13 Affordable Fall Weekend Getaways

by Julie Sprankles
Sep 19, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Is there any denying that Mother Nature really puts on a show in the fall? From the changing leaves to the crisp bite in the air, the season is a work of art. It's enough to give anyone a serious case of autumnal wanderlust because of course you want to soak up every splendid second of fall's glory you can from as many vistas as possible.

There's only one rub: Travel costs money, and budgeting for a fall-centric vacation every other week may not be in the cards for many of us. Unless, that is, you combine the best of both worlds and opt for fall weekend getaways that just so happen to be affordable too.

The following locales are just that. Some are off the beaten path; some are right outside major city centers — but they all make the best of everything autumn has to offer. See for yourself.

1 /13: Glens Falls, New York

1/13 :Glens Falls, New York

Situated in upstate New York, Glens Falls is a secret gem of a town full of charm and fun things to do. From Thursday, Sept. 21 to Sunday, Sept. 24, hundreds of hot air balloons will take to the sky for the 45th Annual Adirondack Balloon Festival. The festival features live music, yummy food, a craft fair and plenty of family-friendly activities. Best part? Admission is free. Take advantage of the quaint scenery with a historic walking tour for only $15 or visit practically any weekend in October for one of Glens Falls or the neighboring towns' many fall fests.

2 /13: Custer, South Dakota

2/13 :Custer, South Dakota

You can't get much more Wild West-meets-fall than watching a massive herd of buffalo being rounded up over the hills of Custer, South Dakota. There is truly no shortage of things to do and see while visiting this outdoorsy town, from visiting the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial or Mount Rushmore to taking a ride on an 1880 steam train. Lodging options include hotels, inns, log cabins and plenty of camping at Custer State Park or in the nearby Black Hills, so you can customize your trip based on your budget. 

3 /13: Unity, Maine

3/13 :Unity, Maine

If you're looking for fall foliage, the northeast will never disappoint. And while Maine's busiest season is the summer, that's part of what makes a fall visit so perfect — the crowds are thinner, the air is crisper and Mother Nature is showing off her full glory. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy this getaway, either. Admission to the Common Ground County Fair, a major draw each year, is only $15. Other budget-friendly activities include visiting the Amish settlement in town, touring the Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm and/or spending an afternoon at the Younity Winery & Vineyards.

4 /13: Cherokee, North Carolina

4/13 :Cherokee, North Carolina

If you haven't been to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall, you're missing out. If you have, well, you know why we can't recommend a fall getaway here enough. The scenery in Cherokee (think mountains, streams, windy roads and wildlife) is hard to beat, and the people are amazing too — the town prides itself on its rich Native American history and the preservation of native culture. There's so much to choose from in the way of entertainment: visiting museums, taking photos of Mingo Falls, watching an outdoor drama beneath the stars, touring historic Native American villages and more. Plus, if you're feeling lucky, you can try your hand at Harrah's Casino. 

5 /13: Circleville, Ohio

5/13 :Circleville, Ohio

Small town charm and hospitality abound in Circleville, Ohio. Situated South of Columbus, this friendly locale comes to life each weekend of October with the famous Circleville Pumpkin Show. With no admission fees and every pumpkin-flavored food you can imagine (Pumpkin burger? Yes, please!), it's a must-visit. Circleville also boasts a nature preserve, state park and winery. If you've got a musician in the family, they'll no doubt take great delight in the Ted Lewis Museum.  

6 /13: Croton-on-Hudson, New York

6/13 :Croton-on-Hudson, New York

With trail rides, the Hudson River and area parks, Croton-on-Hudson is an outdoor lover's dream. And since it's in New York, you'll be treated to a stunning spectrum of leaf hues too. But that's not all that this town has to offer. Held every weekend from Sept. 29 through Oct. 24, the Great Jack o' Lantern Blaze is a fall spectacle like you've never seen. Everything is crafted out of jack-o'-lanterns from the Pumpkin Promenade to the Pumpkin Zee Bridge.

