Everyone loves hitting a beach town in the summer—the weather is fantastic and all the top attractions are open and in full swing. Plus, being outdoors in the sun and surf makes for some of the most relaxing vacations on the planet.
However, many beach towns aren’t just warm-weather destinations—some of the best laidback beachy vibes can still be had in the off-season: the prices are lower, the crowds are down, and there’s a slight chill in the air that can be just as special as a 90-degree day. Below are some of the best beach towns to visit in the off-season for travelers who love the sand, sun, and salty ocean breeze—but want to beat the heat, lose the crowds, and maybe even save some dough.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Want a side of Southern charm during your beach getaway? Then head to St. Simons Island to soak up the quaint, historic vibes of this friendly GA spot. With its stately oaks; lovely marshes; scenic ocean views; and lovely villages to explore, St. Simons is more than just a beach town—it's a historic, fun vacation full of plenty of things to see and do.
- Nature lovers will love exploring Cannon’s Point Preserve, with its lovely maritime forest and abundance of native species, this marshy upland area is located at the north end of St. Simons
- The St. Simon’s Lighthouse Museum, and tour the lighthouse that has been an island fixture since 1872. Be sure to climb the 129 steps to the top to catch some spectacular panoramic views
- Head over to East Beach and take a stroll, bike along the shore, or simply catch some awesome ocean views. East Beach is also near several other St. Simon’s attractions, such as Gould’s Inlet, the World War II Home Front Museum, the U.S. Coast Guard Station, and a more secluded beach area near Massengale Park
- Grab a great meal at Mullet Bay Restaurant, known for its fresh seafood and fun vibes
- Stay at the Grey Own Inn, and enjoy its lovely setting among centuries-old oaks and a gorgeous water garden. The beach, pier, and other attractions are just a short walk away. Off-season rates start at $188/night
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
A beach vacation that’s off the beaten track, Bald Head Island is only accessible by ferry. But be prepared—once you get there, you’ll have to either take the tram or rent a golf cart—as there are no cars allowed. However, the short 20-minute ferry from Southport NC is well worth it to experience the beauty of this uber-relaxing spot. A lovely oasis off the coast, Bald Head Island is truly a great place for an off-season beach getaway.
- Take a hike or grab your bike—Bald Head’s 14 miles of beautiful beaches just beg to be explored. Want some marsh views, too? Then head to the M. Kent Mitchell Nature Trail
- Take a historic tour of the island, including a climb up Old Baldy, North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, at the Smith Island Museum of History
- Take a Bald Head Island (BHI) Conservancy tour to truly appreciate the area’s wildlife, beautiful landscapes, and emphasis on conservation. Many tours operate throughout the off-season, including the Island Nature Tour, BHI After Dark, and Middle Island Exploration. Tickets start at $18 and up/person
- Stay at the Marsh Harbour Inn and enjoy the surrounding scenic beauty while relaxing in the comfort of your own well-furnished, comfy retreat. Off-season rates start at $345 and up/night
- Grab a bite at Jules’ Salty Pub & Island Grub and enjoy its cool, friendly vibes and delish menu—including the freshest seafood, of course!
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Just a short 90-miles east of New Orleans lies the quaint city of Bay St. Louis—heavy on the Southern charm, yet quirky and distinctive enough to stand out as a winning combo of marsh, river, and Gulf of Mexico beach community. Great shopping; fun outdoor activities; and dun local attractions combine to make Bay St. Louis a standout off-season offbeat beach town.
- The best way to see all the sights in Bay St. Louis from the historical to the cultural, including some of the city’s most iconic architecture, is by taking a Historic Bay St. Louis Walking, Bike, or Driving Tour
- Head over to Bay St. Louis’ historic train depot and take a tour of the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum, one of the best free things to do in the city
- After the Folk Art Museum, explore the rest of the Depot District, known for its delish food spots and shopping options, don’t forget to check out the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre while you’re there
- The Mockingbird Cafe is a popular spot to grab a bite; have an afternoon coffee (or cocktail!), and chill out with friendly locals
- The Pearl Hotel is located on historic Main Street in the heart of Bay St. Louis—and this boutique hotel is both elegant and welcoming. With onsite dining options, plus a pool and cocktail bar, The Pearl is a great home base for anyone visiting the city. Off-season rates start at $129/night
Door County, Wisconsin
Beachy vibes on Lake Michigan? Visitors may be surprised to learn that the Wisconsin coastline of Door County (with its 300 miles of shoreline!) has a coastal vibe that’s the perfect off-season spot. Though you’ll definitely be packing a jacket instead of a bathing suit, there’s still plenty to see and do at this scenic Midwestern spot—including surfing, which has its peak season in November. Door County includes a plethora of towns to explore, each with its own distinctive small-town vibes—so feel free to hit the road and town hop while you’re there.
- Hit the road and explore the 66-mile long Door County Coastal Byway, the perfect way to catch the best local scenery—and town hop along the way, as it runs all the way from Sturgeon Bay in the south to Gills Rock in the north
- Door County is known for its Belgian Chapels and there is plenty to see throughout the entire region
- Look to the sky and check out the stars unspoiled by big-city light pollution. Depending on when you visit, it may also be possible to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, which are an extremely rare sighting in the U.S.
- Door County is known for its traditional Scandinavian fish boils, so be sure to head to a local restaurant like Waterfront Mary’s Bar & Grill
- Stay at the White Gull Inn located in Fish Creek. This historic spot has been offering lodging (and dining) since 1896 and is open all-year-round
South Padre Island, Texas
Imagine a true Texas town with all the tropical vibes of a Caribbean Island, and you’ll get South Padre Island, whose over 30-miles of white sand beaches are the perfect vacation spot. One of the main perks of visiting in the off-season is fewer crowds; however, there’s still plenty to see and do, including soaking up the sun in temps that remain in the 70s—even in November.
- South Texas is home to dolphins all year round, so head out on a dolphin watch tour with The Original Dolphin Watch. Tours start at $15/person
- Head out on the Sandcastle Trail and check out sandcastle sculptures that are built to impress—a great way to explore the island while making the most of its sunny skies, warm sand, and stellar views
- Check out one of the many area art galleries, like Laguna Madre Art Gallery, Waters Edge Gallery, and the Art Sea Gallery
- Located just a block from the beach, The Flamingo Inn has a pool and comfy rooms for those looking for a budget-friendly option on the island
- Padre Island Brewing Company is the island’s go-to spot for great brews, delish burgers, and great views