Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
If we've learned anything from Gilmore Girls, it's how to appreciate a quirky small-town festival. From Thanksgiving pilgrims to Ice Cream queens, the WB's ode to mother-daughter relationships was a masterclass in themed celebrations, and with the weather veering into the 50s and rainy days aplenty, you've probably seen every episode twice already this fall season. Once you get bored with Netflix and Chill-ing, these 2019 fall festivals are the perfect cuffing season date. And if the chilly temperatures and changing leaves haven't got you jumping into a new relationship, grab your besties for an autumnal American road trip, and see if you can hit all of these festivals, pumpkin patches, and fall events before we start decorating for Christmas.
Color Cruise and Island Festival
Catch the fall foliage of your dreams at the 36th Annual Color Cruise & Island Festival in Grand Ledge, Michigan this October on the greatest river cruise you will ever take. After experiencing Grand Ledge's giant hardwood trees and 60-foot sandstone ledges from the comfort of its peaceful river, try out some of the daily on-land festivities like an Opera House Oktoberfest on October 11, the Timber Trail 5k, Capital City Old Car Club Show, and Grand Ledge Beer Best on October 12, and a spooky Oakwood Cemetary tour on October 13.
Circleville Pumpkin Show
Circleville, Ohio is known for many things (probably) but nothing more so than its annual Circleville Pumpkin Show in October, one of the best 2019 fall festivals. With over 25 amusement rides, live performances from local musicians, and the World's Largest Pumpkin Pie (measuring 14 feet in diameter and filled with 360 pounds of sugar, 795 pounds of pumpkin, and 60 dozen eggs), the county fair is a guaranteed good time, but the Pumpkin Show's main attraction is its titular event. More than 100,000 pounds of pumpkins are on display for the 400,000 visitors the Pumpkin Show brings to this adorable, sleepy town. Plus, they've got over 23,000 pumpkin pies and 100,000 pumpkin donuts ready to sell to hungry tourists like us.
This October, see the leaves change colors in New Hampshire's lakes region at the annual New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, the best 2019 fall festival in the Granite State. Come for the 34-foot tower of glowing Jack-o-Lanterns, and stay for events like pumpkin carving, a Zombie Walk, pumpkin bowling, and a 10K/5K Run/Walk. Adventurous travelers should take advantage of their amusement rides, climbing wall, bungee jump, and a mechanical bull. Autumnal foodies can hang at the Pumpkin Festival's beer garden, watch a pumpkin cook-off, or sample tasty treats from some of the street festival's sixty food and craft vendors.
West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta
Pumpkins aren't just for pies anymore. At Tualatin, Oregon's West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta, adventurers race down Tualatin Lake in giant, hollowed-out pumpkins wearing colorful costumes while a festival rages on the shoreline. Check out the Village Inn Pie Eating Contest, pumpkin golf, pumpkin bowling, and clown shows (which sound absolutely terrifying, but go off), and cheer on your favorite 1000-pound pumpkins and their captains during the afternoon's four pumpkin races. The West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta has been featured in Food Network Magazine and on CNN, the Travel Chanel, and HGTV as one of the most anticipated annual fall events of the year.
If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? What about during West Virginia's Bridge Day, one of the largest extreme sports events in the world? Held every third Saturday in October, the festival features sweeping views of fall foliage, a chili cook-off, and craft beer fest, and live music, but the main event is the 348 BASE jumpers yeeting themselves off of the New River Gorge Bridge 876-feet into the air, landing in the Gorge below. Nearly 100,000 spectators watch these brave souls, and the event's 329 rappellers, while feasting on fall treats safely from the bridge above, but a high line connected to the bridge ensures that any daring festival-goers have the opportunity to be a part of the fun.
Oklahoma is more than OK during the Linde Oktoberfest in Tulsa, one of the largest Oktoberfests in America and a Top Five Oktoberfest as ranked by USA Today and Condé Nast Traveler Magazine. October 17-20 (or, should we say, Oktober?), join thousands of revelers at Oklahoma's biggest party with 116,000 square feet of bratwurst, Bavarian cheesecake, live music, and, of course, German beers. Tulsa's Restaurant am Himmel (Restaurant in the Sky) is a bougie way to experience the proceedings with a three-course German meal, beverage, a stein, and an A1 view of the main stage in their Lufthansa Biergarten.