7 /13: Wareham, Massachusetts

7/13 :Wareham, Massachusetts

A short drive from Plymouth, the town of Wareham, Massachusetts, may not sound familiar — but it will after this. Because can you think of any activity more quintessentially northeastern or fall-focused than a cranberry harvest? The Annual Cranberry Harvest Fest is an old-fashioned family festival full of food, live music and, naturally, cranberry-centric activities overlooking the cranberry bog. So mark your calendar. This year, the festival will be held Oct. 7 and Oct. 8. Bonus? Admission is only $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and military and free for kids. 

8 /13: Biglerville, Pennsylvania

8/13 :Biglerville, Pennsylvania

Biglerville, Pennsylvania, may be a small town of only about 1,200 people, but it is, in fact, big on personality. You won't want to miss the quaint Thomas Brothers Country Store or the distinctive Round Barn Farm Market. If you get thirsty during your adventures, there are wineries and breweries for your quenching pleasure. Plan your trip around the National Apple Harvest Festival held during the first two full weekends in October to truly get the best fall bang for your buck, though. While there, check out the Apple Auditorium, try your hand at apple syrup making or marvel over the antique cider press. Admission is only $10 for adults and kids under 12 get in free. 

9 /13: Dawsonville, Georgia

9/13 :Dawsonville, Georgia

If you prefer your fall getaways to be a bit more temperate, Dawsonville, Georgia, may be just the ticket. Depending on when you visit, you'll likely be able to enjoy some peak leaf-peeping along with a host of other outdoor activities, like hiking and bird-watching. Dawson County boasts the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi along with Lake Lanier and two world-class rivers. Got a racecar fan in the house? Check out the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you'll want to make an appearance at the Mountain Moonshine Festival, held Oct. 27 through Oct. 29 — a *ahem* spirited tradition for 50 years.

10 /13: Hailey, Idaho

10/13 :Hailey, Idaho

File this under your "things you never thought you wanted to do but are far too cool to pass up." Each year, the town of Hailey, Idaho, holds a Trailing of the Sheep Festival. Held Oct. 4 through 8 this year, the festival is considered Idaho's premier cultural event and includes quirky attractions such as Wool Fest, the Sheepherder's Ball, Sheep Dog Trials and the impossible-to-miss sheep parade right through town. When you're not taking in the sheep-centric sights, though, Hailey also offers other favorite fall activities (think pumpkin farms and apple picking). 

11 /13: Santa Fe, New Mexico

11/13 :Santa Fe, New Mexico

Foodies, raise your hands — and, hey, self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs raise yours too. If you want an unforgettable fall getaway in the Southwest, plan on attending the 27th Annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta Sept. 27 through Oct. 1. This world-class culinary event couples 75 of Santa Fe's best restaurants with 90 national wineries for five full days of food and wine fun. There'll be cooking demos, wine seminars and, at the weekend's end, the Grand Tasting at the Santa Fe Opera. Ticket prices vary according to event, so you can create an a la carte foodie weekend that fits your budget. 

12 /13: New Ulm, Minnesota

12/13 :New Ulm, Minnesota

If you're saving your weekend getaway days for craft beer meccas, you need look no further than New Ulm, Minnesota. As the people of New Ulm say, Germans have more fun... and this unique town is proof. Dubbed "the most German city in America," New Ulm is chock-full of German culture, restaurants, shops and people. They even have a glockenspiel. It's one of those places that may not have jumped off the map at you before, but once you've been, you'll want to come back a million times more. A good place to start? New Ulm's Oktoberfest — hailed as one of the best in the nation — which takes place Oct. 6 and 7 and Oct. 13 and 14. 

13 /13: Coney Island, New York

13/13 :Coney Island, New York

With summer's end comes a lovely respite from both stifling heats and crowds, although you can bet Coney Island gets its fair share of visitors year-round. Fall is an ideal time to visit for the aforementioned reasons, but also because most of the iconic rides run through the end of October. Grab a famous hot dog at Nathan's and meander down the beach boardwalk. Visit the New York Aquarium. On weekends in September, delight in the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. In October, take a literal stroll down memory lane with the Coney Island History Project Walking Tour. How much you do determines how much you spend, so budget accordingly for what is sure to become one of your favorite fall destinations.