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Boston skyline during the fall
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8 Incredibly Affordable Fall Vacations

SmarterTravel

If you missed out on a trip this summer, your wallet might thank you. Fall is famously a more affordable time to travel, and this off-season means plenty of deals — even as the travel situation remains in flux this fall due to the Delta variant of COVID-19. To get inspired for cheap autumn breaks in September, October, November, here are eight destinations for everything from warm weather Caribbean weekend getaways to cheap fall family vacations.

Niagara Falls, New York

Aerial view of Niagara Falls
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Every second, more than 3,00 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls, making this massive waterfall a natural wonder that lives up to the hype for both kids and adults. Skip the crowds in July and August and visit in the fall before freezing temperatures set in upstate New York.

Getting There: Airfare is in the $200 to $300 range during the fall months if you fly into Buffalo Niagara International Airport, according to Skyscanner.

Where to Stay: New hotel The Cadence is right outside Niagara Falls State Park, located just a ten-minute walk from the visitor’s center. Nightly rates start around $114 in the fall.

Things to Do: Take it all in from the Observation Tower or get an up-close view of the falls by boarding a Maid of the Mist tour boat. Put on a poncho for the Cave of the Winds tour, which puts you in the splash zone on “Hurricane Deck.”

Boston, Massachusetts

Aerial view of Boston, Massachusetts
SeanPavonePhoto | Adobe Stock

New England is famous for its spectacular autumnal foliage, so make Boston with its leafy city parks your home base for a fall getaway. Time your visit to this year’s Boston Marathon in October, or take leaf-peeping road trips up the coast of New England. 

Getting There: Find roundtrip airfare from major hubs to Boston in the $100-$300 range, according to Skyscanner.

Where to Stay: One of Boston’s affordable hotels is YOTEL Boston, centrally located near the Financial District and Seaport District and known for its hip decor and tiny rooms. Overnight stays start at $166, with most nights around $250.

Things to Do: Iconic activities in Boston include lots of walking — from meandering along the Freedom Trail Foundation’s 2.5-mile trail past 16 historical sites or a stroll along the 40-plus-mile Harborwalk. Reward yourself for those calories burned with a free tour at the Sam Adams Brewery and Tap Room or a trip to one of the North End’s many Italian restaurants.

New Orleans 

Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana
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Popular New Orleans events like Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest won’t happen this fall due to the coronavirus, but despite heightened restrictions, the city’s restaurateurs and bar owners are eager to see visitors. Explore the city in this quieter period with nice (less humid) fall weather, including temperate days and cooler evenings.

Getting There: It’s possible to find roundtrip flights for under $200 to New Orleans this fall. For example, Delta is running a roundtrip deal to New Orleans from New York for just $137 in October.

Where to Stay: Virgin Hotels New Orleans just opened in August in the city’s Warehouse District, with artistic decor and amenities like a rooftop pool and a cocktail lounge. Rates in the fall start at $189, with various opening deals ranging from 15 to 20 percent off (and up to 35 percent off for Louisiana residents’ staycations). 

Things to Do: Listening to jazz and live music is a must while in the Big Easy, as is feasting at Cajun and Creole restaurants like Commander’s Palace. To experience a bit of nature beyond New Orleans’ beautiful architecture, tour a bayou via boat and try to spot gators.

Ontario, Canada

Skyline of Ottawa, Canada in Ontario
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After a long wait, Canada began welcoming American tourists back for travel this August (check out coronavirus rules before you go). A fall trip to Ontario could be a great and affordable combination of city (Toronto) and country (hiking and biking adventures in Ontario’s forests).

Getting There: Toronto Pearson International Airport is the largest airport in Canada, and flights in October appear to be in the $300-$400 range, according to Skyscanner.

Where to Stay: For an affordable, lodge-style retreat, check in at Hidden Valley Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection in Muskogee on the shores of Pennsylvania Lake. Rooms are as low as $93 this fall.

Things to Do: For fall leaf peeping, stay in Toronto and take a ferry to Toronto Island Park or take a road trip to parks like Algonquin Park (or splurge on a train tour of Agawa Canyon). Quirkier fall activities in Ontario include cranberry harvest festivities at Muskoka Lakes Winery.

