Prime summer vacation season is almost over-- but that doesn’t mean travel should come to a halt. There are plenty of fantastic airfare deals starting right now for fall travel with carriers like Southwest slashing fares for popular destinations.
According to Airlines for America, carrier fares have dropped an average of 6 percent since the beginning of the year.
While the weather cools down, Southwest is offering some of year’s hottest deals to warm weather destinations like the Caribbean, California, Mexico and Central America. Starting now, the airline has some serious sale deals for travel this fall.
Here are some of our favorites:
1) Cancun, Mexico
Fly to Cancun, Mexico, from just $183 one way from Atlanta or $166 from Houston. Outdoor enthusiasts can get their fill of fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and boating. Be sure to get in a dose of history, as well, by visiting remnants of the Mayan civilization, including the pyramids at Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the walled city of Tulum.
Book both airfare and a stay at one of four RIU all-inclusive resorts in Cancun through Southwest by 8/31/16 and save $250. Plus, all Cancun vacation packages are currently $200 off through SouthwestVacations.com using code ALLONSALE by August 22, 2016.
2) San Diego
San Diego is a great family destination with a little something for everyone. Hang out on the beautiful beaches of Coronado Island, kayak through sea caves with Everyday California in La Jolla, check out the amazing San Diego Zoo and take a stroll through beautiful Balboa Park filled with a variety of museums and gardens. Southwest is currently offering flights to San Diego for as low as $97 from Denver and $106 from Seattle each direction.
Consider purchasing the Southern California CityPASS if you plan to hit multiple attractions, which saves $140 per person. The pass includes a 3-day Park Hopper for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, as well as 1-day tickets to LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld, both in the San Diego area.
Food enthusiasts will love Brazen BBQ in the trendy Hillcrest area close to downtown, coastal American fare at Backyard Kitchen & Tap in laidback Pacific Beach and comfort food at downtown’s Brian’s 24 in the Gaslamp Quarter 24 hours a day. If you save on meals and airfare, consider splurging with a stay at the iconic Hotel del Coronado or the Mediterranean-style La Valencia hotel in hip La Jolla.
3) San Juan, Puerto Rico
Escape to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico, from just $158 per way from BWI (blackout dates apply). Meander among Old San Juan’s streets filled with colorful Colonial architecture perfect for a romantic hand-in-hand stroll or stretch out in a beach chair with a frozen drink on the area’s plentiful beaches. Take an air tour of San Juan by helicopter or seaplane or enjoy a variety of watersports in its Caribbean blue waters.
The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino lets guests pay their birth year for their second and third nights with the first night’s stay starting at $143. Don’t miss their mixology class where you’ll learn to make a drink with Puerto Rico’s own Bacardi rum.
4) Atlanta, Georgia
Fly from many northern cities including Akron, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. for just $69 to $89 each way.
The Atlanta CityPASS lets you hit most top attractions in the up-and-coming Luckie-Marietta district of downtown centered around the city’s Centennial Olympic Park. Learn all about the world’s most popular soft drink at the Coca-Cola museum, see Beluga whales and albino alligators at the Georgia Aquarium, check out the new College Football Hall of Fame and get a behind-the-scenes look at Atlanta-based CNN on its Studio Tour.
Affordable eateries in the area include Twin Smokers BBQ, Game-X with more than 60 arcade games, as well as Der Biergarten for German beer and sauerkraut. The Glenn Hotel makes a boutique-style respite in the midst of the city located in Atlanta’s original post office built in 1923.
5) Ft. Myers, Florida
Miami and Orlando are popular destinations but they aren’t cheap. Try this little known Floridian gem where fares are currently just more than $100 per direction from Hartford, Connecticut, Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis (valid Sunday through Wednesday), but often drop as low as $70 one-way.
The Marco Island Marriott is a great spot for families with everything you’d need all under one roof. The resort offers views of the ocean from nearly every room, has several on-site restaurants including the high-end Aria, beach-side Quinn’s and Maya perfect for a breakfast buffet, and has waverunner tours of the Ten Thousand Islands with dolphin and manatee sightings. The Naples Grande is a beautiful hotel for those visiting upscale Naples complete with beach chairs for every guest along a very calm stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, an 18-hole golf course and three large pools.
6) New Orleans, Louisiana
With prices starting at $89 from Nashville, $102 from Washington, D.C., and $129 from Kansas City and Chicago, New Orleans is always a fun and surprisingly affordable place to visit. Boasting mild temperatures through fall and offering excellent cuisine, live music and a party-like atmosphere, the Big Easy was also ranked the least expensive U.S. city to visit in TripAdvisor’s TripIndex for 2016.
Want to try something unique? The Louisiana Seafood Festival takes place in early September, and enjoy your fill of daiquiris with specials throughout the month of September during the 30-day New Orleans Daiquiri Season.
7) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Folks in Denver, Orange County or Houston can book a trip to tropical Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for only $177 to $185 one-way. Stay at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, which is just a 10-minute drive from the airport, with rates for fall starting as low as $120 per night.
Southwest Vacations will also score you savings of $250 at one of three all-inclusive RIU resorts in Puerto Vallarta when you book a stay by 8/31/16.
8) Houston, Texas
Southwest is offering fares as low as $84 from Washington, D.C. or $99 from Atlanta. Outdoorsy types will enjoy the city’s new 3 ½-hour, 7-mile kayaking trail along the buffalo Bayou with city skyline views.
Don’t miss Raven Tower, a pillar topped with an outdoor patio, more than 20 beers on tap and one of the best views of downtown. Lay your head at the newly-renovated Whitehall Hotel with rooftop pool, private cabanas and in-house art gallery.
Dying to visit Cuba? Southwest has been approved to fly from several U.S. cities to a few destinations on the Caribbean isle, including Havana. Flights are not yet available for sale, but expect to see fares rolling out this fall.
Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis, Ind.-based travel writer. She is the author of The Step-by-Step Guide to Earning Your Southwest Companion Pass. You can find her at www.GotoTravelGal.com or on Twitter at @GotoTravelGal.