Travel Picks: Top 10 U.S. destinations in October

Fri Oct 5, 2012 11:52am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the calendar page flips to October, we are fully and unquestionably into autumn. As thoughts turn to cooler days, harvest-driven fare and Columbus Day weekend, where are U.S. travelers heading? Online travel consultants took a look at the destinations that spiked in October flight searches and came up with a list of the Top 10 October destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Home of Louisiana State University and Saturday night football games at Death Valley, Baton Rouge is energized in the fall, especially when the Bengal Tigers are in the Top 5. This October, the SEC home opener rolls around in mid-October; surely fans from near and far are planning their pilgrimage. However, there is more to October than football in Baton Rouge. The city also hosts one of the most acclaimed Halloween attractions: the 13th Gate. This haunted house, complete with a 40,000-square-foot graveyard, is where Hollywood meets horror to give a trip into your worst dreams.

2. Fort Myers, Florida

While the snow birds are starting to trickle in, our guess is it's the shoulder season appeal that's attracting other travelers to this popular beach community. If you love warm instead of hot, are not interested in dodging hurricanes and want to beat the high-season costs, this is a great time to go to the Gulf Coast. Of course, fish also react to the slightly cooler air and water, which also makes October a prime time for anglers to head to the Fort Myers area to chase the migrating tarpon as well as the fall crop of red fish and mackerel.

3. Austin, Texas

A college town, state capital and popular year-round destination, what could make October particularly special in Austin? Well, how about back-to-back international festivals? First up is Austin City Limits (October 12-14), eight stages and nine hours a day of big names, rising stars and new sounds. Then the city turns itself over to the movie industry for eight nights of films and parties during the Austin Film Festival and Conference (October 18-25). Throw in a couple Big 12 Conference games for the Longhorns and great fall weather, and it's no wonder Austin is on this list.

4. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Here's a town that has a different burst of color every October. Rather than fiery leaves, Albuquerque's fall splendor is from a sea of hot air balloons. The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 6-14) is a draw for hundreds of thousands of visitors eager to watch, ride and photograph the mass ascension of the balloons as well as local food and entertainment. Of course, visitors to Albuquerque can also see Mother Nature's autumnal show, especially if they head up into the mountains. For a bird's-eye view, many take to the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway, which carries you from the edge of the city 2.7 miles up to a 10,000-plus-foot summit.   Continued...

A bicyclist rides on the beach in Fort Myers, Florida February 19, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)