25 Best Columbus Day Weekend Getaways
Taking a trip during the first part of October can offer travelers a variety of attractions, from entrancing autumn colors to enjoying some of that last warm weather before winter sets in. Columbus Day, for many people, provides a three-day weekend to make it easier to explore a new place, whether by car, plane, or boat. Many destinations offer discounted travel prices during this time of year since summer tourist season has ended and winter tourist season hasn’t begun, and by taking advantage of these possible discounts guests are able to enjoy a splendid trip without going over their budget. Whether searching for Columbus Day parades, Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations, or just a chance to relax in nature and destress, this extended weekend is the perfect getaway break. Photo: Hale M. Kell/Fotolia
Deep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and surrounded by striking peaks and vistas, Aspen is primarily a ski town, but is often enjoyed heavily during the other seasons by various crowds. When the summer tourists leave the Rockies and head home and Columbus Day rolls around, taking a trip to Aspen means a vacation with beautiful hikes, easy access to restaurants, and typically lower prices than you would see other times of the year. There is the Aspen Saturday Market that offers table produce and handcrafted items, and guests can easily reach some of the most photographed peaks in North America, known as the Maroon Bells. Things to Do in Aspen
Observing the fall foliage is one of the main attractions in the Poconos Mountains during early October, and there are a variety of exciting and adventurous ways to see the changing colors. Air tours are available in two ways: you can charter a flight from a local air tour company or climb even higher and skydive over the mountains themselves. Both offer unique panoramic views of the diverse colors during autumn, but for those who want to keep their feet on the ground, there plenty of hiking trails with vistas that offer splendid views. Families may enjoy a visit to the Poconos Adventure Park for outdoor fun, giving the children a chance to burn off some energy and the parents an opportunity to relax while surrounded by the vibrant display of the mountains.
Although Columbus Day is the celebration of the man who was thought to have discovered America, the town of Plymouth is celebrated for being the first landing site of Pilgrims. Enjoying a long October weekend in Plymouth can afford an excellent opportunity to explore this coastal town. A visit to Pilgrim Memorial State Park gives you a chance to see the boulder that marks the spot where settlers are believed to have landed on shore, and the area is rich with the history of that first settlement founded in 1620. There is a full-scale replica of the famous Mayflower II for guests to explore and see the ship that carried some of those first pilgrims across the vast waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Photo: Sam Spiro/Fotolia
»Eureka Springs, AR
Although Eureka Springs doesn’t host any special Columbus Day events, that does not mean that spending the first part of October won’t be a blast. With fall weather just around the corner in this tiny city, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors without the sweltering heat native to the area in summer time. While exploring the town, guests can look at preserved Victorian buildings such as the Palace Bath House and the Crescent Hotel. For stunning architecture with a view there is Thorncrown Chapel, a church built primarily out of glass and wood located in the nearby hills. Things to Do in Eureka Springs
Far north in the state of Vermont, Stowe typically experiences some of its last warm and pleasant bouts of weather before winter returns for the year. As many visitors to the area want to enjoy the last bit of summertime fun before winter hits, Stowe undergoes one of its busiest weekends of the whole year during Columbus Day weekend, and because of this it is recommended to book lodging far in advance. There are many interesting activities for families and individuals, such as taking a tour at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory or driving up Auto Toll Road to get to the top of summit ridge. Things to Do in Stowe
Wichitais located on the Arkansas River in south-central Kansas and is the largest city in Kansas. The city started its life as a trading post in the 1860s on the Chisholm Trail. Later, it became known as “Cowtown” as it was a destination for large cattle drives north, between Texas and the railroads. Modern Wichita is known as a major American center of the aircraft industry and the cultural heart of Kansas. Learn more about Wichita’s past by visiting the Old Cowtown Museum, where you can see a realistic recreated 19th-century village, where costumed guides tell the stories about the way of life in Old Wichita. Botanica Wichita is a serene place with a Chinese garden and a meadow full of wildflowers. The kids will love the Museum of World Treasures, with its T. rex skeleton and real Egyptian mummies. Things to Do in Wichita