Belize

Sandy beach in Belize
Matyas Rehak | Adobe Stock

If you want to stretch out on sandy white beaches, explore ruins or go snorkeling around a barrier reef, Belize needs to be on your list. It’s an affordable paradise too, with many small independent lodging options and a favorable exchange rate to the U.S. dollar. The fall is considered the (sometimes rainy) off-season, which means there are even more deals to be had.

Getting There: Many cities in the U.S. have flights to Belize City in the $200 to $300 range for October, according to Skyscanner. Plus, Alaska Air is starting new nonstop flights to Belize in November, starting at $199. 

Where to Stay: There’s a special deal for this fall at ​​Xanadu Island Resort: book three nights or more and get 25 percent off your stay. There’s even an offer during September and October that includes a complimentary golf cart to use while on the eco-friendly beach resort on the popular island of Ambergris Caye. Rooms start at $135 per night this fall.

Things to Do: Book a unique tour in Belize: see 20 species of butterflies at Green Hills Butterfly Ranch, or visit a Mayan village for lunch as part of a cultural exchange and then go for a swim near a mystical cave.

Check Prices for Xanadu Island Resort in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Fall is the low and shoulder season in sunny Puerto Rico, which averages 80-degrees days all year round. But be prepared that the good deals also coincide with the possibilities of hurricanes. 

Getting There: Flights to Puerto Rico in October can be as low as $163 roundtrip, according to Skyscanner. Plus, affordable carrier Frontier Airlines just added nonstop service to San Juan from Jacksonville.

Where to Stay: New hotel Palacio Provincial brings modern decor to a beautifully restored building, with airy rooms starting at $161 a night in September. For a family-friendly San Juan lodging option, the Verdanza Hotel in Isla Verde starts at $178 for the same time period, and includes a water spray park for kids in the pool area.

Things to Do: Taking photos in scenic Old San Juan and near El Morro fortress is a must, as is visiting Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches including Playa Condado or Isla Verde. It’s also worth making a trip to explore the lush El Yunque National Forest, the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.

Cancun, Mexico

Aerial view of Cancun, Mexico
Andrea | Adobe Stock

If you’re a gambler (that is, you don’t mind the possibility of rain or even hurricanes), Cancun in the rainy season of August to October could lead to some good deals on this classic, white-sand Mexican beach destination on the Yucatán Peninsula. 

Getting There: Flights are in the mid $100s to $200s range to Cancun in October from many U.S. cities, and as low as $111 nonstop from Miami, according to Skyscanner.

Where to Stay: Where you stay in Cancun depends on how you want to spend your days, from all-inclusive resorts to simple haciendas. For families, kids might love the newly-revealed Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya with a themed water park, starting at $262 per night in September. For more of a spring break vibe, rates at Krystal Cancun start at $90 in October.

Things to Do: Swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and scuba diving all top the list of activities in Cancun. Beyond the sea, book a package to visit historic sites like the Chichen Itza Ruins or take a street food tour to try tacos and mezcal.

Athens, Greece

Acropolis in Athens, Greece
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After the crush of tourists in Greece in the summer, September through October are known as some of the best times to find a deal while exploring the delicious Mediterranean meals and impressive ruins in Athens. Plus, the weather is just as delightful, with temperatures in the seventies.

Getting There: According to Kayak, the cheapest month to fly to Greece is October. A Skyscanner search shows flights from many U.S. cities to Athens starting in the $400s for October.

Where to Stay: Stay near the Acropolis and other sightseeing destinations at the small boutique destination Sweet Home Hotel, a bright pink hotel where rooms start at $84 for October. For more modern decor, there’s Coco-Mat Hotel Athens with rooms in the $150 range or for a bit more of a splurge, the newly-opened The Modernist Athens.

Things to Do: Known as the birthplace of democracy, there’s more history in Athens to explore than anyone could fit into one visit — from the Parthenon to Hadrian’s Arch. Don’t skip more recent Greek culture either, as seen in the recently renovated National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens.

Check Prices for Sweet Home Hotel in Athens, Greece

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