Fall is finally here, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy the best that the U.S. has to offer this season. With crisp temperatures and color-changing leaves sweeping the country, there is a lot to enjoy this season, and it doesn’t always need to cost money to do fun things in the U.S. There is a lot you can enjoy without spending a dime. Look for loads of free and fun festivities especially around the fall.

Old Apple Tree Festival in Vancouver, Washington

Fall is high time for harvests, especially when it comes to apple picking, and where else in the U.S. can you pick apples like you can in Washington state? The city of Vancouver, Washington honors the state’s apple-laced heritage on Oct. 4 during this annual festival that celebrates the state’s oldest known apple tree. Held at Fort Vancouver, the Old Apple Tree Festival features music, food, walking tours of the fort and a community apple cider pressing. Visitors can try their hand at the press, then enjoy the fruits of their labor with a sample of the cider.

The Centennial Festival of Riverboats in Louisville, Kentucky

Kentucky’s Southern heritage is on full display during the Centennial Festival of Riverboats in Louisville, Oct. 14-19. The storied Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating steamboat in the country, will celebrate her 100th birthday this year, and the celebration on the Ohio River is sure to be a grand one. The entire six-day festival is a non-stop whirlwind of entertainment, featuring parades, a hot air balloon launch and fireworks in honor of the Belle. Many of the activities held on the Riverfront are free to enjoy.

Denver Zombie Crawl, Colorado

In Denver, fall doesn’t just mean the mountains are getting ready to become one of the country’s top destinations for snow sports. This season, Denver is also gearing up for a full-on zombie attack. The undead will roam the streets on Oct. 18 during the 9th annual Denver Zombie Crawl, which organizers are hoping will break a world record for largest zombie walk. Parades, costume contests and after parties add to the fun. Held in Denver’s Skyline Park, this fun and free event is a must-do this fall.

Festival of Leaves in Bland, Virginia

All year long, Virginia is a destination known for its natural beauty, and this fall, the southwestern corner of Bland County steps it up a notch with the Festival of Leaves. The tall trees of Bland County are aglow this time of year with the hues of fall, and the Festival of Leaves on Oct. 11-12 is a great way to experience the season in Virginia. The entire weekend is filled with rustic, fall-themed events like crafts, games and hayrides, with plenty of food and entertainment, too. An apple-cooking contest and Confederate living history display also add to the fun.

Fall foliage road trip

One of the best parts of the fall season is watching Mother Nature do her thing as leaves around the country change from the bright greens of summer to the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows of fall. Get a little bit of inspiration with this photo tour of fall foliage in the U.S., then plan on a weekend or one-day road trip through a local national park or a fall foliage destination like New England.

Take a hike

One of the best ways to experience fall in the U.S. is to truly immerse yourself in it, so why not plan on taking a hike through some of the most scenic sights in the country this fall? Check out this Cheapflights guide to beautiful fall hikes in the U.S.


(Main image: Nicholas Cardot)

About the author

Marissa WillmanMarissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.

Explore more articles