Labor Day is a mere memory, and the leaves are getting ready to do their annual red, gold and orange thing, but that doesn't mean it's time to say goodbye to summer just yet.
As beach dwellers have long known, but kept quiet about, September and October are actually two of the nicest months in the year to hit the coast. The water is still warm from the summer sun, but the humidity lifts, making everything crisp and crystalline. The crowds die down, and with school back in session, even the most family-friendly destinations become quiet romantic getaways -- especially midweek. And during the shoulder season, of course, prices drop.
For West Coast beaches, the weather is arguably the nicest of the year. For instance, the average temperature in September in Laguna Beach is exactly the same as it is in August, and drops off by a few degrees in October. Yet it's possible to secure prime hotel rooms (and spa treatments and dinner reservations) with far less notice than you would during the hectic summer months. Surf and Sand is right on the beach, so close that each room is furnished with ear plugs for guests troubled by the sound of waves. You'll need to make reservations at least 30 days in advance in the summer, when each weekend typically sells out. But you've got a good chance of snagging even a weekend reservation for a prime room in the fall with as little as one week's notice.That's California, the land of sunshine. What about the Northeast, where there's a true autumn? It's definitely cooler than it is during summer, but the beach still can by idyllic if you plan properly. During the heat of summer, you could easily wile away entire days at the beach, swimming in the cool water and warming on the sand. With the season's cooler temps, you'll be warmer in the water, so your sandy sojourns will most likely be shorter.