Let's say you had the best intentions of getting away this summer, but you weren't able to squeeze in a trip before Labor Day. Well, fret not: Fall is a fantastic time to travel. In many places, the climate is ideal, the bargains are plentiful and the crowds have disappeared. Plus, autumn offers a short, but sweet season to get recharged and rejuvenated before the hectic winter holiday travel season. Tempted? Here are a few fall vacation ideas that might be too good to pass up.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Fall is the perfect time to plan a trip to Myrtle Beach, as the temperatures are still nearly perfect and the crowds and prices have waned. Plus, the destination kicked off its 60 More Days of Summer campaign in August – focusing on its 60 miles of coastline with two unique promotions. Myrtle Beach's "60 Best Bites" initiative showcases the area's diverse food scene, shining a light on must-try dishes around town. Take Chicken Sous Vide, a southern and French dish served at 21 Main, with whipped sweet potatoes, and finished with a blackberry sage glaze. As for accommodations, the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is offering a package that includes two nights, complimentary breakfast and three-course dinners each night for two for under $500. Meanwhile, reputable outfitter Black River Outdoors has teamed with Marshview Seafood Kitchen & Bar to offer a fishing tour, followed by a cook your catch experience at the restaurant.
Niagara Falls, New York
Along with awe-inspiring falls, Niagara's foliage typically reaches its peak in the third week of October. And there are plenty of notable attractions, from the Marble Orchard Ghost Walk to pumpkin- and apple-picking at one of the more than 800 farms in the area. Plus, you can spend an afternoon at Becker Farms or the annual Pumpkin Fiesta at Vizcarra Vineyards, which celebrates the harvest season with free live music, wine, beer and hard cider for $5. During your visit, make sure to hop on the Vineyard Express to admire colorful foliage or hike along scenic trails in Niagara Gorge. Best of all, hotel rates drop by up to 40 percent in the shoulder season.
Nantucket charms visitors come autumn, with crisper temperatures, empty cobblestone streets and uncrowded restaurants. Consider bedding down at the Harborview Nantucket, which features private and cozy cottages that are ideally situated a few steps from the harbor. Autumn is also a festive time in Nantucket, with Fall Restaurant Week, the annual Cranberry Festival, the Nantucket Grown Food Festival and the Nantucket Arts Festival. Nightly rates at Harborview Nantucket start at $550, compared to $995 during the peak summer travel season.
Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire
Not only is Mount Washington Valley a colorful and popular fall foliage vacation in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest, it's also an affordable spot. There are vacation packages for around $100 a night. Stay three or more nights at the Mt. Washington Bed & Breakfast between Sept. 21 and Oct. 21, and save $25 per night on nightly rates starting at $125 and up. Plus, you can count on delectable home-cooked breakfasts and you can enjoy all the beauty of the White Mountains with leaf-peeping from the seat of a train, chairlift or zip line.
Big Sky, Montana
In fall, luxury vacation rental company Natural Retreats offers organized white-water rafting expeditions, with half-day, full-day and overnight options. After working up a sweat in the great outdoors, enjoy the striking mountain vistas in the dining room of The Cabin Bar & Grill, which is well known for its steak and seafood dishes. If you want some of the best panoramic views from the summit of Lone Peak, take the Loan Peak Tram ride. Fly fishers will feel at home hoping for the big catch from the Gallatin River, while mountain bikers can take in the picturesque the trails of Key Hold, Jacob's Ladder and Lobo. Afterward, rest your head at Moonlight Mountain Homes, which boasts a private pool, hot tub and more enticing amenities.
In autumn, there are a variety of deals to be had in Bangkok, including low-priced airfare from the U.S. Explore Bangkok by night via bike or explore the temples by day on foot. Plus, Bangkok offers an excellent street food scene and cutting-edge restaurants. For a meal to remember, try the Blue Crab at Nahm and the Indian molecular gastronomy tasting menu at Gaggan.
Set on Lake Powell, along the border of Arizona and Utah, Page is a great place to plan a houseboat vacation. Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas is running a 50 percent discount for four- and five-day stays that's available through Dec. 31. If you're not keen on having your temporary home on the water, check out the lodge on the resort. There's plenty to keep you entertained and even an "explorer" program for kids.
South Walton, Florida
Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast is all about sugary sands and turquoise waters. The Pearl Hotel is a favorite for price-sensitive visitors, and is offering up to 30 percent off standard rates through Dec. 25.. Fall activities in the area include the Baytowne Beer Fest and the WaterColor Fall Festival, among others. What's more, The Pearl is part of the St. Joe Club & Resorts portfolio, meaning guests are granted complimentary access to bikes to explore the Timpoochee Trail and discounts on stand-up paddle boarding across coastal dune lakes.
The Azores, Portugal
In the fall, you can score a deeply discounted trip to the Azores, an archipelago of nine islands, for as low as $699 for lodging and airfare. Take in the isles' diverse natural splendors inside national parks and gardens or admire the area's impressive architecture. Whatever you do, don't pass up the chance to hike down the world's only accessible volcano on Terceira Island or tour the centuries-old vineyards and enjoy some wine tasting on Pico Island, before soaking in the natural hot springs on San Miguel Island or dolphin-watching off the coast of Faial Island.
Autumn ushers in warm breezes and picturesque wildflowers in South Africa. September and October are the best times to see wildlife, especially newborn and young animals. Go for unforgettable safari game drive in Kruger National Park and open your eyes with the emotionally gripping experience of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Reputable outfitter SmarTours offers a 14-day trip for $2,799, including airfare, four-star accommodations, guides, transfers, sightseeing and more.
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