Kids are back in school, and though it’s technically a couple more weeks to the equinox, let’s face it: Summer is over. While you may be shunned from polite society for wearing white now, you can absolutely take advantage of the travel values shoulder season brings. With smaller crowds, nicer weather and lower prices, fall isn’t just for football and pumpkin spice everything. It’s a great time to take a trip. Here are a few places where you can maximize beauty and budget in the autumn.
New England & Canada
The changing leaves and charming towns are a sight to behold, and there are great cruise itineraries that make their way up the East Coast from New York or Boston to Montreal. The light this time of year really works wonders, especially as afternoon fades to evening. For a land-based getaway, Virtuoso-preferred properties such as Pitcher Inn in Warren. Vt., and Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine, are the kind of picturesque spots perfect for a long weekend of bringing hygge, the Scandinavian philosophy of getting cozy, to the States. In Western Canada, there is still time to catch the end of Rocky Mountaineer season with awe-inspiring train rides through the Rockies. Virtuoso-preferred Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and Fairmont Banff Springs have fall retreats designed around mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
The national parks out West have been packed all summer, but now is a great time to see animals scurrying to prepare for winter. Natural Habitat Adventures’ Hidden Yellowstone Wildlife Safari takes visitors in search of wolves, grizzlies and elk, just to name a few as they migrate to their winter homes or hunt their last meals before settling down for hibernation. Virtuoso-preferred Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole has a National Parks Explorer package available until late October. Virtuoso-preferred Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colo., has a 40 percent special from mid-October to mid-November, and Alpine Adventures has a 25 percent off early bird promotion on stays of four or more nights at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe booked by Sept. 29.
We aren’t the only ones with gorgeous autumn leaves, and there are fall foliage cruises that take advantage. Windows to Japan offers a Japanese Garden Tour subtitled Aesthetics At Its Finest. After a couple days spent in a celebration of colors among Kyoto’s mountain gardens, you’ll surely agree that the name fits. Abercrombie & Kent’s Wings Over China fall tour takes guests on a journey from Beijing to Hong Kong with visits to the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors of Xian, on a bamboo raft along the Li River and to the floating villages of the Tanka community.
With school back in session, there aren’t nearly as many Americans wandering about, and Europeans have finished with their August vacations. As a result, favorite European destinations are populated by actual locals going about their daily lives. Shoulder season is a wonderful time for authentic experiences without fighting your way through huge crowds in the heat of summer. Among the diverse destinations offering fall discounts are the Virtuoso-preferred Alpina Gstaad in Switzerland, Grace Santorini in Greece and Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen, but there are savings to be had all across the continent.
Summer may be ending, but it’s not too late to capture that carefree feeling.