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The Best Beaches for Fall

Fall is a great time to visit the beach.

With the arrival of autumn, the crowds are gone, prices are low, and cooler temps mean you don’t have to wear a bathing suit! In fall, I love a long stroll on the shore or planting a chair in the sand and losing myself in a great book. Paired with low hotel rates and less busy restaurants, I say there’s a great argument for saving your beach vacation until fall. Here are four of the best beaches for fall.

Ogunquit, ME  The Best Beaches for Fall

People tend to think of Maine as a summer destination, but there’s just as many fun things to do here in the fall. The water might be a bit chilly to frolic in the waves, but there’s still plenty of water activities that don’t require getting wet. Try kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or maybe even surfing (they make wetsuits for a reason!). If you prefer land-bound activities, a leisurely walk on the beach, a game of frisbee, or reading a book on the sand is great this time of year—less crowds means a more low-key, relaxing experience. Who doesn’t love that?

The beach isn’t the only reason to visit Maine in the fall. For foliage lovers, the colors here start to change in September, and peak in October. Love seafood? Excellent—fall is prime lobster season in Maine! And even better, Ogunquit celebrates Capriccio for two weeks every fall. This autumn celebration showcases local art, music, and hosts an annual kite flying festival.

 

Nantucket, MA

The Best Beaches for Fall

A summer vacation in Nantucket sounds delightful to just about everyone. And because of that, crowds swell– 10,000 people live here year-round, but the populations is about five times that in the summer!– and price tags soar. Personally, I think there’s a lot a reasons to wait until fall to hit up this 19th Century whaling hub. Once the kids head back to school, this charming island calms down substantially. Stroll down quiet beaches, visit Sankaty Head Lighthouse, and tour Nantucket on bicycle (Young’s and Island Bike Co are two of a few rental companies on the island).

Fall also means there’s no need to spend an hour queued up outside the Nautilus (an Asian fusion spot with fantastic craft cocktails), and charming B&Bs, like the Brass Lantern, boast non-bank-breaking prices. With an easy ferry ride from Cape Cod, it’s an excellent choice for a fall getaway.

Hilton Head, SC

The Best Beaches for Fall

This is beach is popular year-round, but lesser so in the fall. I’d use the word “fall” loosely here; the October daytime temperatures average about 77 degrees. Not too shabby! As for most beach vacations, occupancy hits a major low in the last few months of the year (with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas). That means great hotel rates, and beautiful beaches all to yourself.

As for things to do, there’s no shortage, especially for food lovers. Oyster season kicks off in September, so if you’re into that sort of thing, there will be plenty of places to enjoy them. The Salty Dog and the Old Oyster Factory are stalwarts on the island, but for something a little hipper, try the Lucky Rooster. Here, they fry oysters in cornmeal and serve them with okra, citrus herb spice and black pepper aioli. Yum!

Traverse City, MI

The Best Beaches for Fall

With its rich blue waters, white sand dunce beaches and nothing but water on the horizon, it’s easy to see why Traverse City is called the Caribbean of the North. Autumn is a great time to explore this beautiful beach town. Due to the lake effect, daytime temperatures hover around 70 in September, which means an afternoon at the beach is much more pleasant than you’d probably expect. Brave folks are known to take a dip in Lake Michigan well into September!

If you love the fall colors (who doesn’t?), this great lakes destination offers some of the most incredible vistas for fall foliage. A great place to experience this is at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Hike or bike along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, a 27-mile paved path.

What do you think are the best beaches for fall? Share in the comments!


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Fall is a great time to visit the beach. The crowds are gone, prices are low, and cooler temps mean you don’t have to wear a bathing suit! Here are four of the best beaches for fall.

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This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. Ocean City, MD. Is lovely this time of year especially when the End of Summer festival takes place. Lots going on.

    1. Agree about the panhandle of Florida (provided there’s no hurricane in the forecast !)-
      I organized a fabulous ‘gal pal reunion’ a couple of years ago in early November, on St. George Island, just off the coast from Apalachicola. Gorgeous, peaceful place with a fine State Park brimming with natural, snow-white sand dunes; & a historic lighthouse.
      Visit Apalachicola, too; it is a quaint town, with NO high rises (I love that !). It has a historic hotel; and lots of shops to browse in.

  2. As a Michigan native, we love Traverse City in the summer and fall. I want everyone to know that they do not have “dunce” beaches! Sleeping Bear area has beautiful white sand dunes. Can you tell I proofread for a living? LOL Just had to tease you Samantha. Love your show!

    1. Delbert, I was going to say the same thing. The Oregon Coast is beautiful anytime but the Fall is wonderful. No crowds, not too foggy (due to no heat of summer inland), and no snow/ice yet. Some of most memorable visits have been in the Fall.

      Northern California is spectacular, too, for similar reasons as Oregon’s. The have the Redwoods not too far away, also, so you can take them in while visiting there.

      So, Samantha – get Oregon and Northern California added to the list. Oh wait! Maybe not. If they’re on your list, everyone will want to go there. 😉

  3. Even though we’re not able to take actual vacations, we live it through you Samantha. That’s why we loved your show so much , your the most knowledgeable & vibrant fun. Tour guide ever! Miss you ! Also your posts take me there too! Love ya keep on sharing your adventures with us!

  4. You’re really missing out if you don’t plan an autumn visit to Pismo Beach, CA and the surrounding area . I’m a resident of the “5Cities” on the Central Coast, including Pismo and love it here. I don’t work for the CofC, but included the link to give you a quick glimpse of our beautiful corner of the country. C’mon over!

  5. Navarro River meets the Pacific. Great Beach, hi way 128 @ coastal hi way 1 . Eighty miles or so north of the Golden Gate Bridge (101) from Cloverdale a drive to the coast. Stop in Yorkville for pickniking on the beach. Great wines at Disco Ranch in Boonville. Wine country tasting in Anderson Valley, farther on an incredible drive through the Redwoods. Turn left over the bridge then right to the beach.

  6. Delbert, I was going to say the same thing. The Oregon Coast is beautiful anytime but the Fall is wonderful. No crowds, not too foggy (due to no heat of summer inland), and no snow/ice yet. Some of most memorable visits have been in the Fall.

    Northern California is spectacular, too, for similar reasons as Oregon’s. The have the Redwoods not too far away, also, so you can take them in while visiting there.

    So, Samantha – get Oregon and Northern California added to the list. Oh wait! Maybe not. If they’re on your list, everyone will want to go there. 😉

    1. The Oregon Coast is uncrowded in the fall? Try getting a campsite in any of the state parks or Forest Service Campgrounds. The days of uncrowded shoulder seasons are long gone!

  7. San Diego North County coast is fantastic in the fall particularly Cardiff By the Sea beach. All restored habitat in the San Elijo Lagoon and wide fresh sand beach for us to enjoy.

  8. I like Baker Beach in the Presidio of San Francisco with the back drop of the cliffs and the Golden Gate Bridge, Santa Cruz beach for surfing, and Monastery Beach in Carmel for scuba diving.

  9. Pemaquid Beach, Maine. One of the few sandy beaches in Maine. Also has the best lighthouse, Fort and pre Jamestown village archeological dig nearby.

  10. The beaches of Olympic National Park, in Washington State. There are 50 miles of designated Wilderness beaches, but some are quite accessible by car, including Kalaloch, Ruby and Rialto beaches.

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