Three Fun Fall Travel Ideas Leaving from Washington DC and Baltimore Airports
Leaves are changing color, the temperature is nearly perfect, your instincts tell you to “take a walk” and “pumpkin spice” is everywhere. Whether you call this time of year fall or autumn, the season is definitely upon us. Unfortunately, as much as this time is perfect for outdoor activity, sightseeing, and discovering awesome food, it also has some of the most stressful travel due to most people limiting their travel to the many public holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. While we can’t curb the unrelenting waves of travelers or the unavoidable, ever-present, overwhelming homing beacon to visit family, we can offer a few tips and alternative travel ideas.
Fall Travel Tips
- You deserve a fun trip. You navigate these Baltimore and Washington DC streets, trains, and buses every day like a professional. You work hard and hustle all day. You deserve a refreshing, invigorating reminder of what makes you happy. It’s time for your getaway.
- Avoid holiday travel. Of course, some of it is unavoidable as you are most likely obligated to family gatherings, however, especially for your getaway trip, avoid going on a holiday weekend. Yes, the extra day off is great, but everyone else is trying to do the same thing, maximum their travel time using a holiday weekend. Do yourself a favor and plan your trip for a non-holiday weekend. You will enjoy fewer people and better prices for flights, hotels, and rental cars. You will also have a better selection of long-term parking at Washington Dulles (IAD), Reagan National (DCA), and Baltimore Washington (BWI) Airports.
- Use vacation time. You’ve been saving those vacation days like a champ, well done! Now’s the time to use a couple. It’s ok, this is what they are for. You will only need one or two but feel free to max it out. It’s all about you.
- A good choice is better than the best one. Let me explain. When it comes to travel, the options are nearly limitless. It’s far too easy to let planning the trip become the most stressful part by focusing on finding the “best” flight, hotel, or restaurant. Avoid getting obsessed with capturing the lowest possible price or discovering the most perfect experience. The simple truth is you may never find those things, however, there are a lot of “good” choices that will be great and just what you needed.
- Be flexible to find a deal. There are plenty of good flight and hotel deals out there for many three, four, and five-day trips. Some of these might be with an airline or hotel that you normally don’t use. Be flexible where you can so you can splurge where it really matters to you. Some of the low-cost airlines are great for short flights, don’t be afraid to give them a try. At the same time, be sure to stick with getting what you need to be happy and less stressed.
Fall Travel Ideas Leaving from Reagan National, Washington Dulles, and Baltimore-Washington Airports
1. New Orleans (MSY)
- Flights. The best current deals are out of BWI with Spirit Airlines from $85 roundtrip for a direct flight to New Orleans International Airport (MSY). That’s an amazing deal even if you do have to pay for all the extras. There are many other direct, roundtrip flights from all three airports for three to five nights starting at $269.
- See and do. Of course, any trip to New Orleans would be incomplete without going through the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Be sure to visit Frenchmen Street and give yourself enough time to slow down and listen to some of the many great jazz musicians there. Not to be overlooked are the Steamboat tours of the harbor as well as swamp boat tours of the bayou. You can even take a tour of a historic southern plantation. For a little more activity, there are bicycle, canoe, and kayak tours as well. If you like football, the Saints will play the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Falcons, Panthers, and 49ers at home over the next two months.
- Eats. For food, New Orleans is a foodie haven. Let’s start with Café Beignet for the beloved pastry/doughnut hybrid. Next up is Parkway Bakery & Tavern for a po’boy like no other. If you like seafood, then Drago’s Seafood Restaurant is a must. They are known for their charbroiled oysters. Head over to Central Grocery Company to try the original muffuletta sandwich. For gumbo and jambalaya, eat like a local at Coop’s Place.
- City tips. Bring your walking shoes and don’t plan too much so you can stop and enjoy the little treasures you will likely come across exploring this historically rich and culturally vibrant city.
2. Orlando (MCO)
- Flights. The best flight deals to Orlando International (MCO) are out of Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) with Spirit Airlines from $81 roundtrip nonstop for trips from three to five days in October and November. JetBlue also has some great fares right now out of Reagan National (DCA) during this same time starting at just $137. American Airlines comes in at a close third with some roundtrip flights also form DCA starting at $142.
- See and do. The amusement parks are a great place to start as this will be the off-season for them which translates into fewer crowds and more deals for you. Let’s start with Disney World. They have four parks to choose from: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s the last one that may have special interest to those who previously have not desired to visit Disney. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to the much talked about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction. Next to consider is Universal Orlando Resort which has three parks: Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay. With new attractions and rides added at each, it’s hard to choose just one. Guess that’s why they have the multiday multi-park passes. SeaWorld is enticing as a lower-priced alternative and worth considering as they recently opened their Sesame Street Land and Infinity Falls attractions to much acclaim. They are also having a craft beer festival every weekend through the end of October. If you like the outdoors, consider Discovery Cove. It promises interactive experiences with dolphins, tropical birds, otters, and more. Paddleboarding is another great option for some outdoor adventure. If floating with the clouds at sunrise sounds nice, then perhaps a hot air balloon ride is right for you. Don’t forget to stop by one of the many outlet malls to snag some great deals.
