15 Cheap Fall Vacation Ideas
The fall season offers an unlimited selection of vacation options. From bright yellow aspens in Colorado to crimson reds in Vermont, fall foliage alone is a reason enough for a quick getaway. In Vermont and upstate New York, the season generally runs from late September through the third week of October. Columbus weekend is usually a good bet, but you should book your room well in advance because many couples and families go on a long weekend getaway then. Maine fall foliage peaks during the early part of October.
Find great trip ideas from New York City, Washington D.C., Minneapolis - St. Paul, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas and many other cities. Photo: mdbrockmann82/Fotolia
» Boulder, Colorado
As summer makes way for winter, spend an active and entertaining fall weekend in Boulder, Colorado, exploring a great variety of activities for the whole family. Enjoy cooler days and beautiful fall foliage as you hike through the Eldorado Canyon State Park or go on a Bike to Farm Tour with Awe-Struck Outdoors - suitable for all ages. Boulder has many indoor family attractions for rainy days starting with the wonderful Fiske Planetarium, where visitors can learn all about the solar system in the Sky-Skan immersive theater, surrounded by an incredible 65ft screen and state-of-the-art sound. The Boulder History Museum, UCAR Center for Science Education and the University of Colorado Museum Of Natural History all boast excellent exhibits to interest everyone.
Art enthusiasts can explore the BMOCA - Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the Dairy Center for the Arts, and stroll around the fascinating outdoor Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art. Evening entertainment could include a concert by the Boulder Chamber Orchestra or a recital by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra at the Macky Auditorium. Foodies can visit a certified organic farm on a Cure Organic Farm Tour, see how seasoned local teas are made on a Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour or explore local flavors on a Local Table Food Tour. The Pearl Street Mall is the place to go for shopping, dining and afternoon tea at the Dushanbe Teahouse.
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Photo: ill Bogusky/Fotolia
» Laguna Beach, California
There are many good reasons to visit Laguna Beach during the fall, including lovely warm weather, predictably blue skies and smooth glassy seas. You can take advantage of the “Indian Summer” weather by soaking up the sun on famous Main Beach, or move a little further up or down the coast to get active in Crystal Cove State Park, Heisler Park or Crescent Bay Point Park, all of which have good trails for hiking and biking and offer swimming, scuba and skin diving, picnics and barbecue facilities. You can spend hours exploring the numerous tidal pools on a guided Tidal Pool Walk or sign up for a guided hike. If you enjoy skim-boarding you should head to Table Rock Beach or Aliso Beach.
For a change from beach activities you can explore the city on a Laguna Beach Walking Tour, which touches on all the main historic and architectural highlights, or do you own tour using the free Laguna Beach Trolley - you can get all the details from the Laguna Beach Official Visitor's Center. Art enthusiasts can enjoy Californian art at the Laguna Art Museum (which hosts a special Fall Exhibition), admire surrealist paintings and sculptures at the Kush Fine Art Gallery and take themselves on a self-guided Public Art Tour. Families can visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to see rescued marine creatures including seals and sea lions.
» Fall Vacation Ideas: Burlington, Vermont
Fall is undoubtedly the most beautiful time of year to visit Burlington, Vermont when the trees are decked out with fall foliage and cooler temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities. You can go cycling or rollerblading along the 7-mile Burlington Bike Path in Waterfront Park - bike rentals are available. Another great way to explore the city is on a Segway tour with Burlington Segways, or you can jump aboard a historic trolley for one of the Historic Burlington Trolley Tours. Another excellent way to combine history with food is to go on a Burlington Edible History Tour.
At the ECHO Aquarium and Science Center you can learn all about Lake Champlain as you work your way through more than 100 interactive exhibits and see over 70 species of fish. The Fleming Museum of Art is a delight for all art lovers and besides feasting your eyes on the permanent and visiting collections you can also attend free Saturday workshops, lectures and movies for both adults and children. If you enjoy the performing arts you can be entertained at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts where you can attend the Vermont Symphony Orchestra or enjoy a play by the lively Vermont Stage Company. The Church Street Marketplace is the place to see and be seen, enjoy great shopping, dining and live entertainment.
