America's Best Fall Break Destinations For College Students

Everyone needs a break now and then, including college students. A break from studying offers students a chance to free their minds and escape from their day-to-day studies. Of course school just started, but the fall is the perfect time to escape, even if it is just for a long weekend. Taking your break now means you will return to school refreshed and ready to hit the books before the fall semester starts to become overwhelming.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago, Illinois 

Explore the Windy City this fall, where you can have fun dining, shopping and watching a football game. Chicago, home of the Bears, offers visitors unique neighborhoods to explore, local eateries and plenty of happenings throughout the fall season. Popular places to visit include The Loop, Magnificent Mile, Bucktown, Logan Square and Lincoln Park.

Related: Five Reasons to Visit Chicago for Spring Break

Photo Credit: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Beaches Turks & Caicos Key West Luxury Village

Photo Credit: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Beaches Turks & Caicos Key West Luxury Village

Key West, Florida

No matter what time of year it is, Key West is always a popular destination for college students looking to take a break from their studies. In the fall, the Florida Keys is known for warm weather, sunny skies and plenty of things to do. Key West offers plenty of opportunity to play in the water as your friends back home start bundling up for cooler temperatures. The beautiful weather in the fall allows for plenty of fun in the sun, including boating, parasailing, sunbathing and doing anything but think about school.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip to Key West

Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe offers a secluded retreat for college students where they can enjoy a lakeside atmosphere accompanied by mouth-watering food, outdoor adventures and a place to relax. Since it is not yet ski season, crowds will be small, making it possible to receive personalized service and enjoy guided tours where you will feel like you have your own personal tour guide.

Activities in Lake Tahoe include whitewater rafting, hiking in the mountains, road trips through the Sierra Nevadas and boating excursions. Though it is not Las Vegas, the Lake Tahoe area is home to a diverse collection of dining, shopping and entertainment venues, including a little bit of gambling at some of the area resorts and clubs.

Photo Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Montreal, Canada 

If temperatures are no concern to you, Montreal is a great place for college students to explore in the fall. Temperature may be chilly, but the weather is beautiful this time of year and tourism is down, meaning you will feel like you have the place to yourself.

Activities in Montreal including Thanksgiving feasts in October, the Montreal International Adventure Film Festival, The Magic of Lanterns and a variety of other festivals held annually in the fall.

Photo Credit: Rusty Russell/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Rusty Russell/Getty Images

Nashville, Tennessee

Enjoy the beauty of Nashville, aka Music City, this fall. The air is cooling off and the colors throughout the area are changing. Plus, the fall is when the city starts hosting great events that everyone visiting the area must experience. Music City plans events, including art, food and music festivals on just about every weekend throughout the fall season.

In addition to exciting events, Nashville is home to many attractions, restaurants, galleries, interactive museums, a zoo and clubs. There are many tours available that will take you through the city's historic past and musical presence. Music can be heard around the clock and throughout the year in Nashville. Keep your ears open and you may find a local club featuring a new artist and possibly a well-known act.

Outer Banks, South Carolina

What makes the Outer Banks such a great place to visit in the fall? There are many reasons, including uncrowded beaches, cool evenings and plenty of things to do, including water sports, shopping, dining and exploring local attractions. Plus the area has a unique appeal and beauty that will take your mind off of your school studies.

If you are looking for a warm escape without the crowds of Key West, plan to visit the Outer Banks in South Carolina this fall. The weather is very mild and somewhat on the warm side through the end of December. Popular fall activities include fishing, kiteboarding, windsurfing and camping.

Another great thing about the Outer Banks is that this area is very budget friendly for travelers in the fall, making it the perfect place to go on a college student's budget.

Portland, Maine

Known for more than just beautiful fall foliage, the Portland area is the perfect place to escape from your college life. This area is home to forests that paint the mountains in breathtaking colors of red, gold and yellow. Portland is the perfect location to go hiking, biking and exploring the great outdoors and maybe spend the afternoon apple picking at a local orchard.

A cruise along Casco Bay is a great way to take your mind off of your studies, followed by a night of sipping wine and listening to jazz at the Café Azure in Freeport. If jazz is not your idea of fun, Portland is home to plenty of nightspots featuring live rock 'n' roll bands.

Fall events in Portland include Harvest on the Harbor and several county fairs throughout the area. Harvest on the Harbor is a fun event complete with food and wine from local restaurants. Get spooked in time for Halloween on the Wicked Walking Tours of Portland, featuring legends and history of the area's haunted past. 

South Padre Island, Texas

College students looking for the beach, shopping, nightlife, sports and fishing should consider escaping this fall to South Padre Island in Texas. With 34 miles of natural seashore, South Padre Island is the place to spend the day outdoors and the nights at a local nightclub or bar.

Must-see attractions in South Padre Island include Sea Turtle, Inc., Dolphin Watch and Schlitterbahn. Popular activities in the area include surfing, sandcastle-sculpting lessons, parasailing and camping under the stars. No matter what you are looking for during your fall break from school, chances are South Padre Island has it.

When you are looking to take a break from your studies, consider escaping to one of these popular fall destinations. Each destination has its own benefits and unique activities all perfect for college students. So if you are looking for a quiet place to visit or a wild place in the Florida sun, each of the above destinations are perfect for a college student's fall break needs.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at