Shoulder Season Destinations That Are Better In the South

Photo: Dennis Govoni/Getty Images

There are always reasons to travel during a destination's busy season. Peak season is peak, after all. However, during the weeks leading up to and immediately following a travel destination's busy season, you can usually find good weather, great deals, and fewer crowds. That's the appeal of a shoulder season trip. You may have to keep an eye on the weather, but if you time it right, shoulder season might just become your new favorite time to travel. Traveling in the shoulder and off seasons also give you the opportunity to experience new things. Visit in a slower season and you might get to trade leaf-peeping for snow days or a sweltering day on the beach for a breezy one. Give a shoulder season a chance, and you might just score some travel deals in the process.

01 of 09

Asheville, North Carolina

Downtown Asheville, NC View
Getty Images

Shoulder Season: Winter and Spring

In Asheville, every season is a good season. Some are busier than others, however. The busiest times to visit are in the fall months, especially October, because of the travelers who visit to see the leaves turning. Winter and spring are also great times to visit. In the colder months, you'll find some opportunities for skiing and frolicking in the snow, while spring brings blooming landscapes.

02 of 09

Blue Ridge Mountains

Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Peter Frank Edwards

Shoulder Season: Early Spring

October is the busiest time along the Blue Ridge Parkway because of the influx of visitors coming to see the changing leaves. Summer is also bustling. Late winter and early spring—from January through March—are less busy times to visit, but they're no less beautiful. Cheaper costs and the beginnings of the spring blooms mean that the trip is well worth an off-season visit.

03 of 09

Florida Keys

Sombrero Beach with palm trees on the Florida Keys, Marathon, Florida, USA. Tropical and paradise destination for vacation.
Simon Dannhauer / Getty Images

Shoulder Season: Late Spring, Early Fall

Winter and early spring are the high season in the Florida Keys, but its shoulder seasons, which arrive in the late spring and early fall months, are also great times to visit. The heat may warn you off of a true summer visit, but if you can catch the pre- and post-summer breezes, your Keys trip will be well worth it. (Keep an eye on the weather if you decide to visit during hurricane season, June through November!)

04 of 09

Miami, Florida

miami, florida
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Shoulder Season: Late Spring, Early Fall

If you're in the mood for a city break, Miami's a great place to be. Its busy season falls in winter and early spring, usually January through April, but visiting between May and September can help you secure some deals if you're willing to handle the heat. If you can catch the late-spring weather before the mercury starts to rise, it will remind you why shoulder seasons are some of the best times to travel.

05 of 09

Outer Banks

Dennis Govoni/Getty Images

Shoulder Season: Spring and Fall

The North Carolina coast's peak season falls in the summer months—June, July, and August—but the weeks leading up to and immediately following summer can be good shoulder-season times for travelers to visit.

06 of 09

Ozark Mountains

Talimena Scenic Drive Arkansas
zrfphoto / Getty Images

Shoulder Season: Late Spring, Early Fall

In the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, shoulder season falls in late spring and early fall. Summer is its busiest season, but the rest of the year still offers prime times—and cooler temps—in which to visit the trails, lakes, and summits of the Ozarks.

07 of 09

Rio Grande

Southern Campgrounds Big Bend National Park, TX
Education Images/Getty Images

Shoulder Season: Late Fall, Winter

According to the National Park Service, "Spring break is the busiest two-week period" during the year on this South Texas riverway. While the summer months can be punishing, climate-wise, the NPS says, "September through January is usually a great time to be on the river. Temperatures are cooler making for many very beautiful days on the river. The river stabilizes but only somewhat; the river can always rise (and drop) and the weather can turn cold any time during these months."

08 of 09

Shenandoah Valley

Lewis Spring Falls Shenandoah National Park
David Muench / Getty Images

Shoulder Season: Late Fall, Early Spring

In Virginia's lush Shenandoah Valley, November through March is considered the off season, while leaf-peeping fall and blooming spring are the busiest times to visit the park.

09 of 09

Upper Gulf Coast

Seaside Beach
Rush Jagoe

Shoulder Season: Spring and Fall

Summertime brings the crowds to the Alabama and Florida Panhandle Gulf coasts, but trips during spring and fall—March through May and September through November—offer wide sandy beaches without the sunbaked swelter of summer.

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