Welp, summer is officially winding down and there’s the distinct feeling of back-to-reality in the air. But even though life is back to the daily grind of school for the kids and no more Summer Fridays for you, fun in the sun doesn’t have to be over just yet. While summer may *seem* like the perfect time to pack up your sunscreen, swimsuits, and all the countless sand toys that your tot absolutely has to have and go on a beachy vacation with your fam, there’s actually a downside: sandwiching yourself in between the other gazillion families who had the same exact vacay plans. So instead of taking of a trip in the height of busy season (and to ease yourself back into real life this fall), check out these much less crowded fall family beach getaway ideas and start planning your next vacation along the water — you don’t need to wait until next July!

Beach in Nantucket, MA

1. Nantucket, Massachusetts: By mid-September, the over 80 miles of Nantucket’s public beaches will be free of the summer crowds. Even though the New England island winds down during the off-season, you can still fish through November and take the kiddos on a whale watching tour through mid-October. And for an actual taste of the local culture, visit the first weekend in October for Nantucket’s Annual Cranberry Festival where you can watch the berries being harvested, take part in family activities, listen to live music, and purchase a bunch of organic cranberries for the yummiest souvenir ever.

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach, SC

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: The sun may not shine any brighter in the South than up North, but the warmth typically stays around longer. You can expect September temps in the 80s and October highs still reaching the 70s. So you can go ahead and pack those bathing suits and get one last wear out of your summer dresses before you store them away for the winter. Along with a giving you a few extra play days at the beach, the fall in Myrtle Beach offers several fun autumn festivals: Aynor Harvest Hoe Down in September and Little River ShrimpFest and the Loris Bog-Off Festival in October.

Ocean City, Maryland

3. Ocean City, Maryland: This waterfront hot spot is a very different place come fall — you can enjoy the sun and sand without having to deal with annoying crowds. And deep discounts on hotels during the off-season make this destination a lot more affordable, which budget-conscious travelers will appreciate. For an unexpected beachy twist on a favorite kids’ holiday, visit for the Halloween Beach Maze, or go to the OCtoberfest Howl-O-Ween Pet Parade to see adorable costumes on even more adorable animals.

Galveston Island, TX

4. Galveston Island, Texas: Like other Southern beaches, this location has plenty of warmth left in autumn. That means you can still enjoy the sun and the surf, even when it’s sweater weather just about everywhere else in the country. Love arts and crafts in your family? Check out ARToberFEST in October. Or attend the Galveston Island Greek Festival (also in October) for scrumptious food, live music and dancing, and even a petting zoo on the patio your kiddos won’t want to miss.

Leo Carillo State Beach, California

5. Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach, California: It may be small at only 1.5 miles of beach, but it’s packed with things to see and do. Less than 30 minutes northwest of Santa Monica, this pristine area boasts tidepools, reefs, and coastal caves ideal for exploring with your little ones. If your family is outdoorsy, you can hike in the state park and even camp at the campgrounds too.

Del Rey Beach, Oregon

6. Del Rey Beach, Oregon: There’s a lot more to Oregon than just Portland! This Pacific Northwest beach oasis is seriously scenic. The serene spot was made for flying kites, building sandcastles, and of course, just stretching out and relaxing. It’s also known for its spectacular sunsets, so make a point to catch them. Shellfish lovers, take note: Early fall is also the start of razor clamming season.

Clearwater, Florida

7. Clearwater, Florida: They don’t call it Clearwater for nothing. Situated on a barrier island off Florida’s West Coast, this three-mile stretch of white sand beaches runs along crystal blue water. When you get bored of playing in the sand, you can visit the downtown area for dining, shopping, and live entertainment. If nautical adventures are your thing, venture out on the water on a charter boat or go dolphin watching in this picturesque Florida vacation spot.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

8. Gulf Shores, Alabama: Like Florida, the Alabama beaches stay warm through September, October, and November, so you can really stretch out the summer here. In addition to the gorgeous beaches, there are also lots of trails for hiking. The Annual National Shrimp Festival in October was named one of the “21 Best Food and Drink Festivals in North America” by FlightNetwork.com, and for good reason. In addition to the obvious (shrimp galore), there’s also crab cakes, lobster, live entertainment, and even a designated children’s area where you kids can participate in activities and make art.

Where’s your favorite beach to take a family vacation in the off-season? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)