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Why Fall is the Best Beach Season

Cheap airfare, affordable hotel deals, no crowds and crisp cool air... Here are all the reasons why you should hit the beach this fall.

Every August my family used to pack up and escape to our routine stretch of sand in Florida. But the price of a week of fun in the sun was red-hot peeling skin, insane crowds, and overrated hotel rooms — not exactly the relaxing vacation I had imagined. So, after many rounds of mishaps, I’ve finally found the secret to not hating the beach: Go in the fall.

No shoobies in sight

It’s one thing to be a bronzed beach babe, it’s another to be lathered in 18 pounds of tanning oil and roasting like a rotating spit under the blistering sun. Unfortunately for me, a person who loathes claustrophobic crowds, there’s no escaping the sea of humanity that packs the shore each summer. (Though, if I have to declare war over the perfect postage stamp-sized spot, you better believe my towel is going to be down first!) Thankfully, after Labor Day, people pack up and peace out for the season, meaning instead of coveting one small patch of sand, I can have the entire playa if I want. Hello, private island paradise.

Sayonara, sweltering heat

Look, don’t get me wrong. I love summer weather…. When it’s beautiful, blue skies and 80. But during a heat wave, I’d rather be cowering in front of my AC’s arctic blast than sweating buckets in suffocating humidity. And at the beach, it’s even worse. Jumping from foot to foot and howling to hell, I’d choose walking on a bed of coals over hopping across the scalding Sahara-like sand. But come fall, temps drop to the blissful 70s, so during the day, I can lounge in the cool breeze, and at night, I can huddle around a beach bonfire in jeans and a tee.

RELATED: 10 Beaches That Are Better in the Fall

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Fly frugally

When airfare to Atlantic City costs the same as it does to Australia, I’d rather wait and save my pennies for an off-season deal. Surprise, surprise, now that it’s September, prices have plummeted. Here’s what I currently have my eye on: a $100 round-trip flight from Chicago/New York/Boston to San Juan, Puerto Rico on American; $113 one-way jetBlue ticket from NYC to Turks and Caicos; $64 one-way on jetBlue from Washington D.C/Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale.

Hotels are cheaper

The beach is great and all, but it’s not worth $600 a night (a “steal” in the summer). I always check back in September/October to find the best bargain-bin deals for my next coastal getaway. Some favorites I’ve seen so far: Royal Palm South Beach Miami ($125); Hatchet Caye Resort, Belize ($165); Sugar Ridge, Antigua ($172); Kore Tulum Retreat & Spa Resort, Mexico ($225); Sivory Punta Cana Hotel in the Dominican Republic ($250).

RELATED: Off-Season Caribbean Hotel Deals You Won’t Want to Miss

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Toss the trash

Nothing is worse than picturing a pristine white-sand beach and rolling up to see a littered landfill of bud light bottles, cigarettes and plastic bags scattered about. On the plus side, with less crowds comes less garbage, so in the fall, that dreamy strand will be immaculate.

I spy parking spots

Snagging seaside parking in the dead of summer is like a bad game of Where’s Waldo. You know it’s out there, but someone always seems to find it first. While I’ve had my fair share of five-mile walks, lugging coolers, umbrellas and tote bags full of toys, it’s not exactly something I’d care to repeat on a yearly basis, thank you very much. After all, the point of going to the beach is to get some R&R, not to collapse out of pure exhaustion by the time you finally get there. Starting in September, lots clear out as kids go back to school, and bonus: many towns waive parking fees in the fall. Cha ching!

Wedding crashers FTW

There’s something truly romantic about autumn… the colors, the crisp air… Every evening at sunset, I would sit with a glass of wine on the balcony of our place in Fort Walton Beach, FL, and watch brides walk barefoot down the boardwalk (ahem, aisle). And the setup was always so charming, with casual white chairs, seashell decorations and a simple but stunning arbor wrapped in flowers. Though sometimes, the entertainment would take a wilder side: I once caught the newlyweds and their crew taking photos on floaties in the ocean. But usually, the night would end with the couple walking hand-in-hand along the beach. Doesn’t get more lovely than that.

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