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5 Beach Vacations That Are Even Better In The Fall

Better deals, smaller crowds and milder weather? Count us in!

Summer is officially over — the kids are back in school, the leaves are starting to turn and, before you know it, the holidays will be here.

But even though the temperatures are dropping at home, there’s still plenty of surf, sand, sun and snorkeling to be had elsewhere.

Fall is actually the perfect time to plan a weekend beach getaway or an extended trip. Why? In many regions, it’s considered the “shoulder season,” when crowds are smaller and things generally tend to be more relaxed. You can typically get better deals during this non-peak time, too, which means you could actually afford to go somewhere on your bucket list.

For inspiration, here are five fall beach getaways to start planning ASAP.

1. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For a relaxing beach getaway, look no further than Playa del Carmen, Mexico, just south of Cancun. Whether you’re traveling with the whole family or planning a romantic excursion with your partner, this region makes for the perfect fall beach vacation — the weather is pleasant and the holiday crowds aren’t here yet, which means no crowded beaches and no lines at the swim-up bar. Even better? It’s easy to get here with direct flights to Cancun from many parts of the U.S., so you’ll be sipping a cocktail in the sun in no time.

One of seven swimming pools at Occidental at Xcaret Destination. Photo courtesy of Occidental Hotel & Resorts

If you’re looking for a beach vacation with a little something extra, consider visiting Occidental at Xcaret Destination. For starters, the lush grounds will take your breath away — the spectacular gardens and jungle landscape create the ultimate relaxing environment for your getaway. On top of that, you can even learn something while you’re on vacation here, since the resort highlights Mexican culture and history throughout your stay.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love exploring the two Mayan ruins on the hotel grounds and even more at the nearby Xcaret Park. The resort also brings fun mini history lessons into your room each night with “bedtime stories” and small souvenirs intended to help you learn about a piece of Mexico’s heritage. For example, when you return to your room after dinner, you might find a small colorful doll meant to symbolize indigenous Mazahua artisans or a special kit for making the traditional Mexican beverage called café de olla, which means coffee from the pot.

One of two Mayan ruins on the property of Occidental at Xcaret Destination. Photo by Sarah Kuta

While here, you’ll have a hard time choosing between the seven picturesque swimming pools and the private inlet bay beach. You can also snorkel among colorful tropical fish or simply relax and watch monkeys play overhead in the trees.

To upgrade your experience, consider a stay in the resort’s luxurious Royal Level, a secluded area with personalized service, an exclusive restaurant, a private pool and more. The hospitality is second to none and you won’t regret indulging.

2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If you’re up for a quick international beach trip that won’t break the bank, consider heading to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which is just a quick flight from the United States. Fall is one of the best times to visit Punta Cana — temperatures are in the low- to mid-80s and hurricane season is winding down. Plus, you’ll avoid the peak holiday crowds that flock here in November and December.

Photo courtesy of TRS Cap Cana Hotel

On top of all that, many hotels are offering sweet deals this time of year. TRS Cap Cana Hotel, which opened last November, is offering up to 50 percent off room rates right now. This small resort is the perfect place to rest and recharge — there are just 115 luxury suites here, so it stays calm, peaceful and quiet all day long. As you lounge by the pool or on the beach, you’ll have a picturesque view of the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea, framed by palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Or, if you don’t really feel like leaving your room, book one of TRS Cap Cana Hotel’s swim-up suites, where all you have to do is walk out onto your terrace and climb onto a lounge chair.

Photo courtesy of TRS Cap Cana Hotel

Of course, there are daily activities if you want to get up and move — pool biking and yoga, just to name a few — or you can indulge with a trip to the Zentropia Palladium Spa & Wellness center, where skilled providers will pamper you with a massage or treatment. The spa also features two hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms and a state-of-the-art gym.

