The Best Beaches to Visit Late in the Year
Celebrate the year coming to an end with a beach trip. Memories can be made year-round at the beach. Whether for Labor Day or fall break, a family beach vacation can be just what you need before the holidays kick off and things get crazy. Here are six inviting spots to dip your toes in the sand — whether you want to explore a California island, kayak in the Gulf of Mexico, or stroll the shore of Lake Michigan.
Catalina Island, California
Ditch the Los Angeles traffic and smog for a getaway to Catalina Island — just an hour by high-speed ferry from the Southern California coast. Boasting some of California’s most pristine beaches, the surf here is calm and the sand soft and deep. Relax away the day, or rent a stand up paddleboard and explore along the shore.
Where to Stay: The Holiday Inn Resort – Avalon- Catalina Island
Stretching miles into the Gulf of Mexico, the Santa Rosa barrier island is famous for sugar-white sand beaches and warm, emerald-green waters. Gentle waves and shallow waters make Pensacola a family favorite, and you’ll find big crowds, music, a pier and fresh seafood eateries at Casino Beach.
If the only life you want to see at the beach are seagulls and fish, drive to secluded seagrass-surrounded beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It’s the country’s longest stretch of protected seashore and a destination for quiet kayaking and stellar snorkeling.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Resort, Pensacola Beach
Traverse City, Michigan
You don’t need ocean access to be a premier beach town. Traverse City’s accessible Lake Michigan beaches, walkable center and wealth of trails make it popular with outdoor enthusiasts and family travelers alike. Find turquoise water and a huge kids’ splash pad at Clinch Park, a waterfront destination with grassy picnic areas, kayak and canoe rentals and 1,500 feet of sandy beach.
After a day in the sun, sample local bottles at Northern Michigan’s most famous wine peninsula, which extends like a finger into Grand Traverse Bay.
Where to Stay: West Bay Beach Resort, a Holiday Inn Resort
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Cross a drawbridge to this idyllic island beach town. Surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, this seaside spot is a watersports hub for surfing, stand up paddleboarding, kiteboarding, scuba diving and fishing. Take a dip in the crystal blue waters, get one last summer tan on the soft sand, and watch the sky turn a kaleidoscope of colors at sunset. For a truly local experience, cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway, or jog The Loop, the island’s circular fitness trail.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Resort Wilmington E- Wrightsville Beach
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Once the private retreat of millionaires, the 5,700 acres of Jekyll Island are now open to the public and home to untouched,white-sand beaches just waiting to be explored. See wild oats blooming, driftwood washed up on the shore and wild turtles wandering as you paddle or bike through this beautiful region.
The southernmost island of Georgia’s Golden Isles, much of the land is protected from development to preserve the barrier island ecosystem. But you’ll still find plenty to do. You can visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center or Jekyll Island Museum to learn about the region’s storied past. Or go wild in the water at Summer Waves, a massive waterpark with lazy river, slides and safe attractions for the tiniest of tots.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island