Endless summer

It's the best beach month of the year. Kick off your shoes and head to one of our favorite close-to-home beaches

Summer is the shortest season. At least, it feels that way. Astronomically speaking, summer ends September 22 at 9:30 a.m. PDT, but the season's symbolic denouement is Labor Day: Kids are back in school, and the proper set stops wearing white.

The West Coast, however, has never been particularly mindful of convention, nor does summer here pay much heed to the calendar. In California, from China Camp near San Francisco down to Imperial Beach on the Mexican border, September's stretch of summer is like a perfectly formed wave that is just cresting. The San Francisco Bay Area is fog-free, and water temperatures reach their peak in Southern California.

The Northwest's best late-summer beaches
Northern California's best late-summer beaches
Southern California's best late-summer beaches

And with tourist crowds down, September is when locals reclaim their sands. This is prime time for connoisseurs of all things beach.

Endless summer? Maybe not. But one thing is certain: September is a month that we all wish would hang on forever.