31 Affordable Trips To Take This Fall

Photo: Franco Banfi/Getty Images.
Think you can’t afford a killer vacation this fall because you’re strapped for cash? Well, start scoping out airfares, because it’s possible to travel — even overseas — for under $100 a day, including lodging, food, and activities. The trick? Choosing the right destination, skipping the ultra-fancy hotels, and conducting yourself like a local (i.e., using public transit and opting for affordable local eats instead of pricey tourist-trap restaurants). The bonus? Traveling this way means you'll have a more authentic holiday than you would at a traditional resort.

Ahead, discover 31 of the best destinations for budget-conscious travelers. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, cultural immersion, romance, amazing food, or serious beach time, you'll find it here.

Note: Accommodation prices fluctuate according to season; what’s listed here is current for fall, 2016.

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Sighisoara, Romania
This picturesque walled city was built by Saxons in the 12th century. Explore an 400-year-old clocktower, and sip an elderflower cordial in the Plaza while people-watching. Gothic churches and cemeteries can give the place an almost spooky feeling, especially when you remember that Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) was reputedly born here. You can visit his childhood home still, these days a restaurant. From here, you can also explore the rolling hills of Transylvania, dotted with sheep and fields of hops. The nearby famous Transfagarasan Highway is a curvy, high-altitude road that was once declared the best in the world by Top Gear — and not for the faint of heart.

Where To Stay: Romania remains relatively affordable compared to much of Europe, which may explain how you can stay in a nearly 500-year-old house for around $30 a person. The Casa Georgius Krauss is located in the center of the old city. You won't be roughing it, either. Breakfast and free Wifi is included with your stay.
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Photo: Mariusz Kluzniak/Getty Images.
Kyoto, Japan
The old lives alongside the new in Japan's third-largest city. Less expensive (and less crowded) than nearby Tokyo, Kyoto offers plenty to travelers on a budget. Many of its famed temples and palaces are free, though you do need advanced reservations. It's also a bike-friendly city, so for as little as a ¥1,000/day rental (around $10), you'll have the entire city at your fingertips. Plenty of Japanese street food runs you under $5 a meal and you won't have to sacrafice taste for cost. Stand-up noodle bars, yakitori joints selling chicken skewers, and department store food halls all offer quintessential Japanese meals that won't break the bank.

Where To Stay: You don't have to stay at on of Japan's famed "capsule hotels" to get a deal on accommodations in Kyoto. Many budget hotels offer small but spotless rooms to both travelers and businesspeople alike. For a truly unique experience, stay in one of the city's ryokan, a traditional inn that includes hot spring-fed baths. Gion Ryokan Q-Beh offers accommodations starting at less than $30 a night.
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Photo: Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images.
Kampot, Cambodia
Cambodia is Southeast Asia’s most up-and-coming destination, thanks to a stabilizing government and improved tourism infrastructure. If you’re looking to get away from it all, there’s the remote island of Koh Rong Sanloem in the Gulf of Siam, but for a more cultural experience, head to the laid-back river town of Kampot. Faded Colonial architecture and fishing boats are romantic counterpoints to a clutch of galleries, restaurants, buzzy bars, and classic dives (my pick: The Stumble Inn). Get into activities like stand-up paddle-boarding, or explore the countryside by motorbike early in the day to beat the heat; then, retire for a nap or massage (it will run about $10). In the evening, take a sunset river cruise before kicking back at a riverfront bar. For eats, don’t miss the hand-pulled noodles at Ecran (a funky restaurant/movie house) or excellent Cambodian specialties like amok at family-owned Home Foods. For a caffeine fix and breakfast, Café Espresso is the place.

Where To Stay:
La Java Bleue Hotel in Kampot’s old French Quarter is lovely; rooms start at $29 per night. If farm-stays are your thing, Ganesha Eco Guesthouse is located about 15 minutes from town by tuk-tuk (a motorized rickshaw). Built entirely by hand from reclaimed materials, it’s a chilled-out tropical fruit plantation with a destination-worthy restaurant and rooms that start at around $14 per night.
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Photo: Getty Images.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The driest desert on the planet lies in Chile’s far-northern Altiplano region. Stark, eerie, and visually stunning, the landscape is one of conical volcanoes, shimmering lagoons populated by flocks of flamingos, dramatic gorges, and the country’s largest salt flat. The main town of San Pedro de Atacama is your hub for adventure, from trekking and mountain biking to horseback riding. Feeling lazy? There’s stargazing tours (Atacama also has the clearest night skies on earth), hot springs, and spas. San Pedro, while a tourist mecca for the intrepid, is a sleepy place with adobe walls and buildings, dusty streets, and appealing restaurants (don’t miss specialties like pastel de choclo — a baked dish made with ground corn, meat, egg, and olive) and bars. Stay awhile and immerse yourself in indigenous Atacameños culture and the otherworldly landscape.

