5 best places to visit in October

(CNN) — Sandwiched between that last blast of Labor Day madness in September and the upcoming winter holiday rush, October can give travelers a chance to enjoy their destinations with lighter crowds, less stress and lower prices.
And then there’s the weather. In most places, this Goldilocks of months isn’t too hot or too cold for travel. It’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern, a pleasing time for folks who don’t like temperature extremes.

October is considered “shoulder season” in many places. You get a discount from the high prices of peak summer season, but many warm-weather resorts may still be open for business.

“October is a popular month for travel,” says Marsha Souders, president of Prestige Travel — A Virtuoso Agency, in Atlanta. It’s “less crowded, cooler weather and has affordable pricing to many interesting destinations.”

Souders says the Caribbean can have beautiful weather in October, but you do have to keep an eye on hurricane reports. And she points out that Europe is cooler and less crowded for the most part — minus special events such as the end of Oktoberfest in Bavaria, Germany.

With that in mind, here are five places around the world you may want to visit in October:

1. Maine

CNN’s Kelly Bowman shares the best to see and do on your next weekend getaway to Maine

The biggest state in New England has its charms all year, but autumn is a magic time here. And a good bit of that really comes down to its impressive fall foliage.

Scenic drives throughout Maine can sweep you along a veritable carpet of gold, orange, red and yellow leaves. A small sampling of possible routes include:

— The Grafton Notch Scenic Byway. It starts in Newry, in western Maine near the border with New Hampshire, and follows the Bear River for much of the trip. If you park and hike, you can see Screw Auger Falls and Mother Walker Falls.

— Million Dollar View Scenic Byway. This one is on the other side of the state, near the border with Canada. Take a peek at Peekaboo Mountain, and you might also spot moose, eagles and other wildlife.

— Acadia All-American Road. If you’re in a coastal kind of mood, this is one to consider. It’s about 40 miles long, and along with breathtaking views of the Atlantic, you can also take in freshwater lakes.

If you’re in a get-out-of-the-car mood, head to Acadia National Park and enjoy the mountains, lakes and ocean by hiking or kayaking.
— J’s Oyster: This no-frills eatery with fresh lobster is a favorite with locals. (5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101; + 1 207 772 4828)
— Street and Co.: This is where to head when you want to make an occasion of it. Try the fresh Maine crab meat with organic cherry tomatoes, local corn, avocado, local greens and orange dressing. (33 Wharf St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 775-0887)
If you enjoy home tours, check out the lavishly decorated Victoria Mansion, built as a summer home from 1858 to 1860. It’s considered one of the best examples of the Italian villa style in all of the United States. (109 Danforth Street, Portland, ME 04101: +1 207 772-4841)

This is one place that won’t lighten up on the crowds in October. Maine, along with the rest of New England, is a popular destination in the fall. Be sure to book lodging before your trip.

2. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities thanks to its beaches, botanical gardens and its multicolored architecture.

South Africa is known around the world for its stunning scenery and wildlife. Many tourists consider cosmopolitan Cape Town, dramatically perched where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, to be the country’s crown jewel.

It’s spring in Cape Town in October, with highs averaging from 67 to 71 degrees F (19 to 22 C). The city struggled with a well-publicized drought a couple of years back. City officials still encourage visitors to come — just stay mindful of Cape Town’s conservation needs.

While well-regarded standbys such as Table Mountain and Robben Island deserve attention, visitors may also want to check out the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It displays contemporary art from around the continent and from Africans scattered around the world. (Silo District, S Arm Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002; +27 0 87 350 4777)
If you have some money to splurge, consider seeing this stunning setting from the air with a helicopter ride. Cape Town Helicopters has a variety of flights from which to choose. (220 E Pier Rd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa; +27 21 418 9462)
Cape Town is a paradise for wine aficionados. For superb dining along with the wine, you can visit Haute Cabriere and other nearby vineyards. (Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa: +27 21 876 8500)
While in Cape Town, you might want to stay in the Silo Hotel. As the name implies, it is a former grain silo complex. And how’s this for convenience — it sits atop the Zeitz. (Silo Square, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8801, South Africa; +27 21 670 0500)

3. Honolulu, Hawaii

The Hawaiian island of Oahu is home to nearly a million residents. Despite its popularity, it still offers tranquil resting spots, breezy beaches and easy, slow days. Video by Black Buddha.
OK — let’s just admit it. Hawaii, situated in warm Pacific waters, is pretty great the other 11 months of the year, too. But you’ll find some really good prices for airline tickets and hotels in October before the holiday crush.
The website Beat of Hawaii recommends fall travel there for the bargain airline prices as well as the weather. Hotels and other lodging generally follow suit with lower rates for the off-season. October is definitely a good time to nab a bargain in the capital of Honolulu.
If you want to eat with the locals, check out Ethel’s Grill, where you can get home-style Asian food for low prices. Be sure to bring cash. (232 Kalihi Street, Honolulu, HI 96819; +1 808 847 6467)
If you want to sample something on the gourmet end of the scale, you may consider Senia with is modern takes on classic Hawaiian and American dishes. (75 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817; +1 808 200-5412)
It’s hard to imagine heading indoors with gorgeous weather and outdoor scenery, but Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, could be worth the detour. Built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, it’s an opulent building and great place to learn more about the history of Hawaii before it became an American possession and state. (364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813; +1 808 522 0832)
Are you OK with a seven-minute walk to the beach? The OHANA Waikiki East is a good budget choice for a place to stay and has kitchenettes if you want to save on some of your meals. (150 Kaʻiulani Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815; +1 808 922-5353)
Are you OK with a more, let’s say, “challenging” walk? Then ascend the many and steep stairs at Diamond Head State Monument. Your eyes will thank your burning leg muscles for the fantastic views.
Hurricane Lane, which inundated the Hawaiian Islands with torrential rain in August 2018, is a good lesson in keeping your eye on daily weather updates before you travel and considering travel insurance.

