Pretty soon, snowflakes will start falling. The mountains will glitter with powder, we will be tending to our fireplaces and bundling in puffy jackets, and someone somewhere will be singing carols. It can only mean one thing: Winter is coming. Before it does, take advantage of this temperate in-between time and squeeze in a last-minute, warm-weather vacation. Here are 8 beachy places to get your tan on, dig your toes into the sand, and pretend winter isn’t on its way. Plus, we’ll dig into where to stay, what to do, and RVs and campers to rent nearby.
RVs For Rent Near You
1. Gulf Coast, Florida
You can’t go wrong camping all along Florida’s innermost coast, which stretches from Northwest Florida to the Dry Tortugas. There, you’ll find tranquil waves, soft white quartz sand beaches, and surprises and delights along the shoreline. In the protected crook of the state, the water is comfortable year-round, the ideal setting for swimming and spotting manatees. And since it’s the tail end of the year, you won’t have to stay up too late to catch the sky light up in pinks and golds at sunset.
What to do: Stop by the aquarium at Clearwater Beach. Comb the sand for shark’s teeth at Venice Beach. Hike through the cluster of four barrier islands at Fort Myers Beach. Wade in the shallow, warm waters at Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs. Count the palm trees on Marco Island.
2. Nags Head, North Carolina
Located along the Outer Banks, Nags Head is known for its soaring sand dunes, boardwalks through the forest, and sweeping views of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As much as it’s known for being a vacationer’s paradise with seafood, surf shops, and boutiques, it’s just as revered for its access to nature at the numerous parks, fishing piers, and beaches.
What to do: Rent sandboards to ride the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Bodie Island Lighthouse, Walk through the salt marshes at Nags Head Woods Preserve. Discover the history of Jennette’s Pier. Pick up specialty groceries at Greentail’s Seafood Market and Kitchen. Take a dip in the lifeguard-patrolled ocean at the public access points.
3. Galveston, Texas
With temperatures still in the 60s and 70s through November, Galveston is an ideal spot for a last warm-up before heading into winter. Leave your puffy at home, but bring a light sweater for the breezy evenings. The beaches are a stopover for migratory birds through the spring, but there’s still plenty of birdwatching to be had—like the Great Blue Heron or the Brown Pelican. Hop in a canoe or kayak, go on a bike ride, trek down one of the trails, and have a picnic. The summer crowds have gone home, so you can take your time.
What to do: Sit on a patio for dinner on Pier 21. Watch the sunset from Moody Gardens. Go on a dolphin boat tour. Roam the quieter-than-usual beaches at Galveston Island State Park, or spots between Stewart Beach and East Beach. Check out the 19th-century buildings in town, like the Grand Opera House and Bishop’s Palace. Ride a roller coaster on Pleasure Pier.
4. Grand Isle, Louisiana
This narrow strip of barrier reef jutting into the Gulf of Mexico is an adventurer’s paradise. Every activity is based around the expansive salty water that’s temperate all year round—from splashing to surfing to wildlife watching to fishing to eating seafood. Today, in mid-October, for example, the temperature is 76 degrees and the water is 75 degrees. Hot compared to places getting snow right now.
What to do: Meander through oak forests spotting creatures on the Grand Isle Birding Trail. Practice your water sports moves at the Wake Side Cable Park. Admire the butterflies and plants at the Butterfly Dome. Charter a fishing boat to catch the big one. Comb for shells on one of 20 beaches.
5. San Diego, California
The Pacific Ocean gets warmer the farther south you travel, which means San Diego is the right spot for warmth-seeking travelers needing to soak up some sun on the brown-sugar sands. Gorgeous weather plus 70 miles of beaches plus tons of things to do? Sounds like a terrible time. You can pretty much wear your bathing suit year round here, and that sweet feeling of summer never really goes away—unless it rains or there’s fog.
What to do: Visit the monkeys, panda bears, and other animals at the San Diego Zoo. Tour the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that’s now a museum. Catch a ball game at Petco Park. Explore the 68-acre Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Ride the coasters at Belmont Park. Bring your pup hiking at the Elfin Forest Recreation Reserve in Escondido.
6. Lake Havasu City, Arizona
We know, we know. Arizona isn’t technically a beach state, but Lake Havasu on the western side is pretty dang close. Plus, this desert oasis also comes with mountain views, the London Bridge that’s been relocated from England, and the Lake Havasu Museum of History documenting Indigenous people and steamboat history. The lake has more than 400 miles of shoreline, with aqua waters named after the Mohave name for blue.
What to do: Book a hot air balloon ride for a birds-eye view of the lake. Go offroading to get up close and personal with the rock. Hike the slot canyons, like Crack in the Mountain. Rent a boat or bring your own to cruise the coves. Visit the 20-plus working lighthouses along the shore. Fish for largemouth bass and catfish.
7. O‘ahu, Hawaii
Home to the state capital Honolulu, O‘ahu is the heart of Hawaii. Here, the big city meets a natural paradise complete with warm turquoise waters, sugary sand beaches, and lush green peaks. This island has some of the best surfing spots in the world, attracting professionals alongside beginners. But if surfing isn’t on your itinerary, snorkeling, paddling, hiking, and beach lounging should be. Sunrise is just as beautiful as sunset, and the rest of the day isn’t too bad either.
What to do: Sign up for surf lessons. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center to learn about the people of the Pacific Islands. Go snorkeling in the clear waters of the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Stop by the Pearl Harbor memorial. Hike the peaceful coastal pathways in the Koolau and Waianae Mountains, or the rocky volcanoes, Koko Head and Diamond Head. Take a sunset sail from Waikiki.
8. Gold Beach, Oregon
Hear us out: The Southern Oregon Coast offers a special kind of beauty during the colder months. The foggy gray sky blends into the gray ocean, and we put it on this list because once summer temps taper off and drop in the fall, the weather is actually still relatively mild for camping. We’re talking 50 to 60 degrees. Just don’t expect to go sleeveless and stay warm. We would recommend packing a jacket and blankets. And if you rent an RV or camper with a heater, even better. Then you’ll stay nice and toasty.
What to do: Watch the waves crash against the chocolate-brown rocks from the beach. Find some tranquility on a hike at Otter Point State Recreation Area. Wander through the twisted old-growth forest on Myrtle Tree Trail. Grab a brew at Arch Rock Brewing Company. Hop aboard a boat to travel the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.
If only we could travel to every single one of these places between now and winter, but there’s a limited amount of time before the leaves all fall and the snow piles up. Go now to soak up the last drops of sunshine (though if we’re being real, some of these places will still be warm in the dead of winter, so bookmark this list for when you’re really feeling the winter blues!)