The Best (and Most Wallet-Friendly) Places to Travel in October
Whether you’re looking forward to all the fall festivities or the slightest thought of a chill makes you want to go into full-on hibernation mode, one thing’s for certain: October is packed with plenty to do, and that extends to travel experiences both near and far. Dia de Los Muertos celebrations make Halloween look like child’s play in Mexico, while Oktoberfest pretty much takes over the rest of the world. This month’s best places to travel are particularly great for budget travelers looking to take advantage of low season—and the decline in airfare and lodging prices that comes with it. Here are our five faves this month.
Dirt-cheap fares put the ’Cun at the top of our list this month when “rainy season” means you may see a cloud or two during the day. What that also means: Plenty of time still to enjoy the pool (and its swim-up bar), jet skiing or parasailing along the coast, or spending a rather wild night out at one of Cancun’s many popular nightclubs. Whether it’s your first time or one of your favorite fly-in-for-the-weekend spots, it’s never a bad idea to organize a tour or simply hire a taxi for the day to take advantage of the regions’ incredible cenotes—natural sinkholes formed by a collapse of limestone that reveal gorgeous aquamarine water ripe for jumping and swimming in. For eats, we recommend La Destileria and Tacun for authentic grub, and the immersive video dining experience—where the table you sit at is a giant video screen that is paired to take you through a multi-sensory, multi-course meal celebrating Mexican food—at La Joya. And while there are plenty of yummy Mexican bites to be had, when you’ve officially had your fill of chips and guac, consider splurging on Le Basilic or Du Mexique, two of Cancun’s most celebrated French fine dining spots.
Where to stay: Within walking distance to pretty much everything in the hotel zone, including all the top party spots like the world famous Coco Bongo and Mandala is Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun, a handsome property on one of Cancun’s most gorgeous stretches of beach. It’s also right next door to a ferry that takes you to Isla Mujeres, an under-the-radar paradise that’s an easy day trip. Here, you’ll find lots of low-key beaches, fishing and one of the best spots to watch the sunrise in Mexico. Grand Fiesta also boasts one of the most serious aqua therapy spas we’ve ever feasted our eyes on, where those in need of relaxation will find it on a circuit that involves steam rooms, saunas, an ice room, plunge pools and a “pool of sensations.” Yeah, it’s just as crazy good as it sounds.
Brooklyn, New York
Flights to NYC are relatively cheap at the moment, and it’s one of our favorite times—when all you need to pack is a leather jacket. Head straight to the most populous borough, Brooklyn, for an autumnal vacation (or even staycation) that won’t disappoint. BK really comes alive now, between Prospect Park’s Haunted Walk and Fair, the Barclays Center’s jam-packed calendar of basketball games and concerts (you can catch Florence + the Machine, Nicki Minaj and Future, and Bruno Mars all playing this month) and new restaurants opening every day (like Missy Robbins’s acclaimed pasta haven Misi), you won’t have any trouble figuring out what to do, only how to cram it all in.
Where to stay: The Wythe. The Williamsburg waterfront gem was the first to put Williamsburg on the map (hot hotels of BK-wise), long before their neighboring properties started opening. And it continues to stand out from the crowd, thanks to their spacious well-appointed lofts with unbeatable views of the Manhattan skyline, chic AF rooftop bar The Ides and ever-changing roster of events. On tap for October: a Greetings from Nashville pop-up that will showcase Music City's top designers, artists and makers in a rotating trunk show concept, and a roasted chicken dinner series at Reynard. This limited-time-only menu special is what #SundaySupperGoals are made of.
