Post-Labor Day savings at the beach

It may be tough to pronounce, but Wingaersheek Beach, in the Massachusetts fishing town of Gloucester, is easy to enjoy. It's also on the Boston Globe Magazine's list for best family beach. But make sure to arrive early, as parking, which costs $25 per car on the weekends and holidays, isn't usually available for long. Photo: Cliff Amero/Essex River Cruises & Charters/Courtesy of the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 25, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: beach, bed and breakfast, Carl Unger, hotel, low season, shoulder season.

Labor Day marks the end of the summer high season in most U.S. beach destinations. That means the crowds head home and prices can drop drastically, resulting in great deals and empty beaches. And no, the water isn't any colder, nor is the weather suddenly dull and gray.

The strongest discounts will be on the East Coast from the mid-Atlantic to Maine—destinations with distinct seasons. In Cape May, New Jersey, rates at the popular Montreal Inn start at $149 after July 3. But on September 1, the lowest per-night prices plummet to $100. The same thing happens at the Vista Motel in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where summer rates starting at $135 per night give way to $95 rates on September 5.


Labor Day doesn't hold as much influence on the West Coast, where the weather is more moderate year-round, but rates do drop in the fall. At the Stinson Beach Motel in Stinson Beach, California, fall weekend rates drop by as much as $75 per night, but not until November 1. Prices at the Friday Harbor House in Washington's San Juan Islands drop by up to 40 percent on October 1.

The moral of the story is: Do your research. While most properties (including vacation rentals) follow the local trend, some places may close in September, while others keep their rates up through the fall (especially in New England, for foliage season). And while you're at it, make sure the town itself stays open, as many shops and restaurants hibernate during the off-season.

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