chicago skyline and trees in autumn

Autumn brings a splash of color to Chicago. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Think You’ll Have Itchy Feet This Fall? Play Tourist on a Staycation in These U.S. Cities

From cooler temperatures to changing leaf colors and cozy sweaters, there’s a lot to love about autumn. If you live in a major U.S. city, with the summer vacation season winding down, it’s also the perfect time to play tourist.

Of course, before embarking on your next staycation, be sure to check for any restrictions or closures so you can be prepared for whatever comes your way.


storefronts in helen, georgia
Find charm-filled streets in Helen, GA. (Photo: Getty Images)

Art aficionados, this one’s for you. The Krog Street Tunnel is an underpass that was built in 1912, but today it doubles as a museum of sorts for local Atlanta street art. The art changes at a rapid pace, so every time you visit, you’re bound to discover something new.

Cap off your art walk with tacos from nearby Superica, which you can enjoy on the patio or order for takeout.

Looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city? Head north to Helen, Georgia, a picturesque town better known as Georgia’s “Little Bavaria” that is definitely the spot for properly celebrating Oktoberfest.


trees draped in moss on edisto island dirt road
A dreamscape awaits on Edisto Island. (Photo: Getty Images)

Craft beer culture is at its finest in Charleston, which boasts more than 25 local breweries, including Charles Towne Fermentory, Munkle Brewing Co. and Holy City Brewing. Have a pint on the patio or fill up a growler to take home and enjoy.

Another must-try activity? Strolling around Joe Riley Waterfront Park along the scenic Cooper River (don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the famed Pineapple Fountain!).

For those looking to go beyond city limits, Edisto Island is an ideal attraction with its low-key beach, quaint cottages and kid-friendly activities like biking, kayaking and boat tours. Stop by King’s Farm Market for an array of fresh flowers, produce and baked goods.


chicago waterfront park
Take in the views from a waterfront green space. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you haven’t had the opportunity to hike the Chicago Outerbelt yet, now’s your chance. This route links 208 miles of uninterrupted nature in a singular giant loop.

That’s a lot of trail to cover in a single day, so your best bet is to take in a few parts at a time, beginning with Middlefork Savanna. Here you’ll see rare tallgrass savannas, wet prairies and maybe even a few federally protected wildlife species.

After your excursion, fuel up on baby back ribs and pulled pork from Russell’s Barbecue, which has been smoking meats in the Windy City since 1930. If you want to spend time on the water, check out Vermillion River Rafting, which offers whitewater rafting and kayaking adventures.


aerial view of bainbridge island ferry
Take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nature enthusiasts will have a field day at Kubota Garden, where you’ll explore a beautiful blend of Japanese gardens and greenery that’s native to the Northwest region. Among the lush green spaces are several streams, waterfalls and koi ponds, too.

You might get overwhelmed by the number of paths to follow, but the red-railing Moon Bridge is a must-see — don’t forget to follow the path up the hill to fully experience the sights.

For a taste of Italy, grab a fresh slice from Pizzeria Pulcinella to round out your day.

If you don’t have a car but need a change of pace, hop on the ferry at the downtown Seattle ferry terminal and make your way to Bainbridge Island. The island is easily walkable, with can’t-miss attractions like the Bloedel Reserve and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

New York City

storm king park in autumn
Leaf peeping and hiking opportunities are in abundance at Storm King Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

The city that never sleeps has no shortage of public parks to explore, but have you checked out the local islands lately? Randall’s Island offers great views of the East and Harlem rivers, in addition to family-friendly activities at Scylla Playground and the Sportime Tennis Center.

For some refreshments, swing by Cassava House where you can pick up fresh pressed juices, smoothies, sandwiches and salads — the perfect picnic fare. To really get away, a hike in the Hudson Valley’s Storm King State Park or a wander through larger-than-life outdoor sculptures at Storm King Art Center will do the trick.

Regardless of what’s on your agenda, make some time for a pit stop at Storm King Tavern, which serves up tasty farm-to-table treats and panoramic views of the mountains and Black Rock Forest.