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» New Orleans
New Orleans is ready to welcome weekend visitors all year round, offering a great line-up of musical, culinary and cultural activities in one of the most colorful cities in Louisiana. The ideal place to start your New Orleans visit is the bustling French Quarter, where you can mingle with visitors and Locals, admire the historic architecture and absorb the unique atmosphere. New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz and you can go on a nostalgic tour of the city's cultural heritage on an 11-stop guided tour presented by the Jazz National Historic Park. Tours start at the Visitors Center right in the heart of the French Quarter, and will take you to see most of the popular jazz venues in town including the famous Spotted Cat Music Club and Maison Bourbon.
The pleasant fall temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities and you can enjoy walking or cycling through City Park (which includes the Botanical Garden and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden) or go on a guided cycling tour of the major city landmarks with FreeWheelin' Bike Tours. If you are visiting with the family you can spend hours enjoying some of the eight museums and parks that make up the Audubon Nature Institute. The most popular of these are the Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Entergy IMAX Theater.
Top attractions in: South Bend, New Orleans, Roanoke, Little Rock, Portsmouth, Bloomington
Chicago is a year-round getaway destination boasting wonderful museums and cultural attractions, and when fall sets in and the leaves turn to red, the city puts on a brilliant fall display to delight all nature lovers and photographers. You can get a good overview of the colors from 360 Chicago, the observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, then move in for a closer look as you visit some of the city's many wonderful parks and gardens, such as the Garfield Park Conservatory, Millennium Park, Lincoln Park or Humboldt Park.
Once you have admired all the fall colors you can enjoy another visual feast at the Art Institute of Chicago which showcases every genre of art you can name, before moving on to listen to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center in downtown, or watch a cutting-edge theatrical production at the Looking glass Theatre Company. If you are interested in architecture you can visit the very impressive Chicago Cultural Center (which boasts two of the world's most enormous stained glass domes), the Driehaus Museum, or take an in-depth look at some of the city's famous sky-scrapers on a Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour. Families can enjoy the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Children's Museum, Legoland Discovery Center and the Shedd Aquarium.
More vacation ideas: Green Bay, Greenville, Most Beautiful Places in Canada, Lake Tahoe, Charlottesville
» Fall Vacation Ideas: Sioux Falls
The changing color of the foliage and the slight chill in the air herald fall in South Dakota, the perfect time of year to plan a weekend getaway in picturesque Sioux Falls. You can start your weekend by exploring Falls Park, a 123-acre green space surrounding the waterfalls on the Big Sioux River. There are around 19 miles of hiking and biking paths surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, which should be particularly spectacular in the fall. Another good outdoor area for walking, biking and ball games is Terrace Park, and you can also get plenty of exercise on the hiking trails in Great Bear Recreational Park (which is a very popular ski area in winter).
Art enthusiasts can visit the Washington Pavilion of Arts which contains an art gallery, theater and concert hall and features performances by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society, among others. If you enjoy learning about history you can visit the Old Courthouse Museum, the Pettigrew Home and Museum, the USS South Dakota Battleship Museum and the Veterans Memorial Park, which is dedicated to local war veterans. Families can tour the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove, or make their way to the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History to enjoy several hours of educational fun.
» St. Augustine
Fall is a great time to visit St. Augustine, when the temperatures are a little lower and the city puts on a large variety of fall festivals and events. A good place to start exploring this historic city is in the cobbled Old City. You can go on a historic walking tour or take a sightseeing trolley bus tour or see the sights from a horse-drawn carriage. If you are interested in Victoriana you can visit the Lightner Museum in the old Hotel Alcazar (which also has wonderful grounds to explore), and those fascinated by military history can tour Castello de San Marcos and the smaller Fort Matanzas National Museum, both of which date back to the Spanish occupation around 1692.
Anastasia State Park is great for nature enthusiasts, offering swimming, beachcombing and all kinds of boating, and the Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, on part of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway, includes a Timucuan Village and a planetarium, besides the fabled Fountain of Youth well. There are plenty of activities for families including the gun demonstration and firing of the canonat Castello de San Marcos, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, a Wheatstone Chocolate Factory Tour or a visit to the St. Augustine Wildlife Reserve.
» Cape Cod
Cape Cod is full of hidden treasures waiting for you to uncover on a fall weekend break, and you will need to do some serious prioritizing to make the most of your time. The coastline is extensive and amazing; the Cape Cod National Shoreline boasts over 60 fabulous beaches where you can soak up the sun and go for long romantic walks. You can enjoy cycling along the famous Nauset Bicycle Trail or explore the Nauset Marsh Trail and the Buttonbush Trail. At Wellfleet Bay there are dozens of trails through the salt marshes (excellent bird viewing) and you can go on wildlife-viewing cruises.
