3 off-the-beaten-path oceanside destinations for a fall vacation
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
There’s no better time to enjoy East Coast beaches than in the fall. Gone are the hordes of families, the crowded restaurants, the peak-season prices for accommodations.
Instead, it’s all light sweaters and long walks on the beach without dripping in sweat. The seafood is better (hello, oysters!) and the locals are much happier. If you’re lucky, you might catch a few days warm enough to get a light tan.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
If you missed the summer season or just find yourself in need of a little more waterfront time, here are a few destinations that offer the best of autumn beach time.
St. Michael’s, Maryland
Located an hour and forty-five minutes from Washington, D.C., and just over two hours from Philadelphia, St. Michael’s is a great spot for an easy weekend away. It faces, admittedly, not the ocean, but the Miles River, which feeds into the Chesapeake. These calmer waters make it excellent for water activities like kayaking or paddle boarding that are tough on the open waters of the ocean.
Base yourself at The Inn at Perry Cabin, a luxury waterfront property in a 19th century manor house, or the more casual new hotel The Wildset, run by sister team Allie Balin and K.C. Lager, who also worked on Nashville’s hit restaurant Henrietta Red. The Wildset’s restaurant, Ruse, is the perfect place to enjoy Maryland crabs, as well as other local seafood like tilefish and plenty of oysters. The Inn at Perry Cabin offers bikes and kayaks to guests.
If you’re in need, head to Shore Pedal and Paddle to grab bikes, stand-up paddles boards, or kayaks for an afternoon or the whole weekend. For a longer outing on the water, book a two-hour sailing tour with Sail Selina, or up the ante with a sunset sail (paired with Champagne). Back on land, enjoy spicy blue crab nachos from Gina’s Café, and wash it down with a beer from Eastern Shore Brewing, a local microbrewery.
Nags Head, North Carolina
If your fall beach dreams include miles-long walks on semi-abandoned beaches, with gorgeous sunrises and waves rolling in, then the Outer Banks of North Carolina are your spot. These barrier islands in North Carolina are known for their long, flat beaches with incredible horizons.
Base yourself at an Airbnb in Nags Head, ideally opting for a spacious condo or house at affordable offseason prices. For the best fall beach vibes, pick a rental with a heated pool or hot tub, and make sure you’ve got a patio overlooking the water, perfect for savoring an end-of-the-day glass of wine or your morning cup of coffee.
When (if!) you get tired of beach walks and gazing at the ocean, head up to Corolla to see the wild horses, believed to be descendants of horses that survived a shipwreck in the 1400s. Grab dinner (or lunch) at Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café, a local favorite that offers excellent seafood and nice views of the water. Rent kayaks or jet skis, take a parasailing tour, or go sailing with Kitty Hawk Water Sports, which has something for everything — including tiki boats for a cheesy but fun afternoon.
Cape May, New Jersey
If you’re from the Philadelphia area, Cape May is certainly not considered off-the-beaten-path. But for people coming from farther afield, you might be surprised to learn about the natural beauty and small town vibes of this area just South of Atlantic City.
If you’re coming from Philadelphia, stop by Sweet Amalia’s Market and Kitchen for a fried oyster roll and some of the best raw oysters in the region, then continue on to the tip of the Cape May peninsula, where you have your choice of affordable, off-season rentals, or cozy hotels like the historic Southern Mansion.
Enjoy a meal on the wrap-around porch, then walk down to the beach and enjoy a stroll without the bother of the summer crowds. Enjoy local seafood at Fish & Fancy Seafood, where you’ll have your choice fried or broiled seafood platters, or taking home your own ingredients for a homemade meal. For something less seafood focused, try out Exit Zero Filling Station, where you’ll find an internationally inspired menu with a specific focus on curries of all kinds. Wherever you go, you’ll be charmed by Cape May’s history, hospitality, and beach-y vibes.
Photo by Eric Peterson/Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees