Fall travel guide: Four cheap U.S. destinations to visit during the off-season

There’s plenty to see across the US this fall, and the season is a great time to visit destinations that are prohibitively hot in the summer or extremely busy in the winter. Natalia Weidner, a Virtuoso-network travel advisor with Oakville, Ont.-based Travel Professionals International based, says that hotels are typically 10- to 30-per-cent cheaper in shoulder season compared to high seasons. Here are four US destinations to put on your to-visit list.

People ride swan boats on Orlando’s Lake Eola at dusk.Handout

Orlando, Fla.

Why it’s worth the trip: Weidner points to Orlando as a place that’s specifically easier on the budget during the fall. If you want to visit the city’s theme parks, it’s a quieter time to go because kids are back in school so family travel dips. Plus, there’s a thriving food scene that’s only getting buzzier thanks to four restaurants this year receiving Michelin stars.

What kind of weather to expect: Average temperatures run from 32 C in September to 26 C in November, and the later in the year, the fewer days of rain. September typically sees rain 11 days of the month, October five and November three.

How much you can save: Expect to save $50-100 a night at a hotel compared to peak season.

Where to stay: Lake Nona is an up-and-coming neighborhood focused on the future – it has self-driving public transit and Lake Nona Performance Club is an integrative health and fitness center that’s home to Deepak Chopra’s first Mind-Body Zone, a study for mindfulness and movement classes. A stay at the design-forward Lake Nona Wave Hotel gets you complimentary access to the Performance Club. The casually elegant Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers free shuttles to two Disney parks, Epcot and Magic Kingdom. The hotel also has its own golf course for those looking for a different kind of fun.

Traveling in Napa Valley in the fall is just the right time to catch the harvest and sample fresh produce.Bob McClenahan/Handout

Napa Valley, Calif.

Why it’s worth the trip: Head to Napa Valley in late fall and you’ll catch the tail end of harvest season and the bounty of fresh produce.

What kind of weather to expect: Average temperatures range from 31 C in September to 18 C in November, so packing layers is the way to go. Average rainfall is minimal; November typically has the most, with six days of precipitation.

How much you can save: Hotel savings run from 25 to 40 per cent off a night compared to peak season.

Where to stay: Carneros Resort & Spa, surrounded by vineyards, has resort-style lodging and newly renovated private cottages complete with their own gardens. The onsite restaurant Farm makes use of hyperlocal produce. And the fourth night is free on bookings four nights or longer, available until Oct. 31. Napa’s newest luxury inn, the five-room Francis House, is offering the third night free for guests who book two. The property, built in 1886, is on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors can take in the Charleston architecture with a carriage tour.

Charleston, SC

Why it’s worth the trip: While still under the radar for many, Charleston is hot on the heels of New Orleans and Austin as a southern destination that surprises. In January, 2023, the city will see the opening of the International African American Museum, which will chronicle the history of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the US There’s also an exciting dining and cocktail scene here to keep you sated.

What kind of weather to expect: The September average is 28 C, October sees mid-20s, while November dips to an average of 20 C. Rain is minimal, with an average precipitation of four to seven days per month.

How much you can save: Hotel stays can be $100-$150 cheaper a night compared to high season.

Where to stay: The Ryder, a fun boutique hotel in downtown Charleston, opened last year and pairs a fun vibe with its Southern flair. The poolside Little Palm is an indoor-outdoor café and cocktail bar featuring local specialties such as oysters and shrimp rolls. Planters Inn is a Charleston institution, located in the heart of the historic district. This is the only US hotel to be furnished exclusively with decor from the Baker’s Historic Charleston Collection, a heritage furniture brand that’s been creating pieces since the 1890s. It’s also home to one of the best restaurants in the city, Peninsula Grill.

Old Town Scottsdale is best seen on an electric bike.Jenna McKone/Handout

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Why it’s worth the trip: Scottsdale is known as a year-round golf and spa destination (well, maybe not in the height of summer, it is in the Sonoran Desert after all), but what most don’t know is that it has a “secret” low season , between US Thanksgiving and Christmas, where travelers can find significant savings. Plus, this is a place that loves Canadian travelers and you can often find specific deals created for us to take advantage of.

What kind of weather to expect: You’re virtually guaranteed to have non-stop sunshine between September and December. Scottsdale has rain only one day a month. Temperatures get cooler as the year goes on, from averages of 30 C in September to 20 C in December.

How much you can save: Traveling during the city’s secret season can save you up to 30 per cent on stays, and for Canadian travellers, the destination has a program called Loonie Love, which includes promotions such as 10 to 25 per cent off at several of the area’s resorts.

Where to stay: Senna House is Old Town Scottsdale’s newest hotel, close to the town’s Entertainment District, as well as the Arizona Canal Trail, a multiuse path for cycling and walking. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is one of the city’s icons, and is one of the best places in the city for pampering, including aerial yoga and deep-tissue massage with arnica oil. For golfers, the hotel is a preferred partner with four local courses and has a golf concierge program to arrange tee times and guide your games.

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