Fewer crowds make for better vacations, don't you think?

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Ever considered visiting the beach in winter? When you visit a destination in the off season, you can usually enjoy it while—miracle of miracles—skipping the crowds. You may not have access to all of the area's favorite attractions (it is the off season, after all), but having wide open spaces and your run of the place can make up for all of that. Another travel time, known as the "shoulder season," can be especially good for planning trips. During the weeks that fall between the peak and off-season times, you can usually find good rates while still enjoying the perks of the region's best weather and attractions. Read on for a few of our favorite off-season destinations.

Asheville
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Asheville, North Carolina

Peak season in Western North Carolina is summer and fall, the latter because of the stunning foliage that turns during the autumn months and draws leaf spotters to the area, its hotels, and road trip routes. Winter and spring are also great, less-crowded times to visit, and they bring holiday festivities and blooming flowers, respectively.

Charleston
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Charleston, South Carolina

Travelers love Charleston for its food and sightseeing—the sidewalks pass by candy-colored houses and invite long walks through the city. You can find pleasant weather throughout the year, but if you set your sights on late fall and early winter, you can take advantage of lower hotel and travel rates. You'll also be able to enjoy mild winter weather from your picturesque perch on the coast.  

Florida Keys
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Key West, Florida

Peak season for the Florida Keys is in winter, when crowds of snowbirds flock to the hotels and beaches. Another favorite time to visit is between March and May, a period that allows travelers to enjoy the area's balmy weather before the summer swelter sets in. Visit in late May to miss the crowds or try early November for cooler weather and strolls along the beach that might just require a sweater.

Outer Banks
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Outer Banks, North Carolina

Summer is high season in the Outer Banks, when families fill the coast's rental houses and splash along the shore until school starts again in the fall. Visit in the shoulder season and off-season—which falls in early spring and through the autumn—to find crowd-free beaches, mild weather, and cheaper rates.

Savannah
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Savannah, Georgia

While many flock to this coastal Georgia town to see azaleas blooming under the canopies of oaks in spring and summer, an off-season trip in fall can be a perfect time to visit. Cooler temperatures mean that you can spend more time relaxing by the river and strolling through the city's famed squares.

San Antonio
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San Antonio, Texas

Even though temps are high during Texas summers, those months are also some of the busiest times to visit the river city. Skip the crowds by visiting San Antonio in late fall and winter, when hotel rates are lower and you can spend more time in the great outdoors. Don't forget to take a trip to nearby Lockhart, Texas, for the best barbecue of your life.

What's your favorite destination to visit in the off season? Do you have any trips planned for the seasons to come?