The state of Washington is steeping with rich histories, home to popular museums such as the Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the Natural History Museum, but it is also a mecca of natural beauty. Washington boasts three national parks, each of which includes a diverse landscape: Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park. There are also many scenic drives throughout the state, such as the Columbia Gorge Highway, as well as several rushing waterfalls.
With so much to do in the great outdoors, there is no doubt that the state overflows with outdoor beauty. In fall, changing foliage paints the state in an array of warm tones, the temperature begins to cool, and several small towns come to life, vibrant with fall activities and opportunities for outdoor exploration.
Prosser, the "birthplace of Washington wine," is one of the most beautiful small towns in Washington, but it is especially wondrous in the fall. The town boasts 12 wineries, all within walking distance from each other, perfect for those in search of a refreshing beverage or two. The wineries feature beautiful landscapes and colorful fall trees, decorated with carefully chosen plants, and perfect for a photo op.
There are a number of fall festivals, including the Harvest Festival and Street Painting, the State Day Parade & Festivities, and the Living Water Festival. The most notable autumn event is the Annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally, where a plethora of air balloons take to the sky, their colors reflecting on the Yakima River, backdropped by the shades of red, yellow, and orange trees.
Friday Harbour sits on the island of San Juan of the San Juan Islands, just off the mainland coast of Washington. Travelers may take a ferry to the charming seaport town and delve straight into all of the autumnal events, such as the Friday Harbor Film Festival, which focuses on documentary films that seek to "entertain – inspire – enlighten."
September is the last month of peak whale watching, and catching a glimpse of a magnificent porpoise is a great way to kick off the fall season. A kayak trip at sunset offers the marvelous opportunity to view the warm foliage of the trees reflecting off the water during golden hour. Several gorgeous bed and breakfasts that truly embody a rustic, coastal atmosphere: Friday Harbor Grand Bed and Breakfast, Tucker House Inn, and Kirk House Bed and Breakfast.
La Conner is well known as one of the friendliest towns in the United States, but it also sits within the foothills of the Cascade Mountains of the Skagit Valley. Travelers enjoy a hike through the mountain trails, taking in the colorful fall foliage along the way. Autumnal events include the Skagit Farm to Pint Fest, Skagit Valley Harvest, and Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival.
The beautiful Salmon Bridge, built in 1957, holds both historic and scenic value, overlooking the water and connecting La Conner with the Swinomish Village. The town also sits along the roads of the Cascade Loop, which is the ultimate fall drive, and La Conner offers a cozy stop along the adventure, home to several inns such as Wild Iris Inn, La Conner Country Inn, and Hotel Planter.
Port Townsend is just two hours from Seattle, boasting roots in Native American history and abounding with Victorian architecture. For the adventurous, fall-loving spirit, Fort Worden State Park awaits, while Olympic National Park is just an hour and a half away. Miles of trails draw in travelers from all over, exploring the natural scenery and towering trees, chock full of color-changing foliage. The Port Townsend Vineyards offer a chance to sip on locally made products and admire the surrounding scenery of Port Townsend Bay. Near the end of September, visitors have a chance to visit Pope Marine Park for a sketching and watercolor workshop with Port Townsend Marine Science Center. The one-hour activity includes a handmade art kit, pointers, a chance to paint the scenery or anything else that comes to mind, as well as admission to the Jefferson Museum of Art & History and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.
Cashmere is a popular destination to taste Aplets and Cotlets (a Turkish delight-type confection developed by apple farmers), though it also houses an abundance of orchards, the Wenatchee River, and views of and from the Cascade Mountain Range. The town's orchards are a wonderful destination for a fall weekend trip, after which travelers can bring home a collection of apples and bake all the best fall treats, such as apple pies, crumbles, or turnovers. The mountainscape offers endless opportunities for biking and hiking, as well as boating and fishing. The Wenatchee River flows through a beautifully forested area, perfect for a romantic kayaking trip and views of the fall foliage. For a historic and scenic adventure, visit the Pioneer Village and Museum, which offers a glimpse into the life of early settlers of Eastern Washington.
Just a fifteen-minute drive from Cashmere, Leavenworth sits on the southeastern side of the North Cascades Mountains. The charming Bavarian-themed village and architecture transports visitors to Germany. On the other hand, the towering mountains and glacial rivers create an idyllic fall setting, perfect for exploring during the autumn months as fall foliage paints the area. A winery tour is essential with a visit to Leavenworth, where travelers can enjoy the dramatic vineyard landscapes and taste locally made wines. Popular autumnal events include the Autumn Leaf Festival, Oktoberfest, and the community Farmer's Market. Visitors may delve into the town's atmosphere and enjoy a fall escape with a stay at the Bavarian Lodge.
Famous for its appearance in the Twilight Saga and nestled in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula, the small town of Forks sits between the Olympic Mountains and the Pacific Ocean beaches. Fall in Forks means plenty of colorful foliage and milder weather, which is ideal for a backpacking trip through the mountainscape, whether travelers choose to go on a solitary journey or a group excursion. Rialto Beach, the Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch Beach, and Lake Ozette are just a few other must-see fall destinations.
Annual autumnal events in Forks include the last few days of the Open Air Market, Hickory Shirt Heritage Days, and the Rain of Terror Haunted Hangar. It rains between eight to 18 days a month in the fall season, so be sure to pack a raincoat, rain boots, and a good book!
The town of Blaine sits 35 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia, and is often known as "The Gateway to the Pacific Northwest." Blaine is home to Peace Arch International Monument and Park, which is also split with Canada, and visitors from both countries can visit at once. A fire on the beach at Birch Bay State Park offers a chance to get cozy and bundle up, enjoying the autumn weather and views of the water. The state park also houses a number of nature trails, perfect for exploring and enjoying the fall foliage. Annual fall festivals and events in Blaine include GATE-Oberfest, which is an Oktoberfest celebration, and Blaine Oyster Fest, both of which are abundant in live music, local vendors, and fun fall games.
Enjoy a Fall Trip to Washington!
Washington is chock full of charming small towns, but the fall weather and breathtaking views of autumn foliage call for a visit to these most beautiful towns. Whether an autumn afternoon at the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth draws you in or a trip to the famous Forks on a rainy fall day calls your name, there is plenty to enjoy in the state of Washington during the changing of the seasons.