I just returned from an action-packed, three-day trip to South Padre Island, and wow--the beginning of fall is a fantastic time to be at the beach.
Not only is it "off" season right now (meaning that hotel rates are low--my room at the Palms Hotel--a place right on the beach, with a restaurant & bar, plus a fridge in the room--ran around 75 bucks a night), but you won't have to wrestle for space on the beach, in restaurants, on snorkeling boats, or dolphin-watching tours. Vacationing families leave in August, and the Winter Texans typically start arriving in November, so during September and October, island merchants are extra-glad to see us.
Same is true for other Texas coastal destinations, like Port Aransas--one of my favorite spots in Texas. In fact, a group of friends and I have rented a large house in Port A for a Thanksgiving celebration this year. We found a 5-bedroom place with multiple porches, a full cook's kitchen--just a few blocks from the ocean--that will cost us each about 70 bucks a night. Even accepts pets! I found the listing on a link from the Port Aransas Convention and Visitors Bureau website--just google Port Aransas, and you're golden.
We're talking about abandoning the turkey tradition this year and going for paella instead.