Portland, Maine is a must-see any time of the year, but their Harvest on the Harbor is one of the best 2019 fall festivals happening this October. Envisioned as a unique culinary experience that exemplifies Portland's impressive food scene, the weekend's biggest events are for food-lovers, so come hungry. From Bloody Mary and Roast Pork Breakfast taco brunches to the Maine Oysterfest (their regional delicacy) and a market on the Harbor, there's no shortage of foodie marvels for the tasting. Don't miss their Boozy Bash on October 18, then recover at the Fusion Coffee Lab the next morning, and get ready to do it all again.
Natchez Trace Travel
Albuquerque's giant hot air balloon festival happened earlier in October, but that doesn't mean we've missed out on all of the fun. Natchez, Mississippi has its own prestigious balloon festival, which has earned the designation of the largest and most successful festival in Southwest Mississippi. With live music, arts and crafts from local artisans, and a stunning hot air balloon display, this festival is a crunchy dream. Because it's the midwest, there's also an NFL/NCAA sports tent for anyone worried about missing the big game, local food vendors, carnival games, and the Blufftoberfest bier-garten. But, let's be honest, you're here for the pretty balloons racing through the sky.
California is known for its blessed eternal summer, but even the Best Coast celebrates cold(er) temperatures and clear-sky autumn. A produce mecca, Half Moon Bay is a coastal town that happens to be the World Pumpkin Capital, and their Arts & Pumpkin Festival every October is the most adorable event of the season. Chow down on caramel apples as you watch the Great Pumpkin Parade, participate in pie-eating and costume contests and check out the 46th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.
Facebook/Graves Mountain Lodge, Inc.
It wouldn't be cuffing season without an adorable apple picking date. Syria, Virginia has got you covered with their Apple Harvest Festival at Graves Mountain Farm & Lodges. Celebrating its 49th year, this harvest festival is an autumnal aesthetic dream. Enjoy hayrides, a hay mountain, and a hay maze alongside horseback and pony rides, moon bounces, and clogging demonstrations. Once you get sick of hay, marvel at the natural wonders of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you watch apple butter being cooked in over an open fire, listen to live bluegrass music, and shop at the 70 arts and crafts vendors getting into the apple harvest spirit.
Bowling Green Bourbon & Brewfest
Just because these are the best 2019 fall festivals doesn't mean you can't party hard. Warm-up in the chilly autumn weather with exclusive bourbons and craft beer at the Bowling Green Bourbon & Brewfest in Bowling Green, Kentucky this October. 25 distilleries including Maker's Mark, Jim Beam, and BirdDog will have their bourbon ready for the tasting, while good ole Sam Adams, a festival sponsor, tops the list of twelve breweries bringing their beer, cider, and seltzer to the event. Yep, even this Kentucky bourbon fest has joined the hard seltzer train — Truly will be in attendance.
One Oktoberfest just isn't enough. Once you've had the pleasure of experiencing Tulsa's Linde Oktoberfest, head over to Leavenworth, Washington for 2019's Leavenworth Oktoberfest that takes place throughout four venues over three weekends in October. Advertised as the next best thing to being in Munich, this Pacific Northwestern event has beers, brats, and beats (there's a ton of live music), and the traditional Bavarian keg tapping is, apparently, fun for the entire family. It happens every Saturday at 1 PM following a procession down Leavenworth's main street. Hallo, Leavenworth!
Only In Your State
The best of the best 2019 fall festivals, Fall Flicker at Kingwood Center Gardens in Mansfield, Ohio is a magical month-long event at a 46-acre former estate garden guaranteed to light-up your October evenings. Hundreds of carved pumpkins line their lit pumpkin path, Scarecrow row, and Singing Pumpkins experiences, but we're most excited for Fall Flicker's spooky final weekend featuring a flashlight tour of the Townsend House, a ghostly Shadows of the Past Tour in Kingwood Hall, and an owl night hike in addition to their regularly-scheduled activities, food, and games.
