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6 Shoulder Season Deals to Snag Now
Score a bargain-friendly getaway in these alluring spots.
Whether you want a quick, warm-weather escape or a more far-flung adventure, these destinations offer off-season rates, few tourists and idyllic temperatures.(Getty Images)
The official end of summer may not be until late September, but if you're like most Americans, the long Labor Day weekend marks summer's last hurrah, followed by an extended case of the post-summer vacation blues. Happily, you can maintain that post-trip buzz by continuing to travel in the fall. That's because September to Thanksgiving marks a pleasant shoulder season with a dip in prices, crowds and temperatures, making it one of the best times of the year to travel. And with the back-to-school rush, airlines, cruise lines and hotels still have seats, cabins and rooms to fill, leading to steep discounts that are hard to beat. Whether you want to take a drive along the coast in the Northeast or fly to exotic locales, these enticing deals are there for the taking.
September ushers in the off-season in Ireland, but its still a great time to travel to the Emerald Isle. There are fewer crowds and the weather remains pleasant, yielding ample opportunities to explore the beauty of Dublin and beyond. Reputable tour outfitter CIE Tours is offering last-minute deals on one- to three-week guided tours of both Ireland and Scotland. Meals, accommodations and activities are included in the packages with stays at luxury hotels that include visits to castles and even a horse-drawn carriage ride through Killarney, Ireland – at a savings of up to $700 per couple. Plus, you get the added benefit of a knowledgeable guide providing insights and advice as you take in Ireland's captivating culture and history and admire picturesque landscapes.
With recent terror attacks dominating headlines, you may be wondering if it is safe to travel to Europe. But the reality is, places such as Paris, Rome and London are much safer now than ever before as government officials have tightened up security measures. Hotels and tour companies are offering great deals to promote tourism and fill empty rooms and spaces. Plus, the advantageous pricing in place is even better now thanks to the dollar's current strength against the pound.
Vacation outfitter Monograms is offering a choose-your-own-adventure experiential tour of London, where a local host will arrange hotel reservations, daily breakfast and sightseeing – including a VIP tour of St. Paul's Cathedral and an insider tour of Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The host can help you choose from more than 40 activities and excursions as you shape your own itinerary through London. What's more, you'll save more than 10 percent on your trip compared to peak-season rates. Plus, while you'll travel independently of your host, you can assured that all your questions and logistics will be answered and handled ahead of time.
Planning a fall vacation on the Hawaiian islands is a mixed bag in terms of securing a bargain. At the tail-end of summer and early fall, you can score great deals, but before the rainy season in November is when you can enjoy a short but sweet shoulder season in this tropical paradise. For a five-star experience at a three-star price, head to Maui. The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is offering October and November stays for two for up to 66 percent off their normal rate. Rooms are available for as low as $208 per night, and kids 17 and under stay for free. Meanwhile, on the Big Island, it's always 80 degrees on the Kohala Coast and the Mauni Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows is offering stays of up to half off their regular pricing through Thanksgiving and free room upgrades for eligible guests; rates start at $290 per night.
Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Delaware
Many travelers hear of celebrities and politicos such as Taylor Swift and President Obama staying on Martha's Vineyard and figure the Cape and Martha's Vineyard are out of reach. But hoteliers are selling a different story in September and October, as the crowds have left the peninsula but the water and the weather remain warm. Plus, it's festival season in Falmouth, Massachusetts, with time-honored traditions at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds that include the 47th Annual Scallop Festival and the Cape Cod Brew Fest. The Sea Crest Beach Hotel on Buzzards Bay in north Falmouth is offering deals at up to 70 percent off the summer rate; rooms are available in September and October for $99 per night. A ferry ride away on Martha's Vineyard, the historic Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown is offering fall rates starting at $119 per night – 80 percent off the average summer rate of $519 per night.
Another hidden Northeast gem can be found in Delaware at Bethany Beach, a great boardwalk town on the Atlantic Ocean. A top destination for bargain-hunters in autumn, Bethany Beach offers week-long house rentals that yield up to $900 in savings compared to peak-season summer rates.
Some of the best bargains can be found at the luxurious all-inclusive resorts of Cancun and Cozumel and the deals are even better in September and October. All-inclusive vacation outfitter Funjet Vacations is offering up to 40 percent in savings at resorts such as Cancun's Live Aqua Cancun and Cozumel's the Explorean Cozumel by Fiesta Americana in Cozumel this autumn.
Ocean and River Cruising
River cruising is one of the hottest trends in the travel industry, and for good reason. You can unpack once, enjoy world-class dining and accommodations and travel to hard-to-reach ports of call that smaller river cruise ships can easily access. For a river cruise to remember, consider exploring the Christmas markets of Europe by riverboat. Seeing the markets as you glide down the Danube River from Prague to Vienna to Budapest, Hungary, is an extra special voyage, and AmaWaterways is offering November sailings at up to 40 percent off regular summer rates.
If taking a traditional ocean-faring ship is your thing, there are plenty of enticing autumn deals for ocean liners, too. Norwegian Cruise Line is offering seven-day eastern Caribbean sailings in September from Miami for $549 per person. Meanwhile, Holland America Line is currently running a weekly top 10 deals special of up to $1,000 off per stateroom that often includes Caribbean and Hawaiian sailings.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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