A moody fall landscape. (Photo: Boris Jordan Photography/Moment/Getty Images)
Poets write about it, horror movies thrive on it, and transportation officials work long hours because of it. It can delay your travels or add a visual dimension to a destination that you never expected. Fueled by changing temperature patterns, fog is more common in fall and winter throughout much of North America. It can form at any time of year, but the low angle of the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, coupled with relatively calm winds, allows fall fog to hang around a bit longer.
Love it or hate it, fog is likely to be in your forecast this month, so why not soak it in. Embrace the haze as just one more sign of changing seasons. Here is a list of our favorite notably foggy fall destinations.
A foggy day in the French Quarter. (Photo: Bob Krist/Corbis)
Every list of foggy cities in the U.S. places New Orleans at or near the top. The November average is 18 days with fog. Dense fog here rolls in during the early morning, when temperatures drop and hangs on for hours after sunrise, creating the perfect photo op for an especially creepy tour of the city’s famous cemeteries. On the other hand, you can just stay inside curled up by a fireplace with your chicory coffee and beignets.
Grand Banks, Newfoundland and Labrador
Misty St. John’s in Newfoundland (Photo: Hyacinthe Raimbault/Flickr)
Then there is serious fog. If you can see to get here, Grand Banks outranks every place on the planet as the foggiest place on the planet, with more than two-thirds of the year shrouded in the mists. Fog is embraced here as part of the deal. There are quaint hotels and inns including the Inn by the Sea, perched with a perfect view (sometimes) of the turbulent North Atlantic.
Tofino, British Columbia
Driftwood on the beach in Tofino. (Photo: Aimin Tang/E+/Getty Images)
The Wickaninnish Inn. (Photo: Sander Jain/Wickaninnish Inn)
On the edge of Vancouver’s west coast, Tofino lures tourists coming to enjoy the fury of Pacific weather. As fall changes to winter, storm watching becomes the favored activity. Hotels like the Wickaninnish Inn and Jaime’s Rainforest Inn offer specials to entice friends of foul weather. Where would you dine, you ask: at the upscale Wolf in the Fog, of course.
Fog-blanketed Seattle (Photo: Deb Casso/OJO Images/Getty Images)
Seattle ranks as one of the foggiest U.S. cities in both November and December with fog in the forecast an average of 18 to 20 days during these months. Fog here often lasts for days, with the record streak in 1985 of 13 straight days! What to do there if you are caught in the haze? The Museum of Flight, the Museum of History and Industry, or the abundant indoor exhibits at the Woodland Park Zoo will give you ample escape for several days.
Cape Disappointment, Washington
North Head Lighthouse on Cape Disappiontment (Photo: Upupa4me/Flickr)
Even the name of this point of land jutting into the Pacific in southwestern Washington evokes images of fog-shrouded cliffs. The Coast Guard station here answers more than one hundred fog-related distress calls every year. The state park includes two lighthouses and a museum. If hiking in the mist is on your bucket list, this is a good place to give it a shot.
A bridge poking from the mist in San Francisco. (Photo: Ropelato Photography; EarthScapes/Moment/Getty Images)
Fog Harbor Fish House (Photo: Fog Harbor Fish House/Facebook)
San Francisco and fog are almost synonymous. December is actually a bit foggier than November, but either month you have about a 50/50 chance of fog on any given day. What trip to San Fran would be complete without a stop at the Fog Harbor Fish House? They pile up fresh seafood and a view (hopefully) of the Golden Gate. If the view is fuzzy from the harbor, try seeing it from Fort Point beneath the southeast corner of the bridge.
Point Reyes Lighthouse (Photo: Donna Sutton/Flickr)
The Point Reyes Lighthouse at Inverness logs an annual average of over 200 days of fog. Parts of 1980’s aptly named horror flick, The Fog, were filmed here.
Moonstone Beach (Photo: Alex Green/Flickr)
Chasing the weather toward the south, in Cambria, the FogCatcher Inn offers access to Moonstone Beach, known year-round for foggy mornings that turn sunny as the day warms.
Marina del Rey, California
Foggy Marina del Rey (Photo: Chris Goldberg/Flickr)
As you head even farther south, the chances of fall fog drop to only one in three days, but a stay at Marina del Rey’s Foghorn Inn at least puts you the right frame of mind if the fog rolls in.
Jacksonville, Florida (Photo: DuesXFlorida/Flickr)
Fog in Florida? Jacksonville averages as many November and December days with fog as New Orleans, usually 18 or more days. The city’s always photographic bridges become even more so if you happen to be in town on one of those days. With any luck, you can enjoy a morning foggy jog along the beach followed by an afternoon of sunshine. Tampa ranks on the fog-bound list with an average of 13 days in November.
Foggy Austin (Photo: David Ingram/Flickr)
Even Texas is not immune to creeping clouds in the fall. In fact, in parts of the state that seem to change from summer to winter almost overnight, foggy mornings are the only indication that fall has actually arrived. Houston tops the list with a November average of 16 days of morning flight delays. Even San Antonio and Austin have their share of mist, averaging between 10 and 12 days with patchy fog.