marylanders’ involvement in the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests. Additionally, the Baltimore Museum of Art will unveil the Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies this fall, to showcase its Matisse collection, the largest of any public museum.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Baltimore This Fall.

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Charlotte, North Carolina

Fall brings seasonal beers to the Queen City’s dozens of breweries. This time of year, NoDa Brewing Co. boasts its award-winning Gordgeous ale, infused with pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and spices. And the city’s oldest brewery, the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, celebrates Mecktoberfest (September 17–19, 24–26) in its sprawling beer garden with special beers, tasty German-style pretzels, and other bites.

Hints of cooler temperatures make it a fine time to get outside. In a city known for its tree canopy—45 percent of the city is covered in trees—fall is one of the best times to walk, run, bike, or scoot along the 56 miles of developed greenway trails. Uptown, Romare Bearden Park, which pays homage to the famed artist who was born here, is another place to stroll and snap some skyline shots. Outside the city, Crowders Mountain State Park offers fall foliage and 25-mile panoramic views from the peak.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Charlotte This Fall.

Photo by Joe Thomas

Charleston, South Carolina

Once summer’s humidity tapers off, autumn in Charleston brings mild highs of 76 degrees to lows of just 58 degrees with plenty of sun and clear skies. Take advantage of the idyllic weather by visiting annual festivals like the MOJA Arts Festival (September 30 to October 10) and Charleston Beer Week (October 29 to November 7). If it does rain, head indoors to the Romare Bearden: Abstraction exhibit that opens at the Gibbes Museum of Art on October 15.

Of course, Charleston is never lacking for exciting new restaurants and stylish hotels. Keep those summer vibes going with poolside cocktails at Little Palm at the Ryder hotel, which opened on King Street earlier in 2021. The Loutrel, a 50-room boutique hotel in the French Quarter, and ​​Brasserie la Banque, a new French brasserie from James Beard Award–nominated restaurateur Steve Palmer, are two of Charleston’s most highly anticipated openings this fall.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Charleston This Fall.

Photo by Joe Hendrickson/Shutterstock

Louisville, Kentucky

A city well-known for its production of a classic American spirit— bourbon—is ready for visitors to discover another integral part of the metropolis: its people. This fall, Louisville has several museums, exhibitions, and initiatives that will highlight the incredible stories of Black Americans who helped shape the city. The Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville is a cultural attraction celebrating the legacy of the late boxing legend who planted roots in the city, not only through the story of his own life but also with rotating temporary exhibits like Truth Be Told: The Policies That Impacted Black Lives (through February 27, 2022).

Earlier this year, Louisville unveiled a Black Heritage tours initiative called the Unfiltered Truth Collection. Using costumed actors, these immersive experiences bring visitors face to face with Black Americans who worked to make Bourbon City the thriving metro it is today. Notable experiences include the African American Experience Through Bourbon; the Ideal Bartender Experience spotlights Tom Bullock—the first Black American to publish a cocktail book, and takes visitors to a whiskey and cocktail tasting at a secret speakeasy. During the Proud of My Calling: An African American Experience in the Kentucky Derby, you’ll learn about the highs and lows that race horsing brought Black Americans on the racetrack. The tours retell the stories in an interactive and engaging way, while educating guests about the victories won. After all, the only way we truly come together as a nation is to first educate ourselves on everyone’s history and past.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Louisville This Fall.

Southwest

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San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio consistently ranks among the most popular tourist destinations in Texas, and fall is a great time to discover the city with fewer crowds and cooler, more comfortable weather. The city will be hosting a free, two-day Día de los Muertos festival October 23–24, complete with an altar contest, procession, live poetry, and music. The season will also be the last time to catch the Frida Kahlo Oasis exhibition at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, an exploration of the artist’s connection to nature and vegetation. Taking place now through November 2, the exhibit features a reproduction of Kahlo’s Casa Azul as well as artifacts from her Casa Azul garden.

For a unique art experience, visit Hopscotch in downtown San Antonio, a 20,000-square-foot art gallery that features a rotating roster of interactive installations. The space also houses a bar and lounge area, a gift shop, food trucks, and a patio with live music overlooking Travis Park.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit San Antonio This Fall.

Photo by Myles McGuinness

Scottsdale, Arizona

By October, temperatures in Scottsdale drop, averaging around 75 during November, and the more forgiving Sonoran Desert welcomes outdoor enthusiasts and culture lovers alike. Under wide Arizona skies punctured by jagged mountains, options to explore on foot, wheels, or hoof abound. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers almost 35,000 acres of wild desert ripe for exploring. Hike the many trails, hire a fat tire mountain bike to get even further in, or meander among the saguaro cacti on horseback. All Trails lists 85 options to explore and REI Co-Op offers bike rentals and guided tours.

Scottsdale’s annual outdoor public art event, Canal Convergence, is back from November 5 to 14, adorning the city’s waterfront district with artworks on the theme of art and technology. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2019, so if you’ve never visited his erstwhile winter home, now could be the time.

Thinking about planning a trip? Read more in Why You Should Visit Scottsdale This Fall.