The 10 Best U.S. Vacation Spots to Visit During Shoulder Season

Traveling in any season has its advantages, but there’s something extra wonderful about a fall vacation. Maybe it’s the relaxed vibe or the fresh air that appears to surround this time of year. Undoubtedly, one’s inherent attractiveness is also crucial. September, October, and November are often slower months for beach towns and mountain towns, respectively, that experience a boom in visitors during the summer and winter. Therefore, if you want to avoid the crowds, shoulder season is the way to go.

There will be fewer people, which means cheaper flights and lodgings, and more availability at restaurants, attractions, and motels. It should be mentioned that areas having peak seasons (e.g., Aspen’s winter resorts or Cape May’s beaches) don’t necessarily indicate that they don’t have beautiful fall foliage. Those interested in seeing fire displays can easily find out when and where they will occur by using online foliage trackers.

These well-known U.S. destinations are even more spectacular during shoulder season, so whether you’re trying to save money, want to explore a new side of a beloved vacation spot, or simply need weekend getaway ideas for the coming fall, think about these places.

1. Newport, Rhode Island


Known for its summer allure, Newport, Rhode Island, transforms into a serene retreat during the fall shoulder season. Experience the charm of this coastal city without the crowds, as beaches and attractions offer a quieter atmosphere. Enjoy strolls along The Cliff Walk and explore the opulent Gilded Age mansions amidst a backdrop of vibrant autumn foliage. Don’t miss seasonal events like the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Food Festival for a taste of local delicacies.

2. Park City, Utah


While Park City is renowned for skiing and the Sundance Film Festival, its fall splendor captivates visitors with breathtaking foliage and temperate weather. Take advantage of outdoor activities such as hiking and biking amidst the scenic mountain landscapes. Explore the quaint Main Street, indulge in farm-to-table dining, and enjoy discounted rates at luxury accommodations like the Montage Deer Valley.

3. Cape May, New Jersey


Escape to Cape May for a tranquil fall retreat along the Jersey Shore. As summer crowds disperse, enjoy serene beach strolls and admire the stunning Victorian architecture against a backdrop of autumn hues. Embrace the seaside ambiance and partake in events like the Exit Zero Jazz Festival while savoring the town’s charm at a leisurely pace.

4. Aspen, Colorado


Experience the stunning beauty of Aspen in the fall as golden leaves adorn the mountainsides. Engage in outdoor pursuits like hiking, horseback riding, and fly fishing amidst the picturesque landscapes. Take advantage of shoulder season rates at luxury accommodations like Hotel Jerome, and Auberge Resorts Collection, for an affordable yet indulgent getaway.

5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts


Escape to Cape Cod for a quintessential New England experience amidst charming villages and pristine beaches. Enjoy leisurely walks and scenic bike rides amidst the vibrant fall foliage, and savor fresh seafood at harborside eateries. Explore the region’s quaint towns and indulge in the laid-back coastal ambiance during the serene shoulder season.

6. Scottsdale, Arizona


Bask in the sunny skies and warm temperatures of Scottsdale during the fall shoulder season. With an array of outdoor activities and al fresco dining options, enjoy the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Unwind at luxury resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and explore the stunning Sonoran Desert landscapes.

7. Montauk, New York


Escape the summer crowds and embrace the tranquility of Montauk’s fall season. Enjoy serene beach days and coastal walks along the eastern tip of Long Island. Take advantage of shoulder season rates at upscale accommodations like Marram Montauk and indulge in a weekend of relaxation and seaside charm.

8. Jackson Hole, Wyoming


Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Jackson Hole during the fall shoulder season. Admire the vibrant foliage in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, and explore the charming town’s Western shops and outdoor outfitters. Experience the tranquility of this mountain paradise before the winter rush sets in.

9. Kennebunkport, Maine


Discover the quaint charm of Kennebunkport during the serene fall shoulder season. Enjoy coastal walks, fresh lobster, and sailing excursions amidst vibrant autumn foliage. Explore the town’s boutique shops and cozy up at charming countryside retreats like White Barn Inn, and Auberge Resorts Collection, for a relaxing getaway.

10. San Diego, California


Experience the vibrant culture and sunny skies of San Diego during the fall shoulder season. Explore downtown’s bustling restaurants, bars, and art galleries, and enjoy discounted rates on flights and accommodations. Discover iconic attractions like Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo amidst a more relaxed and less congested atmosphere.

Embark on a memorable fall getaway to one of these idyllic destinations across the United States, where stunning scenery, serene ambiance, and favorable rates await.

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