Sandwiched between that last blast of Labor Day madness in September and the upcoming holiday rush, October can give travelers a chance to enjoy their getaways with lighter crowds, less stress and lower prices.
And then there’s the weather. This Goldilocks of months isn’t too hot or too cold in most places. It’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern, a pleasing time for folks who don’t like temperature extremes.
October is considered “shoulder season” in many places. You get a discount from the high prices of peak summer season, but many warm-weather resorts may still be open for business.
“October is popular month for travel,” says Marsha Souders, president of Prestige Travel — A Virtuoso Agency, in Atlanta. It’s “less crowded, cooler weather and has affordable pricing to many interesting destinations.”
Souders says the Caribbean can have beautiful weather in October, but you do have to keep an eye on hurricane reports. And she points out that Europe is cooler and less crowded for the most part — minus special events such as the end of Oktoberfest in Bavaria, Germany.
With that in mind, here are five places around the world you may want to visit in October:
The biggest state in New England has its charms all year, but autumn is a magic time here. And a good bit of that really comes down to its impressive fall foliage.
Scenic drives throughout Maine can sweep you along a veritable carpet of gold, orange, red and yellow leaves. A small sampling of possible routes include:
— The Grafton Notch Scenic Byway. It starts in Newry, near the border with New Hampshire, and follows the Bear River for much of the trip. If you park and hike, you can see Screw Auger Falls and Mother Walker Falls.
— Million Dollar View Scenic Byway. This one is on the other side of the state, near the border with Canada. Take a peek at Peekaboo Mountain, and you might also spot moose, eagles and other wildlife.
— Acadia All-American Road. If you’re in a coastal kind of mood, this is one to consider. It’s about 40 miles long, and along with breathtaking views of the Atlantic, you can also take in freshwater lakes.
Maine also has plenty of festivals, fairs and such in October. If you’re in the state on October 6 and 7, you may want to join the crowd at the Oktoberfest Food & Crafts Festivalin Southwest Harbor, which is about two-thirds of the way up the coast.
This is one place that won’t lighten up on the crowds. Maine, along with the rest of New England, is a popular destination in the fall. Be sure to book lodging before your trip.
2. Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is known around the world for its stunning scenery and wildlife. Many tourists consider cosmopolitan Cape Town, dramatically perched where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, to be the country’s crown jewel.
It’s spring in Cape Town in October, with highs averaging from 67 to 71 degrees F (19 to 22 C).
While well-regarded standbys such as Table Mountain and Robben Island deserve attention, visitors in October may want to check out the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It’s scheduled to open to the public in late September, so October should be a grand time to see it. It will exhibit contemporary art from around the continent and from Africans scattered around the world.
While in Cape Town, you might want to stay in the new Silo Hotel. As the name implies, it is a former grain silo complex. And how’s this for convenience — it sits atop the Zeitz if that’s on your to-see list.
Finally, Cape Town is a paradise for wine aficionados. For superb dining along with the wine, you can visit Haute Cabriere and other nearby vineyards.
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
OK — let’s just admit it. Hawaii, situated in warm Pacific waters, is pretty great the other 11 months of the year, too. But you’ll find some really good prices for airline tickets and hotels in October before the holiday crush.
The website Beat of Hawaii recommends fall travel there for the bargain airline prices as well as the weather. Hotels and other lodging generally follow suit with lower rates for the off-season. October is definitely a good time to nab a bargain in the capital of Honolulu.
If you’re in town from October 13 through 17 and in the mood for some culture, there will be three showings of the opera “Carmen” at Blaisdell Concert Hall. Some tickets are as low as $29. You can find other events that might escape the notice of fellow tourists on this calendar by the city and county government of Honolulu.
Are you OK with a seven-minute walk to the beach? The OHANA Waikiki East is a good budget choice for a place to stay and has kitchenettes if you want to save on some of your meals.
Are you OK with a more, let’s say, “challenging” walk? Then ascend the many and steep stairs at Diamond Head State Monument. Your eyes will thank your burning leg muscles for the fantastic views.
Go south of Sicily and east of Tunisia to find the little Mediterranean archipelago of Malta. Like other places in the region, it tends to have hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, so timing should be good for an October holiday.
Valletta, the capital, has been named a European City of Culture for 2018, and the old town is a UNESCO world heritage site. Walk its streets and imagine the footsteps of history that came thousands of years before you — from Phoenicians and Greeks to Romans and Arabs.
As you wander through this cultural mash-up, look for houses and churches carved out of native limestone in a mix of Moorish, Byzantine, Neoclassical and other architectural styles.
These days, it’s more of a “Game of Thrones” kind of world. So fans will be glad to know that Gozo — one of the three inhabited islands of Malta — has been a location shoot for the hit TV show. There’s also plenty to see on Comino (definitely put the beautiful Blue Lagoonon your list) and the main island of Malta.
If you like to shop for souvenirs, look for homemade lace (great for tablecloths and napkins), liqueurs and sweets made from figs, and silver filigree jewelry with Malta crosses on it.
You can’t get a direct flight from the United States, so it’s a great excuse to do a layover in Rome. And if your layover is too short to get a decent meal on the continent, don’t fret it — there’s great Italian food on Malta, too.
5. Mexico City, Mexico
UPDATE: 5:10 p.m. ET September 28, 2017:
Parts of central Mexico, including Mexico City, were hit by a deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake on September 19. Here’s the latest information about travel to Mexico City:
Flights to and from Mexico City resumed not long after the earthquake, and the US State Department has not issued any travel warnings regarding the quake on its website. However, warnings about violence in select areas of the country outside Mexico City remain in effect.
The Mexico Tourism Board reports that museums opened for normal hours on Monday. In its last report on Tuesday, it said all but six of 310 hotels that cater to tourists were open.
The Latin America Travel Association said on its website that other tourist sites around Mexico such as Cancun were not affected by the earthquake.
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For a city of around 20 million souls, Mexico City can surprisingly still fly under many people’s travel radar. But with its bountiful history, world-class museums and artsy neighborhoods, Mexico City is a top destination.
The rainy season in this part of Mexico tends to end in September, so October gives you a better chance for sunshine. The weather here might surprise you if you think that all of Mexico is hot and tropical. The city sits at a high elevation — almost 7,400 feet — and temperatures in October tend to run in the low 70s F in the day and the low 50s or high 40s at night.
If you plan your trip toward the end of the month so that you’re there on October 31, you can catch the start of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which culminates on November 2. The traditional holiday honors the lives of lost family members and friends and dates back to Aztec times. Inspired by a scene in the James Bond film “Spectre,” Mexico City decided to turn fiction into reality and held its first Day of the Dead moving parade in 2016.
Do you love mole? Then October is a good time to be here with the Feria Del Mole, held in San Pedro Atocpan (about an hour’s drive south of Mexico City center). The deliciousness lasts through October 23.
If you want to splurge on a boutique hotel, you might inquire about Las Alcabas, a quiet oasis in the center of the city. It’s walking distance to some of the city’s best shopping and dining.