The best destinations to visit in October

Sep 17, 2019

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With summer in the rearview mirror, the kids back at school and cooler weather returning, think about an October getaway. Traveling during the shoulder season often means lower prices, thinner crowds and reliably good weather. Whether you take in Diwali or Oktoberfest, Slovenia’s colorful leaves or Tanzania’s wildebeest migration, here are the best places to travel in October.

Ready to plan the rest of your 2019 travels? Check out our guide to the 12 best places to visit every month of 2019.

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Slovenia

This burgeoning tourist destination nestled amid Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Austria is one of Europe’s most affordable destinations, especially during the shoulder season. It offers an underrated wine region, skiing (the country borders the Alps) and a stunning network of caves to explore. For nature lovers, about half of Slovenia is covered in forests. In October you can visit one of the most popular attractions, Lake Bled, and admire the iconic castle framed by gorgeous fall foliage and the clear-as-glass lake without battling other tourists for the view. If Lake Bled is too mainstream, Lake Bohinj, a 30-minute drive away, sits a little more off the beaten path amid alpine scenery.

Lake Bled in Slovenia. (Photo by AndrijTer / Getty Images)
Lake Bled in Slovenia. (Photo by AndrijTer/Getty Images)

There aren’t any nonstop flights between the U.S. and Slovenia, which may be why so many Americans still don’t have the destination on their radar or prominently on their must-see lists. That’s precisely why you should go.

While making connections, travelers should combine a Slovenian adventure with a stopover in a hotspot like Paris by way of Air France, or a destination slowly growing in popularity, like Warsaw via LOT. Plus, Adria Airways, Slovenia’s largest air carrier, has several seasonal summer routes within Europe that are scheduled to operate through the end of October, so visitors have one last chance to arrive from hubs like Munich or Frankfurt in time to see the leaves changing colors. You can also catch the Odprta kuhna (the Open Kitchen) in Ljubljana, a festival occurring each Friday during which 60 of Slovenia’s top restaurants set up market stalls in Pogačarjev Square (also until the end of October).

New York City

Is there ever a bad time to visit the Big Apple? Well, yes actually — most of the winter. But October still has pleasant fall weather without the humidity and blistering heat of summer. Beat the snow and freezing temperatures with a weekend in New York City, strolling around Central Park in an oversize wool sweater, sipping a fragrant pumpkin spice latte and admiring the brilliant foliage.

Beyond leaf-peeping, New York also has a number of cool events and openings to attend. Besides the world-famous Halloween festivities (the iconic Village parade on Oct. 31 and the costumed pet parade on Oct. 19), there’s also Open House New York (Oct. 19 and 20), when visitors can tour specific buildings and landmarks (often for free) that are normally off-limits to the public or that charge an entry fee, including museums, churches, factories, monuments, gardens, studios, estates and more.

The Village Halloween Parade in New York City. (Photo by MentlaStore / Getty Images)
The Village Halloween Parade in New York City. (Photo by MentlaStore/Getty Images)

There’s also the New York Film Festival through Oct 13 and the NYC Wine & Food Festival from Oct. 10-13. This year the wine and food festival it features more than 80 culinary demonstrations, cooking classes, tastings and more. If you’re a Capital One credit cardholder, you have access to the Capital One Cardholder Preview, which allows you into specific events 30 minutes before general admission. You must buy the ticket with your Capital One Visa or MasterCard to gain access.

Stay at the brand-new Moxy East Village if you’re in the mood for hip decor (October rates start at $350 or 35,000 points per night). For a bite, stroll downtown to The Market Line, expected to open in late October. The space, located underneath the Essex Street Market, will span about three blocks and offer 30 different market stalls, vendors and restaurants, including Veselka’s second location, all reflecting the culture and offerings of downtown New York City. Once entirely completed, the market will house over 100 vendors.

Tanzania

October marks the dry season in most of Tanzania, which practically guarantees you’ll be able to spot animals congregated around watering holes. It’s the very end of the season before the rains hit, meaning you’ll likely get better lodge and safari deals too. Travelers wanting to catch the wildebeest migration should head to the very north of the Serengeti in the Lobo area close to the Kenyan border or the Mara River area near Lake Victoria. It’s also a great time to see elephants cooling off.

But game viewing is at its peak all around the country, not just the Serengeti. Spots like Selous and Ngorongoro also have prime animal spotting during this time of year. Some of the more underrated parks are virtually empty of tourists but full of animals, like Mahale Mountains National Park, where you can see lots of chimpanzees.

The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. (Photo by Freder / Getty Images)
The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. (Photo by Freder/Getty Images)

October marks the end of the year’s climbing season, leaving just enough time for you to to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro while it’s still drier and warmer.

Or you can head to Zanzibar to enjoy the final weeks of sunny beach time. The sea is warm and calm and October is prime dolphin-spotting season, especially off the coast of Ras Kizimkazi.

