It’s officially sweater weather! The autumn season not only brings the opportunity to wear comfy clothes, snuggle under blankets, and sit by bonfires – there are so many outdoor activities to fit in before the leaves fall off and the pumpkins go flat. So heat up some apple cider, pick out your favorite flannel, and check out some of these top-rated fall festivities and festivals throughout the US; is there one in your hometown?
November 4 – 6
This top-crop of the South has earned its own festival – and each year over 60,000 attendees flock to this autumn attraction for a weekend full of fun. Festivalgoers will enjoy family-friendly activities such as a petting zoo, rock climbing walls, fun jumps, games, and many other free activities. In addition to these kiddo favorites, there is something for everyone at the Pecan Festival; go and enjoy a parade, various stages of live music, arts and crafts booths, a cooking contest, carnival rides, and fireworks.
However, this festival is here for one reason: an abundance of the perfect pecan. Sample with purchase numerous pecan specialties, from pies, pralines, jams, candies, and a live performance from the Pecanettes dance team from the local high school.
Autumn at the Arboretum
September 17 – October 31
Touted as “Dallas’ Favorite Tradition”, join in the excitement at the top-rated Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. They will have their usual colorful displays of flowers and foliage, but with one special change… over 90,000 locally sourced pumpkins, gourds, and squash of every variety. Stroll through the 66 acres of gardens and seasonal exhibits, including a pumpkin village and a maze for kids! You’ll also be able to catch something most people won’t see every day: squash art demonstrations!
Austin Food + Wine Festival
November 4 – 6
Stop by this eat and greet event, you won’t leave hungry! All weekend you can enjoy signature samples from renowned chefs and top-rated restaurants coupled with sips from an array of wine, beer, and spirits from other local artisanal purveyors. In addition to the noshing, you will be able to watch live cooking demonstrations and special events, all set against the beautiful Austin skyline.
Día de los Muertos Festival
October 29 – 30
San Antonio, Texas
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday held to honor deceased loved ones. San Antonio is home to the country’s largest celebration of this beloved holiday with a free, two-day event at the end of October (2022 is their 10th year!)
This event showcases elaborate altars, live music, art vendors, and other activities highlighting Mexican and Latin American Heritage.
Harvest on the Harbor
October 27 – 29
Back in 2007 this festival started as a way to create awareness of Portland’s expanding restaurant and hospitality scene, and now has grown into a popular stop in “The Foodiest Small Town in America!” Also known as Oyster Town, this is one of the best oyster festivals in the country boasting endless opportunities for oyster slurping and cider sipping in between extravagant mixology demonstrations and live music performances. Make sure to stick around long enough to witness who is crowned the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year!
Sea Witch Festival
October 28 – 30
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Known affectionately as the “Nation’s Summer Capital”, Rehoboth Beach has more to offer during the spooky season! The 32nd annual Sea Witch Festival will feature traditional Halloween activities with a fun, nautical twist. Join in the costume parade (for people and their pups!), a haunted beach bonfire, a kids treasure hunt, a broom-tossing competition, and a citywide Sea Witch Hunt, where participants follow clues to find the Sea Witch – for a cash prize!
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
September 16 – November 20
Hudson Valley, New York
You won’t want to miss the Hudson Valley’s most electrifying fall happening! Meander through an 18th century landscape and discover a breathtaking display of more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns! The pumpkins are all designed and hand-carved on site by local artisans and will put on quite a show with their synchronized lighting and original soundtrack. It’ll take you about 45 – 90 minutes to walk the half-mile path, and all proceeds from the event benefit the Historic Hudson Valley’s educational programming.
Salem Haunted Happenings
October 1 – 31
This festival is the largest celebration of Halloween in the world! Each year more than a half-million visitors join in the festivities of parties, parades, vendor fairs, spooky walking tours, museums, attractions, and special events. Costumes are encouraged, so get out to this one for a night to learn about the history, haunts, and a little bit of magic around Halloween.
September 16 – 18
Join the over 500,000 people who descend on downtown Cincinnati each year for the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebration. This party has been hopping since 1976 and has grown to occupy six city blocks near the Ohio River. The festival features fun activities such as the Running of the Wieners (hundreds of dachshunds race each other dressed up like hot dogs!), the World Brat Eating Championship, the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, a costume contest, and live music.
Duluth Fall Festival
September 24 – 25
The U.S. News and World Report dubbed this festival as one of the top 24 fall festivals in the nation! This year is the 39th annual celebration, which is a true community affair, begins with a kickoff parade featuring local dance troupes, marching bands, antique cars, fire trucks, and more. Afterward attendees are encouraged to peruse the more than 180 local artisan vendors, catch a show at one of the two lives stages, and feast on southern specialties such as jambalaya, alligator, candied pecans, biscuits, and fall fare like candy apples and funnel cake.
Sever’s Fall Festival
September 17 – October 30
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022, this popular event is held each weekend in the fall season. Home to one of the country’s original corn stalk mazes – a creation that continues to be one of the most popular autumn attractions, that features a new design and theme hand-cut each year. Once you’ve escaped the maze, enjoy other activities like the corn pit playground, straw sculptures, photo booths, and a petting zoo – you can even sidle up to a real camel or pony and go for a ride. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy harvest-inspired refreshments like kettle corn, funnel cakes, apple fritters, smoked meats, wood-fired pizzas, and bratwurst.
North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival
Whiteville, North Carolina
Head to this unique festival featuring North Carolina’s favorite nut: the pecan. Watch the Pecan Parade, taste local pecan dishes from dozens of local vendors, participate in a 5k walk, check out the car show, listen to some live music, and bring the kiddos over to the kid’s area to burn off some energy.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
November 4 – 13
This annual festival promotes Hawaii’s unique culture and diversity while supporting the mission to preserve, perpetuate, and promote Kona’s unique coffee heritage. Beginning back in 1970, this festival stretches over 10 days of scheduled events and is the longest-running food festival in the Aloha State. Corresponding with coffee harvest time, if you are not able to make it down to the island, there are virtual event options as well.