7 Trips That Are Better (and Cheaper) in the Fall

Where to stay and what to do at each of them.

This article originally appeared on Money.

In economics, you learn that the more people want something, the more expensive that thing becomes. Unfortunately for travelers, the law of supply and demand applies to vacations, too.

That means traveling to a popular tourist destination like New York makes an expensive cosmopolitan city more expensive. The same goes for international destinations like Paris, where the City of Love shows little affection for your budget.

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If you wait until the crowds thin out, you’ll return home with a fatter wallet. Of course, that means knowing where to go—and where to avoid. Consider this a tour guide to great destinations with fantastic prices.


Instead of New York, Try London

Photo by Getty Images/ Fanelli Photography


Where to stay:

At the family-owned London Elizabeth Hotel, on the edge of Hyde Park, rooms range from $186 to $257, with 10% off bookings of more than three nights. The modern Bermondsey Square Hotel, near London Bridge, has rooms from $136 to $209.

What to do:

Admission is free to many London museums, unlike New York’s. The British Museum’s main galleries are home to the Rosetta Stone, mummies, and Parthenon marbles from the Acropolis of Athens. The Tate Modern houses one of the world’s great collections of 20th- and 21st-century art, and it just opened an extension focusing on film, live performance, and large-scale installations. For more contemporary art, don’t miss White Cube gallery.

When you get hungry, you’ll find decent fare at almost any pub, from fish-and-chips to steak-and-kidney pie, for about $15 a person. For something more cosmopolitan, join the post-work crowds at José on Bermondsey Street, an intimate corner tapas restaurant where you can enjoy dinner and a nice glass of Rioja for about $20.


Instead of Austin, Try San Antonio

Where to stay:

If you’re in town to see the Alamo, you can’t get much closer than the Gothic Revival Emily Morgan, which overlooks the 19th-century battlefields (rooms are $149 in September and October). The hip Hotel Havana is located on a quiet section of the River Walk and features minimalist rooms with wistful Cuban touches. Prices in the fall are $107 to $124.

What to do:

San Antonio’s collection of five 18th-century Spanish Colonial missions was recently named a Unesco World Heritage site, one of only 23 in the U.S. (free admission). The city also features 30 museums with four-star-plus ratings on TripAdvisor.

With the heat breaking, you’ll want to spend some time along the River Walk, the café- and art-lined canal and pedestrian path that meanders for 15 miles through downtown. Jump off the waterfront path at the Pearl, a historic brewery complex turned urban neighborhood known for its restaurants and locally owned shops, says Jordan Breal, travel editor at Texas Monthly. At Botika, the menu features Peruvian-meets-Asian dishes such as fried ceviche (dinner, $25). Worth a splurge: drinks at the dazzling new Hotel Emma, with its glassed-in library and the elegant, wood-paneled Sternewirth Bar and Clubroom, where the former brew tanks have been left in place to create semiprivate seating nooks. Cocktails are $10 to $15.


Instead of Burlington, Vt., Try Portland, Maine

Where to stay:

History buffs should opt for the Inn at St. John, located in a three-story Victorian guesthouse that opened in 1897. King-size rooms with private baths run from $99 to $215.

What to do:

Head to Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park ($6 admission) in Freeport, 30 minutes from downtown Portland, for the impressive foliage and a free ranger-led tour to visit resident ospreys along Casco Bay, suggests Bob Witkowski, author of 100 Things to Do in Portland, Maine Before You Die. For a different perspective, take a half-day guided kayak tour with Portland Paddle ($65).

After working up an appetite, head out “on the P” (the peninsula), as locals call it, to dine at one of the city’s 300 restaurants—not bad for a metropolis with a population of 65,000. Pamela Laskey, owner of Maine Foodie Tours (from $49), suggests Boda for its Thai tapas, such as quail eggs seasoned with soy sauce and scallions ($3 to $10). And don’t leave this storied maritime state without visiting a lighthouse. Sept. 10 is Maine Open Lighthouse Day, which means you can take free tours of dozens of lighthouses along the Maine coast that are rarely open to the public. In Portland, don’t miss a trip to the stunning Portland Head Light, where the first oil-lamp sentry was lit in 1791.


