As leaves and temperatures drop up north, cruise down to the Gulf of Mexico for fall festivities on the water. Coastal communities in Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama welcome boaters every year to celebrate the season without the chill. Here are events to get you started on your Gulf cruise, from boating exhibitions to food festivals and immersive historical events.
Spanish Fort, AL, October 6-9
Calling all nature lovers! Look for more than 370 bird species along the Alabama Coast as you attend guided tours, workshops on the basics of birding and planning your own trip at the family-friendly Bird & Conservation Expo.
Clearwater, FL, October 14-17Music lovers can't miss this outdoor bayside jazz concert, featuring headliner artists such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Kool and the Gang, sample local food vendors, and be wowed by dazzling firework displays.
Biloxi, MS, October 16-17Cruise the historic Beauvoir property and experience the sights and sounds of the 1800s, with battle reenactments and weapons inspections throughout the camps.
Galveston to Port Aransas, TX, October 21-23
Presented by Lakewood Yacht Club. Don't miss this annual race down the picturesque Gulf Coast of Texas. Catch a lunar glimpse while you join the celebratory party in the beachy fishing town of Port Aransas.
Biloxi, MS, October 23-24
Hosted by the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. Come for the wooden boat showcase on the water and stay for the Biloxi schooners rides, fresh seafood, cast net contests, live music and more.
Fort Lauderdale, FL, October 27-31
Check out exhibits of the industry's latest boats and yachts from sailboats to superyachts, worldwide debuts, and marine products and accessories that enhance the nautical lifestyle.
Port Aransas, TX, October 29-31
Celebrate the town's boat-building heritage with the Family Boat Build & Launch, nautical market including everything from food to boat kits, and an opportunity to row in the harbor.
Corpus Christi, TX, October 30
Honor your loved ones and the rich cultural heritage of Mexico and south Texas at this nationally recognized festival. Watch live music and dance, take in colorful costumes and painted skulls on display, and visit the Arts & Crafts Expo for eclectic souvenirs.
Apalachicola, FL, November 5-6
Celebrate Apalachicola's strong maritime culture by entering the oyster eating and shucking contests, cheering on the blue crab races, and experiencing the parade and Blessing of the Fleet.
Mobile, AL, November 5-7
Visit this coastal town for family-friendly fun at the carnival, Pecan Festival queen crowning and treats such as sweet Alabama pecan bread.
Key West, FL, November 7-14
Bring the entire family for days of high-speed action and exhilarating power boat races. Food vendors, spirits and entertainment add to the festivities.
Naples, FL, November 14
Need a palate cleanser between seafood feasts? Check out this free festival featuring mouthwatering plant-based vendors and cooking demos, info on local sources of eco-friendly products, live music, and more.
Galveston, TX, November 19
Follow the labyrinth walk (an ancient tool used to unwind the mind); stroll through the candle-lit labyrinth on the beach to meditate or simply take in the full moon's beauty over the Gulf.
Galveston, TX, December 3-5
Venture into downtown Galveston for the architecture, sights and sounds of a Victorian holiday featuring a lively parade, holiday food and drink from costumed vendors, roving musicians and jugglers, and era-appropriate arts and crafts.
Port Aransas, TX, December 4
Relish the holiday spirit as you watch boaters light up the marina for a chance to win prizes and find the best view from the pavilion bulkhead, dock walkways, or local bars and restaurants along the marina.
Gulf Shores, AL, December 11
Celebrate the holidays Gulf Coast style by following boats decorated with lights to The Wharf and joining the festivities.
Orange Beach, AL, December 31
Ring in the new year with festivities for the whole family such as live music on The Wharf, the mechanical bull or bungee trampoline, horse and carriage ride along the water, and firework and laser light show in the evening.