Arkansas Cornbread Festival
The Arkansas Cornbread Festival has only been around since 2011, and it's already made a name for itself as one of the fall festivals to beat. Never before in our lives have we wanted to go to Arkansas (sorry, not sorry), but this Little Rock treasure has us wanting to book a cross-country flight ASAP to sample goodies from the cornbread competition alongside activities, live music, and artisan vendors for a colorful display of Arkansas's autumnal spirit. There will be food trucks on-sight for anyone who's somehow still hungry after their cornbread tasting.
Craft Days and Pumpkin Nights
Something about evening carnivals just hits different. Branson, Missouri's Harvest Festival is broken into Craft Days and Pumpkin Nights at Silver Dollar City's best 2019 fall festival, but we have to admit that we're partial to their new illuminated celebration, Pumpkin Nights. Thousands of glowing pumpkins transform this park into an autumnal wonderland of giant scarecrows, rides, a nightly dance party, and fall-themed activities. In the day time, the park's Craft Days is filled with artisans demonstrating their work, including a Cirque Elioze Lumberjacks Show acrobatic adventure.
Country Living Fair
Yes, like that Country Living. If you've ever wished you could fully submerse yourself in Country Living's farmhouse chic aesthetic, the magazine's annual festival in Stone Mountain Park, Georgia will be like a dream come true. Antiques, vintage artisan-made goods, and specialty foods will be on display in this adorable country town while seminars, how to's, and cooking demos will teach you how to bring a taste of Country Living home with you. This fair comes to Ohio in September and New York in the Summer, but Georgia's October iteration is total Fall Goals.
It's the season of the witch in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware — the Sea Witch, that is. Celebrate the Sea Witch Festival's 30th year at 2019's most unique seaside fall festival. Beach games, a massive parade, kooky costumes, and trick or treating are advertised as the festival's main events, but we're partial to the Haunted Bonfire & Graveyard Train in town, lantern tours, and the adorable children's Tyke Bike Roll on the boardwalk. The town also offers screenings of classic horror films at the Rehoboth Beach Museum, a broom toss, and a massive scavenger hunt with a $200 prize.
Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch
You wouldn't expect Miami, Florida to be the home of a universally adored pumpkin patch, but the Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival is the best 2019 fall festival in the state (and, TBH, one of the best in the country). Naturally, there's a pumpkin patch, a scarecrow village, a corn maze, and more pumpkin-themed foods than you can count, but this classic fall festival is leveled-up by its thrilling carnival with kiddie roller coasters, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and massive swings. It's like your favorite county fair had a fall-themed baby.
My San Antonio
Enough about Halloween. San Antonio, Texas's Muertos Fest celebrates Mexico's Day of the Dead with an altar contest, live poetry, artist workshops, live music, and a drum and puppet procession remembering loved ones who have passed. The event, now in its seventh year, has relocated to an even bigger location at Hemisfair to accommodate its massive popularity, and a portion of the proceeds benefit inner-city development in the San Antonio area. The festival also features the largest open altar exhibition in San Antonio, and all are welcome to contribute a photo of loved ones for the community altar.
The Great Pumpkin Farm
It's the Great Pumpkin Farm, Charlie Brown! Through the end of October, Clarence, New York hosts a gigantic pumpkin festival that's fun for the whole family. The hand-built playground, petting zoo, kid's hay maze, face painting, and children's craft area will keep the little ones entertained while you check out the haunted Boo Barn, try your pumpkin slingshotting skills, get lost in a 5-acre corn maze, and ride through the woods on the zombie paintball train (because, really, we're all kids at heart). Our favorite Great Pumpkin offering, though, is the Pumpkin Palace, a mecca of freshly baked pies, witch-themed bars, and fresh cider and donuts.