Where To Stay:
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more adorable and welcoming hostel than Aji Verde Hostel, which offers a variety of options, from romantic safari tents (with beds) to dorms and private doubles. A large native garden and local folk art add to the charm. From $14 a night.
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Photo: Allan Baxter/Getty Images.
Austin, Texas
Do you dislike live music, nationally acclaimed restaurants, rowdy honkytonks, architecture, historic sites, festivals, offbeat boutiques, galleries, museums, and just generally having a good time? Then it's probably best to avoid Austin. For the rest of us, the capital of Texas is basically a playground for adults, and the biggest challenge is trying to do it all. One of the coolest things about the city is how easy it can be on your wallet. There are plenty of free or low-cost activities, and once you work up an appetite, it’s all about food trucks; the options are endless, and you can eat well for around $5. (Don’t miss the breakfast tacos at Veracruz All Natural and the to-die-for pizza at Via 313.) Imbibing? The dive-y biker vibe at Yellow Jacket Social Club is aces, but for a more Texan experience, head to the Little Longhorn Saloon or The White Horse. Tip: Forgo touristy, tacky West 6th Street and head east or to the South Congress ‘hood instead.

Where To Stay:
Yes, it’s mere steps away from the aforementioned West 6th Street, but Firehouse Lounge & Hostel is also clean, friendly, comfortable, safe, quiet, and walking distance to everything downtown has to offer. Rates start at $31 per night.
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Photo: Tom Cockrem/Getty Images.
Asuncion, Paraguay
Imagine a safer, more low-key Rio de Janeiro located on a mighty river, and you'll begin to understand why the capital of this small, tropical nation — bordered by Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil — is so captivating. Flowering trees, decrepit, colorful Colonial and gothic buildings, a turbulent history, excellent museums (don’t miss the contemporary art at Museo del Barro), exquisite (and ridiculously cheap) handicrafts, an abundance of excellent street food, and beguiling neighborhoods like Barrio San Jerónimo make this walkable city one of the world’s best urban destinations. Despite the dozy daytime vibe, Asuncion has a lively nightlife, because that’s when the temperature dips (relatively speaking). Kick it in the Plaza with a tereré (cold mate tea, often spiked with fresh medicinal herbs called yuyos), snack on the softball-sized empanadas and chipa guazu (a cheesy, soufflé-like cornbread) from iconic Lido Bar, or sample the fresh juices and tres leches cake from El Bolsi. Paraguay's relaxed vibe will have you reconsidering your return to reality. Speaking of which, there are direct flights from Miami.

Where To Stay:
Even if you don’t get homesick, the Black Cat Hostel feels like family. Mother-daughter duo Lilia Valdez and Violeta Colman (and furry feline accomplice Mathias) opened Paraguay’s first hostel in 2009, and you won’t find more gracious hosts. Located in a century-old former private home, the Black Cat is quirky, safe, spotless, and centrally located. And at $9 per night, the price is most certainly right.

Bonus Destination: Concepción
Concepción is technically a four-hour bus ride from Asuncion (but be prepared for the journey to take up to 12 hours, pending road and climatic conditions). The 18th-century river port, known as Paraguay’s “Pearl of the North,” has a multicultural air influenced by early European and Arabian immigrants, as well as crumbling colonial buildings and a friendly, easy vibe. Stay at Granja El Roble, a charming farm just outside of town. The English-speaking owners will also arrange tours, and rooms run around $25 per night. The food is excellent and largely produced on-site.
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Photo: Franco Banfi/Getty Images.
Ischia, Italy
Capri is justly famous for its views, the Grotta Azzurra, and celeb sightings, but Ischia is its more low-key neighbor. Take the ferry from Naples to this arid, volcanic island known for its rustic cuisine (rabbit, seafood, honey, wine, limoncello) and geothermal activity. If you don’t have the cash for a spa visit, take a dip at Le Fumarole beach instead. A bus from the main port (also called Ischia) will drop you near the dreamy, cobblestoned village of Sant’Angelo. Settle into your accommodations and live la dolce vita: espresso, beach, lunch, nap, hot springs, nap, limoncello, dinner, repeat.

