Fall is often referred to as the sweet spot of travel for many destinations because you’ll encounter fewer crowds and pleasant weather, post summer’s high season.
The Best Affordable Fall Destinations for 2017
Read on to find out where the best fall destinations are this year—both near and far—if you’re on a tight budget. (And take a peek at our 2018 version here.)
With monsoon season (see editor’s note) coming to a close in September, fall is the perfect time to take advantage of cheap flights and discounted tours to India.
Why It’s a Steal: Right now round-trip flights to India are at an all-time low. You can score flights for around $600 from major U.S. cities like Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles for travel through May 2018 on airlines like Etihad, Qatar, Turkish, and even United, based on searches on Google Flights.
If you’re looking to have your trip planned for you, check out G Adventures’ Ganges River Cruise & Adventure tour—select fall departures are 30 to 40 percent off for an eight-day trip.
Don’t Miss: India is one of the best fall destinations this year for its festivals. Travel for Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, or the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan. Fall is also the best time to hit Goa, a popular beach destination, before the crowds and just after monsoon season.
Editor’s Note: Take note that parts of India and Southeast Asia are experiencing extreme flooding this monsoon season; check local reports before booking to affected areas.
Texas Hill Country River Region
Located about two hours west of San Antonio, the Texas Hill Country River Region is an underrated fall destination, but an ideal option if you’re looking to continue any summer outdoor activities.
Why It’s a Steal: Domestic flights into San Antonio are inexpensive for fall, with searches on Airfarewatchdog yielding fares under $200 round-trip from cities like Chicago and Denver in October.
Lodging is relatively inexpensive here, as you can stay in a cabin, RV, or campground. Save even more by booking a vacation rental with a larger group; you can find insane deals, like a cabin that sleeps 18 people with a pool and BBQ pit for $445 per night (that works out to a nightly rate of just $24 per person!).
Don’t Miss: Temperatures stay well into the mid- and upper-70s until about Thanksgiving, so take advantage of the weather and head to Chalk Bluff Park or Garner State Park for hiking trails with a backdrop of cypress trees.
Editor’s Note: The Texas Hill Country River Region is not in the part of Texas that has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. To contribute to hurricane relief efforts, consider donating to the American Red Cross.
New Brunswick, Canada
Head to this Canadian Maritime province for leaf peeping, fall festivals, and the end of whale watching season. Hotel and airfare prices are much lower in the fall than they are over the summer months, but be sure to head to the region earlier in the season for warmer temps.
Why It’s a Steal: Average airfares from New York City and Boston range between $250 to $350 for the fall months, according to Orbitz and Expedia, and hotel room rates average $100 to $200 per night at four-star properties.
Don’t Miss: Fall festivals are Canada’s specialty, and New Brunswick offers plenty—check out the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and Indulge (a food and wine festival in St. Andrews). For outdoor activities enjoy whale watching, Fundy National Park (offering free entry for the country’s 150th anniversary), farmers’ markets, and fantastic foliage that’s seen best by paddling down the Miramichi River or driving the Appalachian Range route.
Explore one of the South’s most haunted cities come fall. Complete with mild temperatures and fewer tourists, Savannah is one of the best and most affordable fall destinations in the U.S. this year.
Why It’s a Steal: According to data from CheapOair, round-trip flights are expected to range between $120 and $160 round-trip from New York City for fall. Plus, prices on TripAdvisor show deep discounts, with boutique hotel chains and historic inns posting rates at around $150 per night.
Don’t Miss: Indulge in Savannah’s up-and-coming food and bar scene—Savannah doesn’t have any open container laws about walking and drinking alcohol. Burn off some calories or cure your hangover by strolling along River Street, checking out local boutiques, or going on a ghost walking tour around Halloween. Notable fall events include the Savannah Jazz Festival, Savannah Philharmonic’s Picnic in the Park, and the Savannah College of Art and Design-hosted Savannah Film Festival.
It’s no secret that Croatia is having a moment. From island hopping down the coast to Game of Thrones filming locations, tourists are flocking to the country, driving prices up … but not in Zagreb. Even though it’s the country’s capital, most people skip out on the city, leaving both hotel and airfare savings. Wait till October to discover this up-and-coming Croatian destination for fall—you’ll save hundreds and still enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer.
Why It’s a Steal: Flight deals are a little hard to find, but I found round-trip flights around $600 from New York City and Boston, and $800 from Los Angeles and San Francisco on Turkish. Thanks to a favorable exchange rate, you’ll have no problem finding cheap nightly rates—prices for four-star hotels located in the city center range from $70 to $130 this fall.
Don’t Miss: Enjoy popular attractions (without the crowds) like the Lower Town’s Archeological Museum and the Upper Town’s famous cathedral. Take advantage of the city’s extensive tram network for even more savings. Fall events include the Zagreb Marathon and Zagreb World Theatre Festival, both in October.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico’s largest city is experiencing a tourism boom. Budget travelers can head to this trending city this fall and enjoy warm weather and an action-packed weekend.