You can sample Cape Cod history at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (built to commemorate the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims), the Nauset Lighthouse and a few historic house museums like the Crosby Mansion, the Edward Gorey House or Highfield Hall and Gardens.
Offshore the fun and education continues with boat-based tours; Bay Spirit Tours will take you out on a romantic catamaran tour or you can go wildlife watching with Dolphin Fleet Whale Watching Tours or Barnstable Harbor Ecotours. Art enthusiasts will enjoy strolling through arty Provincetown's many galleries, or watching a show at the vintage Orpheum Theater in Chatham. Try to fit in a day-trip to charming Martha's Vineyard Island on the Island Queen ferry, and do not even think of leaving Cape Cod without sampling some delicious fresh lobster.
» Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara boasts up to 300 days of sunshine every year and fall is one of the best times to visit to enjoy an array of outdoor activities. Although the water is a little cooler in fall, you can don a wetsuit and still enjoy a variety of water sports at the Arroyo Burro Country Beach or simply soak up the sun and picnic or barbeque in Shoreline Park. The lower fall humidity makes this the ideal season to visit some exceptional gardens, which include the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the Ganna Walska Lotusland (which is bursting at the seams with exotic plants from all over the world) and Casa del Herrero, a beautiful example of 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, set in an 11-acre garden.
If you prefer museums to gardens you can tour the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, all of which are great for families. Art lovers can visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art which showcases American, Asian and European artworks, and round off their day at the historic Lobero Theatre. Foodies can enjoy visiting local vineyards on a Sustainable Vine Wine Tour, tasting local specialties on a Santa Barbara Tasting Tour or exploring the many restaurants at Stearns Wharf.
Miami's warm water and sunny beaches are waiting to welcome visitors all year round, and the city is a perfect destination for a fall weekend break to revive your spirits before the onset of winter. Soak up some end-of-summer sunshine on South Beach, or relax at a pavement café in lively Coconut Grove as you sip a coffee or cocktail. There are several parks where you can enjoy walking, jogging, picnics or cycling with a great bay view - try Kennedy Park, Peacock Park or Barnacle Park.
Try to arrange your visit to coincide with the Art Walk that takes place every second Saturday through the Wynwood Arts District, which boasts over 70 galleries and an array of interesting antique shops, bars and cafes. For a relaxed hands-on art (and wine) experience you can bring along a bottle of wine and some inspiration and join Painting with a Twist, while for a more formal experience you can visit the Miami Art Museum in the Bayside Marketplace.
There is excellent shopping, dining and entertainment at CocoWalk Entertainment Complex or in the Bayside Marketplace. Families can head to Jungle Island for an interactive wildlife experience (and petting zoo) or visit the really unique appointment-only Zoological Wildlife Foundation where rescued exotic pets are cared for. Kids will also love the Miami Seaquarium and the Miami Children's Museum.
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» Sugar Hill Inn
Dream Cottage at the Sugar Hill Inn in New Hampshire's White Mountains is the ultimate couples' hideaway, offering scenic views, elegant decor and a spacious layout. The free-standing cottage has a romantic stone fireplace, a cathedral ceiling, wood beams, and Pine floors with radiant heat. The bathroom has a private sauna, whirlpool tub for two and an over-sized shower with multiple shower heads. The bathoom has a window that opens to the living room so that you can see the fireplace from the tub.
Sugar Hill Inn is a year-round, adult-only getaway with an outdoor swimming pool, spa, gourmet restaurant and a choice of guest accommodations. The restaurant serves seasonal dishes which incorporate the freshest local produce and herbs grown in the hotel's own gardens. The dining room has scenic views of Cannon Mountain and Mt. Lafayette. You will find an array of activities nearby, including skiing, cycling, golf, horseback riding, antiquing, shopping, museums, waterfalls and farmer's markets. Dream Cottage rates start at $430 per night with a 2 night minimum stay required. Guests have to be 14 or older. Rooms start at $150 per night. Read more
Contact: 116 NH-117, Sugar Hill, NH 3586, Phone: 800-548-4748
More fall foliage destinations: Denver, Boulder, Colorado, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Photo: Sugar Hill Inn
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»The Manor on Golden Pond
If you are looking for unique getaways from Boston, the Manor on Golden Pond is a historic English Manor House retreat set on 15 acres overlooking Squam Lake in New Hampshire. Plan a romantic trip to this inn which has an outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court and a private beach with canoes and paddle boats. At the end of the day, guests can indulge in a relaxing massage in the spa treatment room.