When it comes to lodging, the newish resort Zuri Zanzibar is stunning ($485 per night). Its 55 bungalows feature outdoor showers, sea views and traditional African artwork. There’s even an expansive spice garden spanning the hotel’s 32-acre “micro-universe.” For a decidedly less glamorous but convenient stay pre-safari, spend the night at the brand-new Sheraton Four Points Dar Es Salaam. The hotel, located near the Zanzibar ferry, has an outdoor pool and rooftop terrace (from $180 or 17,5000 points per night).

Central and Northern India

October marks the end of monsoon season across a large stretch of India, meaning you can see some of the most beautiful natural areas vibrant and green in cool, dry conditions. Although parts of the northern region can be lovely at this time of year, you don’t want to venture too far north, as temperatures can be quite cold and mountain areas may even see snow.

Cities in the Rajasthan region such as Jaipur and Udaipur, as well as the hinterlands including Haridwar and Rishikesh, are best visited in October. New Delhi also has prime weather this time of year, making it the perfect moment to visit the Taj Mahal. Nature lovers can even see rare fauna in Bandhavgarh National Park, like Bengal tigers, which appear in considerable numbers following the rains.

Diwali Festival in Jaipur. (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar / NurPhoto / Getty Images)
Diwali Festival in Jaipur. (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar / NurPhoto / Getty Images)

Celebrating Diwali, known as the festival of lights, in these Indian cities is a special treat. In Jaipur, entire markets are lit up with lights in honor of the holiday celebrating Lord Rama and the goddess Lakshmi. Markets compete against each other to showcase the best illumination and a winner is selected at the end. Varanasi has an incredible fireworks show that runs throughout the night over the Ganges River. Nathdwara  residents even paint their town’s walls for the occasion, and illuminate them with lanterns. The Udaipur Light Festival features food, art and music, while Ayodhya lights thousands of clay lamps along the banks of the Saryu River to honor the gods.

It’s easy to fly nonstop to Delhi (DEL) to start as a base, but we recommend holding off on visiting the southern regions until the monsoons are definitely over. Plus, if you wait to see these regions, Delta is launching its nonstop New York-JFK to Mumbai (BOM) flight on Dec. 22, 2019.

New Mexico

October in New Mexico is downright delightful. Clear, sunny skies allow you to admire the mountains as you enjoy the mild weather. And flying conditions are at their best, too, but we aren’t talking commercial aviation.

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing hundreds of hot air balloons fill the skies — or ride in one yourself — visit Albuquerque this October for the hot air balloon festival (Oct. 5 to 13). And if you can’t make it on those dates, there’s the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally (Oct. 25 to 27). The festivals feature races and contests as well as mass sunrise balloon ascensions, music, parades and other special events. The New Mexico Brew Fest (Oct. 12) is scheduled to overlap with the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, so you can enjoy balloons and beer (as well as food trucks, music and more) all at the same time.

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque. (Photo by Starcevic / Getty Images)
Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque. (Photo by Starcevic/Getty Images)

Of course, the fall fun isn’t limited to balloons (or Albuquerque). Santa Fe’s Independent Film Festival (Oct. 16 to 20) has films from over 70 countries and networking events, workshops and plenty of screenings.

Stargazing is practically a sport in New Mexico, thanks to the state’s dedication to protecting its night skies. Besides finding a quiet area and looking up late into the night, you can join stargazing parties and camping trips, sign up for stargazing tours or stay at stargazing hotels that provide telescopes or even domes to enjoy the dazzling astronomic display.

For a true taste of the Southwest, forgo a traditional hotel stay and spend time at a dude ranch instead. Accommodations range from rustic to ultra-luxurious, but staying on a ranch will give you an opportunity to ride horses, hike, cycle, raft and more.

Germany

Germany’s most famous festival takes place in October — at least partially. Oktoberfest (Sept. 21 to Oct. 6) offers traditional German music and beer and plenty of merriment. But what you may not realize is that it’s a festival appropriate for the entire family. There are special lunches for older travelers people and dedicated family days with carnival rides discounted for children, as well as lively parades featuring traditional German costumes.

You can also get your fill of fall foliage while exploring the Black Forest, the largest nature region in Germany. Weaving along Germany’s wine route in the Rhineland-Palatinate region will give you both a taste of the leaves changing color and as well as a taste of the local Riesling. If you’re lucky, you may catch a wine harvest celebration in one of the small villages along the way.

Black Forest in Germany with the Vineyards and Staufenberg Castle. (Photo by © Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images)
Black Forest in Germany with the vineyards and Staufenberg Castle. (Photo by © Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images)

End your fall trip with a visit to the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival. There will be 450,000 pumpkins on display, including the largest pumpkin in Germany. You can try your hand at carving and hear live music throughout the entire month of October.

Many flights go from U.S. hubs to Munich, and on Oct. 27, 2019, Lufthansa’s budget-friendly affiliate airline, Eurowings, will launch three weekly nonstop flights on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday between Las Vegas (LAS) and Frankfurt (FRA) on the A330-200 aircraft, offering West Coasters an easy arrival option.

Featured photo of the Brooklyn Bridge by Onfokus/Getty Images.

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