- Eats. For breakfast, three spots top the list: Keke’s Breakfast Café, First Watch, and The Brian Patch. Of course, each one has their specialties, however, you will be pleasantly satisfied with all of them. For lunch or dinner, it’s hard to go wrong with Yellow Dog Eats. They claim to have some of the best BBQ available in central Florida and judging from the reviews, I’d have to agree. For a taste of Cuba, try Padrino’s. First serving the Cuban immigrant community in 1976, it fast became everyone’s favorite. For a taste of Turkey, stop by Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine. They opened in 2004 and have been wowing people ever since with their delicious meats and salads. If you are looking for a vegan option, try Ethos Vegan Kitchen located just north of downtown Orlando in Winter Park.
- Tips. For attractions, be sure to book your tickets online ahead of time as that normally ensures the best discounts and prices. This is also a good place to rent a car instead of using taxis and rideshares.
3. Austin (AUS)
- Flights. The current best deals for October and November are from Frontier Air and Spirit Airlines leaving from IAD and BWI starting at $117 roundtrip. American Airlines has a few flights from IAD starting at $141. Delta Airlines also has some discounted fares from IAD to AUS starting at $161 roundtrip.
- See and do. A must-do activity is to see the bats at Congress Bridge. Every day at sunset, 1.5 million bats emerge from underneath the bridge to begin their nightly feeding. It’s amazing and free. Close by is South Congress Avenue which is the center of the “Keep Austin Weird” campaign. You’ll find lots of eclectic shopping and restaurants. If you like nightlife and live music, be sure to visit the Rainey Street District. It’s a residential neighborhood that has been converted to bars, restaurants, hotels and food trucks. It’s one of a kind and not to be missed. To get your adrenaline pumping, check out the Austin Electric Minibike Tour.
- Eats. There are so many ridiculously good and unique restaurants and food trucks in Austin it’s almost a crime to just list a few. With that said, let’s start with brunch at Snooze: An A.M. Eatery. It has appearances by all the regular brunch actors but each with a modern and fresh twist. Be sure to get one of the signature morning cocktails to balance it out. Once you leave, be sure to find somewhere to lie down as you will be ready to do just as the name says, snooze. Once you recover, head over to la Barbecue for some of the finest smoked meats you’ll ever have. Whether you have the pulled pork, brisket, pork ribs or jalapeno sausage, you will be licking your lips for days thinking about the flavor that was. For dinner, consider Odd Duck. It started as a food trailer in 2009 and eventually converted to a full-scale restaurant. As it gathers all the ingredients from local farms and gardens, the fresh, unique flavors and offerings are hard to beat. As an alternative to the meat-heavy food scene in Austin, stop by Vinaigrette to balance out your system. This is a salad bistro using ingredients grown in their own farm just outside of Austin. It’s a local favorite with a great reputation for serving truly satisfyingly filling salads.
- Tips. Explore. Explore. Explore. Austin is one of those places where you can think you’re at a dead-end and then all of a sudden there is this beautifully unique restaurant, bar, food truck, park, shop, flea market or art gallery just waiting to fill your curiosity. Austin has many walkable areas, however, it is a good place to rent a car.
Where will You Go?
If you have read this far, there is no doubt that you will be going somewhere this fall season. Will it be New Orleans, Orlando, or Austin? If not one of those, no doubt you have been inspired to put your own “me” trip together. Remember, keep it simple and fun. Don’t over plan it and give yourself time to rest as well.
Only One Question Left
At this point, there is only one question left: How will you get to the airport? When you look at the increased rates for Uber and Lyft, it’s not hard to decide to use long-term parking whether you fly out of Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport, or Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Long-term Parking at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA)
The long-term onsite parking at Reagan National Airport can be quite costly, starting at $17 per day and going up to $25 per day. The off-site parking, on the other hand, can be quite affordable starting at $5.95 per day with several providers up to $8.95 per day. Some of these off-site providers offer indoor covered parking as well as free shuttle service.
Long-term Parking at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
The onsite parking rates at Washington Dulles International Airport are the same as Reagan National. The daily rates start at $17 and go up to $25. The long-term off-site parking situation is similar as well with daily rates slightly better starting at $4.75 with some other parking lots up to $7.50 per day. Indoor parking and free shuttle service are available at these off-site locations.
Long-term Parking at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
The long-term parking landscape at Baltimore-Washington International Airport is somewhat different from DCA and IAD. The onsite parking starts at $12 per day and goes up to $22 daily. The offsite parking offered by the airport starts at $8 daily and goes up to $10. This includes free shuttle service but the spaces are uncovered. The non-airport off-site parking starts at $5.71 with several parking options between $6 and $8. All offering free shuttle service and only uncovered spaces.
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