5 Awesome Southeast Fall Break Destinations

unrecognizable woman sitting in hammock above mountains

Fall break is not a long break, but it’s a great time to get outside and take a break (see what I did there) from the day to day. When you only have a long weekend to travel and want to make the most out of your time, hit the road for a quick road trip. Most schools have a fall break sometime around the middle of October, making it the perfect time for a long weekend away. As the temperatures cool off, October is a great time for camping or staying in a cabin. It’s also a fabulous time to head to the beach with warm days and the water hasn’t cooled off yet. We are highlighting 5 awesome destinations in the Southeast for Fall Break. So, if you’re looking for fall vacation ideas we are here for you!

unrecognizable woman sitting in hammock above mountains

Fall Weather in the Southeast

The Southeast region covers a lot of ground with all kinds of terrain. Temperatures in October will vary widely, but as a whole will be optimal for outdoors time. You may have noticed we will almost always have a bent toward time and adventures outside on this blog with some city highlights along the way. The best fall vacations in the southeast are on the coast and in the mountains, which provide very different climates. Included at the end of this blog is a list of packing items for your fall break adventures.

Wilmington North Carolina

If you are drawn to the calming waves of the ocean and love to sink your toes into the sand you will love this southern North Carolina coastal town. There are many options for places to stay in Wilmington NC including vacation rentals near the beach as well as hotels near the downtown Wilmington shops. Definitely check out the Battleship North Carolina and the Cape Fear Museum of History & Science for fun activities.

silhouette of beach grass
Cape Fear River view in Wilmington NC
photo courtesy of Julie from More Than Mainstreet

The really fun things to do in Wilmington NC are found along the Cape River. There are several outfitters that can arrange kayak or SUP tours. And with three local Atlantic beaches to choose from you will get all the Vitamin D you could ask for as well as all kinds of boating and water sport opportunities. Check out my friend Julie’s post all about the best of Wilmington. The weather in Wilmington NC in October typically has highs in the low 70’s making for the perfect day of activities on the beach. Take your beach games! Alfresco dining along the water is incredibly popular with lots of choices for seafood restaurants and other fare.

Golden Isles of Georgia

Another coastal option for a fall break destination is the Golden Isles with their pristine beaches, fantastic golf courses and luxury resorts. Georgia’s Golden Isles are comprised of 4 islands and one coastal town. Sure you may spend a little more money here due to the high end resorts, but they offer a lot of activities for the whole family. After all, you will only be there for a long weekend so it’s a great for a quick fall getaway. If you would rather use a vacation rental there are loads to choose from on St. Simon’s Island as well as Jekyll Island.

St. Simon's Island GA lighthouse and museum
Fort Frederica on St. Simon's Island GA

There is plenty of history to find around the islands and most of it can be walked and enjoyed outdoors. Make your way to the Light House Museum, Fort Frederica or Epworth by the Sea on St. Simon’s Island. The Horton House on Jekyll Island is also an option. Do not miss sunrise at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll. Check the tide schedules to ensure you have a low tide sunrise for maximum views. I promise getting up early is totally worth it!

And like any beach getaway, you can spend hours sitting and reading a book or playing games as a family. The weather in the Golden Isles should be very mild during fall with daytime temperatures in the high 70’s and nighttime temperatures in the 60’s.

Sunrise on Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island GA
family on the beach playing Spikeball

Asheville North Carolina

Do you crave cooler temperatures and do you hear the mountains calling? Visit Asheville, NC in the fall for spectacular outdoor fun. The surrounding wilderness areas include hiking, mountain biking and camping. If you’re not interested in camping, you can easily find an Airbnb in Asheville or a trendy hotel for your long weekend.

There is never a lack of things to do in downtown Asheville with the many restaurants, live music options, breweries and more. We use AllTrails to find hikes closest to where we are staying with lengths/difficulty for what we desire. There are over 50 trails highlighted just in the Asheville area for you to explore. Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and go searching for waterfalls. The North Carolina Arboretum is beautiful in fall and offers biking and hiking trails for the whole family. Fall weather in Asheville can be a bit unpredictable, but temperatures typically range from mid 40’s lows to highs in the 60’s. I don’t know about you, but that sounds perfect for a fall break destination.

wood light dawn landscape of Blue Ridge mountains
young man overlooking Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

Chattanooga Tennessee

There are so many things to do in Chattanooga TN over a long weekend for fall break. Fall weather for Chattanooga should stay between lows around 55 to 72 degrees high. Temperatures are perfect for walking along the Chattanooga riverwalk or a visit to Rock City Gardens near Lookout Mountain. Hiking in Chattanooga can be found all around, both easy and difficult trails. The outdoor activities are endless in this area, including camping opportunities and finding waterfalls near Chattanooga! Definitely spend some time in downtown Chattanooga at the aquarium and eating at some of the many restaurants. Most Chattanooga hotels are located either along the riverfront or near Lookout Mountain to accommodate your family activities. You could easily spend 3 nights and 4 full days here without exhausting your options.

aerial photography of chattanoonga buildings
bird s eye view of chattanooga river and bridges

New River Gorge West Virginia

If you are looking for family adventure, look no further than our nation’s new National Park. New River Gorge is a stunning backdrop to loads of outdoor adventure including some of the best white water rafting on the east coast. Climbing in New River Gorge is also a very popular activity. So, if your family is looking to try something new this may be the perfect spot. New River Gorge cabins or camping is what most prefer in this area of West Virginia as you won’t be able to find a large selection of hotels. Check out Fayetteville, WV for small town vibes.

The weather in New River Gorge in the fall will be quite cool between 40-60 degrees. Crisp, bright fall vibes are what you will find in this part of West Virginia during fall break. The New River Gorge Bridge is an incredible sight in and of itself. They don’t call this “almost heaven” for no reason!

new river gorge bridge in west virginia
group white water rafting

Fall Break is All About a Break

No matter which of these 5 southeast fall break destinations you choose for your long weekend getaway, you will be sure to get a break from the day to day. Making memories with your family is what it’s all about. Each of these destinations offers plenty of outdoor recreation and as usual we genuinely hope you choose to recreate responsibly. These destinations are good for younger children, but I feel they will be best enjoyed by families with teenagers. They give a good mix of relaxation and adventure. I believe wholeheartedly that getting your teenagers to spend time outdoors is more natural when you take them out of their daily environment. Fall break is a great time to visit the southeast with mild temperatures and a few days off school.

Fall Break Packing List

  • Rain Jacket – the ladies in our house love Marmot, but the guys like Patagonia
  • Fleece Jacket – choose a high quality brand that will last a LONG time. I still have a fleece that I purchased in 1998 that I wear all the time.
  • Wool Socks – Darn Tough are our favorites and they last forever!
  • Hiking Pants – Kuhl makes the best breatheable and maneuverable pant for campsite
  • Games for the beach or campsite – our teens love Spikeball and Bocce
  • Microfiber Towels – WiseOwl Outfitters make a large beach blanket size and regular size
  • Boogie Boards or surf boards – body boards and surf boards for the beach fun
  • Sunscreen & Insect Repellent – we use reef safe sunscreen & Ben’s repellent wipes
  • Packable Cooler – we tend to like a soft sided cooler that can be packed down when it’s not being used.

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