Looking to get away but not spend a ton of money? These surprisingly affordable fall-favorite destinations are filled with fun activities that won't have you constantly reaching for your wallet.
Of course, traveling during COVID-19 can feel tricky, but there are plenty of ways for you and your family to stay safe(r) while still going on vacation. Check for any state and local mandates in areas you plan to travel to (Maui, for example, currently has a modified Health Pass), wear a mask indoors and on public transportation, try to avoid crowds when possible, and be sure to follow all CDC guidelines.
October through November is known as the "shoulder season" in Cancun—the period of time between peak and off-peak travel. This is a great time to score great deals on flights and all-inclusive resorts, including Cancun favorite Garza Blanca, which is offering a fall sale right now (plus up to two kids stay for free).
And while the Yucatan Peninsula's wet season extends through October, most rain showers occur for minutes during the middle of the day—a great time to eat lunch or take a nap. Overall, you won't break the bank much by choosing Cancun if you want an international getaway right now.
Perfect for those who enjoy the great outdoors, Boise is becoming known as the more affordable Portland. In fact, many former Portlanders are moving to the city, which was ranked 11th among the "best places to live," according to the U.S. News & World Travel Report.
Spend your time in Boise hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and more. Plus with more than 200 days of sunshine a year, you'll get to enjoy the temperate weather with an average seasonal fall temperature of around 52.6 degrees.
Louisville is a hidden gem in the Bluegrass state that has recently seen a boom in tourism. And with so many things to do, it's no wonder why.
Baseball enthusiasts need to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum, where many MLB bats are still made; there's even a wall of cubbies labeled by baseball players containing their preferred type of bat. Families can save with The Main Ticket from Louisville's tourism group, Go to Louisville.
Get some Kentucky bourbon and settle in at an affordable Airbnb, or go glam at Louisville's 21C Museum Hotel, where you can have the spectacular experience of staying in a luxury hotel that's also an art museum for a very reasonable $179 per night.
Another location for outdoor enthusiasts, Asheville is nestled in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Spend your time exploring the United States' largest privately-owned house, The Biltmore Estate, where you can enjoy the expansive grounds with horseback riding, bike riding, and specialty events.
You can, of course, stay overnight at the Biltmore—but the Inn is quite far from "budget." Instead, shave off serious dollars by staying at The Beaucatcher, a "boutique motel" that will give you Schitt's Creek vibes—in the best way—and costs a mere $74 per night. Or, for a more elegant experience (that still doesn't approach The Inn's $500-per-night price tag), book The Kimpton Hotel Arras in downtown Asheville and bask in total luxury for $269.
Niagara Falls, NY
Home of the famous Niagara Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world, Niagara Falls, N.Y. is not to be missed—nor will it cost an arm and a leg. The most established hotels in the Falls area—the Sheraton, Marriott, and Doubletree, for example—all ring in under $140 per night.
Hike the Niagara Recreation Trail for great views of the Falls, or explore the Niagara Glen Nature Centre trail to gaze at the breathtaking fall foliage. If you love animals, make sure to visit the Aquarium of Niagara or nearby Buffalo Zoo.
Explore the streets of German Village, located slightly south of downtown. Lined with beautiful brick houses and cobblestone streets, this area is known for its quaint shops—including a bookshop that has a maze of over 30 rooms. Or spend the afternoon exploring modern marvels at COSI, the Center of Science and Industry.
Try the Aloft Columbus for boutique-hotel vibes for just over $100 per night.
Myrtle Beach, SC
A quintessential coastal town with a carnival-like pier, Myrtle Beach gives families an affordable beach option; in 2019 it was even named the "most affordable city" by USA Today.
From water activities such as parasailing, jet-skiing, and kayaking to shopping and family-friendly dinner shows, there's plenty to keep you entertained. You can save big bucks by using the city's Passport to Fun pass.
Located along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga has seen an explosive revitalization over the past couple of years. Trek to the top of Lookout Mountain—or make it easy on yourself and ride the Incline Railway—to see seven states at once. Or, travel inside the mountain where you'll discover the tallest underground waterfall, Ruby Falls.
Pigeon Forge, TN
Known as the home of Dollywood, (Dolly Parton's own theme park and water park). Pigeon Forge has become a mecca for entertainment. Enjoy affordable access to outdoor activities (ziplining, horseback riding, and hiking), shopping at the outlet malls, mini golf, go-karts, and more.
Vacation rental options in Pigeon Forge are aplenty; you can find gorgeous spots with pool and hot tub included for under $100.
One of the most overlooked capital cities, Austin, Texas is a major city with a small-town feel. Filled with plenty of quirky characters, an amazing food scene, and creative art, Austin is also the Live Music Capital of the World—or so their slogan goes. Their other slogan? Keep Austin Weird—and they're doing a great job of it.