Photo courtesy of TRS Cap Cana Hotel

If you prefer a slightly livelier vibe while you’re on vacation, the hotel’s sister property TRS Turquesa Hotel is also a great option, with additional nightlife options and direct access to the neighboring Grand Palladium Hotels and Resorts. If you don’t want to choose, you can take advantage of Absolute Indulgence, which means you get complimentary access to both TRS Cap Cana and TRS Turquesa during your stay.

3. South Beach, Miami

When you visit during the fall, you’ll avoid the huge crowds that flock to Miami’s South Beach during other parts of the year. The weather is milder, too, though you’ll likely experience an afternoon thunderstorm or two.

Courtesy of Kimpton Surfcomber

For a relaxing beach getaway, make the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel your home-away-from-home in South Beach. This boutique hotel has adorably eclectic decor, ranging from raw-edge wood mirrors to brightly colored, vintage-inspired couches and chairs. Located in South Beach’s famed Art Deco District, the building itself is an architectural gem on Collins Avenue.

If you like to stay active on vacation, the hotel offers SplashCycle classes, during which you’ll ride a stationary bike in the pool. There are also regular yoga classes, boot camp workouts and run/walk club workouts. On top of all that, the hotel has complimentary beach cruiser bikes so you explore the area on two wheels.

Courtesy of Kimpton Surfcomber

But let’s get down to the heart of the matter: the beach. Kimpton will set you up with a complimentary beach chair and a towel on the hotel’s stretch of the white sand beach. You can also rent paddleboards, parasails, kayaks, banana boats and waverunners from a nearby outfitter. The pool is located in the hotel’s lush “backyard” surrounded by reservable shaded cabanas with cozy seating, TVs and food and beverages.

For dinner, you’ll want to stop by The Social Club, the on-site restaurant with an outdoor patio that’s great for people-watching on Collins Avenue. Executive Chef Jeffrey Williams will wow your tastebuds with flavor-packed dishes like lobster mac and cheese, shibang shrimp and smoked brisket and egg. But be sure to leave room for dessert — the fresh ricotta doughnuts, served warm with dulce de leche and espresso hazelnut fudge, are the perfect way to cap off any evening in South Beach.

Courtesy of Kimpton Surfcomber

4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Didn’t get enough of summer? No problem. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is an ideal place to “stretch your summer,” even if the leaves have already turned in your home state.

Photo courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

Hotels are offering discounts, there are fewer crowds and you can experience all this region has to offer, even if you only have a few vacation days to spare.

There are 60 miles of beach to explore, so whether you love walking on the sand at sunrise or sunbathing, there’s a little something for everyone.

But one of the best parts about visiting Myrtle Beach is that there’s so much more than just a beach here. For instance, Brookgreen Gardens is a stunningly beautiful botanical and sculpture garden — it’s the perfect place to leisurely wander and spend time in nature.

Or, if you like a little more adventure during your vacation, there’s plenty of that in Myrtle Beach, too. Take a kayak tour of the Waccamaw River or rent jet skis or a paddleboard to explore at your own pace.

5. San Luis Obispo, California

With more than 80 miles of coastline, San Luis Obispo County, aka SLO CAL, has beaches for everyone. Want to bring your four-legged friend along on vacation? They’ve got dog beaches. Want to scope out some elephant seals? You can do that, too, near San Simeon. Want to rent cruiser bikes and explore the beach on two wheels? Just say the words at Avila Beach.

A dog runs along the beach in a spray of water, a golden retriever

This laid-back region, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is a great spot to slow down, take a deep breath and really center yourself before the busy holiday season. When you’re not on the beach, consider a soak in the mineral springs at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa or a bike tour of wine country in Paso Robles. There are even beer yoga classes — aka “boga” — you can take on the beach.

While you’re here, make Avila Lighthouse Suites your home base. You’ll have views of the coast from your private patio or balcony, and you’re just steps from the beach. And be sure to pop into San Luis Obispo to check out the legendary Downtown San Luis Obispo Farmers Market, where you’ll find artisan crafts, local BBQ and fresh produce every Thursday evening.