It’s somewhat obvious that we live in a day and age where it is hard to get away from it all. The majority of people own both a laptop and a smartphone, not to mention the number of tablets and smartwatches at the ready. It can feel like we are available 24/7, which is why weekend getaways and reconnecting with each other are so important.
Planning a Trip in the time of COVID?Keep in mind that information found in this article may have been impacted by travel restrictions and other closures. Double check opening hours, tour providers and hotel status before you go. And don't leave your home without travel insurance! If you are looking for an insurance provider that covers COVID-19, we recommend SafetyWing. Get Medical and Travel Insurance starting at just $40/month and you can sign up even if your trip has already started!
Many of us want to solely travel outside of North America, but why not explore our own continent by taking cheap weekend getaways or a quick New York weekend trip? There is so much to discover that is just a drive or a quick flight away, so here are a few options for fun fall weekend getaways for two!
6 Best Fall Weekend Getaways for Eco-Conscious Couples in North America
Speaking of where to go, having some weekend getaway ideas is important, so whether you are looking for romantic fall getaways or the best fall weekend getaways in general, here are a few suggestions of where to head for the best fall vacations in North America. As a side note, I’m not a fan of heading where everyone else is or supporting over-tourism, so these suggestions are fabulous places to head as the best weekend getaways for couples.
Fall Weekend Getaways in St. Augustine, Florida
This northern Florida destination is an easy consideration since it isn’t too far south. It is the oldest city in the United States, so it is filled with history, yet it has the beach and a fabulous foodie scene that is just waiting to be explored!
Facts About St. Augustine, Florida
I have found that it’s best to drive to St. Augustine, but if you need to fly, the nearest airport is Jacksonville (JAX), which is about 50 minutes away. The autumn weather in St. Augustine stays warm in the day (21-26°C or 70-80°F) and drops to 10-21°C (50-70°F). It’s perfect for exploring while not being stifled by the Florida heat.
What to Do in Fall Weekend Getaways in St. Augustine
As far as what to do, the list is seemingly endless, but take a few suggestions below to include in your weekend getaway ideas. One fabulous way to make the most of romantic weekend getaways in St. Augustine is to book a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour, which takes you around to various sites throughout the city.
Visit the Castillo de San Marcos, which was built in 1672 and is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum has a lovely campus with educational parts, including artifacts found from shipwrecks. You can climb the 219 inside the lighthouse, and the view at the top is worth it! The city also has an extensive connection with ghosts, and you can hear various stories on a walking tour. If you prefer to explore by boat, there are eco-friendly boating expeditions along the coast.
When it comes to dining, The Floridian’s menu changes with the seasons as they utilize local ingredients, such as meat, fish, and produce. The restaurant was featured in a farm-to-table episode of Emeril’s Florida and is a favourite among locals for its extensive vegetarian selections.
The city offers a lovely selection of vintage stores – my favourite form of sustainable shopping – that includes goods for the home and a bit of clothing, such as Cool and Collected and The Way We Were Vintage Boutique.
When experiencing fall weekend getaways in St. Augustine, skip the major hotels and settle in the historic area at an inn or bed and breakfast. St. Francis Inn is in the heart of the historic area with off-street parking (rare in St. Augustine!) and a lovely natural area. Amenities include a small pool, a koi pond, a natural garden patio area and – my favourite – complimentary bikes for guests to explore the historic area of St. Augustine.
Other not to be missed sites are the Flagler College campus, the white sand beach (just a short drive away), and other quirky sites such as the Pirate Museum and the Fountain of Youth.
New York City – One of the Best Fall Vacations for Couples
New York City seems to be on everyone’s list, and it’s no wonder. With the number of museums, theatre productions, boutiques, and quality restaurants, it truly has earned the name of the “city that never sleeps.”
Facts about New York City
New York City’s weather takes a dip in temperature in the fall, but it’s not frigid, which makes autumn the perfect season for a New York weekend trip. Highs can range from the upper 50s to low 70s during the day, and at night they can go down to 4-15°C (40-60°F), so be sure to pack accordingly.
Getting to New York City is very easy, as you can take a plane, train, or bus. Driving is also an option, but I will warn you that the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels are $15 USD to get onto the island. Once you are there, parking can be upwards of $40-$50 USD per day, so choosing another mode of transportation for a New York weekend trip may be better. The first time I went to the city by myself, I spent just as much on parking and transit as I did on my hotel, so just be aware and/or factor those costs into your trip.
Things to Do During an Autumn New York Weekend Trip
Truly, it seems like the things to do in New York City are endless. Take a Statue of Liberty Ferry Tour, or view the city from above via a romantic helicopter tour. If you love to learn, then head to the American Museum of Natural History, and theatre buffs can see The Lion King on Broadway. New York City is large and has many sites, so the hop-on/hop-off bus tour is always an option to get an overall view of the city while stopping at what interests you.