Where To Stay:
Airbnb it, and you could snag a whole apartment for under $50. It takes some searching and booking ahead, but yes, really.

Bonus Destination: Naples
Since you can’t get to Ischia without traveling through Naples, why not spend a few days? Contrary to what you may have heard, the city today is a vibrant, multicultural port with some of the best food you’ll find in Italy — as you’d expect from the birthplace of pizza. Don’t miss the pies at da Michele and di Matteo and the staggering array of produce, marine life, and street food at the Porta Nolana seafood market. There’s no shortage of centrally located hostels.
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Photo: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images.
Asheville, North Carolina
The Southeast’s whitewater-rafting capital is a chill mountain town with a burgeoning reputation thanks to its craft breweries, restaurants, and music scene. Fuel up at Early Girl Eatery or Biscuit Head; for lunch or dinner, try the famed BBQ at 12 Bones or pizza at All Souls. Follow the carbo-loading with mountain biking, strolling through the Botanical Gardens, hiking, or stand-up paddle-boarding (24-hour rentals are $40 at Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours and include a shuttle to Hominy Creek). Come nightfall, there are plenty of bars and music venues, like The Grey Eagle, where you can catch both regional and national acts.

Where To Stay:
Bon Paul & Sharkey’s Hostel is homey and offers free bikes for exploration around town; it’s also dog-friendly, for an added fee (private rooms only). Rates start at $27 per night.
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Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
Kathmandu, Nepal
While still recovering from last year’s devastating earthquake, the historic sites are open, and it’s largely business as usual in Nepal’s chaotic but alluring capital city. If you can get past the smog and traffic, you’ll find a fascinating, kaleidoscopic, cross-cultural, and surprisingly cosmopolitan blend of Hindu and Buddhist religions, intricate architecture, and world cuisines. There are UNESCO Heritage sites, museums, palaces, the destination-worthy Saturday Le Sherpa farmers market, boutiques, craft markets, and nightlife that carries on into the wee hours. Also worth a visit: Pashupatinath Temple, a famed Hindu site on the Bagmati River. (If you’re so inclined, you can see bodies being cremated on the ghats.)

Where To Stay:
Friendly Pilgrims Guest House has a variety of rooms, from $14 per night. Located in the backpacker region known as the Thamel, it’s walking distance to most city sites and will leave you enough cash to indulge in a massage (a great way to soothe post-trek soreness or escape the insanity of the streets).
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Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
Hana, Hawaii
East Maui is a world apart from what most visitors to Hawaii experience. Hana has stayed true to its cultural and historic roots, and remains a largely agricultural community, albeit one that gets a lot of day-trippers who come to drive the famed Hana Highway and do an obligatory dip at ‘Ohe’o Gulch (a.k.a. the Seven Sacred Pools). Let them head back to their condos and resorts, while you camp on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Spend your days exploring remote waterfalls and swimming holes, horseback riding, or beach-hopping (note that the surf here can be rough, so exercise caution). For breakfast, stock up on tropical fruit, banana bread, and other farmstead products at Laulima Farm Stand; for lunch or dinner, hit one of the food trucks or roadside shacks in the area (we suggest Da Chow Wagon), before splurging on sunset cocktails on the lanai at swanky Travaasa Hana. Things get lively across the street at Hana Ranch Restaurant when there’s live music.

Where To Stay:
Kipahulu campground is 10 miles from Hana and offers barbecues and pit toilets. If you want to be closer to town, Wai’anapanapa State Park has tent sites and cabins (from $60/night), lava tubes for exploration, and a black-sand beach. Be sure to book well in advance at both campgrounds.
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Photo: Brenda Shelley/Getty Images.
Essouira, Morocco
This 18th-century port and fortified city (the medina is a UNESCO Heritage site) in western Morocco has become a beguiling beach town and windsurfing epicenter with a serious cool factor. Narrow, winding streets, whitewashed buildings, boutiques, beachfront cafes where you select your meal from piles of the day’s catch…it’s a city made for meandering. The shopping is epic, too — splurge on affordable textiles, spices, pottery, leather goods, and metalwork.

