The Most Affordable Fall Vacation Destinations in the United States

Japanese Garden in Seattle during autumn | © Rachel Samanyi / Flickr
Japanese Garden in Seattle during autumn | © Rachel Samanyi / Flickr
Photo of Elizabeth Nicholas
5 September 2017

Itching to take a vacation this fall, but don’t quite have the pocketbook to hop on a plane to Paris or spend a week in New York? These seven destinations, all in the United States, are not only incredibly affordable, but they are also all particularly special during this time of year.

New Hampshire

Vermont is most famous for its leaves, but that fame comes with a heftier price tag than you’ll find in neighboring New Hampshire. Easily accessible by car from much of the Northeast, New Hampshire affords breathtaking and bucolic scenery to match its more famous neighbor. Make like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and head to Mount Monadnock for a hike—the view once you reach the top might inspire you to immortalize it in your own diary, as both of the transcendentalists did.

New Hampshire, USA

Miami, Florida

Some people may flock to Miami for the beaches and the warm weather, but those attractions come with big price tags to match. If you’re willing to consider Miami during the rainy season in the fall, serious savings can be had on a trip to a city with a major cultural cache. Check out the incredible new Faena Museum, and then treat yourself to a meal at the famous Cuban burger joint El Mago de las Fritas, where a heavenly meal won’t set you back more than $20, beer included.

Miami, FL, USA

Charlottesville, Virginia

There isn’t a bad place to stay in beautiful Virginia, but if you’re looking to get serious bang for your buck, consider Charlottesville. It’s a sophisticated college town with plenty of bargains to be had on excellent accommodations, and you also have a treasure trove of inexpensive marquee tourist attractions nearby. Head to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home) first, and then take a tour of “Mr. Jefferson’s university,” the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Fall is an ideal time to visit since it won’t be too hot to walk around on your tours, and because the leaves in Virginia’s rolling farm country nearby will be on fire.

Charlottesville, VA, USA

Charleston, South Carolina

It may not be magnolia season in Charleston in the fall, but there is still charm aplenty in this historic South Carolina city. And with the hordes of spring and summer tourists gone, you will find deals on everything from hotel rooms to airfare. Go on one of the annual fall tours put on by the Preservation Society of Charleston, and then tuck into a cheap, five-star dinner with some of the best barbeque in the country at Swig & Swine.

Charleston, SC, USA

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans may be most famous for its jazz festival in May and Mardi Gras in February, and while those are great times to visit, visiting outside of these peak tourist times means great prices for a getaway in the Big Easy. The finest food New Orleans has to offer often comes in at less than $10, so when you arrive, head to Café du Monde for otherworldly beignets and a cup of dark, heavy New Orleans coffee. And with a rich tradition of voodoo and occult practitioners living in the city, New Orleans is a perfect place to go to get into the Halloween spirit.

New Orleans, LA, USA

Seattle, Washington

Summer is peak tourist season in Seattle, but you’ll wonder why fall isn’t, especially when you can take advantage of cheaper travel rates. Seattle’s surrounds see forests, mountains, and water, and when the leaves change, the city lights up in a way that is nothing short of breathtaking. Make a stop at the original Starbucks for a cup of coffee, and then walk through Pike Place Market before riding to the top of the Space Needle for a killer view of the city.

Seattle, WA, USA

Salem, Massachusetts

As the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in the late 17th century, Salem goes all out for Halloween. Salem is less than an hour train ride from Boston and easily accessible by car from many parts of the northeast. Visit the Salem Witch Museum, and then hop on a hayride before grabbing a cup of cider and embarking upon a haunted house tour.

Salem, MA, USA