fall pansies

Finally, it feels as though fall has arrived everywhere. School is well under way, the trees are bursting with color, there’s a chill in the air, and my family is ready for the next getaway. There is something rather spectacular about a mini trip planned exclusively in the fall. With the shortened daylight hours, there is a sense of appreciation for these last opportunities to get out and explore while the weather holds. Thankfully, in part due to timing and also because we maximize great coupons, these vacations are often more affordable. After quizzing friends and researching the internet, I’ve composed a list of favorite fall destinations on our radar right now.

beach at sunrise

Ah, yes. The never-ending appeal of the beach. Fall is actually one of the best times to go for many families. The rates are lower, the beaches and restaurants less crowded, and the water is still warm from the summer. Here are the beach destinations we’ve heard the most about:

  • Golden Isles, GA – This beach is tucked between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL. Four different barrier islands mixed with marshland create a stunning landscape that can be admired from the beach, town, or one of the many golf courses throughout. This spot offers a high/low blend of charming boutiques, restaurants, and activities.
  • Seaside, FL – This quaint beachside town is also where The Truman Show was filmed years ago. It is picturesque for families, with most traveling the entire town by either foot or bike. It offers plenty of activities for all ages, from yoga on the beach to paddle boarding to day camps for kids.
  • Santa Cruz, Ca – We’ve been hearing great things about this little surf city in California. While the main attractions are the beautiful beaches, the hotels apparently are outstanding as well. Additionally, there are several award winning wine and dinning destinations that make this as much fun for adults as it is for kids.

the mountains

The other pull for our family, at the opposite end of the spectrum, are the mountains. Cozy fires, breathtaking views, and crisp mountain air rejuvenate one’s spirit this time of year. With that, here are the mountain spots we have on our list:

  • Asheville, NC – This amazing mountain town is renowned for it’s artistic vibe. Folk art, galleries, music, and writers all come together to create a very unique atmosphere. The downtown is a veritable hub of interesting shops and things to do, but the mountains are of course the main attraction.
  • Gatlinburg, TN- This Tennessee town was once named one of the prettiest in America by Forbes. Not only can one camp, hike, bike and birdwatch, but there is also a ski slope and amusement park. Another reason it’s a hit: many of the cabins come with hot tubs, and what is better than being in a hot tub outside when it is freezing?
  • Aspen, CO – Personally, I find Aspen fantastic no matter what season it is. However, in the fall Aspen is absolutely and quite literally golden. Like the beach, these next couple of weeks are considered “off-season” there too, which means lower rates and less people wandering around. And, though the peak time to view the leaves is late Sept-early Oct, now is a great time to catch an early snow.

marathon runners

Okay, this may not be for every household, but running is a BIG thing in ours and fall offers an unbelievable number of races to participate in or watch. Truly, even if you don’t run the race, these events are full of fun activities and high energy and can be a great excuse to visit a new city. These three are on our bucket list for sure:

  • Marine Corps, Arlington, VA – This marathon kicks off this weekend. It’s a favorite among runners given the course, time of year, and weather for it (usually). The course takes you past some of the most well-known memorials in the US. This race also has a reputation for its professionalism and sportsmanship. Afterward, you can head on into the Capital for a little more sightseeing.
  • New York City Marathon -NYC – This particular race is one giant party. For the runners and spectators alike, half the fun is in people watching. From the crazily costumed racers to the crazily costumed supporters, there is a whole lot of fun to be had here. Not to mention, it gives the family a good reason to get to the Big Apple.
  • Honolulu Marathon, Honolulu, HI – If the words Honolulu and Hawaii don’t do much for you, you can always go for the course! This marathon is great for first-timers as it is known to be an easier course with a gorgeous scenery all the way through and lovely weather.

So that’s what our family is currently discussing. But tell me – what did I miss? We’d love to add even more options to our list!