Summer has come and gone, but that doesn't mean you can't go to the beach anymore! Think less crowds, cheaper hotels, and special events, all paired with fall weather and a scenic backdrop. Beach towns know they are still great in the fall, and to prove it, many host fall festivals and events to entice families. Here are a few we love:

Sea Witch Festival: Rehoboth Beach, Del.

The 24th annual Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler's Festival takes place on Delaware's family-friendly Rehoboth Beach, October 25 to 27. Kids can enjoy both Halloween-themed fun and activities, including a Sea Witch hunt, horse parade, magic shows, pumpkin carving, a costume parade, and free outdoor movies in the park at dark. As a Fiddler's Festival, fiddles and banjos will provide foot-stomping music.

Neptune Festival: Virginia Beach, Va.

For the 40th year, Virginia Beach will celebrate its endless summer with a month-long festival that culminates with Boardwalk Weekend. The Neptune Festival kicks off August 30 with an Endless Summer Beach Bash and then fills in September weekends with wine festivals, symphony performances, sporting events and galas. Boardwalk Weekend, September 27 through 29, is a series of outdoor concerts along the 35 blocks of Boardwalk, as well as Saturday night fireworks, surfing and sailing competitions, a parade with more than 100 floats, a sand sculpture competition, and a 275-artisan show. A Teen Stage and Youth Art Show even keep the teens happy during the weekend event.

National Shrimp Festival: Gulf Shores, Ala.

Visit the Gulf Shores October 10 through 13 for its 42nd annual fall event, the National Shrimp Festival. More than 250 vendors will be 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 will keep little ones busy with arts and crafts of their own. There is even a sand sculpture contest -- may the best shrimp win!

Harbor & Seafood Festival: Santa Barbara, Calif.

A relatively young festival when compared with the others on this list, the 12th Annual Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival is a chance for West Coasters to hit the beach in October. On October 12th, local seafood vendors and fishermen will bring on a seafood feast filled with lobster, crab, chowder, gumbo and more. Arts and crafts vendors will also be displaying their wares, as families tour tall ships, enjoy free boat rides and dockside tours, and get close to sea life in maritime exhibits and touch tanks. Live music rounds out the daylong event.

Endless Summer Festival: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

North Myrtle Beach celebrates the end of summer by enjoying seemingly neverending warm weather on its sandy shores. This year, on Saturday, October 26, the festival will offer free live 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. The entire event is free and takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunfest: Ocean City, Md.

Visit the Ocean City boardwalk for an end-of-summer festival that has been luring families to the shore for 38 years. This 39th year, Sunfest will continue its reign as one of the biggest free crafts shows in the country, September 19 to 22. While parents will enjoy the artisans and crafters, children will like the inflatables and hayrides. Live entertainment is provided all day, and at night, grab a ticket to see this year's headlining acts, The Beach Boys and country artists Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves.

Bourne Scallop Fest: Cape Cod, Mass.

Visit the Cape Cod shores of Buzzards Bay for the 44th annual Scallop Fest, where local scallops are harvested from the ocean and celebrated from September 20 to 22. Midway rides and games, live entertainment and arts and crafts are available all weekend, and kids 12 and under are free into the festival overlooking the Bourne Bridge.

Sandcastle Days: South Padre Island, Texas

As a chill descends upon Texas, or at least more temperate climates, join in the 26th annual celebration of Sand Castle Days on the beach in South Padre Island. The event takes place October 4 to 6 and includes -- yup! -- sandcastle sculptures. Families and kids are invited to participate in amateur competitions, and weekend contest winners are announced on Saturday night. Live music on Friday and Saturday night, arts and crafts tents, and children's play areas add to the fun.

Harvestfest & Kidsfest: Coastal Maine

Coastal Maine's York Beach is home to this 29th fall festival that features a Kidsfest just for children to enjoy games, entertainment, crafts, hayrides and a special Saturday night pumpkin stroll. The event, which takes place October 19 and 20, provides plenty of adult festivities as well. Live bands, food and beverage vendors, crafters and a marketplace fill the weekend with fun.

Cranberry Festival: Nantucket, Mass.

Ride the ferry from Cape Cod to Nantucket to witness the island's intimate, seafaring charm, and to enjoy the 11th annual Cranberry Festival. The event takes place Saturday, October 12, and features children's events, hayrides, sheep shearing, wool spinning and sheep herding demonstrations. Of course, cranberry dishes will be featured, alongside homemade clam chowder and other traditional festival food.

More from Family Vacation Critic:
10 Best Beaches for Families in 2013
10 Best Haunted Houses for Families

Written by Lissa Poirot



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