Arranging a perfect beach vacation can be difficult during the peak summer months. Crowded beaches, raucous party-goers, and families on vacation can interrupt what was supposed to be a serene escape from it all. If you want to avoid the crowds but don't want to hit the beaches in the middle of winter, "shoulder season" offers the perfect opportunity. In the U.S., the shoulder season for beach towns will be starting in late August. By September, kids will be back in school, and most people's vacations will be over. But the weather will still be nice enough that you can enjoy all the beach has to offer. Here are five great beach towns you can enjoy without the crowds in September.
This quaint little beach town is filled with bed and breakfasts and local restaurants to make visitors feel right at home. Nantucket isn't going to be extremely warm in September. But the average high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for getting outside and enjoying long walks along the gorgeous coastline. While the water may be chilly, that's the case during peak season, as well. Even in August, the overall average temperature is not much higher than it is in September.
Meanwhile, the town is filled with local festivals and activities to celebrate autumn, so visitors will have plenty to do among far fewer crowds. While the little town is packed with nearly 50,000 people in the summer, that number drops considerably in September. Fewer than 12,000 people permanently call Nantucket home.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
If you want a warm beach vacation full of sunbathing, Gulf Shores still offers up warm temperatures in September. On average, daily highs will be near 90 degrees in early September and still in the mid-80s by the end of the month. In fact, visitors in September may find themselves more comfortable than those in peak season who often deal with sweltering heat.
Vacationers will still find plenty to do with golf, hiking, and deep-sea fishing on offer. This Southern city is a huge draw for vacationing families from the South and Midwest throughout the summer months. But by September, as kids head back to school, the beaches will be much more open. The city sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each summer, but the local population of Gulf Shores is only about 5,000, so you'll have plenty of space should you vacation there in September.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Things get a little quieter in Virginia Beach when the peak season ends. Guests will find fewer people on the beach. While they won't have as many concerts to attend, they will find themselves with the peace and quiet to really enjoy the beautiful fall colors. Restaurants serving fresh seafood and the chance to kayak provide some great, uncrowded experiences for fall vacationers. The city also boasts exciting activities for outdoorsy, active types. From zip lining to bike riding, the fall is an excellent time to get moving and enjoy the great outdoors.
Virginia Beach is a big city no matter what season it is. It boasts a population of around 450,000 residents. Things will definitely be less crowded once the summer tourists clear out, but fall vacationers will still find themselves with plenty of entertainment options in a city this size. The lines will be shorter, and dinner reservations will be easier to make. Virginia Beach can offer the comforts and amenities that are difficult to find in a smaller city.
This southern city provides a summer-like vacation setting even as fall sets in. Average temperatures remain in the 80s throughout September and only dip into the 70s in October. Even the nights stay fairly warm, so fall vacationers can have their summer-like fun once the crowds are long gone.
The beaches will be emptier, but the city has plenty to keep visitors busy. There are art festivals and an annual Oktoberfest featuring craft beers. Galveston has about half the population in the fall as it does in the summer. Summer inhabitants total around 100,000, but once the tourists clear out, there are only about 50,000 permanent residents left. Guests in the shoulder season will find themselves able to breathe a little easier and move around a little more freely once the summer surge has died down.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Visitors to Asbury Park, New Jersey, will be greeted with lovely high temperatures in the 70s and 80s throughout September. Lows dip into the 50s, making a fall visit the perfect time to take a long walk on the beach in a sweater. The town is quaint and full of old-fashioned charm. Visitors will find lots of local restaurants and boutique shops that will make their visit memorable and unique. The boardwalk, of course, is one of the biggest draws. While the calendar won't be quite as packed in September as it is in August, guests will still find lots of concerts and activities. The small city only has about 16,000 residents, but it hosts more than a million guests in a year (mostly in the summer months). Fall guests will find things moving at a more leisurely pace and can enjoy the events the locals call their own.