Photo: Joe Montiel/Fotolia
»Bar Harbor, ME
Filled with many things to do, including shops, attractions, family entertainment options, and a large assortment of outdoor activities, Bar Harbor is a great place to take an October vacation for Columbus Day. Visiting during this time will usually coincide with the peak of leaf color changing season and Canadian Thanksgiving, so you can expect many guests in the area, and it is recommended to book accomodations ahead of time. With brisk weather a distinct possibility, Bar Harbor offers the chance for visitors to enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities, from hiking along the waterfront and enjoying scenic views of nature to catching a movie or show, eating at a variety of family friendly restaurants, or visiting a local museum. Things to Do in Bar Harbor
Founded and built where the Mystic River reaches the Brock Island Sound, Mystic is a small town with deep regional roots, and a visit to this quaint location is sure to be a relaxing get away from the stresses of everyday life. Every year on Columbus Day, Mystic Seaport, the self proclaimed Museum of America and the Sea, hosts their popular Chowder Days festival. Showcasing a large variety of chowders and bisques made in numerous ways, this festival also offers clam fritters, sausages, chicken kabobs, fish tacos, apple fritters, beer, wine, cocktails, and soft drinks. During the festival there are many harvest orientated activities as well as children’s activities to keep the whole family entertained.
Annually on Columbus Day, Miami holds a gigantic festival that draws crowds from all over to enjoy and partake in the festivities. The Miami Broward One Carnival is a bi-country event that is held primarily in the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds with many other festivities taking place throughout the city proper. Typically the event includes a celebration of culture, traditions, and heritage of the Caribbean through dance, music, entertainers, food, and much more. There is fun for all ages, from young pageantry to world-class musical entertainers. Guests are invited to come dressed in costume if they please, and the Parade of the Bands is the official start of the celebrations.
Photo: beatrice prève/Fotolia
Spending Columbus Day in Burlington, Vermont offers visitors to the area a unique chance to see the town during the highlight of quiet season. Peak summer tourist season is far past and the winter crowds haven’t made their way to Burlington yet, so a visit in the beginning of October offers a chance to explore the area at cheaper prices and far less crowds. Some seasons will also offer the opportunity to see striking fall seasonal colors, depending on how heavy the rains have been prior to visiting. Lake Champlain will be a bit too cold for swimming, but boating and fishing are still very viable options, and the crisp air will make hiking and biking more comfortable.
»Big Sur, CA
This rugged stretch of California coastline will have passed peak tourist season by October, allowing guests who visit during Columbus Day the opportunity to see the trails, beaches, and other attractions at cheaper prices and with less crowds, all for typically lower lodging prices. Temperatures are, on average, fairly moderate during October, ranging from the high 70s to mid 40s, depending on the day. In October there is exciting wildlife activity, including the spectacle of hundreds of monarch butterflies, viewable at at Andrew Molera State Park, migrating to their winter homes.
»San Diego, CA
Family vacations to San Diego during the month of October are a spectacular idea, given that for the last 30 years San Diego has been striving to turn itself into an ideal family vacation spot. During Columbus Day and throughout the whole month of October, over 100 attractions in the city offer free admission and deals as part of the Kids Free San Diego program. This list of deals and free admissions includes hotels, restaurants, and well known attractions like SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, the San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway, and much more. For families looking for a great vacation without breaking the budget, San Diego in October might be exactly what they were searching for.
As fall colors begin to reach the end of their season, a visit to Telluride in Colorado during Columbus Day combines off season prices and privacy with all the joys of the Rocky Mountains. Set in a box canyon, Telluride is a popular ski destination in the winter, but a visit in early October awards guests with miles upon miles of hiking trails, breathtaking vistas, and cheaper lodging prices. The town features a historic Opera House, known as the Sheridan, as well as the Telluride Historical Museum, which holds residence in a renovated 1896 hospital. Whether the weather is cold and brisk or sunny and warm, spending Columbus Day in Telluride will keep guests entertained with activities, local restaurants, and plenty of natural attractions.
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»San Juan, PR
Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city on the island sits on the coast near the Atlantic Ocean and is known for rich culture, local food, and ocean accessibility. During Columbus Day weekend, there is a high chance the city will be rainy, as it is during hurricane season, but that also means prices will be lower and there will be fewer tourists. Lodging can often be found at this time at heavily discounted rates as businesses and airlines try to entice visitors to the city. If the weather is pleasant, visiting any of the massive fortresses with panoramic ocean views is always a great idea, as is stopping by the Paseo de la Princesa near the bay.
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»Santa Fe, NM
Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in Santa Fe includes the honoring of Native Americans from over 23 separate Tribes, Pueblos, and Nations from New Mexico. During this multiple day festival, guests can expect food, entertainment, performances, and the chance to learn about Native American arts, culture, and history. The festival draws in visitors worldwide, so it is recommended to book accommodations ahead of time. Typically, the festival takes place over the entire weekend and coincides with a Balloon Fiesta. Santa Fe is very proud of its heritage, and various Native American educational institutions and art centers are what gives this city a strong sense of culture.
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»Steamboat Springs, CO
Crisp weather, lowered prices on lodging, restaurants, and flights, and a chance to enjoy trails that aren’t packed full of tourists are all great reasons to consider a Columbus Day vacation to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In October, you can often stroll right into restaurants that are typically reservation only or often have a long wait during ski season and enjoy not having to wait for a table. As for entertainment, there are ample opportunities for outdoor picnics, often with bright blue skies and sunny days, as well as fly fishing, hiking, biking, and many other relaxing activities during this battery recharging time of year.
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An annual celebration and wreath laying ceremony is held at the Columbus Memorial Statue, which is located at Union Station in Washington DC. The wreath laying ceremony is attended by ambassadors from Spain and Italy as well as the general public, and the day has many performances from various groups and organizations. The Knights of Columbus are in attendance, as well as the U.S. Marine Band, who play various patriotic tunes throughout the event. There is often a U.S. Marine Color Guard performance, and it is traditional for U.S. Park Rangers to give speeches during this event as well.
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With temperatures still ranging in the mid 70s, Columbus Day in Austin draws in crowds from many colder parts of the country hoping to enjoy some last days of warmth before winter fully arrives. There are many activities in this Southern city for families, adults, and everyone in between. The Austin Children’s Museum offers a plethora of interactive exhibits for children and teens, while Zilker Park has a large playground and miniature train ride. The Congress Street Bridge contains the largest urban bat colony in the United States, and the Lake Travis Zipline is an adventure for anyone who takes the ride.
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Being an official state holiday, Columbus Day in Boston is usually a very busy weekend, and guests wishing to partake in the festivities should book hotels far in advance to guarantee vacancy and decent rates. Boston celebrates Columbus Day with fall harvest festivals, a Columbus Day parade, a collection of sports events, and huge Columbus Day sales at many retail stores. The parade is known for its mixture of marching brass bands, modern and Colonial military marches, floats, politicians, vintage automobiles, and plenty of marching groups. For nature lovers, many of the trees around Boston are in peak color changing season during this holiday, offering ample opportunities for photography.
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Columbus Day weekend in Charleston kicks off with an Art Walk, an event showcasing local artists and giving locals and tourists alike a chance to peruse many galleries, some of which offer free wine and appetizers. The weather will most likely still be pleasant in Charleston, almost like summer but without the high humidity. The temperate climate draws in tourists from cooler regions, making hotel bookings a bit more difficult. A visit to the French Quarter and the Battery districts can be enjoyed alone or on a walking tour, and don’t miss exploring Fort Sumter, the location where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
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Indigenous Peoples Day in Asheville falls right in line with the ideal time to see the changing colors of native foliage in the area, making a trip to this Smoky Mountain city a popular fall destination. Asheville is well known for its artists, musicians, chefs, and many other creative souls who have begun to call the city home, and because of these local citizens the city has transformed into a premier destination for food lovers, art and music enthusiasts, and folks who enjoy the outdoors. Fall offers slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity, making it far easier to explore the surrounding Smoky Mountains or the city itself without the trouble that the high heat of summer brings.
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Lewes, Delaware is a beautiful coastal town and an ideal family friendly vacation. Coast Day is a large event that showcases how University of Delaware scientists, faculty, and students help improve the understanding of ocean environments and coastal communities. Coast Day allows guests to discuss questions with researchers, see tourships up close, and take part in hands-on activities. There are also a variety of presentations geared towards children, including the event-wide treasure hunt for answers to questions concerning the environment.
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Experiencing warmer weather during Indigenous Peoples Day, usually on average around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, is not an uncommon event in Charlottesville, and because of this the extended weekend is known to bring in tourists from colder areas. There are some celebratory events that take place for Indigenous Peoples Day, including small parades and speeches from politicians and Native Americans, and the weather is still nice enough during that time to enjoy other outdoor activities. Charlottesville is known for being a gateway into Shenandoah National Park, allowing access into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the extensive trails for hiking, biking, and panoramic views of nature.
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»Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas is known to be busy almost every weekend of the year, and spending Columbus Day in the City of Lights is the perfect way to spend a three-day weekend. Situated in the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas is a famous resort city known for its energetic nightlife, but it also features a wide assortment of family friendly activities and destinations. Columbus Day in Las Vegas is most often celebrated with special night club events, as there is no formal parade or city organized event. Whether guests are in search of a Columbus Day event or just something to keep them entertained, a visit to the Strip, the primary boulevard in Las Vegas, is certain to lead to seemingly endless opportunities.
Photo: Sergey Novikov/Fotolia
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Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in Portland, Maine for an exciting fall holiday filled with brisk weather and delicious food. Given that it will be the end of tourist season for the area, hotel prices should be on the decline in October, and availability easy to find. As the season is turning, it is likely that the foliage in southern Maine will be at peak fall colors, so if you are driving in from any nearby cities the roads should present opportunities to see plenty of striking views. Portland offers a variety of museums, breweries, restaurants, sightseeing spots, and more for families, individuals, and whoever else may be visiting the town.
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25 Best Columbus Day Weekend Getaways
- Aspen, CO, Photo: Courtesy of aharond - Fotolia.com
- Poconos, PA, Photo: Courtesy of FotoMak - Fotolia.com
- Plymouth, MA, Photo: Courtesy of Sam Spiro - Fotolia.com
- Eureka Springs, AR, Photo: Courtesy of bonniemarie - Fotolia.com
- Stowe, VT, Photo: Courtesy of rabbit75_fot - Fotolia.com
- Wichita, KS, Photo: Courtesy of Joe Montiel - Fotolia.com
- Bar Harbor, ME, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Mystic, CT, Photo: Courtesy of Ernest - Fotolia.com
- Miami, FL, Photo: Courtesy of beatrice prève - Fotolia.com
- Burlington, VT, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- Big Sur, CA, Photo: Courtesy of lucky-photo - Fotolia.com
- San Diego, CA, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Telluride, CO, Photo: Courtesy of avmedved - Fotolia.com
- San Juan, PR, Photo: Courtesy of Yujia - Fotolia.com
- Santa Fe, NM, Photo: Courtesy of brent_1 - Fotolia.com
- Steamboat Springs, CO, Photo: Courtesy of Tupungato - Fotolia.com
- Washington, DC, Photo: Courtesy of zimmytws - Fotolia.com
- Austin, TX, Photo: Courtesy of romanslavik.com - Fotolia.com
- Boston, MA, Photo: Courtesy of jStock - Fotolia.com
- Charleston, SC, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Asheville, NC, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Lewes, DE, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Charlottesville, VA, Photo: Courtesy of Bram - Fotolia.com
- Las Vegas, NV, Photo: Courtesy of Sergey Novikov - Fotolia.com
- Portland, ME, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Hale M. Kell - Fotolia.com
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