Skelly's Farm Market is a treat for Janesville, Wisconsin residents throughout the year, but during autumn, it transforms into the best 2019 fall festival through Halloween. A 20-acre pumpkin patch, two 7- and 9-acre corn mazes, and Farmer Jack's Choose-Your-Farm-Adventure wagon ride are classic fall fun, while Apple Cannons, a "Ducky Derby," and Skelly's A-Maze-ing Obstacle Race put a new twist on traditional autumn celebrations. There's apple cider and pumpkin donuts made fresh daily, caramel apples, apple crisp, apple pies and pumpkin pies available on weekends, and a signature Apple Cider Doughnut coffee flavor brewed by Janesville's own High Road Coffee Company.
Dallas, Texas's Autumn at the Arboretum is the most stunning pumpkin display you will ever see, and it runs through the end of October. You've got plenty of time to check out the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden's autumnal display but get there before October 31 to experience the nationally-acclaimed pumpkin village featuring more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash in its pumpkin houses and creative displays. The festival's 14th year is themed around It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with topiaries depicting your favorite childhood Peanuts' characters and a Pig Pen-centric hay bale maze.
The aptly named Whiteville, North Carolina is home to the state's Pecan Harvest Festival, a weekend of costumed 5K and 10K runs, trunk-or-treats, parades, and elegant estate tours set against the backdrop of a nutty celebration. Chow down at the Columbus Cooks Pecan Cooking Contest or enjoy a luncheon with the 2019 Pecan Queen, the Pecan Belles and the Camden Cadets at this year's Celebrity Queen's Lunch. If you're thinking this sounds like something straight out of a Gilmore Girls's episode, we're right there with you.
South Carolina Pecan Festival
Dueling pecan festivals? Okay, now this *has* to be a recycled Gilmore Girls storyline. Both the North and South Carolina Pecan Festivals are on November 2, and it's up to you to decide whether to enjoy what North Carolina has to offer or to jump over to Downtown Florence for the 2019 South Carolina Pecan Festival, which features over 250 food and craft vendors, amusement rides, an antique tractor show, a cook-off, a chalk art competition, a 10K and 5K, a metric century bike ride and a children's STEM zone.
Is November Official Pecan Month or something? The first weekend of November also hosts Colfax, Louisiana's Pecan Festival, which is entering its 51st year. Grown out of the parish's Centennial Celebration in 1969, the Pecan Festival has become a massive three-day event culminating in a Saturday night fireworks show following the Street Dance event before the weekend closes out with a Gospel Celebration on Sunday morning. There's a pecan cooking contest, live music and a colorful carnival all weekend long, and there's no shortage of local artisans and food vendors, either.
Enjoy Mill Valley
Kennard, Texas, hosts the most autumn-tastic music festival of the season in the heart of the Davy Crockett National Forest during the first weekend of November. Experience genuine down-home charm with a touch of acoustic farmhouse pizazz at the Old Mill Music Festival, a two-day event with performances, workshops, jam sessions, and artisanal vendors selling cozy fall goods like handmade soaps and quilts. This relatively young festival is only in its eighth year, but it has already become a Southern fall staple for music lovers and dreamers alike.
The World Punkin Chunkin Championship is leaving Delaware for Rantoul, Illinois in November 2019 for the first year in its three-decade history. The mother of all Punkin Chunkin related events is nationally televised if you can't make it all the way out to the Chanute Air Force Base, but over 20,000 visitors will travel to see the Punkin Chunkin live as gourds yeeted into fields by increasingly large and complicated contraptions will vie for eternal Punkin Chunkin glory. This is the only official Punkin Chunkin contest, and it's given over $1 million in donations and scholarships to organizations back in Delaware.
Heaven Hill Farm
It's the Great Pumpkin, New Jersey! Featuring a stunning 10-acre corn maze, Heaven Hill Farm's annual Great Pumpkin Festival spans 110-acres with over 40 autumnal activities for kids (and super fun adults!) of all ages. Admission includes a tractor ride, pumpkin patch access, pig races, a hay maze, an obstacle course, countless games, and the opportunity to see the farm's year-round residents: cows, bunnies, horses, goats, and baby chicks! There's also sand art, face painting, and pony rides on the weekends for an added blast of fall fun.