Where To Stay:
Airbnb has plenty of great deals that boast Moroccan flair, with tiled riads (interior courtyards) or rooftop terraces overlooking the Atlantic. Many start as low as $30 per night.
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Photo: Santa Barbara, CA/Getty Images.
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is one of America’s most iconic and culturally significant cities, and while not inexpensive, it’s possible on a budget if you plan wisely (the lovely city parks, botanic gardens, beaches, and some historic sites are free). You’ll need a car to access hiking and mountain-biking trails, but you can walk or pedal the boardwalk and State Street, which boasts blocks of shopping, eating, drinking, and cultural attractions. Part of Santa Barbara’s appeal, besides the balmy Mediterranean climate, is its Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival architecture, prime examples of which can be seen at the 18th-century Mission and County Courthouse. The Museum of Contemporary Art is free (donations welcome; other museums offer free days). If you’re counting dollars, there’s no better base than the Funk Zone district on lower State Street. Three blocks from the beach, this formerly run-down industrial ‘hood is now the hottest destination on the Central Coast. Head to Lucky Penny for wood-fired breakfast and lunch dishes, or Mony’s Taqueria, which has a bomb salsa bar and meals for under $10.

Where To Stay:
The Wayfarer is a stylish, 27-room hostel/boutique-hotel hybrid right near the beach. Room rates include breakfast and start at $79/night.
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Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
This laid-back beach resort four hours north of Sydney by car is blessed with a mild climate and year-round surfing, fishing, canoeing, sea kayaking, and more on the nearby Hastings River. There’s also wine tastings, hiking, paragliding, rock-climbing, horseback riding, and even camel safaris. In early winter (which is our summer here in the U.S.), most of the crowds have dispersed, making it the ideal time to visit. Refuel at acclaimed restaurant Fusion 7; chef-owner Lindsey Schwab has cooked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the U.K. and Australia and earned accolades for his artfully executed, seasonal Antipodean cuisine, served up in a warm, casual atmosphere.

Where To Stay:
Airbnb is the best way to experience Port Macquarie; beachy digs with private rooms start around $44 per night.
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Sydney, Australia
It’s definitely possible to visit this notoriously pricey city without slumming it or starving. Sydney is exceedingly walkable (with a vibrant café culture that makes stopping for coffee or a snack irresistible), and threaded with parks and paths that take you from residential neighborhoods to harbor to beach. Surrey Hills is a great neighborhood for inexpensive ethical fare, but for my money, Chinatown is the place to eat. No-frills Chinese Noodle Restaurant draws international visitors for its addictive hand-pulled noodles, while Dixon House and Sussex Centre food courts have stalls serving up dishes from all over Asia. Equally compelling is the Sydney Fish Market in Pyrmont, where you can take in an eye-popping array of jewel-colored indigenous species and purchase prepared food from vendors. Work it all off by exploring the charming Darlinghurst neighborhood or walking to Circular Quay, taking in the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (it’s also where you can hop an inexpensive ferry to the scenic Northern Beaches or Harbour Islands). My favorite Sydney activity? The gorgeous Bondi to Coogee Walk, which winds for 3.7 miles along the sea cliffs and beaches of the eastern suburbs. Need a dose of culture? Sydney is home to world-class museums; the Art Gallery of New South Wales boasts an excellent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection.

Where To Stay:
In a city rife with crappy hostels, Wake Up! Backpackers raises the bar. It’s walking distance to most attractions, with bright, attractive rooms, friendly, helpful staff, and well-organized activities, if you so desire. From $39 per night.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Quito, Ecuador
Ecuador’s capital — the world’s highest at 9,350 feet — boasts a historic center that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Base yourself nearby to better admire the religious buildings (some of which date back to the 16th century), museums, and palaces that are an architectural melding of European and Moorish styles. Good eats can be found at the Mercado Central (must tries: locro, a delectable potato-based soup enriched with avocado and cheese; and hornado, aka roast pork). Quito’s main bus terminal is your jumping off point to all manner of adventure activities, from trekking and mountaineering to whitewater rafting in the Amazon Basin.

Where To Stay:
Pretty Hotel San Francisco de Quito is located in a renovated 17th century home, smack-dab in the middle of the historic centro. Rates start at $38 per night.