Over 300,000+ attendees descend on Nashville in the month of October for its Oktoberfest celebration, one of the largest in North America each year. Why it’s worthy of your precious time this month? First off—it’s free and open to the public, which makes for easy last-minute planning. Taking place October 11 to 14, you’ll find plenty of events like (wait for it) the Annual Dachshund Derby, and yes we absolutely mean an actual race of the hot-dog-shaped canines. The festival also has plenty of live German music, a parade, a Bratwurst Eating Contest, a “Bier run” and—of course—plenty of brews to try. Tennessee State Museum, which bills itself as being “part museum, part virtual reality experience, part time machine—all in one contemporary monument to the living history of the State of Tennessee,” will finally welcome visitors this month in the trendy neighborhood of Germantown. And while cultural immersion is great and all, no visit to Nashville would be complete without a stop at one of the city’s many awesome consignment shops. Our favorites are FLIP and United Apparel Liquidators. You won’t find disappointment in Music City’s food scene either, especially if you make a reservation at Etch, or wait in line for BBQ at the very popular Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint.
Where to stay: The massive Omni Nashville is truly in the center of it all—walkable to the honky tonk nightlife on Broadway that Nashville is famous for. If the weather is favorable enough in October—and it very well may be since the pool is heated—you can take advantage of the property’s rooftop piscine and hot tub, which is surrounded by downtown skyline views. If you’re looking for something a little more intimate, check in to The Germantown Inn, a six-suite luxury hotel located in a Federal-style home built in 1865 that’s oozing with charm. If you’re lucky, you can stay at the Carriage House, a brand-new addition adding four additional suites to the boutique property, all connected by a private courtyard.
There’s so much to love about Vancouver that you’ll likely need to plan a return trip as soon as you board the plane home. A healthy mix of cosmopolitan life surrounded by lots of British Columbia’s natural splendors, it may sound a bit cliché, but this place truly has something for everyone. Start your day downtown, cruising through the historic streets of the Gastown, now one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the lively Robson St. corridor is also packed with restaurants and shops worthy of exploring—and doubles as the home of “Terminal City” gay nightlife. Take a walk around Stanley Park and Jericho Beach to enjoy the incredible mountains that seem to surround the city at every angle, or get a little adventurous by walking across the Capilano, a 400-plus foot suspension bridge amongst the trees that you have to see to believe. Vancouver also boasts lots of great clothing shops and one of the country’s finest is Holt Renfrew. Think of it like the Saks of Canada. Whether you’re there to blow the down payment you’ve been saving for a house or are just window shopping in awe, it’s a beautiful department store that’s worthy of your time.
Where to stay: You can go totally glam at the chic Rosewood Hotel Georgia, built in a restored 1920s building, or stay on the cheap at The Burrard, where the updated midcentury-modern decor of this former motor inn is just as cute as the price. Rates at press time were about $150/night.
London, United Kingdom
London already wins for being one of the coolest cities on the planet. If you went and never saw the Tate Modern, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, or bothered to take a ride on The London Eye, you’d still feel overwhelmed with things to do. That said, we recommend doing all of those things, then taking a stroll through the fashionable Covent Garden and Soho neighborhoods, mingling amongst some of the best hipster culture Europe has in Shoreditch, and going on an Ab Fab-esque shopping spree in Knightsbridge. And we haven’t even mentioned London Cocktail Week yet. A weeklong pass here at the U.K.’s biggest cocktail festival, happening October 1 to 7, costs just $13 and includes access to pop-up bars, trucks, vans, bicycles—basically any vehicle to get a cocktail in your hand—plus access to exclusive master classes and parties. Yeah, we’re here for it. And if you needed one more reason to consider London this month, keep in mind that you’ll be there for the “other” royal wedding. That is, the union of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, which is taking place October 12 and likely to bring a Meghan and Harry feel back to Londontown.
Where to stay: Bankside, a posh new hotel opening on the River Thames this October, which is an incubator for up-and-coming artists. Rest your head at this design-focused property filled with works from Laura Carlin, Malgorzata Bany, Timorous Beasties, the Galvin Bros. and more. And while there are endless ways to pamper yourself in (let’s face it) one of the most expensive cities in the world, it’s not totally off-limits if money’s tight. Some of the best lodging deals and value can be found on Airbnb, like this comfortable flat that sleeps up to three adults in the quiet Paddington neighborhood for just $150 per night.
Additional reporting by Kelli Acciardo