Why It’s a Steal: Roundtrip airfare averages are under $250 for fall travel dates from major U.S. cities including Portland, New York City, Newark, San Diego, and Seattle, as seen on Airfarewatchdog. Save on hotels by booking a historic B&B in the Old Town section of the city, with average nightly rates from $150 to $180 in the fall.
Don’t Miss: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta makes the city one of the best fall destinations in the U.S., and tourists flock here to see the spectacle every year. And since it takes place over nine days, you have over a week to see it. Don’t miss the New Mexico Brew Fest, which is held during the balloon festival. If you’re traveling outside of mid-October, there’s still plenty to do—check out the renewed Sawmill District, just north of Old Town, for arts, fine dining, and other entertainment.
Ultra-cheap transatlantic fares to Scotland won’t last, but right now it’s more affordable than ever.
Why It’s a Steal: Act now if Scotland is on your bucket list, because WOW Air is offering $69 one-way fares to many European cities, including Edinburgh (via KEF) from major U.S. cities for departures from now through November. So if your departure airport is Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Pittsburgh, or Los Angeles (and more!), you can snag these ultra-cheap fares. U.S. travelers still have a favorable exchange rate in the U.K. post-Brexit, so you should have no problem finding a decent hotel in the fall for around $100 per night.
Don’t Miss: Head to Scotland early before temps get cooler in November. If you do get caught in some chilly weather, warm up with the nation’s drink of choice—whisky. Don’t miss the Restaurant Festival in October, or tourist spots like the Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat—you’ll get to enjoy them relatively crowd-free. I also recommend taking a day trip to Glasgow or exploring the Scottish Highlands in the fall for savings on tours.
Fall is Richmond, Virginia’s time to shine, as this up-and-coming city is at its best. Think cheap airfare, chic boutique hotels (moderately priced), and more fall festivals than you can imagine, all with pleasant temps and crisp, autumn air.
Why It’s a Steal: Whether you want to take a bus, train, or plane, it’s pretty easy to get into Richmond—with round-trip flights from New York City currently going for a little over $150 for October dates, and Amtrak rides under $150 on liligo.com. You can also easily get to Richmond from other major U.S. hubs like Boston, Orlando, and Miami for under $200, according to Airfarewatchdog. Hotel nightly rates for downtown are a little more expensive, but you can still score deals from $150 to $200 per night.
Don’t Miss: Check out the American Civil War Museum or Virginia Historical Society. Richmond is also a hub for restaurants, shopping, and outdoor activities, so grab a meal in Carytown or whitewater raft down the James River. Known for its burgeoning food scene, the fall season complements Richmond’s restaurants with Richmond Restaurant Week, Hogtober Fest, and the famed Richmond Folk Festival‘s selection of food vendors.
If your dream vacation is hiking the Inca Trail, this fall is the perfect time to do it. Flights are relatively cheap, and multiple tour operators are offering deep discounts for fall departures. Look to travel in October or November, just before the rainy season starts.
Why It’s a Steal: You can catch round-trip flights from cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. for around $600, according to a search on Airfarewatchdog. And since hotel prices are always cheap—Backpacker Index quotes four-star properties averaging around $80 per night—you will save on accommodations in Cusco.
The real deals, though, are in group tour discounts. G Adventures is offering 20 percent off its fall departures for Trek to Choquequirao (at just $543 per person), as well as Machu Picchu in Style, a seven-day tour that includes the train up to Machu Picchu. And Journeyou is offering seven-day tours starting at $899 per person based on double occupancy.
Don’t Miss: Cusco’s Tourist Week is in October, with the whole month centered on highlighting the city and surrounding region, so you’ll find tons of special events that you might not normally find in the city. Cusco is also a great place to celebrate All Saints’ Day and Dia de los Muertos—the three-day festival features candle-lit vigils and offerings for the dead.
Rochester, New York
Cheap airfare and tons of fall festivals make Rochester one of the more underrated fall destinations to visit in the U.S. this year. Just a quick flight from New York City, it’s the perfect fall weekend escape.
Why It’s a Steal: Searches on Airfarewatchdog show round-trip fares well under $200 from cities like New York, D.C., Newark, and Chicago. And mid-range downtown hotels have nightly rates between $100 and $150 for fall.
Don’t Miss: Home to incredible arts and culture, outdoor activities, and an expanding food, beer, and wine scene, Rochester offers plenty to do on fallweekends. It’s also the gateway to the Finger Lakes wine region. Fall brings the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival—the third largest Fringe Festival in the country—the ImageOut LGBT Film Festival, Rochester’s Oktoberfest, and the High Falls Film Festival in November, which celebrates the role of women in film.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Secret Places in Europe You Can Still Visit on a Budget
- The 5 Best Fall Train Rides in the U.S.
- 10 Most Popular Cruise Destinations in the World (2017 Edition)
All prices were accurate at time of publication.
Airfarewatchdog is also a member of the TripAdvisor Media Group, which is SmarterTravel’s parent company.
Ashley Rossi loves bringing you news about affordable fall destinations. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off-the-beaten path spots year-round. Send her an email if you have an off-season or secretly inexpensive destination you love visiting in the winter for next season’s round-up of affordable destinations.