3 Fall-Perfect Weekend Trips For Less Than $500

We don’t know about you, but we spent the entirety of our travel budget over the summer, and whatever remains is currently being squirreled away for the holidays. This doesn’t mean, however, that we want to be stranded at home throughout fall, so we decided to do some digging into affordable getaways that will keep us out of the way of hurricane season’s worst. Here, three off-the-beaten-path trips Mint.com won’t get mad at you for and Instagram will adore.


Idyllwild, California

In LA circles, Idyllwild is the new Joshua Tree, which is to say it's quietly trending. The mountain town, which you can reach by aerial tramway from Palm Springs, is similarly an oasis in the middle of nowhere, and we want to enjoy its almost untouched, locals-only culture this fall. Fun fact: The mayor of Idyllwild is a dog.

Where to stay: If you live nearby and are only going to drive out for one night, splurge on the Quiet Creek Inn or the Strawberry Creek Inn—don't worry, the rest of your stay will be cheap. If you're planning to do two nights, Silver Pines Lodge offers quaint, Grandma's-house-reminiscent cabins for less than $100 per night. The Idyllwild Inn is likewise affordable.

Where to eat and drink: IDYology is the closest thing to a hot spot Idyllwild has to offer—play board games while boozing and, if you're so inclined, indulge in the Baby Maker, a pre-made, jalepeño-infused cocktail that's allegedly responsible for a conception or two. The bar serves food we can actually recommend—we also like Plant Food Supper Club, the town's vegan eatery, Cafe Aroma and Ferro for meals.

What to do: Hiking is big in Idyllwild, and it's a great way to explore what was once dubbed "America's cleanest forest"—trails of all levels are available. If you're artistically inclined, you may want to check out the workshop schedule at Idyllwild Arts or visit the works of local artists at Singerton Fine Arts.


Salem, Massachusetts

Fall is the best time of year to visit Salem, for obvious reasons. And though prices are hiked somewhat to deal with this demand, there are still budget-friendly options for exploring the city and all its macabre offerings.

Where to stay: To make things affordable, we suggest you stay Friday night in Boston—there are just more accommodation offerings at every price point—and then head to Salem on Saturday. We love any of the city's charming bed-and-breakfasts. Check out the Amelia Payson House or the Salem Inn to start.

Where to eat and drink: Though we now know we should be watching our seafood consumption, you can't very well visit a coastal town without enjoying some fresh fish. We recommend The Lobster Shanty and yes, it offers something called a Lobstertini, a shellfish-specific version of the classic dirty martini. For brunch, try the Ugly Mug Diner, where diner foods are still served at diner prices, and pancakes can be ordered with peanut butter cups and bacon on top. Also worth a visit is Bit Bar, an arcade, bar and restaurant fashioned (perhaps, darkly) out of the Old Salem Jail. We don't know what is happening in Salem re: food, but this spot offers such crazy concoctions as an elk burger served on a dough-ssant (doughnut/croissant), and we are (maybe?) into it.

What to do: If you've never been to Salem before, you'll obviously want to visit the Salem Witch Museum—some B&Bs offer free admission as a part of your stay. Make sure to take in the Salem Witch Walk as well, and there are a host of other haunted happenings to be found here. According to Travel+Leisure, there's a witchcraft renaissance taking place in Salem right now, which is worth checking out if you're more into the present than the past. Stop by Hauswitch + Home to shop a collection of New Age trinkets or by Artemisia Botanicals for a class from the Green Witch School of Herbalism. Find courses in modern witchcraft via The Witches Education League.


The Enchanted Circle, New Mexico

Fall is beautiful in New Mexico, and it's a great time of year to visit for a quiet trip devoid of summer or ski crowds. We're partial to the Enchanted Circle area in the northern part of the state, which centers around Wheeler Peak and includes the city of Taos, which has traditionally been a favorite destination for artists, including Georgia O'Keeffe.

Where to stay: If you can snag a room, the Mabel Dodge Luhan House is affordable and historic, as the aforementioned artist Georgia O'Keeffe used to stay there (before it was a hotel). Its namesake was a patron of the arts, particularly within the Taos community. Also historic is the Taos Inn, which has been around since 1936 and once provided shelter for Greta Garbo. A stay here will put you in close proximity to the venue's Adobe Bar and Doc Martin's restaurant, both of which are worth a visit.

Where to eat and drink: Speaking of food ... happy hour at Lambert's of Taos runs seven days a week, so this discount window is a great way to sample the restaurant without breaking the bank. For a special meal prepared using local, organic ingredients, try the Love Apple. If you're just looking to grab a drink, do so at El Monte Sagrada's Anaconda Bar or at Taos Mesa Brewing.

What to do: Hiking trails are plentiful in this area—you can find a full list here. More adventurous outdoorsy types can go rafting on the Rio Grande. Worry not, however, if you'd rather stay indoors, as there are plenty of museums, shops and other sites to visit. Don't miss the Millicent Rogers Museum, the Taos Art Museum, The Harwood Museum, the DH Lawrence Ranch, the San Francisco de Asis Church and the El Rincon Trading Post, to name a few. If you're able to get away ASAP, you can catch the Taos Art Festival and the Taos Environmental Film Festival, both of which run until October 1. Later this fall, the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally will offer Instagram gold.