Our Favorite Fall Beach Destinations
Nothing against summer at the beach or fall in the mountains, but give us a balmy autumn day on a stretch of sand with no crowds, and we’re in a state of bliss. As frommers.com points out, while North Florida and South Florida have opposite high seasons, their shoulder seasons (that's when they begin dropping rates) are consistent: April-May and September through November. Shoulder season is a little harder to define on the Outer Banks, but it’s roughly April-May September-October.
Before booking any travel, it's important to pay attention to the weather reports. Fall is also hurricane season, and Mid-Atlantic beaches will be cooler than those farther south, especially at night. (Not necessarily a bad thing, once we’ve made it through the scorcher months.) Some businesses begin closing in shoulder season. Even so, it’s worth it to have a few days on a fabulous beach, knowing you’ve got the run of the place.
Siesta Key, Florida
This fall beach in Florida is cool even at high noon, thanks to powdery white sand that’s 99% quartz, which won’t absorb heat. The annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival happens November 10-14, 2017.
St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida
You could spend a long weekend just trolling the eateries and watering holes here. But throw in gorgeous beaches, and the wow factor goes even higher.
Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Find a touch of Old Florida on this barrier island 20 minutes from Bradenton, at Tampa Bay’s southern mouth.
Tybee Island, Georgia
As fall beach destinations go, it’s hard to imagine a better spot than this chill, bike-friendly beach burg less than 20 miles from Savannah.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Its Driftwood Beach is a favorite with brides and photographers. Jekyll is part of a string of Georgia’s “Golden Isles,” along with St. Simons, Little St. Simons, and Sea Island.
Pensacola Beach, Florida
This is a great autumn beach. There’s a stretch of the Gulf Islands National Seashore here with unspoiled views of sand and sea—and the light is downright magical.
Key West, Florida
There aren’t many places where you feel as if you’ve completely left your normal life behind and entered a totally different universe—without even leaving the South. Key West is one.
Mississippi Gulf Coast
Florida’s 30-A Beaches
Grayton Beach stands out on fabled 30-A, perfect for fall vacations. Unlike such stunning planned communities as Seaside and Rosemary Beach, this funky little village is delightfully unplanned. Its Red Bar is a magnet for locals and tourists.
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
The spring break revelers on South Padre are nowhere to be seen in fall. Head north for even more serenity on the Padre Island National Seashore—reportedly the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world.
Florida’s A1A Beach Towns
From Fernandina, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine all the way south through Daytona Flagler, New Smyrna, and Cocoa Beaches to Miami, the Atlantic Coast is great in fall.
Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, Delaware
A $6 million renovation made a great park even better. Enjoy six miles of hard-packed beaches that invite sunbathing, sea glass-hunting, hiking, and more.
Pawley's Island, South Carolina
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
This popular sand-and-surf village is a favorite among surfers and paddlers of every description.
Eastern Shore of Virginia & Maryland
Explore coastal towns like Cape Charles, Virginia, and St. Michaels, Maryland, to discover a different kind of beach—the Chesapeake shores, beautiful in fall.