Mild weather, thinned out crowds, and seriously discounted rental rates? Welcome to shoulder season, arguably the best time to travel all year.

By Marisa Spyker
August 22, 2019
Buff Strickland

Escaping to your favorite beach town in the heat of summer certainly has its perks—the kids are out of school, work might be a little slower, and, if you don’t live near the sea, there’s really no better place to find comfort from the sweltering heat than on a breezy stretch of sand.

But summer vacays also have their caveats. Namely, you and pretty much everyone else on the planet wants to take one. Meaning rental competition is often fierce and rates are sky high.

Luckily, there’s a sweet spot to the summer season that few take advantage of, and it happens at the tail end, when the scent of fall is practically in the air. For savvy travelers, the month of September is arguably the very best time to travel for plenty of reasons. Popular beach towns that typically swell with tourists from June through August are significantly more manageable, with less packed beaches and shorter waits at restaurants. Weather, too, tends to reach its peak of perfection in many parts of the world, with sweltering temps beginning to simmer down in preparation for fall.

But perhaps the biggest selling point for travelers is the fact that shoulder season often means steep savings. Whether you’re planning a getaway to Europe or the Caribbean, a September itinerary will often score you everything from discounted airfare to cheaper accommodations.

Related: The Cheapest Places To Travel Each Month of the Year: 

That goes for destinations closer to home, too. According to Vrbo, if you book a stay in a number of towns across the U.S. in September, you can expect to save nearly 30 percent per night on rental rates.

And that includes some of your favorite coastal resort towns. Boasting the biggest savings over any other beach towns in the country is a pair of Ocean cities—that’s Ocean City, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland, both of which offer nightly rates of 29 percent less than their annual average rates. In Ocean City, New Jersey, rental homes typically asking a hefty $417 per night are offered in September for $296 per night. In Maryland, the average nightly rate drops from $359 to $254.

If you’re itching for a West Coast getaway, Lincoln City, Oregon, also made Vrbo’s list of the steepest September price cuts, with rates dropping from $349 to $263. And if the Gulf Coast forever calls to you, South Padre Island, Texas, is your savings hero, with rental homes going for an average of $235—a savings of more than $70 per night.

See the full list of Vrbo’s top U.S. destinations for shoulder season savings below, and find more inspiration for budget-friendly beach vacays here.

  1. Ocean City, N.J. – 29% less per night ($417 vs. $296)
  2. Sunriver, Ore. – 29% less per night ($401 vs. $285)
  3. Ocean City, Md. – 29% less per night ($359 vs. $254)
  4. Cape Cod, Mass. – 25% less per night ($402.25 vs. $304)
  5. Lincoln City, Ore. – 25% less per night ($349 vs. $263)
  6. Myrtle Beach, S.C. – 24% less per night ($255 vs. $193)
  7. South Padre Island, Texas – 23% less per night ($307 vs. $235)
  8. Whitefish, Mont. – 22% less per night ($321 vs. $250)
  9. Bar Harbor, Maine – 22% less per night ($334 vs. $261)
  10. Hilton Head Island, S.C. – 19% less per night ($281 vs. $227)