Ocean City, NJ, is Airbnb’s most booked destination this fall

When you think of fall destinations, beaches and boardwalks might not be the first images that come to mind. But Airbnb renters are planning more fall getaways to a town on the South Jersey Shore than anywhere else in the country.

Ocean City is the online vacation rental company’s top destination this fall in terms of total nights booked, the company recently announced.

“I think it shows Ocean City is attractive in our ‘second season,'” the post-Labor Day period, said Michele Gillian, executive director of the city’s Chamber of Commerce. “We are an ideal destination for outdoor activities during probably the most beautiful months of the year”, from September to November.

Airbnb spokesman Haven Thorn said he couldn’t share how many rentals Ocean City compared to our coastal towns or how many nights were booked there this fall. But it was enough to put the city that bills itself as “America’s Greatest Resort” above nine other US destinations, including several major college football towns such as Ann Arbor, Mich.; Oxford, Miss; Baton Rouge, Louis; Lexington, Kentucky; and Lubbock, Texas.

Some “people just want to enjoy the boardwalks and beaches and lakes before things get too cold again,” Thorn said, “and that’s probably why Ocean City, NJ, came in so high.”

READ MORE: The Shore weathered the pandemic, but changed in the process

Gillian said she would attribute it to other factors as well. The Shore has seen a tourism boom since the pandemic hit in 2020, she said, with driveable destinations becoming more attractive to the millions of people in the Philadelphia and New York areas. And, she said, an increasing number of fall events are taking place on the coast.

In Ocean City, the business community began this push about 20 years ago, she said, with an “active” effort to have more “shoulder season” events, Gillian said. Today, its fall schedule includes Ocean City Pops concerts, weekend car shows, a “Fall Block Party” in early October, and the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride, which ends in Ocean City in late September. .

While the Shore still remains much less crowded in the fall months than in the summer, the expanded schedule of activities apparently attracts more and more people every year, Gillian said. At the same time, online rental companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo have given visitors another option outside of hotels and longer-term beach house rentals.

“Ocean City has traditionally been a Saturday-to-Saturday rental town,” Gillian said, “but with Airbnb, people have the option of doing one-night, two-night, and three-night stays.”

Gillian said she welcomes short-term renters, who can get a taste of the city without a longer, more expensive commitment.

“We find young families who haven’t been here, who maybe can’t come for a week because of different activities,” she said, “and then we find younger couples who come see what Ocean City is.”

Anecdotally, she says, they sometimes come back for longer stays or return with a larger group.

When asked if we were worried that recent publicity is letting too many people discover the secret to the Shore’s fall charm, Gillian laughed.

“We’re not worried,” she said. “We welcome everyone.”

As Labor Day weekend approaches, many are expected to head to short-term rentals across the country.

Last year, Thorn said, the Saturday Labor Day weekend was the date with the most one-day Airbnb check-ins across the country.

This year, the company is seeing another trend: more people traveling alone for the holiday weekend. Solo travel over Labor Day weekend was up 20% from a year ago, Thorn said.

“People are just hanging out, whether it’s with family, friends, or alone,” Thorn said. “They just want to go.”

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