Labor Day weekend is considered the last hurrah for summer vacations – especially for families, because the kids have to go back to school. But it doesn’t have to be the end of beach season. The travel industry’s name for the time after Labor Day but before Thanksgiving is called “Shoulder Season,” and it’s one of the best times to get deals to the beach.
Travelers can find deals as low as $50 per night at destinations like Myrtle Beach, which was named #1 Best U.S. Beach by Trip Advisor. South Carolina’s most popular beach gets about 14-million visitors a year. It’s also known as the golf capital of the U.S., with 102 golf courses and 32 miniature golf courses. Myrtle Beach has hundreds of hotels, but I suggest staying a few miles north along Highway 17, at the less congested North Myrtle Beach.
One popular spot here is the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation. Every suite has its own balcony with a view of the beach. Start getting into relaxation mode with a yoga session on the beach. The hotel offers this for free on Friday mornings. Then enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet, including omelets and waffles.
Throw on your bathing suit and straw hat and head back to the beach for sun and fun, or hit the links at the Arcadian Shores Golf Course. At the Splash! Pool Complex, enjoy live music or participate in games like “TV Theme Songs Trivia.” Have a lunch at Splash Cafe.
Of course, no vacation is full without a little bit of shopping, so hop on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle to the nearby Tanger Outlets. When you first arrive, head to the visitors’ center for your free coupon book for deals at stores like Jones New York, Talbots, and Old Navy.
The shuttle also takes you to more discounts at nearby Marshalls and Ross. There’s also a Super Walmart, if you want to bring groceries back to the hotel – your suite has a mini fridge and microwave. Tip: If you stay a minimum of two nights at the Embassy Suites, you’ll get a $40 Walmart gas card.
Back at the hotel, freshen up and head to the Nightwatch Lounge for the manager’s reception. This is a great way to kick off your evening with free drinks and a view of the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean. For dinner and entertainment on property, enjoy a good steak at Omaha Steakhouse, and laugh your cares away with live stand-up at the Comedy Zone. If you want even more action, head 10 minutes north on Highway 17 to the shopping and entertainment complex, Barefoot Landing.
There’s nothing like good seafood on a beach vacation, so visit Joe’s Crab Shack at Barefoot Landing for succulent steamed crab legs and other seafood dishes. Then walk just a few yards across the way to the House of Blues for live music and dancing.
The next day, get your dancing legs massaged at the Embassy Suites Royal Day Spa; then start your beach, shopping, dining and dancing all over again. Myrtle Beach is a great getaway to celebrate your 40th birthday, or just to celebrate the deals during “shoulder season.” For packages and coupons, visit http://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/. And remember: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.