Who says cotton candy, clambakes, and Ferris wheels don't mix? Find these and more at the following seasonal seaside celebrations.
Gulf Shores, Alabama, October 9-12, 2014
Get your peeling fingers ready! Held annually at the Gulf Shores public beach since 1971, this four-day festival draws crowds of more than 300,000 and features an international marketplace, fine arts and crafts from more than 200 artists, two stages of musical entertainment, a Children's Art Village, and, of course, more varieties of shrimp and shrimp recipes than Bubba Gump could ever want. And for those with a competitive spirit, kids of all ages can enter the annual sand castle contest on Saturday. Don't fret if your castle falls or gets trampled, as you won't go home empty-handed: Every entrant receives his or her very own sand bucket to keep.
Admission is free; 251/968-4237 or myshrimpfest.com.