Consider going big -- take your family and friends with you, or make a break for it with a private getaway -- and skip the Black Friday shopping this year in exchange for experiences with far greater returns.
To do great leaf peeping, you don't need a forest -- or even a long drive in the car. A big city vacation in fall with the kids, in fact, gives you museums, festivals, hotels with indoor pools -- and plenty of autumnal splendor.
Europeans have been making the most of this window between school starting and summer officially ending for years. Resorts along the Mediterranean offer specials to fill their rooms and stretch the season.
Once school starts up, the crush of family vacationers thins out and makes October one of the prime months to enjoy the Disney World Parks. Shorter lines and a little elbow room means you can spend more time hanging with Mickey.