Summer is prime tourist time at the beaches and in the Berkshires, but in Boston, there’s often no better month than October. The weather is mild — if we’re lucky — and leaf peepers flock here on their way to watch the hills turn brilliant shades of red and gold. Parents check on children at college, rowing enthusiasts line the riverbanks for the Head of the Charles Regatta, and in good years, like this one, the Red Sox are still playing.
With all the visitors in town, as well as business travelers returning after the summer lull, hotels are full and room rates are higher than at any other time of year. In fact, Boston is the priciest place in the country to stay this October, according to cheaphotels.org, with an average rate of $242 a night for higher-end hotels.
Other municipalities also find a lot to like about October, especially Salem, where roughly 250,000 visitors arrive for the city’s monthlong Halloween celebration. In Vermont, Columbus Day weekend is the busiest of the year; from the end of September through the first two weeks of October, about 1.7 million travelers pass through the state.
This year, the federal government shutdown has put a bit of a damper on the fall frolicking, closing national parks and other government-operated attractions. That means tourists can’t board the USS Constitution or drive the famously craggy coastline at Acadia National Park in Maine. October is a popular time to visit Acadia, and officials in nearby Bar Harbor are scrambling to come up with other destinations for tourists, including a record number of cruise ship passengers due this month.
“We only have a limited amount of time for revenue to come in, and so when we lose the month of October because of the government shutdown, it has a pretty big impact on a small community,” said Chris Fogg, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce.
It’s unclear how political stalemates in Washington will affect the usual bounty of October busy-ness, but for those visitors who do make it, and for those of us who live here year-round, it won’t make the sunny 60-degree days and flaming trees any less enjoyable.