There are 25 guest rooms, including two suites. All of the rooms are individually designed and have views of the water of the White Mountains. Some rooms have working fireplaces and private porches, perfect for relaxing surrounded by nature.
Dining is an integral part of a relaxing getaway. Start your day with a breakfast buffet, enjoy afternoon tea in the library or overlooking the lake, then sit down to a gourmet dinner, and finish off your evening with a drink at the Three Cock's Pub. The property is a 2-hour drive from Boston and one hour from Manchester Airport. Room rates start from $220 per night; from $265 in on weekends and during the fall foliage season. Minimum guest age is 12 years.
Contact: 31 Manor Drive, Holderness, NH 3245, Phone: 603-968-3348
Photo: The Manor on Golden Pond
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»Woodlands Mansion in South Carolina
If you are planning a fall celebration, wedding or a family reunion, Woodlands Mansion in Summerville, South Carolina, about 20 miles from Charleston, offers several event venues in a relaxed Southern atmosphere. The mansion is popular for weddings and business gatherings. The whole mansion can be rented for a party, including 18 guest rooms and suites which have recently been refurbished.
Elegant events can be held in the historic mansion, in the Pavilion or outside on the lawn surrounded by trees and flowers. To stay active, bicycle through the picturesque streets of Summerville. Nearby vacation attractions include world-famous gardens at the Middleton Place, Historic Charleston, Aquarium, Beidler Forest, Cypress Gardens and beaches. Fall is a great time to enjoy colorful fall foliage or a round of golf at one of the nearby golf courses. Major airlines service Charleston International Airport where you can rent a car.
Contact: 125 Parsons Road, Summerville, SC 29483, Phone: 843-875-2600
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Photo: Woodlands Mansion in South Carolina
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»Fearrington House in North Carolina
Plan a romantic getaway to the charming Fearrington Village near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and stay at the Fearrington House, a luxury inn with a first class restaurant. The inn has earned prestigious awards for its service and elegant accommodations, including the AAA Five Diamond Award and membership in the Relais & Chateaux organization. Nearby, you will find beautiful gardens, open seven days a week. Tour the Herb garden which grows fresh herbs used at the inn restaurant, view the wildflower garden, and stroll through the Perennial Border garden which is the site of many weddings.
The guest rooms are individually furnished with original art, antiques, canopied beds and beautiful fabrics. If you are planning a romanticweekend getaway, ask for one of the rooms with a fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub.
The restaurant is famous for its sophisticated Southern cuisine and romantic atmosphere. Several times per year, the property offers cooking classes with hands-on instruction by award-winning chefs from the inn as well as other Relais & Chateaux restaurants.
Contact: 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC 27312, Phone: 919-542-4000
Day trips and quick fall escapes: 15 Best Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina.
Photo: Fearrington House in North Carolina
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15 Cheap Fall Vacation Ideas
- Boulder, Colorado, Photo: Courtesy of ill Bogusky - Fotolia.com
- Laguna Beach, California, Photo: Courtesy of Ocean-Image.net - Fotolia.com
- Fall Vacation Ideas: Burlington, Vermont, Photo: Courtesy of doncon402 - Fotolia.com
- New Orleans, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Chicago, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- Fall Vacation Ideas: Sioux Falls, Photo: Courtesy of malajscy - Fotolia.com
- St. Augustine, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Cape Cod, Photo: Courtesy of steffstarr - Fotolia.com
- Santa Barbara, Photo: Courtesy of hreniuca - Fotolia.comsborisov
- Miami, Photo: Courtesy of Hanker - Fotolia.com
- Sugar Hill Inn, Photo: Sugar Hill Inn
- The Manor on Golden Pond, Photo: The Manor on Golden Pond
- Woodlands Mansion in South Carolina, Photo: Woodlands Mansion in South Carolina
- Fearrington House in North Carolina, Photo: Fearrington House in North Carolina
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of mdbrockmann82 - Fotolia.com
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