Although the cooler weather often means we’re inclined to stash away our passports, the opposite has never been more true. As the touristy region in major tourist attraction around the world die down, now is the time to truly take advantage of all the globe has to offer with less crowds and a more authentic experience. Traveling in the fall allows you to mingle with the locals and get a taste for the everyday life experience of your target location.
As a school teacher in my other life, I often feel a heaviness when fall comes. I’m back to the grind and overwhelmed with all the work that seems to pile up overnight. However, I find that a Thanksgiving trip or spontaneous weekend in the mountains cheers me right up. Rather than shunning hte cold, I start to look forward to it!
Further, the colder seasons allows for opportunities that aren’t available in the warmer weather. Northern lights on your list? Ski vacation in the alps on your mind? Plan the perfect autumn excursion at these excursion for any budget!
Northern lights on your bucket list? You can start to witness this natural miracle in Iceland as early as September. And while the temperature will drop quickly through November, many activities are still accessible throughout the year. Horseback ride on the countryside, visit the black sand beaches, explore the Golden Circle and snorkel through Thingvellir National Park all autumn. The best part about Iceland in fall? This characteristically expensive destination drops drastically in price in the off-season, flights included! Save your pennies, grab your parka and get to the last of fire and ice.
A romantic city year round, Paris becomes especially glorious in the fall. While the majority of the city retires to vacation homes in the August, September means the city comes alive with the hustle bustle of locals. Family-owned restaurants reopen and petite boutiques renew business as usual. Rather than getting caught up in international tour groups, you can stroll the enchanted alleys of Montmartre and enjoy baguettes with true Parisians. The gardens become alive with colors and, most importantly, you can enjoy all Paris has to offer without swarms of people. Whether it’s the Mona Lisa or a day excursion to Versailles, witness the overwhelming historical beauty this metropolitan has to offer at a discounted price and an actual reason to wear your oversized hat.
If a European getaway is just outside of your budget, Montreal might be just the spot for you. Whether you prefer sipping chai lattes in quaint cafes or heading onto the slopes nearby, autumn this is the time to head up north. Plan to visit the illuminated Garden of Light open from September to October and take part in one of the many festivals going on. From music gatherings to cinema events, Montreal’s social scene is bursting at the seams as the weather gets chillier.
San Francisco, United States
San Francisco’s unique location can mean unpredictable weather. The summer often calls for rain and fog in the urban paradise while September through November means warmer temperatures and less people. Sunny weather means you can stroll the wharf, bike through Golden Gate Park, hike in Muir Woods and sip chardonnay in Sonoma while uninterrupted by Karl (the fog). You can even plan a last minute weekend getaway to Yosemite National Park as camp sites usually open up and the majority of trails are still open before winter’s snowfall.
Barcelona is a sought after destination year-round. Like many other cities, fall is the time for special festivals unavailable in the high tourist season of spring and summer. Check out the Stiges Film Festival or International Jazz Festival in September and October or venture to Gaudi’s exhibits without having to wait in line for tickets. Even better, warm temperature linger in the coastal city so you can still escape to the beach.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, United States
If you’re looking for an inexpensive fall getaway, it doesn’t get much better than Shenandoah National Park. Located a couple hours outside of D.C. this park burst in foliage come October. There are hiking paths for all levels and if you prefer a cozy adventure, head over to Smith Mountain lake to experience the world where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Campfires and hot chocolate are plenty.
Washington, D.C., United States
I couldn’t include this list without including my current home! D.C. summers can be brutal, like sweating-just walking-to-your-car hot. However, the weather seems to cool down once October first knocks on our door. The entire city relishes in the leaves changing colors and the absence of neon-colored tour groups. Now is the best time to get hard-to-find museum passes for new exhibits and enjoy walking along the National Mall without succumbing to a Segway stampede.
Where do you want to go this fall?