Bonus Destination: Tena
Tena is Ecuador’s whitewater epicenter, based at the confluence of the Tena and Pano rivers. Founded by missionaries, it has a strong indigenous and cultural influence, but this relaxed jungle outpost also has a strong backpacker vibe. It’s accessible by bus from Quito and offers one-stop shopping for all of your adventure activity needs, from kayaking to trekking.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Tupiza, Bolivia
Southern Bolivia is staggering in its geography and biodiversity: think red rock formations, ravines, high-altitude lakes, volcanoes, and desert, with a Wild West vibe. That latter makes sense, as the frontera town of Tupiza is the alleged locale for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s final heist and resting place. Take an overnight bus from La Paz and base yourself here for adventure activities like horseback riding (you can opt for overnight trips that include stays at estancias, or ranches), volcano-bagging, or hiking. Tupiza is also an alternate jumping off point for multi-day Jeep tours to Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat (itself a reason to visit Bolivia); Tupiza Tours is one of the region’s most well-established and reputable outfitters. There’s not much to do in Tupiza proper, but do visit the Mercado Campesino for a cultural experience and tasty eats (the tamales de bolas are a regional specialty).

Where To Stay:
Across the street from the train station is clean, welcoming Hotel Mitru Anexo. Rooms are comfortable, and you can use the pool at sister property Hotel Mitru down the street. Rooms start at $20.
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Photo: Paul Brown/REX/Shutterstock.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Once a well-kept secret, this small northern city is now the biggest tourist attraction in Laos. Don’t let that discourage you from visiting; it’s easy to fall under Luang Prabang’s spell. The historic old town center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but even if ornate palaces and Buddhist temples aren’t your thing, there’s lots to love. Its location on a peninsula between the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers means there’s plenty of outdoor recreation, from trekking and paddle-camping to tours of a well-run elephant conservation center. In town, there are art galleries and handicraft boutiques, and ridiculously cheap massages (a great way to break from the stifling midday heat). Don’t miss the morning food market if you’re up to snacking on fried cockroaches or ant eggs. Not your scene? There are plenty of cafes and restaurants geared toward Western palates, as well as Lao street food (see if you can resist khao nom kok — addictive little coconut fritters) and stands selling variations on smoothies and baguette sandwiches made to order. For a small splurge, do dinner at one of the open-air seafood restaurants along the river. Nightlife revolves around the bustling handicrafts market, but the best reason for an early night is ensuring you’re awake for Tak Bat, a daily alms-giving ceremony in which a procession of Buddhist monks make their rounds. Seeing their saffron robes moving through the mist is an unforgettable sight.

Where To Stay:
Agoda.com is a hotel booking site for travelers in Asia, with photos, reviews, and properties that cater to every budget. Luang Prabang has dozens of inexpensive accommodations, but it’s always wise to book ahead to get the best deals, especially during high season (November to January).
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Photo: Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images.
Viñales, Cuba
With travel restrictions between Cuba and the U.S. easing, there’s never been a better time to visit. Havana is a must, but don’t limit your trip to the city or beach. The UNESCO Heritage-designated Viñales Valley (the main town as well as the municipality are known as Viñales) on the western part of the island is an important agricultural region (tobacco is the main crop; there are tours that take you from farm to factory). But it also shows another side of this complex and geographically stunning country. The Sierra de los Organos mountain range forms a backdrop, while outcrops known as mogotes dominate the otherwise lush landscape. The region was colonized in the early 18th century, and little has changed. You’ll see men driving teams of oxen, and tobacco being harvested by hand before being laid out to dry on wooden racks. Cuba may be changing fast, but here, a rich multi-cultural community thrives, bolstered by music, folklore, and farming.

Where To Stay:
Casa particulares, or rooms in private homes, have long been the black market accommodation of choice for visitors to Cuba. Now, you’ll find them on Airbnb. In Viñales, expect to pay from $13 for a no-frills private room; if you want extras like air-conditioning and laundry, expect to pay about $30 per night.
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Photo: Dallas Stribley/Getty Images.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
This tiny, virtually car-free island off the Yucatan Peninsula is no longer a well-kept secret, thanks largely to its crystalline waters and a burgeoning arts scene. Go now, before the fishing village economy, camp sites, and inexpensive cabana accommodations become a thing of the past. Just a short flight from Cancun or Playa del Carmen (you can also take the ferry from Chiquila), Isla Holbox offers sea kayaking, kite-boarding, fishing, snorkeling, and wildlife viewing (part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, the island is an important and rarefied ecosystem). One of the biggest draws is swimming with migrating whale sharks, considered a vulnerable species, from May to September.

