Top 10 Trending Fall Beach Destinations to Book Now
It's time for one last getaway before the chill of winter comes calling. Here's where to go.
Fall may have arrived, at least according to the calendar, but there's still plenty of time to enjoy sand, surf and sunshine at lakes and beaches across the country. Even better, now is the time to save on vacation rentals and hotel rooms touting deeply discounted shoulder season rates sure to inspire one last getaway before the first frost. Here are 10 trending fall beach destinations worthy of a weekend escape.
There's a lot to love about Myrtle Beach in fall, both on and off the beach. As a bonus, area rentals average 24 percent less per night compared to the busy summer season, according to VRBO. On the oceanfront boardwalk, plan for a spin on the SkyWheel, a 187-foot-tall Ferris wheel, as well as a mouth-watering walk around I LOVE SUGAR, which is home to all kinds of colorful candies. Just off the beach (like two blocks from the water), get your game on at Jungle Lagoon Miniature Golf, a must in the self-proclaimed Mini Golf Capital of the World.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $30 per night
Fall is a great time to stroll or bike along a classic beach boardwalk — read: without the summer crowds. Soak in the sun, then enjoy the legendary boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, which stretches more than two miles. Snap a selfie with the iconic WILDWOODS sign on Ocean Avenue, then take in Oktoberfest activities, as well as carnival-style rides and arcade games, on Morey's Piers weekends through mid-October. Spend time with fluffy alpacas at Jersey Shore Alpacas, a free-family owned alpaca farm, then climb 199 steps to the top of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $40 per night
Alabama's soft, sugar-sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are among the most beautiful in the country. They're even more gorgeous in the fall when they aren't overrun by summer beach-goers. As a bonus, beach rentals, like Vacasa's Almost Heaven, boast shoulder season nightly and weekly rates. Food lovers take note; fall is all about food festivals in Alabama's Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, including the National Shrimp Festival in October and the Hangout Oyster Cook-Off in November. A favorite activity is a pleasant bike ride (when temps and humidity are low) along paved trails at Gulf State Park.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $50 per night
There's no place like coastal Oregon in fall and Lincoln City is one of the most marvelous beach towns thanks to dramatic sunsets and seven miles of sandy beaches. Colorful kites are a large part of the fun in Lincoln City, which is known as the Kite Flying Capital of the World. In early-October, all eyes are up high as hundreds of kites dance across the sky at the annual Fall Kite Festival. There's even a kite-making workshop just for kids. Fall hiking is popular too. Try the Cascade Head Trail at Cascade Head Scenic Research Area for breathtaking views of colorful fall foliage and unmatched views of the Oregon coastline.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $48 per night
Traverse City is one of the most delightful beach towns on Michigan's Sunset Coast, boasting sparkling views of Lake Michigan, particularly at Clinch Park and West End Beach on Grand Traverse Bay. Foliage begins to change as early as mid-September creating a dramatic juxtaposition between the azure lake and gold and maroon leaves. Enjoy an exceptionally scenic drive on Michigan's iconic M-22 highway. A stop at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must for clear waters and miles of beaches, coves and islands on the Leelanau Peninsula. Amber leaves go well with amber ales along the Traverse City Ale Trail, too.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $55 per night
It's not easy to find a rental or hotel room in summer, but availability opens up and rates drop as the leaves begin to change colors in Newport, Rhode Island. One of the top area beaches is Second Beach, a 1.5-mile sandy stretch that's known for nice waves and soft sand. Stroll the famed three-mile Cliff Walk along the shoreline and ogle at the Gilded Age mansions, like The Breakers and The Elms. In nearby Bristol, explore Blithewold, home to a 45-room mansion with spectacular views of Narragansett Bay. In fall, the estate and formal gardens explode with vibrant hues.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $64 per night
Earlier this year, TripAdvisor named Florida's Clearwater Beach the best beach in the United States (for the third time in four years), making fall a great time to visit once the crowds have thinned. Go snorkeling at Indian Rocks Beach during the day, then be inspired by colorful sunsets in the evening at Pier 60, which boasts a nightly festival complete with stilt walkers, live musicians, magicians and local artisans. While in St. Pete-Clearwater, make time to visit with Winter the Dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $48 per night
Fall is a fantastic time to explore the picturesque lake towns that dot the coastline in Door County, Wisconsin. Enjoy a foliage-filled hike at Whitefish Dunes State Park in Sturgeon Bay to the top of the tallest sand dune in Wisconsin known as "Old Baldy." Rent a bike from Edge of Park at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek for a relaxing ride along the Sunset Trail. Stop at Nicolet Beach for a paddle on beautiful Green Bay. Egg Harbor is another popular Door County waterfront with a full-service marina, boutique shops and panoramic views aplenty.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $79 per night
With average daily temperatures in the mid-60s, San Diego is a popular destination year-round, but it's especially nice in autumn. Kayak in and out of sea caves in La Jolla, then watch the sea lions sun themselves at Children's Pool or Seal Rock. Bike from Coronado to Imperial Beach along the Bayshore Bikeway. Along the way, stop for ice cream at MooTime Creamery inside the iconic Hotel del Coronado. At day's end, snuggle up around a bonfire at Pacific Beach or watch the sunset from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. October is Kids Free Month, so bring the kids and save on hotels, restaurants and attractions all across town.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $47 per night
Considered one of the most under-the-radar fall destinations by TripAdvisor – ranking #3 on their list of the most underrated Labor Day weekend destinations – Lake George, New York is a gem to be explored in September and October. Stroll along Million Dollar Beach, the area's largest and most popular beach that boasts magnificent fall colors, then get in a round at Around the World Miniature Golf, one of the best mini golf courses in the country. In mid-October, the self-guided Thurman Fall Farm Tour wows with artisan crafts, wagon rides and baby animals. Drive up Prospect Mountain for 100-mile views of brightly-colored foliage.
BOOK NOW: TripAdvisor, from $59 per night