30 Fun Fall Weekend Getaways

Plan a quick fall trip and recharge in these top-notch destinations.

Summer is over, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to plan a vacation this year. These unique autumn getaway options offer a fun way to enjoy beautiful fall foliage, stunning beaches and seasonal festivals with exceptional weather and, in many cases, smaller crowds.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Alabama’s Gulf Coast is gorgeous year-round, but the fall months bring fewer crowds and more affordable prices on both hotels and rental condos. Head to Gulf Shores for warm ocean waters and lovely white sand beaches that you may have all to yourself.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque’s desert plains and desolate landscapes provide a relaxing respite for visitors year-round, however fall is a great time to visit to enjoy the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Book a trip to Albuquerque in early October to see hundreds of brightly colored balloons dot the sky — you can even take a hot air balloon ride yourself, with a local tour operator. Because this is a popular festival, you’ll want to secure accommodations well in advance.

Sedona, Arizona

“Red Rock Country” is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest along with towering cliffs and multihued stone formations, making it perfect for hiking, biking and general exploration. Visit this rugged but exceptionally beautiful town for outdoor recreation at one of its state parks and shop for local souvenirs at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen is a fun place to spend a long weekend if you’re craving a destination that excels both in natural beauty and nightlife. Just 34 miles south of the Cancun International Airport, Playa del Carmen is home to a happening main drag known as Fifth Avenue, beautiful white sand beaches and affordable lodging options. What’s more, this beach destination sees fewer crowds and hotels offer cheaper rates during fall.

Destin, Florida

Destin features stunning white sand beaches, turquoise waters, a family-friendly atmosphere and top-notch resorts. The weather is perfect in the fall, with highs hovering in the 60s to 80s, and the summer crowds are long gone. What’s more, added nonstop routes to the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport make this Florida city more accessible to travelers than ever before.

Leavenworth, Washington

You don’t necessarily have to jet off to Europe to enjoy German culture or the country’s famed Oktoberfest. Leavenworth is a German-themed town in Washington state and hosts its own version of the historic festival annually, making it a perfect weekend getaway to enjoy beer, brats, live music and fun for the whole family.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is well-known for its beautiful fall foliage, with hues of yellow and gold on display during autumn months. Head to Aspen to peek at the perfectly colored tree leaves, hike the rolling hills and shop (or browse) the many luxurious boutiques in town before winter ski season sets in.

Nashville, Tennessee

If you love live music, you can’t go wrong with a weekend away in Nashville. Couples, friends and families flock here to visit famous local sights like the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. And Nashville’s food scene continues to gain popularity, thanks to local eats like mouthwatering barbecue and green chili mac and cheese.

Laconia, New Hampshire

Maybe you’ve never heard of Laconia, but perhaps you’ve gotten wind of the famous New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, which takes place in mid-October in this town. Plan a weekend getaway here to check out the giant tower of jack-o’-lanterns, live music, a beer garden, horse-drawn hayrides and pumpkin-carving contests.

Madison County, Iowa

Madison County’s covered bridges are a beautiful sight to behold any time of the year, but fall is an exceptional time to visit to attend the Covered Bridge Festival in mid-October. Head to rural Iowa to discover the area’s six covered bridges, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and take part in the festival’s offerings, including live music, a parade and vendors selling local food and crafts.

Antigua

Dreaming of a beach escape before the dreary winter weather arrives? Antigua is an ideal fall trip, thanks to smaller crowds and deals on hotels and flights. Antigua offers stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and a surprising selection of affordable hotels, resorts and all-inclusive properties. Keep in mind, September through November falls within the Atlantic hurricane season, so make sure to buy travel insurance if you plan an autumn trip here.

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum has everything you could want in a weekend getaway: dazzling beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and exceptional local cuisine. Fall is a smart time to visit Tulum — you can expect lighter crowds and lower prices on hotels and resorts. Mexico’s Day of the Dead and the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in nearby Playa Del Carmen also keep the area lively during fall months.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is only a few hours’ drive from many cities along the East Coast and easy to fly to thanks to its three nearby airports. The nation’s capital is perfect for an educational fall trip, with autumn foliage serving as a backdrop to the city’s landmarks. Pack up the kids for a whirlwind tour of famous monuments along the National Mall and check out the numerous Smithsonian museums.

The Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains are exceptionally beautiful during the fall, when the area comes alive and leaves seemingly change colors at every turn. The Pocono Mountains region is also home to a wide variety of hotels and resorts, ranging from kid-friendly properties with family amenities to romantic lodges.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dells boasts a flurry of activity all year long due to the many attractions, theme parks and water parks that surround the area. Fall is a great time to visit: Many parks offer deals on admission and travelers will encounter fewer crowds since local schools are in session.

Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City Beach sees temperatures hovering around the 60s and high 70s in the fall, and accommodation prices tend to be lower compared to the rest of the year. Visit Panama City Beach for its breathtaking white sand beaches, affordable condo rentals and fun activities for kids, including the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not museum and WonderWorks amusement park.

Beaver Creek, Colorado

While Beaver Creek is popular during the winter for skiing, summer and fall are also great times to visit to go hiking and explore nature. Autumn months also usher in amazing fall foliage as the leaves turn from green to golden yellow in a spectacular fashion.

Mazatlan, Mexico

Mazatlan is a quick flight south from the western U.S., and fall is a fantastic time to visit thanks to affordable room rates and balmy weather in the 80s. Head to Mazatlan to sample fresh seafood dishes, shop in local markets like Mercado Pino Suarez, go snorkeling and visit famous Deer Island.

New York City

The bright lights and colorful atmosphere of New York City are a wonder year-round, especially during the fall. That’s because one of the city’s top attractions, Central Park, becomes blanketed in beautiful autumn hues. What’s more, the city hosts a variety of fun, seasonal events, including Halloween parties, the New York Comedy Festival and Open House New York.

Seattle

Seattle may have dreary weather for a good chunk of the year, but fall is actually a great time to visit. In addition to encountering a bit more breathing room at Seattle’s most popular haunts, including the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, you’ll enjoy good deals on lodging during this time, as well as seasonal events such as Bumbershoot, a music and arts festival.

Catskill Mountains, New York

Come fall, New York’s Catskill Mountains are awash in an array of colors, but there’s plenty to do here aside from leaf peeping. October kicks off the region’s Oktoberfest celebrations at Hunter Mountain, with four weekends of authentic German cuisine, beer, craft vendors and games for kids.

Las Vegas

The sights and sounds of Las Vegas buzz all year long, and the hotels and resorts are always angling to fill their rooms. The weather is hot, with temperatures in the 80s and 90s during fall months, perfect for soaking up the sun at the last pool parties of the season. You can also hit the numerous casinos, book a Cirque du Soleil show or explore the many indoor exhibitions and aquariums.

Bar Harbor, Maine

As the gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a natural paradise with waterways, rolling hills and foliage that comes alive with fall colors in September and October. Head to this area for bird-watching, whale watching or simple relaxation among alluring natural scenery.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan’s Mackinac Island is home to quaint shops, bed-and-breakfasts and beautiful Lake Huron views to boot. The island is also easy to reach from the mainland and a simple drive and ferry ride from much of the Midwest, making it a frugal option for a romantic getaway or family fun.

Duluth, Minnesota

While Minnesota is known for its cold, lengthy winters, there’s still time to enjoy the great outdoors in Duluth this fall. Head to this family-friendly town on Lake Superior for charter fishing, strolls down its famous lakefront boardwalk, time on the beach and more.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

You can leave the U.S. first thing in the morning and sip a cold rum punch on the beach in Jamaica by the afternoon. That’s part of the allure of Montego Bay, along with its ample all-inclusive resorts, beautiful white sand beaches and Caribbean hospitality.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

It’s easy to hop on a flight from the western U.S. and land in Cabo San Lucas within a few hours. Book a quick fall weekend here to go whale watching, snorkeling and sightseeing — you’ll be rewarded with lower room rates than in the peak winter season.

San Diego

San Diego is perfect for a weekend getaway since there’s so much to see and do. You can check out one of the area’s many beaches, such as Coronado or La Jolla, visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve or roam the Gaslamp Quarter for an unforgettable night out on the town. And with the kids back in school, you’ll also able to enjoy a more relaxed experience at family-friendly attractions like the San Diego Zoo.

Park City, Utah

Park City is a picturesque getaway year-round, but fall’s colors and changing leaves make for spectacular views. Book a trip here to spend your days driving through beautiful, leafy scenes along Guardsman Pass Scenic Byway or exploring the town’s Main Historic District.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Just a short flight from much of the Midwest and East Coast, Pigeon Forge is a great spot for a weekend getaway. This region boasts close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood theme park, arcades and Broadway-style shows. Plus, the area hosts Dollywood’s Harvest Festival and the annual Fall Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament, with fishing fun for all ages.

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30 Fun Fall Weekend Getaways originally appeared on usnews.com



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