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By Alison Fox/Travel + Leisure
September 12, 2019
Lemmer_Creative—Getty Images/iStockphoto

School is back in session and pumpkin spice lattes are officially being sold, but that doesn’t mean you have to pack up your bags and head home until next summer. In fact, a vacation during the shoulder season is not only a great time to visit many of your favorite spots for mild weather and fewer crowds, but it’s actually a less expensive time to do it too.

Vacationers heading to beach or lake destinations across the U.S. could save up to 29 percent off a home rental in September compared to August, according to a report by home sharing site Vrbo.

“Shoulder season refers to off-peak travel times, and while there are no official dates for the start and end of shoulder season, owners of Vrbo vacation homes tend to set their nightly rental rates to drop right after Labor Day,” Melanie Fish, a Vrbo travel expert, told Travel + Leisure in an email. “Shoulder season offers so many benefits – reduced vacation rental home prices, more selection available, less crowded beaches, the list goes on. We looked at the data so vacationers can take full advantage.”

The report compared the full-month average nightly rates from August 2018 to September 2018 and ranked them by demand from travelers, giving vacationers an idea of what the trend is for this year.

While it may not be sun tanning season, there’s plenty to do in the shoulder season: Hop on an ostrich and ride the classic 1920s carousel at Trimper’s Rides in Ocean City, Md. or bundle up and watch the leaves start to change colors in Bar Harbor, Maine. Savor all four seasons in Whitefish, Montana, or set out on a dolphin-watching cruise off of South Padre Island in Texas.

These are the top 10 U.S. destinations for savings during the shoulder season and the average nightly price in September last year, according to Vrbo.

  1. Ocean City, N.J. – average nightly price: $296
  2. Sunriver, Ore. – average nightly price: $285
  3. Ocean City, Md. – average nightly price: $254
  4. Cape Cod, Mass. – average nightly price: $304
  5. Lincoln City, Ore. – average nightly price: $263
  6. Myrtle Beach, S.C. – average nightly price: $193
  7. South Padre Island, Texas – average nightly price: $235
  8. Whitefish, Mont. – average nightly price: $250
  9. Bar Harbor, Maine – average nightly price: $261
  10. Hilton Head Island, S.C. – average nightly price: $227
Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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