When most people think of ideal times for a weekend getaway, summer is usually the first season that comes to mind. The sun is out, the tunes are cranked to 11 and generally speaking, it’s the best time to be outside doing fun things. Or, at least, that’s common perception.
The reality, however, is that traveling in the summer can be pretty awful. Depending on where you’re headed, the summer months can be scorching hot and too uncomfortable to actually be outside. All your favorite destinations are packed with tourists who had the same ideas as you. If you’re trying to fly anywhere—even for just a weekend romp—you’re going to pay a premium for no good reason.
If we’re being totally honest, summer travel is actually kind of miserable.
That’s why we’ve decided to let our readers in on a little secret. If you’re looking for ideal weekend travel conditions, now—yes, right now—is the perfect time. The weather is cooler but not cold, air travel is cheaper and everywhere you want to go is guaranteed to be less congested and free of tourists. It’s the perfect combination for an ideal getaway.
Now that we’ve convinced you when you should travel, we can start helping you map out where. Here are some of our favorite fall weekend getaways:
Fall Getaways Just for Fun
A beach trip in the summer always sounds like a great idea until you get there and realize you can’t find a room for the weekend because they were all booked months ago, in addition to, of course, the beach being uncomfortably crowded. Any hope you had of actually enjoying a relaxing weekend down the shore (or lake!) is ruined.
The trick is heading out there on a weekend after Labor Day. Depending on where you live, your “Indian Summer” can last well into October, but your safest bet is catching one of those 85-degree weekends in September. Aside from being able to actually enjoy yourself, you’ll also find it easier to rent a room and usually at a cheaper rate, too. If you’re traveling with the kids, you’ll find less drunk idiots to deal with on the beach, and if you want your group of friends to be the drunk idiots on the beach, you’ll find less parents scowling judgmentally at you. It’s a win-win if we’ve ever seen one.
If you’re looking for fun in the middle fall months, from mid October-ish to late November-ish, a camping trip might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Most amateurs go in the summer when staying in a tent means turning yourself into a sweaty and miserable mess of stink for however long you’re out there, but organizing a trip in the fall is perfect. Wake up in the cool chill of an autumn morning, only to head out and warm up by last night’s leftover embers and wait with breakfast and some hot coffee as the sun slowly warms the earth again.
Whether you’re hiking, fishing, doing a little bit of hunting or even just hanging around and telling stories with friends for a weekend, camping is an excellent way to spend some time in the great outdoors. If you’re worried about the temperatures, don’t be—just make sure you have the right gear. Get yourself a seasonal sleeping bag that’s good for temperatures above freezing, and make sure you’re bringing plenty of layers along for the weekend so that you can take clothes off or put clothes on as needed. After all, there’s seriously nothing like being surrounded by the beautiful fall foliage.
Finding fun things to do in late autumn can be a little tricky, and a lot of it really depends on where you live. If you’re in the northern half of the country, by late fall, the leaves on the trees are dead and you may even be clearing your first few inches of snow out of the driveway. At the very least, you’re in peak ski season. Planning a weekend ski trip with your buddies early on in the season as possible ensures manageable wait times on the slopes, and will make finding a room for the weekend about as easy as it’s going to get.
You can also consider a weekend trip south, in places like New Orleans, Miami, Austin, Las Vegas, etc., where flights can be had relatively cheap (depending on where you’re going, of course) and where the earth hasn’t been consumed by white powder biting cold.
Fall Getaways for Romance
Finding couples things to do in early autumn is easy because the possibilities are pretty much wide open. Our best suggestion is take a trip to a new city. Whether you want to see what the scenery in Boston looks like instead of New York, or you’re trying to check out Napa Valley rather than kicking back in your cozy LA ranch house, or hell, even if you want to make the short flight from D.C. to Nashville, taking her somewhere new and creating memories in a place you’ve never been together—before the temperatures hit the dirt and after all the tourists have left—is the perfect thing to do, this time of year.
We can’t say it enough—there is truly nothing like foliage in the fall, especially if you’re in love. No matter where you are in the country or how you have to swing it, heading into the U.S.’s beautiful Northeast or Northwest and spending a weekend exploring the country is an absolutely perfect way to experience something thrilling, new and absolutely breathtaking together. Even if you stick to the Interstates, you’ll get to experience the twists, turns picturesque vistas for which this natural beauty is known.
Turn off your phones, go off the grid and book a cabin in the woods for the weekend. There’s nothing quite like being snowed in with the one you love, hearing the fire cackling in the backdrop while the wind howls outside. Take the weekend away from everyone else to just sit around and enjoy each other’s company in a charming new place you can make your own.
You can also hang out slope-side if you’re into a more active weekend respite from the real world. Or if that’s not really your thing, you can always look into a fun weekend cruise—and yes, they exist. The best thing about a weekend cruise is that it’s just a taste; just a short time away from real life, with the person you love, heading to a strange new place. And best of all, you don’t have to drive. In fact, you don’t really have to do much of anything. Just sit back and enjoy the view together.
Fall Getaways for Solitude
The absolute best thing about early autumn is that after Labor Day, everything opens up again. If you’re looking for a nice weekend away from your world, take a road trip somewhere new. The foliage won’t be near its peak yet, but at least you won’t hit all that crazy summer traffic on the way to where you’re going. Sometimes you just have to fill the tank, get on a highway and go nowhere in particular for a couple days. Pack some gear and a tent, and just hit the road. Early fall is also the perfect time for a solo fishing/hunting/camping/hiking trip. If you can kill two birds with one stone and make a nice trip of it, you’re golden.
When you’re slinking into the mid-way point of autumn, the elements start to turn against you. That means if you’re traveling solo, it’s best to steer clear of an outdoors excursion, even if you’re an experienced outdoorsman. We know we recommended it once above, but a fall foliage tour is also a great way to get some peace and quiet alone on the road. For us, a good long drive is therapeutic, especially when the view is worth having a gander at. Seek out new things—spend a weekend trying out new places to eat, visiting the museums you’ve been talking about for the last fives years, see a movie by yourself, visit a new and unfamiliar place… Hell, in this moment, the world is your oyster. Go do the damn thing!
Frankly, when we seek solitude, the only real thing we focus on is how to get far away as possible from the things that distract us most. Maybe the best thing to do when the weather gets cold and dreary outside is to have a little staycation. Take a weekend to just hang out inside, in a place where you’re comfortable and safe, and take some time to regroup. It might sound a little lame, but you’d be surprised at what kind of peace you can find without even having to leave the house.
If that proves impossible, grab yourself a hotel room/airbnb for the weekend. If you’re looking for the ultimate solo weekend getaway, find yourself a good spa—and before you even ask, the answer is: No, we aren’t kidding. More men are hitting spas than ever before, and plenty offer weekend packages designed specifically to take you away from the stresses and pressure of your everyday rat race. If you need to step away and tune out for a bit, definitely look into one of these.