Where To Stay:
At charming Hostal Ida y Vuelta there’s an array of accommodation options, from private houses to hammocks with mosquito nets. From $10 per night.
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Photo: Anna Gorin/Getty Images.
Hood River, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the nation’s most beautiful drives — an 80-mile stretch that features forested hiking trails, camping, waterfalls (77 in all), and cool, mossy canyons. It’s also home to an important salmon fishery and hydroelectric dam. Outdoorsy types should make the sweet little town of Hood River home base, not just because it’s a world-class windsurfing locale, but also for its proximity to Mt. Hood and its dining, drinking, and shopping options (which are pretty limited elsewhere in the region). Caffeinate and grab a bite at Dog River Coffee before hitting the trail, or swing by Boda’s Kitchen, a deli with an emphasis on sustainable sourcing. My favorite hike is Oneonta Gorge, a slot canyon that ends at a 100-foot waterfall. Depending on the time of year, you’ll need to wade, swim, or scramble, but it’s well worth the effort. Give your muscles a rest by driving the scenic Hood River Fruit Loop, stopping at farm stands and wineries en route. Join the locals at Double Mountain Brewery for a cold one (or three), and brick-oven-fired pizza.

Where To Stay: Eco-conscious construction complements the modern, boutique vibe at Hood River Hostel; complimentary breakfast just sweetens the deal. From $50 per night.

22. Bonus Destination: Portland
Oregon's largest city is just an hour away, and the ideal urban getaway. Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the nation, with miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails; keep things citified by exploring appealing neighborhoods like the downtown Pearl District, Alberta Arts District, and Mississippi/Williams ‘hood, which boast buzzy eateries, bars, food truck pods, boutiques, galleries, and music venues. Stay at the convenient Friendly Bike Guesthouse.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Khao Sok National Park, Southern Thailand
It’s not easy to get to, but intrepid travelers will be rewarded for their efforts. Home to Thailand’s largest virgin rainforest, massive limestone formations and some of the planet’s most biodiverse flora and fauna — including Asian elephants, gibbons, Malayan tapirs, 300 species of birds, and the Little Shop of Horrors-esque Rafflesia kerrii flower — Khao Sok also offers distinctive treehouse lodging. You can set out on self-guided hikes (tip: wear long pants and high socks, lest you return covered in leeches), but it’s worth splurging on an overnight stay on one of the floating “lodges” on Cheow Larn Lake, followed by a day of caving and trekking. Not for the faint of heart.

Where To Stay:
Khao Sok Tree House Resort offers a variety of arboreal accommodations, as well as half-, full-day, and overnight tours and camping trips. Lodging starts at $28 per night. Dry season (December to April) is the best time to visit.
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Photo: Alan Copson/Getty Images.
Stowe, Vermont
If hiking, biking, paddling, antiquing, and quiet evenings are your thing, Stowe — and the surrounding Mad River Valley — is a rejuvenating getaway. In summer and fall, the ski resort offers spectacular scenery courtesy of the Green Mountains. Hit the Sunset Ridge Trail for views of the Champlain Valley, or hike to Moss Glen Falls, one of the most alluring cascades in the Northeast. For delicious, affordable eats, locals love Green Goddess Café for its baked goods, breakfasts, and sandwiches. Speaking of food, Vermont is renowned for its cheese and other artisan foods, and progressive family farms, so be sure to hit the Stowe Farmers' Market, held Sundays from May to October.

Where To Stay:
Hostel Tevere has artsy co-ed dorms, an in-house bar featuring local craft brews, and an outdoor pool and hot tub. Summer rates start at $38/night.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
This small Southwestern city is a geographical, cultural, architectural and historical treasure best explored on foot. And, while there’s no shortage of places to spend money — from world-class art galleries to high-end hotel spas — it’s just as easy to enjoy Santa Fe on a shoestring, given its aesthetic and outdoor attributes and carefully preserved sense of place. Hike the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains; admire the art installations, adobe homes, and flowering gardens on and around Canyon Road; or check out the “miraculous staircase” at Loretto Chapel; it’s all free. Many of the excellent museums also offer free days (check out the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in particular), and summer means free concerts and festivals including September’s 10-day Fiestas de Santa Fe. When it comes to food, skip the fine dining scene, and indulge in regional fare at Pantry Restaurant, Johnnie’s Cash Store (tamales for under $5!), El Parasol, and Tia Sophia’s. The nationally acclaimed Santa Fe Farmers Market in the Railyard does righteous adovada breakfast burritos for under $10, and is a much-loved community event. For inexpensive souvenirs, I love the Milagros (religious folk charms) at Pachamama, and the jewelry from local Native American vendors in front of the Palace of the Governors. And if you are looking to splurge, the outdoor steam baths at Ten Thousand Waves are magnificent — especially in winter, when they're surrounded by snow.

