It can be difficult to plan an affordable and enjoyable trip to popular destinations, as there is almost always a high summer season and a high winter season. Not only are tourist attractions crowded in high season, accommodation providers are raising prices due to demand, restaurant reservations are scarce, and it is more difficult to socially distance yourself when there are crowds everywhere.
Here’s where a fall trip can be your best-kept secret. Consider these four American destinations with plenty to see, do and experience, lower hotel rates, thinner crowds, and spectacular weather.
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It is well known that the Pacific Northwest is beautiful in all four seasons, but fall is especially worth the time to visit. Home to lively festivals and rewarding events, Bellevue offers plenty to do in the fall – and with far fewer crowds.
Whether you want to take advantage of the self-guided Bellevue Art Walk to admire over 120 works of art, or try a rugged hike, kayak or experience the splendor of the backcountry, the outdoor experiences are perfect for distancing social. Be sure to allow time to visit the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, where you can wander the spaces and admire the art in the gardens.
Bellevue is less than 20 minutes from Seattle and temperatures from today until Thanksgiving are typically in the 50s. You can get some fresh air on a cool day while enjoying the fall foliage.
A good choice of accommodation is the Bellevue Club Hotel, a small property with 66 rooms and with original artwork and a balcony or patio for each room as well as two suites. To be more in the thick of things to do, consider a stay at the W Bellevue or Hyatt Regency. The W Bellevue and the Hyatt Regency Bellevue are linked by sky bridges to shopping, dining and entertainment.
Big sky, Montana
In winter, Big Sky offers world-class skiing and summer offers an abundance of warm-weather activities, including horseback riding, rafting or mountain biking.
But what about fall in Big Sky?
Busy winter and summer crowds are scarce, and it may seem like you’ve got the destination to yourself: with elk, moose, and bighorn sheep in sprawling Montana. Located about an hour from the western entrance to Yellowstone, it’s a quieter time to explore the wonders of the national park.
Surrounded by an abundance of mountain streams, rivers and alpine lakes, Big Sky is a great choice for trout fishing, which is still good in the fall, with fewer people. The Custer Gallatin National Forest and Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area in the Gallatin Canyon offer plenty of hiking trails, from short trails to ambitious hikes through mountain ridges.
Or hike the 1.6-mile Ousel Falls Family Trail under the leaves in pumpkin spice tones that ends in a spectacular 40-foot waterfall. When it comes to accommodations, the Rainbow Ranch Lodge blends rustic charm with sophistication and fall is a perfect opportunity to stay at one of Big Sky’s luxury properties for a fraction of the usual high season rates.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
For Midwesterners looking for a road trip, Lake Geneva is set in a scenic waterfront setting that showcases Wisconsin‘s aura of fall colors. There is an abundance of lakes, natural areas and outdoor recreation areas where you will find room to stroll, socialize and not only observe the leaves, but also hike, participate in water activities and walk around the city with fewer people.
Lake Geneva is located near the southern border of Wisconsin with Illinois. Chicago is about two hours south, Milwaukee is just an hour northeast, and Madison Airport is less than an hour and a half northwest. So, there is a lot of choice by car and three airports nearby.
Until October, autumn in Lake Geneva offers very pleasant weather – daytime temperatures in the 60s. November brings a bit more freshness, with daytime temperatures oscillating in the 40s.
Be sure to allow time for the Geneva Lake Shore Path, a remarkable find – a 34 km public trail that follows the shore of Lake Geneva, leading you to the back lawns of mansions built by wealthy Chicagoans as’ chalets. Summer âfollowing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fields are even more impressive against a backdrop of saturated fall colors. And while you’ll have million dollar views in all directions, the Shore Path is free.
For views from a different perspective, try the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Experience a leisurely guided tour on a double-decker boat. These cruises run until the end of October.
For breathtaking views of the fall color show, try a hot air balloon flight provided by the Lake Geneva Balloon Company. Flights are available until mid-November; However, the company stopped selling tickets for new flights.
For more laid-back fall fun, Lake Geneva offers apple orchards and corn mazes, biking and hiking in national parks and conservatories, lake kayaking, and farm-to-table cuisine.
After exploring the area, settle into the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa or the Geneva National Resort, as these two resorts are known for their quality accommodations, restaurants and golf.
Newport, Rhode Island
This New England destination is brimming with history, rich culture, and spectacular coastal scenery. Newport is less than two hours from Boston and 4.5 hours from New York and the fall season in this quintessential nautical city is characterized by impressive fall foliage. During the fall season, Newport hosts festivals like the Newport Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival, Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival, as well as street fairs.
Put on a light jacket and be sure to take Newport’s 3.5 mile Cliff Walk which offers both ocean views and views of Newport’s famous Golden Age mansions. The mansions are also open to visit, providing intimate access to artistic and well-preserved masterpieces.
More parks and the breathtaking coastline can be captured by traveling on Ocean Drive, a 10 mile coastal drive in Newport that is a must see. Drive or cycle for scenic views.
Other Newport fall activities include Ghost Tours, Pumpkin Palooza, Corn Mazes, and more Halloween-inspired fun.
While exploring this must-see city, plan to stay at Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina, an upscale four-season resort surrounded by water and overlooking Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor. Just minutes from downtown Newport, the property is home to the Italian restaurant Scarpetta and features an indoor pool and spa.