The Great Reno Balloon Race (photo: Visit Reno Tahoe)

10 Awesome Places to Visit in Autumn

By Craig Moy

1 RENO, NEVADA
Nevada’s second city is an adventure-seeker’s dream. Close proximity to Lake Tahoe and a chain of national forests make it a great base for outdoors enthusiasts. For those who’d rather see than do, there’s the thrill of the National Championship Air Races (Sept. 12–16)—like NASCAR, but with planes—and the Great Reno Balloon Race (Sept. 7–9), the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event.

2 KELOWNA, B.C.
Verdant B.C. wine country is a fab year-round destination, and it’s even better during the autumn grape harvest. The Fall Okanagan Wine Festival (Sept. 27–Oct. 7) hosts events for toasting the latest, lauded vintages paired with culinary delights by top chefs. For more wine tasting, book a Naramata Wine Tour with Gourmet Lunch through AMA Travel, from $149/person: AMATravel.ca/Activities.

3 CAPE BRETON ISLAND, NOVA SCOTIA
It’s Canada’s most colourful locale—for its splendid fall foliage and the Celtic Colours Festival (Oct. 5–13), honouring the area’s tartan-draped heritage. The Cabot Trail also boasts ocean views and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Book a five-day Cape Breton Island tour, including accommodations, from $1,173/person (land-only): AMATravel.ca/Activities.

places to visit in autumn jasper alberta
Dark skies in Jasper (photo: Ryan Bray/Parks Canada)

4 JASPER, ALBERTA
The Rockies draw our eyes upward, but in Jasper National Park there’s reason to look even higher: The park is protected from light pollution and perfect for stargazing. Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival (Oct. 12–21) hosts photography workshops, astronomy activities with TELUS World of Science–Edmonton, and an appearance by twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly. Find your Jasper hotel at AMATravel.ca/Hotels.

5 CEDAR CITY, UTAH
A big draw in this small town is its annual Utah Shakespeare Festival. This year’s lineup features Othello plus other more modern plays until Oct. 13. Off stage, Cedar City is a gateway to the towering hoodoos of Bryce Canyon and the desert-meets-woodland scenery of Zion National Park, beloved by rock climbers. Book a guided expedition from $170/person: AMATravel.ca/Activities.

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6 KITCHENER-WATERLOO, ONTARIO
These twin cities west of Toronto are known for incubating tech startups—and throwing one of the largest Oktoberfests outside of Munich. This year’s beer extravaganza (Oct. 5–13) is the event’s 50th, so expect more tastings, Bavarian happenings and a bigger Thanksgiving Day parade. North of town, the massive St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is a must-visit for fall harvest fare.

7 MONTÉRÉGIE, QUEBEC
South of Montreal, on the other side of the St. Lawrence River, is a region that’s both bustling with activity and pleasantly bucolic. Quebecers frequent Montérégie’s orchards for you-pick pommes. Even more attractive is the Cider Route linking artisanal producers of the tart libation. Visit a few to sample different varieties—sparkling, still, rosé and even ice cider—some of which aren’t available anywhere else.

places to visit in autumn tofino kayaking
Paddling the strait in Tofino (photo: Josh McCulloch/Alamy)

8 TOFINO, B.C.
Autumn is a great time to visit this rainforest-fringed community on Vancouver Island’s west coast. The roiling ocean has made Tofino popular for surfing—the Queen of the Peak women’s surf championship (Sept. 28–30) is a local highlight—but you can also ply calmer currents on a sea kayak or dugout canoe tour. Foodies are in fine fettle too: restaurants pay tribute to the Pacific bounty of oysters, salmon and more.

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9 PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
There’s more to P.E.I. than potatoes and lobster. During the Fall Flavours Festival in September, restaurants serve seasonal menus and host chef’s-table dinners, while harvest experiences and other events are held in Charlottetown and beyond. Firmly focused on seafood? The P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival (Sept. 13–16), shells out mollusks and crustaceans fresh from the Atlantic.

10 NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Plan a multi-day cycling trip among the Golden State’s famous vineyards. Hundreds of wineries offer tours and tastings, while accommodations—from charming B&Bs to brand-name hotels—cater to all types of traveller. Should your ambitions go beyond sipping chardonnay, pedal to Sonoma to spy Mexican colonial architecture, or Bodega Bay for rugged coastal scenery.

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