Where are you headed next? We just got the results of the TripAdvisor Fall Travel Survey, and a whopping 83% of you—16% more than last year—are planning a leisure trip this fall. It’s hardly a surprise why you say you want to travel in the fall: Fewer crowds than in summer, and more pleasant weather, not to mention the ability to view fall foliage. Honestly, if I didn’t have kids in school, I’d move all my summer travel to fall.
Most survey respondents (69%) will be sticking to the U.S. this fall, and the most popular U.S. cities for leisure trips will be New York City, Boston, and Orlando. That’s probably because New York City has much nicer weather and a more active cultural calendar in autumn than in summer, Boston is the gateway to New England’s fall foliage, and, with kids back in school, Orlando is far less crowded in the fall. (Theme parks that take two days to visit during the summer take only one day in fall; you don’t even need to buy a fast pass.)
Cities can be really pricey in the fall, though—especially New York City, what with the seasonal influx of business travelers. If you’re still trying to make your fall travel plans and are seeking a shoulder-season value—shoulder season being that window when rates drop from their peak yet conditions are still great for local activities—consider foregoing major cities in favor of places that are packed with families in August but clear out after Labor Day. A few ideas:
Year-round beach communities, where rates drop precipitously after Labor Day. September and October are lovely months for oceanfront resorts from San Diego (think the Grand Del Mar) to the Georgia coast (think Saint Simons Island) to Cape Cod (think Chatham and a grande-dame such as the Chatham Bars Inn.) Even when it’s no longer bikini weather in New England coastal towns, there are plenty of atmospheric autumn activities on offer, from cranberry and apple picking to country fairs.
U.S. national parks, where the colors are glorious and the lodge you want is likely no longer sold out. If you’re one of the many travelers headed to Las Vegas (the #4 most popular U.S city for trips this fall), consider sneaking off for a couple of nights to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, or even the Grand Canyon.
Large countryside resorts that cater to conferences. There are a lot of these in the Southwest, for instance—think golf resorts in Arizona—and you can score steeply reduced rates if you visit on dates that fall in between those conferences.
Whether you’re bound for city or country, to find the latest hotel deals, go to the TripAdvisor page for the destination you’re considering, click on “Hotels” in the navigation bar, and you’ll see a drop-down menu that includes hotel deals as well as last-minute offers.