As far as where to eat, Italian lovers will enjoy Bread & Tulips, which makes their pasta and has a brick oven for pizza. Their rooftop bar has lovely views of the city. If you are looking for zero-waste restaurants, then test out Ancolie (Permanently Closed), where they serve their dishes in reusable glass jars that you can bring back for a credit on your next visit. For a truly unique experience dine at Grand Banks, which serves sustainably sourced foods and is located on a 1942 schooner.
It seems as though hotels are everywhere in NYC, but consider staying at one of the Library Hotel Collection properties, such as Hotel Elysee or the Library Hotel. Both of these properties offer a hearty continental breakfast, evening wine and cheese reception, and access to an off-site fitness center. There are several sustainable options in the city, or you can choose to stay across the bridge in New Jersey and take public transportation, such as getting a bus to and from Port Authority.
If you are already in or near the city, there are several weekend getaways from NYC, such as Philadelphia and New England, to explore.
Romantic Weekend Getaways in Niagara Falls, Ontario
For those seeking weekend getaways from Toronto, this one is fabulous! The area tends to be a bit crowded during the summer when kids are out of school, so heading to Niagara Falls can be one of the best fall vacations for couples.
Facts About Niagara Falls, Ontario
The weather starts to dip down in the fall, and temperatures can be near freezing at night in November with the highs being around 46 degrees. September and October are less frigid months with nighttime temperatures being in the 4-10 °C (40-50°F) and the daytime highs settling in the upper 10-21°C (50-70°F). Take a jacket or coat if you are heading on a weekend getaway in Niagara Falls.
If you are flying, the best airports to fly into are in Toronto (about an hour and a half drive) or Buffalo/Niagara (about a 45-minute drive). Driving into the Niagara Falls area is fairly easy. If you are not from Canada or are from the United States, you will need a valid passport. There is a queue at the border crossing, but it moves fairly quickly in both directions.
Things to Do in Fall Weekend Getaways in Niagara Falls, ON
Of course, the Falls themselves are the huge draw of the area, so be sure to stop by and take photos of this wonder. There are many Falls-centric activities such as a zipline to the Falls, helicopter flight over the Falls (well worth it!), and a boat trip into the mist of the Falls. If you would like to venture a bit away from the tourist area, Niagara-on-the-Lake has beautiful wineries to discover.
Restaurants in the area are plentiful, and if you want a great view of the Falls, head to Table Rock Restaurant. It is run by the Niagara Parks system and prides itself on utilizing local farm-to-table ingredients. A bit away from the Canadian Falls in view of the American Falls is Secret Garden Restaurant, which is surrounded by a lovely garden landscape and offers fresh food either indoors or on their patio.
Old Stone Inn Boutique Hotel is in a historic building and is within walking distance of both the Canadian Falls and the Clifton Hill area, where many of the shops are restaurants are. It’s perfect for parking your car and not having to worry about it again, as there are fees to park near the attractions and sights. Another historic place to stay is Niagara Grandview Manor, which overlooks the Niagara Gorge. The manor provides complimentary breakfast and on-site activities such as hiking and cycling.
Fall Weekend Getaways in Mesa, Arizona
When people think of Arizona, usually images of the desert and red mountains come into mind. Both are there, but you may be surprised at all of the watersports the area has to offer! It’s a fun place to head for a few days to experience the desert differently.
Facts About Mesa, Arizona
Mesa continues to stay warm during the day in the fall ranging around 32°C (90°F) during September and dropping to around 21°C (70°F) in November. The evening lows drop significantly lower than the daytime temperatures, so take along a jacket or cardigan for going out at night.
Getting to Mesa is a breeze as Phoenix is just 20 minutes away. The Valley Metro goes between Phoenix and Mesa and can take you to other towns near Phoenix. It’s safe, inexpensive and fun to ride, which is perfect for cheap weekend getaways.
Things to Do in Fall Weekend Getaways in Mesa, AZ
As mentioned previously, watersports are in full swing in Arizona. The Salt River is the main waterway, and Saguaro Lake – named after the cacti that surround it – is also a lovely place to enjoy. You can go tubing down the Lower Salt River or enjoy a 4.5-hour kayaking tour. A highlight for many travelers on fall vacations is to take in the Salt River on a whitewater rafting tour.
Downtown Mesa has a lovely shopping area filled with restaurants, vintage shops (yay!), and boutiques. Phoenix and Tempe are close by and make great day trips via the Valley Metro.
The best fall vacations include fabulous food, and Postino Wine Cafe is ideal for dining al fresco. Their seemingly endless wine selection is complemented by unique culinary delights, such as the crispy cauliflower, which is just one of their many vegetarian options. To get a taste of Mexico’s influence, head to Jalapeno Bucks for true Arizona style BBQ and dine in the orange grove. They have vegetarian options and burrito selections.