Instead of Paris, Try Montreal

Where to stay:

The strong U.S. dollar means that you can splurge for less at places such as the design-forward Le Petit Hotel, in the historic district. Rates average $220 in September and October. For an Old World feel, try one of the 30 rooms in the Manoir Sherbrooke, housed in a century-old mansion in downtown Montreal. Rooms go for $90 to $128 a night in September and October.

What to do:

Get your bearings at the new observation deck on the 46th floor of Au Sommet Place Ville Marie (tickets, $15). You’ll overlook some of Montreal’s iconic sites, such as the Gothic Revival Notre-Dame Basilica ($4 admission), which was founded in 1683, and the nine-mile Lachine Canal, flanked by a walking and biking path. For lunch, try Montreal’s signature sandwich, featuring a pastrami-like smoked meat, at the legendary Schwartz’s Deli ($7). Danny Pavlopoulos, co-founder of Spade & Palacio Non-Touristy Tours, recommends dinner at the Restaurant Le Diplomate.




Instead of Nashville, Try Louisville

Where to stay:

Each of the seven guest quarters at the Guesthouse on Story has a theme: the Bourbon Room, the Derby Room, the Ali Room. They start at $120 a night. Even five-star hotels can be a relative steal: At the stately Brown Hotel, built in 1923, rooms feature mahogany beds topped with Egyptian-cotton linens and start from $189 in September.

What to do:

From the replica of his training ring to his Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Muhammad Ali Center (tickets, $9) has always been a powerfully personal museum, and that’s especially true given his death this year. Located on museum row in Louisville’s historic center, it’s a short walk to the pedestrian-friendly SoFo (South of Fourth) area, home to galleries, shops, and cafés. For happy hour, order an old-fashioned, Louisville’s signature drink, at Bourbons Bistro, where select cocktails are half off every day from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Instead of Santa Monica, Try Santa Barbara

Where to stay:

The Eagle Inn, a charming bed-and-breakfast—it serves warm cookies every afternoon—is three blocks from the beach. October rates start at $143. The Agave Inn on lower State Street is about a mile from the Mission Santa Barbara and its historic park. The inn features whitewashed rooms with colorful accent walls, Mexican bed throws, and prices from $129 to $159 in the fall months.

What to do:

The Santa Barbara Sailing Center offers two-hour tours of the harbor and picturesque Stearns Wharf for only $12 a person; most other boat outings start at $35. Back in town, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is almost too pretty to be a government building, so it’s worth a visit to see its Spanish-inspired architecture and large sunken garden (free admission). Around the block is the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (sbma.net), known for its collections of Impressionist and Greek and Roman art. Admission ($10) is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

With more than 450 restaurants, Santa Barbara is also a foodie paradise. Krista Harris, editor and publisher of Edible Santa Barbara, recommends roaming through downtown’s side streets for hidden gastronomical gems. “Also downtown, check out the independent bookstore the Book Den,” says Ted Mills, host of the popular local Funk Zone Podcast. Keep an eye out for vintage cookbooks and rare and out-of-print tomes.


Instead of Venice, Try Rome

Where to stay:

Located not far from the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Hotel de Monti is housed in a rose-colored building that dates back to the 1500s. Rooms in September and October cost less than $150 and include breakfast delivered to your door. If you can stand the spontaneity, it’s worth booking your hotel at the last minute, as properties discount their prices within weeks of the check-in date. At the Villa Laetitia, located on the Tiber River, rooms feature 1920s tiled floors and balconies with city or garden views. They cost $200 in advance but are frequently available for $149 just a week before arrival.

What to do:

Sign up for a tour of the Forum or the Vatican with Context Travel, known for its small groups—a maximum of six guests—and led by experts who often have a master’s or Ph.D. in relevant Roman history. Tours are 15% off when booked from Sept. 4 to 10 (from $89 a person).

If you’re going to the Roman Forum on your own, try to schedule your trip for the first Sunday of the month, when admission is free (tickets, $13). Inside, be sure to check out the lesser-known Forum Boarium, which is made up of the Temple of Hercules (named for Hercules Olivarius, the patron of olive merchants), one of the oldest marble temples in Rome, and the Temple of Portunus. For dinner, try Renato e Luisa ($28), near the Campo de’ Fiori, says Natalie Kennedy of AnAmericanInRome.com: “Try the Italian classics like carbonara or the steak with a balsamic glaze.”