Many associate the end of summer with the return to the grind -- but it doesn't have to be so! As professional vacationers (hey, it actually can be a lot of work -- and someone's got to do it), we here at Oyster.com would beg to differ. The fall season can actually be a prime time for a getaway; even in popular autumnal locales, rates across the board generally aren't at their very highest, and airline prices certainly aren't soaring like they are around the holiday season. Plus, if you choose an off-peak destination, you can really save some serious cash -- and temperatures in these spots generally aren't at their lowest (a.k.a most miserable). So shake the end-of-summer blues and ease back into work and the school year with a wonderful getaway in the next couple of months. Here are five affordable off-peak destinations that are worth a visit.
-- Jane Reynolds, Oyster.com
If you considered traveling to Europe this summer, then you definitely learned at least one thing: it ain't cheap. Summertime is the most popular season for almost every European destination, and that was certainly the case for Croatia, which has been one of the most popular getaways in the world in recent years. But if you were deterred from a summer vacation to Dubrovnik, you're in luck; we'd argue that the off-peak fall season is actually far superior. Crowds have all but disappeared, yet the weather is still nice enough for beachside lounging, and it's even better for hikes in the surrounding mountains. Budget hotel rates can be as low as 40 to 50 bucks in mid October; flights, however, can be trickier but if you're flexible with your dates, you can often find a deal.
Budget Hotel Pick: Hotel Vis (pictured)
Nantucket is one of the Northeast's most popular -- and most expensive -- summertime escapes. Visitors either have to shell out a load of cash for flights, or suffer through insane motor traffic only to take a packed ferry over to the island. Come fall, though, its a different story; flights are reasonable, ferries are discounted and lack the crowds, and Nantucket exudes that perfect New England fall vibe that'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Plus, Halloween is a bit of a scene here and Restaurant Week runs from September 28 to October 4 this year.
Kid-Friendly Hotel Pick: The Cottages at Boat Basin (pictured)
The Dominican Republic makes almost every list of affordable beach destinations. Not only is it relatively easy to get to -- with direct flights leaving from the U.S. and Europe daily -- but it is filled with all-inclusive resorts, many of which offer affordable package deals. Plus, this Caribbean island is a particularly wallet-savvy choice during the fall months; technically, it is hurricane season, but the D.R. rarely falls victim to massive storms and forecasts predict another calm season in the Atlantic this year.
All-Inclusive Hotel Pick: Casa Marina Reef (pictured)
Victoria, British Colombia
Victoria bustles with tourists during the summertime, when temperatures are perfectly pleasant: sunny and warm, but without the sticky feeling that Caribbean and city destinations' weather can produce. And while it's freezing come wintertime in this Canadian locale, visitors pack the slopes. So we found the sweet spot: Victoria's autumn. At this time of year, travelers can leaf peep, spot whales, and save some serious cash on flight fares and the area's hotels, many of which have a spa-like leaning.
Spa Hotel Pick: Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa (pictured)
Sedona is another spa-like destination, this time stateside, where you can find Zen not only from spa treatments and a tranquil natural setting, but also through the money you'll save if you visit during the off-peak fall season. Sure, summertime may be pretty quiet here too -- but that's because the weather is stifling. Fall temperatures, however, are warm and comfortable; perfect for lying by the pool, hiking, and playing golf before the hordes of holiday travel descend upon the destination, upping the crowds and hotel rates exponentially.
Bed-and-Breakfast Hotel Pick: Cozy Cactus Bed and Breakfast (pictured)