The Phoenician is the place to go if you want to be centrally located and enjoy the poolside bar service at your hotel. The property boasts 9 pools, a wellness spa, and several on-site restaurants. This hotel has green practices including using falconry to scare critters away. Ingenious! If you want to explore nearby Tempe Graduate Hotel in Tempe offers smart design in a redone building. While you are there, hike up A Mountain and enjoy the view, but be sure to take water as it is steeper than it looks.
Weekend Getaways for Couples in San Mateo County, CA
You may not recognize the name “San Mateo County” but when you fly into the San Francisco Airport, you fly into the county, which has a plethora of things to do. So, instead of heading to San Francisco, explore the areas of Palo Alto and Pacifica for your romantic fall getaways.
Facts about San Mateo County, California
The fall weather in San Mateo County stays fairly steady with the nighttime lows being in the upper 40s and low 50s and daytime temperatures hovering in the mid-60s to mid-70s.
Getting there is a breeze if you fly into San Francisco International Airport. Uber and Lyft are at the ready, and Caltrain are at the airport, making it convenient to get around. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) also services the surrounding area.
Weekend Getaway Ideas in San Mateo County, CA
The area is filled with beaches, golf courses, museums, wineries, and parks. Head to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse to get a beautiful view of the ocean and surrounding area. There are many outdoor activities such as taking a walk on Devil’s Slide Trail, or renting a bike, stand up paddleboard, or kayak in Half Moon Bay. Pacifica is known for surfing, so you can try taking surf lessons. Of course, head to San Francisco for a hop-on/hop-off tour to get acquainted with the city.
Whether you are craving seafood or a vegetarian meal, San Mateo County truly delivers with their As Fresh as it Gets campaign for restaurants. In Redwood City, LV Mar serves tapas-style meals with a Latin flair. For sustainable, fresh seafood and ocean-side dining, head to Sam’s Chowder House. For a quick bite in the morning, Granola’s Coffee House offers fresh fruit smoothies, coffee, and protein cookies. For traditional Thai food with a twist, stop at Coconut Bay Thai in Burlingame.
Dinah’s Garden Hotel in Palo Alto features lagoons with waterfalls in a garden-like setting. Their on-site restaurant features locally-sourced cuisine and sustainably sourced seafood. For a view of the Pillar Point Harbor with an active pier and kayaking in the bay, stay at Oceano Hotel & Spa.
If you happen to visit during the harvest season, be sure to check out all of the pumpkin-centric fun in Half Moon Bay including the Art & Pumpkin Festival.
Weekend Getaway Ideas in State College, Pennsylvania
Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy heading to State College, PA. Yes, it’s home to Penn State University, but the area offers so much more than just college-centric activities. Whether you want a downtown experience or to explore the outdoors, the area is perfect for both.
Facts About State College, PA
The weather for fun weekend getaways varies greatly in Pennsylvania. The temperatures around 20°C (70°F) in September, but they drop to 4-9°C (high 40°F) in November. It can also get chilly at night in November with the lows being around -1 – 3 °C (30°F). Be sure to take a coat for evening activities!
Surprisingly, State College has an airport, which makes it easy to fly in. Greyhound also stops in the area. Once you are there, the CATABUS can take you around the major sites, but you may want to either drive into the area or rent a car once you are there. If you live in the east, driving your own vehicle is convenient and budget-friendly, which helps make this one of the best weekend getaways for couples.
Ideas for Best Fall Weekend Getaways in State College
The campus of Penn State is beautifully maintained, perfect for walking around, and close to downtown, which is filled with locally-owned shops, restaurants, and boutiques. If you want to venture away from the college area, Bald Eagle State Park offers many hiking trails, kayaking, and fishing. The Arboretum at Penn State is both beautiful and educational, and nearby Penn’s Cave is one of the only caverns that can be explored via a boat tour.
For a truly cow-to-cone experience, grab an ice cream cone at Berkey Creamery. The whole process from raising cows to making and scooping ice cream educates students, and the results are delicious! The newly opened RE Farm Cafe focuses on a farm-to-table experience for its guests while teaching them about sustainable practices.
If you are conscious about the location and want to walk from place to place, then the Nittany Lion Inn is the ideal spot within walking distance from the university and downtown. The inn is a green initiative leader due to practices such as energy-saving efforts and composting leftover food. Another option would be to stay near the state park at The Nature Inn, which is an eco-lodge that uses geo-thermal heating, recycled building materials, and harvests its rainwater.
Making the Most of Your Fall Weekend Getaways
Romantic weekend getaways can be a fabulous way to experience a fun change of pace with the one you love. Try new things. Compromise on some of your activities by doing a bit of what one person likes and then a bit of what the other person wants to do. Also, take the time to relax a bit during fall weekend getaways so that you can arrive home refreshed and with a lot of memories.
So, no matter which best fall vacations you choose, I hope that you travel safe and enjoy the season!
Do you have any ideas for cheap weekend getaways or the best fall weekend getaways? Share them in the comments section below!