I was recently asked to write a fall themed travel article for our work newsletter, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and blog about fall travel in the Pacific Northwest this week as well.
Fall is one of my favourite times of year and probably my favourite of all seasons for travel. In many places September and October are considered “shoulder season” with great weather, low prices and fewer crowds than the popular summer months. Of course, if you have kids in school, or family members who are educators, it can be difficult to get away at this time of year, but fall also comes complete with several holidays and there are great travel options even if you can only get a few days off. Here are a few of my favourites:
1) Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan in summer really doesn’t appeal to me that much. It’s hot, it’s dusty (or smoky in the case of this last summer), it’s packed and the prices are crazy. But as soon as the Labour Day weekend goes by everything changes. Temperatures mellow out a bit, the crowds go home and prices can drop by as much as half. This is a wonderful time to visit the many wineries in the area and the fall colours in the vineyards are gorgeous. Condos that rented for $3-400 per night in August can be as low as $100 in October. And it’s still only 3-4 hours away!
2) Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is another place that tends to be quite busy in the summer, but it’s mild climate makes it perfect for a quick fall getaway. Just like in the Okanagan, hotels and rental properties that went for hundreds of dollars a night in summer can be found for half that or less in the fall. The ferry costs can add up, but the BC Ferries website offers package deals for hotel and ferry that can be a great bargain in the off season. And as an added bonus, they are offering 50% off most passenger fares this fall. If you’ve ever wanted to see more of this part of the province, now is the time to do it!
Whistler is a very popular destination for both summer and winter sports, but some great deals can be found in spring and fall. For example, the Pan Pacific Mountainside resort is offering a two night package including parking, daily breakfast and one free dinner in a studio suite for $239 per night over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Canadian dollar may be taking a beating right now, but it’s a little less painful to add 25-30 percent to the price of everything in the fall. Seattle is just far enough from Abbotsford to feel like a vacation, but not so far that it feels like half the trip is getting there. Pike Place Market is great in any weather and much more pleasant when it’s not packed with cruise ship tourists. Seattle has plenty of indoor sights like the Pacific Science Center, the Museum of Flight, the Seattle Children’t Museum and the surrealist Experience Music Project. The fantastic Woodland Park Zoo is about 30% cheaper after September 30 and even offers a half price discount on rainy days, which makes it perfect for a fall trip in the Pacific Northwest. (And it’s way better than the Vancouver Zoo!)
Okay, don’t laugh! We’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times in fall and it’s a great time to visit, even if you only have a few days. There are great deals on flights from Seattle or Bellingham to California in fall and hotel prices are the lowest of the year. Sure, admission tickets are still sky high, but the smaller crowds mean you can see and ride everything in two or three days, vs four or five when the parks are packed. If you are a fan of Halloween you’ll love the place in September and October when the (non scary) Halloween theming is everywhere. If you’re more of a Christmas person, the decorations are all up by the middle of November, long before the Christmas crowds arrive.
So while some may see fall as a time to hunker down at home, do some nesting and enjoy bundling up as the weather cools, I see it as a great time to head out and explore the world, even if you’re staying close to home. Get out and find some beautiful fall colours and some great fall travel bargains. Travel doesn’t need to end when summer does!