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The peek this fall might be at a place new to you

Dromoland Castle, built in 1835 but believed to date to the 15th or 16th century, in County Clare, Ireland. Dromoland Castle, built in 1835 but believed to date to the 15th or 16th century, in County Clare, Ireland. (Patricia Preston)
Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / September 2, 2007

Humans are hard to satisfy. In winter, we long for the warmth of summer. In summer, we pray for cooler weather. Ah, but in autumn most of us are satisfied. For travelers, the mostly balmy weather and smaller crowds make fall an ideal time to hit the road or catch a plane. Although prices aren't always low, they are often lower than during peak season. Some autumnal offerings:

You can experience the colors of Ireland while staying in a castle. The 6th annual West of Ireland Coastal Tour, Oct. 21-27, begins at $1,799 including airfare from Boston or New York. Participants stay at Dromoland Castle, a 17th-century, multiturreted structure on a 400-acre estate in County Clare. Sites to be visited include Galway Bay, Connemara, the Burren National Park, the Cliffs of Moher, the Shannon River, Blarney, Killarney National Park, and the Ring of Kerry. Leading the group will be Patricia Preston, author of 12 books on Ireland. The trip also includes six full breakfasts, five dinners, sightseeing, admissions, and other features.

Visit irelandexpert.com or call 845-758-1232.

The Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, N.C., says it is ideally situated for leisurely walks and drives through the Smoky Mountains, with their forests of color and cascading waterfalls. The inn's Leaf Looker Package features two nights with deluxe accommodations, champagne on arrival, a country picnic lunch for two, a picnic blanket and disposable camera, and continental breakfast each morning. Starting at $679 including tax and gratuity, the package is available Oct. 1-Nov. 15.

Visit oldedwardsinn.com or call 866-526-8008.

The newly renovated Breakwater Inn &#amp Spa in Kennebunkport, Maine, calls its offering the No Leaf Unturned Package. Featured are a night in a Spa King Deluxe Room, continental breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner at Stripers Seafood Restaurant, and a $75 spa voucher per person. Prices begin at $304 per person midweek and $314 on Friday and Saturday. The offer is valid Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

Visit thebreakwaterinn.com or call 207-967-5333.

A horseback ride by day and a luxurious atmosphere at night is the promise of Deer Lodge, a boutique hotel in Lake Louise, Alberta. A new package, available through Oct. 8, includes a full day guided trail ride to Lake Agnes and the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouses, a night's accommodation, and breakfast. Prices start at about $295 per person.

Visit Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts at crmr.com or call 800-661-1595.

Ever considered the Caribbean in autumn? Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in the shoppers' paradise of St. Thomas has a Shop Till You Drop package through Dec. 20 that includes a Shop Talk seminar with tips on finding the best deals, discount coupons from shops, unlimited water ferry tickets from the resort to downtown St. Thomas, a daily breakfast buffet for two, a rum or fruit punch and gift upon arrival, and room tax and gratuities for the bellman and housekeeper. Through Oct. 31, rates begin at $222 a night, representing a 60 percent savings over high season. From Nov. 1-Dec. 20, the cost is $324 a night, a 45 percent savings. And as the tourism people love to remind us, you need no passport or proof of application to visit the US Virgin Islands.

Visit frenchmansreefmarriott.com or call 800-524-2000.

Another fall destination you may not have thought about is Alaska. September is a fine time to view the Northern Lights, and there is red and gold foliage, too. There are also savings, but time is short. Stay at any of Denali Park Resorts' lodges at half the price through Sept. 18 and you will also get half off any of the Explore Denali excursions, which include hikes and van tours and can be customized. The package, which features lodging at McKinley Chalet Resort, McKinley Village Lodge, Denali Bluffs Hotel, or Denali Grande Lodge, costs $329 per room for two nights and tickets for two on any Explore excursion.

Visit denaliparkresorts.com or call 800-276-7234.

Spanish Journeys, a Wellfleet-based company that caters to small groups, has a Cooking in Barcelona program Oct. 7-12 for $2,850 a person. Included are daily classes, tastings, market trips, winery tours, three lunches and three dinners with wine pairings, and transportation to events. Accommodations are not included but the company will help you select them. Teresa Parker, director of Spanish Journeys, trained in the culinary arts in Barcelona.

Visit spanishjourneys.com or call 508-349-9769.

Through Oct. 31, Fall Escape rates at Timberline Condominiums in Snowmass, Colo., start at $91 a night. Breathtaking fall colors and cobalt skies are promised.

Visit thetimberline.com or call 800-922-4001.

Houseboating is a unique getaway. Through Oct. 31, Lake Powell Resorts &#amp Marinas in Page, Ariz., has a Fall into Savings special that offers an extra day and up to $350 in gas credit. The special is available beginning Tuesday on houseboats ranging from 46 to 54 feet. Prices range from $1,155 to $11,545, depending on the class of boat and length of the trip. Bookings must be made by Sept. 15.

Visit lakepowell.com or call 888-486-4665 and mention rate code NOPROB.

Orlando, Fla.-bound travelers who want to live in a house during their stay can save 20 to 50 percent off regular vacation home rates for stays of seven days or more. While rental prices vary, that can represent more than a $1,000 savings on a seven-bedroom home. Value Villa Pricing is available on selected weeks through December on four- to seven-bedroom homes. A look at the website showed a four-bedroom home that sleeps up to 10 going for $965 a week and a seven-bedroom home that sleeps up to 16 for $1,195. Prices include standard fees and taxes.

Visit villadirect.com and click on Value Villa Pricing or call 877-259-9908.

Austin-Lehman Adventures has a new California: Redwoods to Wineries Adventure that combines highlights of the Pacific Coast and Sonoma and Napa valleys. Trips are Sept. 16-21 and Sept. 23-28. Guests will sea kayak Tomales Bay with its rays and seals, hike the giant redwoods of Muir Woods, bike back roads, and tour award-winning wineries. The per-person rate is $2,498. Inn stays and meals are included.

Visit austinlehman.com or call 800-575-1540.

In romantic Heidelberg, Germany, packages of one to three nights through October allow guests to wander through the city's many museums and castles or visit the 700-year-old university. Hotel rates per person start at about $95 for one night, $150 for two, and $205 for three nights and include lodging with breakfast, a guided walking tour of the city, a Neckar River excursion, unlimited travel on the funicular railway, entrance into a castle, and admission to a dozen of the city's museums.

Visit cvb-heidelberg.de. Click on the US flag to get the page in English.

Web world

Group trips, such as bachelor parties, spa vacations, reunions, weddings, and trips with clubs and teams, are fun to plan but not always easy to coordinate. Orbitz therefore has introduced TripHub, a free service for planners. Among the features: personalized pages for sharing information; invitation and RSVP tracking; blogs that enable collaboration on decisions; an events schedule; group messaging; maps and driving directions; and itinerary sharing.

Visit orbitz.triphub.com.

Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at carpenter@globe.com.

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