Sitting at your desk daydreaming about your next vacation? Who isn’t? As the seasons switch, it’s the ideal time to escape the hustle and bustle…and bleak skies outside. While a waterfront bungalow on the other side of the world may be out of your budget for a weekend getaway, there are still some pretty incredible adventures to be had this fall/winter. Whether it’s a beach hot spot that’s in the off-season, a bustling town tucked away in the desert or a short flight somewhere abroad, here are some last-minute fall weekend getaway ideas for those who are looking to escape the cold. Go on, let spontaneity win this time.
It’s okay if you’ve never heard of this mountain oasis. It’s a small town but with big views of the Great Smoky Mountains. There are lots of fair-like experiences (think fried foods, amusement park rides, and space needles) as well as cabin rentals with private hot tubs where you can warm up. You definitely can’t miss the 2.1 aerial cable car that travels from downtown to the ski resort Ober Gatlinburg, offering a gorgeous perspective of the fall foliage.
How to save more: Rent an AirBNB! You can find romantic or group-friendly cabin rentals starting as low as $89/night.
If you live in the midwest or northeast, you can pretty much expect freezing temperatures and a steady blanket of snow for, well, months. So before you dive in to the layers-upon-layers of clothes, take a quick retreat to the heat. Miami heat, that is! It’s cheaper to fly to Miami than to areas of the Caribbean further south, and since it’s the off-season, you’ll find more reasonable rates at hotels. Plus, the water will stay almost bath-like until mid-November.
How to save more: Be smart about commuting. Stay in South Beach and walk or rent a Citibike to get around instead of an Uber. Or, if you’re up for taking the bus, you can stay in downtown Miami, where there is tons of shopping, and commute to the beach.
Though scaling the dunes in Egypt or riding a camel in Morocco would be #goals, your budget probably isn’t as tall as the pyramids you want to witness. However, you will (sort of) feel like you’re in another world when you land in Tucson — minus the pricey international flight. It’s a desert hot spot, with plenty of local eats, fun hotels, and adventures. Once you touchdown, everything else is inexpensive. So much so that U.S. News & World Report listed it as one of the most affordable vacations in the country.
How to save more: What’s better than cheap? Free! Take advantage of the many (many!) activities in the area that don’t cost a thing: San Xavier Mission, Catalina State Park, and countless others.
Looking to for a fall weekend getaway that’s out of the country? It’s amazing what 48 hours in Canada can do. Overall, the city of Montreal in the Quebec region is affordable — and it sort of feels like you’re in France. Everything here is French-first so signs will be displayed in two languages, giving you the opportunity to test out those phrases you learned in high school. Also, at the heart of the city is food: You’ll spend money dining out — not on overpriced activities.
How to save more: If you aren’t great at translating or accents, try to learn one sentence and one sentence only: Apportez-votre vin. Whats it mean? Bring your own wine! You’ll save majorly by picking up a bottle in your budget, rather than paying for the surcharge at an eatery.
The clock is running out on making it to Europe before the next decade begins (yep: decade), so if you still haven’t ventured to Portugal, consider this a sign. And a red, sweet one at that: Head to Porto, rated the cheapest European vacation, making it an ideal fall weekend getaway! You’ll find impressive savings by flying into Lisbon (starting around $400, roundtrip, depending on departure city) and taking a short train to Porto. It’s famous as the home of Port Wine, and the infamous book store where J.K. Rowling was inspired to write the Harry Potter series.
How to save more: The city is known for its architecture — hence the name — so get lost walking around on your own, instead of booking pricey tours. From bridges to buildings to parks and other structures, you’ll find plenty of Instagram-worthy places to admire. Oh — and once you find a bottle of port you like, buy it, so you’ll cut back on expensive tasting fees.
Often known as the jumping off point to visit Machu Picchu, Cusco experiences it’s rainy season starting in November, making it an ideal pick for those who are budget mindful. Peru, in general, is among the cheapest South American countries to visit, and you can cram a lot of adventure in a short time period. Consider flying into Lima, staying a night, and then flying to and exploring Cusco before taking a train to the ruins. Though you may have to sport a rain jacket and could experience chilly winds, you’ll still stand in awe of history.
How to save more: Research hostels that have rave reviews — and inexpensive nightly rates. Many offer private rooms, if you’re weary, that are ideal for couples or friend duos on the go.