Where To Stay:
Airbnb is the best budget-friendly option in Santa Fe; you’ll find attractive private rooms several miles from downtown from $32; consider renting a bike instead of a car.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
North America’s most European city is a fine alternative if you can’t afford a trans-Atlantic flight. Architecture and history buffs in particular will appreciate Montreal. Explore the Old City, which dates back to the 17th century, and sites like St. Joseph’s Oratory and Square St. Louis. Trendsters should hit Rue St-Denis, one of the city’s most famous streets for shopping, dining, and being seen. Nature lovers will enjoy the Botanical Gardens or Mont-Royal, a 495-acre city park overlooking the city. When it comes to food, Montreal has it all, from fine-dining to ethnic fare, but don’t miss out on iconic dishes like bagels (no, really), smoked meat (even better piled on a bagel), and poutine. The city is also home to some of the continent’s best public markets, of which Jean-Talon is arguably the most famous. Pick up edible souvenirs like maple syrup, jam, and wine.

Where To Stay:
Immaculate, with modern touches, M Montreal is as sweet a city hostel as you’re likely to find. The inclusive hot breakfasts and proximity to the St. Lawrence River add to the appeal. Rates start at $20 per night.
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Photo: JTB Photo/UIG/REX/Shutterstock.
Hoi An, Vietnam
This UNESCO Heritage city and former trading port is famed for its well-preserved architecture (which dates back to the 15th century), historic sites, and museums. Stroll the streets, central market, and riverfront in between snacking on street food and dipping in and out of the many cafes and trendy bars. (Be sure to seek out cao lầu, a local delicacy of thick, handmade noodles, pork, and local greens). You can also rent a motorbike and explore the surrounding countryside and villages; avoid visiting during the rainy season (September to January), as the region and town are subject to severe flooding.

Where To Stay:
As the name suggests, Vinh Hung Library Hotel will appeal to literary types, who can peruse the extensive collection of books on-site, but it’s also one of Hoi An’s most pleasant accommodations. From $30 per night.
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Photo: Marc Perrella/Getty Images.
Moab, Utah
When neighboring Coloradans flock to this outdoor haven for weekend getaways, you know it’s a special place. Famed for its freaky red rock formations, mountain biking, hiking, river sports, petroglyphs, nearby national parks (check out Arches and Canyonlands, but go early to avoid the heat and crowds), rock-climbing, and nearby slot canyons, Moab is an adventurer’s playground. In town, breakfast or lunch at Red Rock Bakery & Café is always a good idea. The best way to unwind in the evening, however, is kicking it at a campground on the banks of the Colorado River.

Where To Stay:
Goose Island Campground has 19 spacious campsites (some with shade and riverfront locations), killer views, RV hookups, and full amenities. Bonus: It’s easy to get to town, yet removed from the traffic along Highway 191. It books out fast, with good reason.
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Savannah, Georgia
One of the most alluring cities in the South, Savannah has all the trappings of antebellum charm: Spanish moss, stunning architecture, dozens of parks and historic squares, a slow-as-molasses pace, and mesmerizing riverfront. Hit the Historic District and grab lunch to-go at local fave Zunzi’s (tip: call in your order to avoid the inevitable line), then explore the nearby Colonial Park Cemetery and Telfair Museums. Into the paranormal? There’s haunted history galore, which you can explore via cemetery and ghost tours, and even a city tour conducted by hearse. Before dinner, stroll Jones Street, considered one of the most beautiful in the nation, and crush your appetite with a signature pizza at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s, before catching a band at legendary venue The Jinx. Savannah is all about taking it easy, so go with the flow.

Where To Stay:
Do your homework and you’ll find affordable Airbnb lodging in the Historic District, or opt for Savannah International Pensione, located in a spacious Victorian with balconies and 12-foot ceilings. From $30 per night.
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