4. Malta

October is a good month for roaming around Malta.

October is a good month for roaming around Malta.

Lilit Marcus/CNN

Go south of Sicily and east of Tunisia to find the little Mediterranean archipelago of Malta. Like other places in the region, it tends to have hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, so timing should be good for an October holiday.
The old town in Valletta, the capital, is a UNESCO world heritage site. Walk its streets and imagine the footsteps of history that came thousands of years before you — from Phoenicians and Greeks to Romans and Arabs.

As you wander through this cultural mash-up, look for houses and churches carved out of native limestone in a mix of Moorish, Byzantine, Neoclassical and other architectural styles.

Be sure to see St John’s Co-Cathedral, a marvel of Baroque architecture, built between 1572 and 1577. You’ll find notable art here, including Caravaggio’s “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist” and “St. Jerome Writing.” (Triq San Gwann, Il-Belt Valletta, Malta).
These days, it’s more of a “Game of Thrones” kind of world. So fans will be glad to know that Gozo — one of the three inhabited islands of Malta — has been a location shoot for the hit TV show. There’s also plenty to see on Comino (definitely put the beautiful Blue Lagoon on your list) and the main island of Malta.

If you like to shop for souvenirs, look for homemade lace (great for tablecloths and napkins), liqueurs and sweets made from figs, and silver filigree jewelry with Malta crosses on it.

You can’t get a direct flight from the United States, so it’s a great excuse to do a layover in Rome. And if your layover is too short to get a decent meal on the continent, don’t fret it — there’s great Italian food on Malta, too.

One suggestion: The Medina Restaurant, where you’ll find Romanesque features in this former residence. Dishes include risotto with chicken confit, truffle cream and spring onions, asiette of local rabbit and roasted pears with milk ice cream, ginger foam, chartreuse and lemon jelly. (Holy Cross Street Mdina MT MDN, 1231, L-Imdina, Malta; +356 2145 0560)

5. Mexico City, Mexico

With so much to see in Mexico City, how do you know what’s must-see? We ask Techeetah’s Esteban Gutierrez what are the top things to do in Mexico’s capital

For a city of around 20 million souls, Mexico City can surprisingly still fly under many people’s travel radar. But with its bountiful history, world-class museums and artsy neighborhoods, Mexico City is a top destination.

The rainy season in this part of Mexico tends to end in September, so October gives you a better chance for sunshine. The weather here might surprise you if you think all of Mexico is hot and tropical. The city sits at a high elevation — almost 7,400 feet — and temperatures in October tend to run in the low 70s F in the day and the low 50s or high 40s at night.

You might want to kick off your trip getting acquainted with El Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución), particularly if this is your first trip to Mexico City.

In the heart of the historical district, the Zócalo, as it’s commonly called, is the largest public square in Latin America. The history of the square goes back beyond the Spanish conquistadors to the time of the Aztecs, when this area was the center of Tenochtitlan, their capital city.

It’s a great destination that holds several tourist sites, including:

— Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico: This impressive structure was built between 1573 and 1813. Admission is free, and the cathedral holds stunning naves, chapels and even underground catacombs. (Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico)
— National Palace: This ornate building is home to the offices of the president of Mexico and the Federal Treasury and two museums. Its Diego Rivera murals are a highlight for visitors. You’ll need photo ID to enter. (Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06066 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico; +52 55 3688 1255)

A couple of other highlights of Mexico City:

— Palacio de Bellas Artes: Enjoy the exterior of art nouveau and art deco design. Inside, take in exquisite murals. The top floor holds the National Museum of Architecture. If you get the chance, take in one of its music, dance or theater performances. Sunday admission is free. (Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico; +52 86 4765 00 exts. 2152, 2153 and 2154)

— El Angel de Independencia: Built in 1910, this striking and tall statue is one of the iconic symbols of Mexico City. (Paseo de la Reforma y Eje 2 PTE, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico)

If you plan your trip toward the end of the month so that you’re there on October 31, you can catch the start of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The festivities culminate on November 2 (All Saints Day). The traditional holiday honors the lives of lost family members and friends and dates back to Aztec times.
If you want to splurge on a boutique hotel, you might inquire about Las Alcobas, a quiet oasis in the center of the city. It’s walking distance to some of the city’s best shopping and dining. (Av. Pdte. Masaryk 390, Polanco, Polanco III Secc, 11560 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico; +52 55 3300 3900)
Parts of Mexico are under travel advisories from the US State Department because of violent crime and gang activities. As of late early April 2019, Mexico City was at a Level 2 travel alert, meaning visitors should be at increased caution for crime. However, this situation is fluid and you should check for the latest updates before you make plans to go anywhere in Mexico.

CNN’s Lilit Marcus contributed to this article. This article was first published in September 2017 and has been updated in April 2019.

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