As the final days of summer loom, we start looking ahead to booking fall travel. After all, that’s when you’ll find a bunch of deals, especially once school starts across the United States and summer crowds disperse. When you travel during the shoulder season at popular vacation locales like the beach, the mountains and amusement parks, discounts abound — but you still get to enjoy lovely temperate weather in many spots across the country.
Take, for example, the ski resorts of Colorado. Before the chair lifts open for the ski season, hotel rates are low. Yet the dry, sunny climate is glorious, and if you time your visit right (third week of September or so) you can enjoy leaf-peeping. The aspens turn a beautiful shade of gold. Hiking, biking, spas, fine dining… with so much to do, inside and out, the mountain towns like Aspen, Telluride, Vail or Breckenridge make great destinations for a girlfriends getaway or couples’ escape.
And who says you have to take the kids on a theme park vacation? While they’re in school (and in the good hands of a neighbor or Grandma), consider escaping to Florida or California and ride all of those roller coasters and thrill rides in Orlando or Anaheim without so many other families in line with you. Truly, just after Labor Day is a great time of year to visit any U.S. amusement park — such as Northern California’s Great America, Ohio’s Cedar Point or San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
If it’s beach time you’re craving, check out the packages at coastal destinations like Myrtle Beach or Charleston, South Carolina. Or for even cooler climes, consider the pretty Pacific Northwest — perhaps Cannon Beach, Oregon or even the Seattle area. It might be a little chilly there for surfing or boogie boarding, but for long strolls on the beach with your significant other, we think a Pacific Northwest couples’ getaway sounds delightful!
For outdoorsy types, we recommend U.S. national parks in September and October. Again, spots like Yellowstone in Wyoming, Arches in Utah and Acadia in Maine see many fewer crowds after Labor Day, and hotels at the gateway cities and towns just outside park entrances will lower their prices, for sure.
And don’t forget to think ahead to Thanksgiving travel. Sure, flying (or driving) anywhere around Turkey Day can be fraught with frustration (crowded airports! busy toll roads!), but if you book your travel now, you’ll likely enjoy some better airfares and hotel prices than if you wait until Halloween.
The Vacation Gals love a good travel deal. These professional travel writers cover everything from budget travel to luxury travel, as well as family vacations, romantic escapes and girlfriend getaways.