Just because summer is over doesn't mean you can't go to the beach! Many beach towns host festivals and other special events to entice families in the fall. Think less crowds and cheaper hotel rates, too. Consider one of these fall beach vacations for a short getaway with the kids.

Written by Lissa Poirot

Gulf Shores, Ala.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
254 Family Reviews
Visit the Gulf Shores Oct. 13 to 16, 2016 for the National Shrimp Festival, when more than 300 vendors are on hand to sell arts and crafts, as well as -- what else -- shrimp! Two stages provide continuous live entertainment, and the Children's Activity Village keeps little ones happy. There is also a sand sculpture contest on Saturday -- may the best shrimp win!

The autumn weather in the Gulf Shores is also pleasant for lazy afternoons on the beaches, as well as water adventures -- take the kids on a boat ride with Orange Beach Pirate Ship Adventures or visit the Bon Secor National Wildlife Refuge.

Looking for a place to stay? See Gulf Shores Hotels.

Recommended Gulf Shores Hotel: The Beach Club

Lincoln City, Ore.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
296 Family Reviews
Named to the 10 Best Beaches for families in 2015, Lincoln City is otherwise known as the Kite Flying Capital of the World, celebrating the Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival every October (in addition to a summer kite festival). The event takes place Oct. 1 to 2, 2016, and includes kite-making workshops, show kites, a kids' parade and more.

Aside from the festival, other things to do in Lincoln City, Oregon during the fall include hiking the local state parks, outlet shopping or simply whiling away a weekend at the beach (even if it's a little chilly).

Recommended Lincoln City, Oregon Hotel: Pelican Shores Inn

York, Maine

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
83 Family Reviews
York, Maine is quintessential New England, with a small collection of shops and eateries and two fantastic beaches: Short Sands and Long Sands.

In the fall, families can attend HarvestFest, which includes a Kidsfest with games, entertainment, crafts, hayrides and a special pumpkin stroll. The event, which takes place Oct. 1, 2016 on Short Sands Beach, provides plenty of adult festivities, as well. Live bands, food and beverage vendors, crafters and a marketplace fill the weekend with fun.

While in town, be sure to visit York's Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park and go for an easy, scenic hike on the Wiggly Bridge at Steedman Woods. Stop by Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse for pictures and a picnic, too!

Find York, Maine Hotels.

Recommended York, Maine Hotel: Union Bluff Hotel

Nantucket, Mass.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
194 Family Reviews
Ride the ferry from Cape Cod to Nantucket to witness the island's intimate, seafaring charm in the fall, which includes the annual Cranberry Festival. The event takes place Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, and features children's events, hayrides, sheep shearing, wool spinning and sheep herding demonstrations. Of course, cranberry dishes are featured alongside homemade clam chowder and other traditional festival food.

While you're in town, we recommend renting bikes to explore the area, where other highlights include the Starlight Theatre & Cafe, Whaling Museum, and of course, the beaches.

Looking for a hotel on Nantucket? See Nantucket Family Hotels.

Recommended Nantucket Hotel: The Nantucket Hotel and Resort

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
196 Family Reviews
Rehoboth Beach is fantastic in the fall, with fewer crowds, lower hotel rates, and fun along the boardwalk and at Funland, with rides, carnival games and good food.

Time your visit for the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler's Festival that takes place Oct. 28 to 30, 2016. Families enjoy music, a horse parade, magic shows, pumpkin carving, a costume parade, and free outdoor movies in the park at dark.

Find Rehoboth Beach Hotels.

Recommended Rehoboth Beach Hotel: Boardwalk Plaza Hotel

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
3524 Family Reviews
Summer runs late in North Myrtle Beach -- Oct. 29, 2016, to be exact. The city celebrates the Endless Summer Festival, with free entertainment from a stage on Main Street, along with carnival rides, a children's play area, arts and crafts, a car show, and plenty of festival food. Best of all, the entire event is free!

Of course, the fun in Myrtle Beach stretches beyond its festival, with an amusement park, mini-golf, food and the famous SkyWheel on its boardwalk.

Find Myrtle Beach Hotels.

Recommended Myrtle Beach Hotel: Dunes Village Resort

Virginia Beach, Va.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
250 Family Reviews
Virginia Beach celebrates the end of summer with a month-long, annual celebration. The Neptune Festival kicks off at the end of August and includes a craft beer fest, wine festival, sandsculpting contest, arts and crafts show and more. Other highlights of the festival include fireworks, parades, and teen programming.

Find Virginia Beach Hotels.

Recommended Virginia Beach Hotel: Comfort Inn & Suites Oceanfront Virginia Beach

Cape Cod, Mass.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
115 Family Reviews
Visit the shores of Buzzards Bay for Scallop Fest, where local scallops are harvested from the ocean and celebrated at this New England festival. Other local favorites, such as lobster roll and chowder, are also served. The event takes place Sept. 23 to 25, 2016, and features midway rides and games, live entertainment and arts and crafts. Kids also enjoy face painting, rock climbing, and obstacle courses.

Fall beach vacations in Cape Cod can also include a visit to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory (samples included!), and visits to the area's lighthouses.

Find Cape Cod Hotels.

Recommended Cape Cod Hotel: Green Harbor Resort

South Padre Island, Texas

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
482 Family Reviews
South Padre Island is one of the best beaches in the fall; in fact, fall is actually the best time to visit this destination on the Gulf of Mexico.

In early October, South Padre Island hosts Sand Castle Days, a fun event in which families are invited to watch master sand builders create fantastical creations. Visitors can then participate in amateur sandcastle building competitions. Live music, arts and crafts tents, and children's play areas add to the fun.

Beyond the beach, other things to do during a fall beach vacation in South Padre Island include a visit to Sea Turtle Inc., a turtle rehabilitation center, and South Padre Island Adventure Park, with horseback riding, zip-lining and more.

Looking for accommodations on South Padre Island? See South Padre Island Hotels.

Recommended South Padre Island Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island

Ocean City, Md.

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
813 Family Reviews
Visit the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland to enjoy SunFest, one of the biggest free crafts shows in the country. While parents will enjoy the artisans and crafters, children will like the inflatable structures and hayrides. Live entertainment is provided all day, and at night, the festival includes major acts. The event takes place Sept. 22 to 25, 2016.

While you're in town, also check out Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Marty's Playland, and Trimper's Rides and Amusement Park.

Find Ocean City, Maryland Hotels.

Recommended Ocean City, Maryland Hotel: Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites

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Dunes Village Resort Reviews
justa_girl00 - Jun 24th, 2013

You can't go wrong with this hotel for a family getaway! The kids loved the indoor water park and lazy river. The pirate ship playground was very nice and well-designed. The room was amazing!! The second inside bedroom was great because it had no... read more
Vipickens@mchsi.com - Jul 16th, 2012

Early the first morning of our Family Vacation, our four grandchildren stood outside our bedroom door in our shared Dunes condo. They were patiently waiting to go "Seashell Shopping" on the pristine beach below. This simple activity was e... read more
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Green Harbor Resort Reviews
jmtetler - May 27th, 2010

This was a wonderful experience for myself and a friend who took our six year old grandsons for a "treat" The resort was geared toward children and offered activities for all ages all day long. The pool was heated and large and truly refreshing and... read more
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Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island Reviews
SONOMACHK - Jun 29th, 2013

We stayed for three days at The Hilton Garden Inn this month (June). Here is our honest feedback. DOWNSIDES. ... read more
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Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites Reviews
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