By the time November rolls around, you might already be exhausted from a month of non-stop, fun-filled festivals. While there's no such thing as too many hay rides, Alaska's 25th annual Bald Eagle Festival from November 6th through 9th is a welcome change of pace from the regular fall fair fare. Nature lovers flock to Haines for the American Bald Eagle Foundation's yearly celebration, which culminates in a Flight for Freedom eagle release on Saturday afternoon. Until then, enjoy the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the Chilkat Center for the Arts, a bird talk at the foundation, and a local art bazaar celebrating America's national bird.
If you're in Hawaii, we're already jealous of you. If you're in Kona, Hawaii during its 49th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, the best 2019 fall festival taking place on a tropical island, we're really, really jealous of you. Coffee addicts flock to Kona for the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition of 100% Kona-grown coffee scored by Pacific Coffee Research and the Specialty Coffee Association. Once you're properly caffeinated, head to the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Lantern Parade for a decorated lantern procession that could even stun Rapunzel.
The Germanic festivities don't have to come to an end once Oktober becomes November. From November 1st through the 10th, New Braunfels, Texas throws Wurstfest, the best 2019 fall festival that asks, "Sprechen sie fun?" We do, in fact, speak the language of fun, and Wurstfest's Masskrugstemmen beer holding competition, live music (including something called a "Yodel Blitz" we cannot wait to experience), dance contest, and endless food vendors are a masterclass on how to have a good time. Located on the beautiful banks of the Comal River, you'll want to make this an annual trip to the Lone Star State.
Pecans can't have all the fun! The largest peanut festival in the world takes place in Dothan, Alabama in early November, and it's an event you'll have to see to believe. Before the festival itself, Dothan crowns Miss National Peanut in mid-October and hosts recipe contests, a cake decorating contest, and a 5K run in anticipation of the festival, when Dothan celebrates its designation as the Peanut Capital of the World — the majority of all peanuts grown in the United States are found within a 100 mile radius of the town. Two hundred thousand people visit Dothan in ten days to take in the rides, agricultural displays, parade, concerts, and, of course, peanuts. Obviously, anyone with a nut allergy should stay far, far away.
Roam Bike Fest
After all of the pumpkin pie, pecans, and apple cider you consumed during October and early November's best 2019 fall festivals, you'll be more than ready for Sedona, Arizona's Roam Bike Festival. It's a three-day festival of female biking bad*sses shredding through Arizona's beautiful red rocks, trying out demo bikes, and attending bike-related workshops. This event isn't for biking beginners, but experienced riders will also get to experience a killer dance party, all-women's film festival, and an open bar when they're not conquering Arizona's trails. It's like Burning Man, if you replaced an MDMA high with wholesome endorphins and only burned calories.
And now that you've spent a weekend cycling through nature, we can return to our regularly scheduled fall programming. Cider Week happens in Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, Western New York, and New York City through the New York Cider Association to promote New York’s orchard-based cider with events, tastings, and cider pairings. New York City's mid-November celebration includes a Cider and Cheese Pairing at Murray's Cheese, a tasting at Eataly, and the main event, Lower East Cider Fest 2019. Entrance to the festival at Essex Market gets you samples of over 75 ciders from 29 producers, while you can experience a cider cocktail demo and chef-paired bites for an additional cost.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Halloween season ends in October, but The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze will live on. Located in the Hudson Valley, this electrifying pumpkin display is designed and hand-carved on-site complete with synchronized lighting and a specialized soundtrack. The Blaze's 7,000 pumpkins are spread between a Museum of Pumpkin Art, where your favorite paintings are recreated with gourds, a Pumpkin Carousel, a Pumpkin Windmill, and a Pumpkin Planetarium star show, but the piece-de-resistance is the 25-foot-tall jack-o-lantern Statue of Liberty and Instagram-optimized astrology display. Because if you can't post about the Blaze, did it even really happen?