If I asked you to think of wonderful dreamlike beaches, chances are that you are thinking about the paradise beaches of the Caribbean. But you don’t actually have to go that far. The coasts of the USA are full of stunning beaches as well. Let’s discover together the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Below, you can find some of the best beaches in the US with great tips from locals and travel bloggers.
What to find out in this post
- 1 The best Beaches in the US
- 2 The best beaches in Florida & The Gulf of Mexico
- 3 South Beach, Florida
- 4 Sanibel Island, Florida
- 5 Lake Worth Beach, Florida
- 6 Clearwater Beach, Florida
- 7 Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
- 8 Panama City Beach, Florida
- 9 South Walton, Florida
- 10 Miramar Beach, Florida
- 11 Gulf Shores, Alabama
- 12 The best Beaches in California & at the US West Coast
- 13 Crystal Cove, California
- 14 Laguna Beach, California
- 15 Stinson Beach, California
- 16 Pleasure Point Beach, Santa Cruz, California
- 17 Cannon Beach, Oregon
- 18 Rialto Beach, Washington
- 19 The best beaches in Hawaii
- 20 Kalapaki Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
- 21 Na Pali, Kauai, Hawaii
- 22 Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
- 23 Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
- 24 Amazing Beaches at the US East Coast
- 25 Cumberland Island, Georgia
- 26 Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
- 27 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- 28 Outer Banks, North Carolina
- 29 Assateague Island, Maryland & Virginia
- 30 Montauk, New York
- 31 Long Beach, Long Island, New York
- 32 Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Massachusetts
The best Beaches in the US
The best beaches in Florida & The Gulf of Mexico
South Beach, Florida
South Beach is about a mile’s worth of pristine, sandy beach on the southernmost point of Miami Beach in the U.S. state of Florida. The beach is clean, calm beautiful. South Beach has a lot to offer. The side of the beach opposite the ocean is the iconic Ocean Drive with its Art Deco architecture and upscale restaurants and hotels. At night this boulevard turns into a busy neon-lit thoroughfare with clubs blaring music and tourists jostling their way and down the streets. There are a couple of interesting little museums nearby like the Wolfsonian on Washington Avenue and a beautiful pier where you can see the massive cruise ships leave port for cruises to the nearby Caribbean. South Beach makes for a great getaway for a weekend or more! Recommended by Talek of Travels with Talek
Sanibel Island, Florida
One of the most gorgeous beaches in the United States are the beaches on Sanibel Island. Sanibel Island is a 33 square mile island located off the coast of Ft. Myers, Florida. The island is a barrier island and due to its easy causeway access, many people enjoy shelling as well as exploring the islands wildlife refuges. Sanibel and its beaches are special because the Sanibel Conservation Foundation has taken a strong stance towards preserving the islands nature and wildlife habitats. The beaches are not groomed, meaning their natural habitats are still preserved making a great way to experience wildlife and nature by just visiting the beach. The sand on the beaches is white and soft, offering for an ultimate beach experience and depending on what side of the island you are on changes how strong the waves are and how many shells you can find. Sanibel offers so many different activities- you could never run out of things to do! Just to name a few, there is a nature preserve to visit, snorkeling, diving, boating, paddleboarding, fishing, shelling, bird watching, nature tours, dolphin boat tours, golfing, nightlife and shopping. Getting to Sanibel is easy, and only a 45-minute drive from the Ft. Myers airport! If you are looking to enjoy some of the last preserved beaches in the US, Sanibel is a must for your next beach vacation!
Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage
Lake Worth Beach, Florida
Lake Worth Beach on the eastern shore of Florida rests between Tampa and West Palm Beach. As one of the larger beaches in the area, it is also host to a range of shops, restaurants and excursion opportunities as the beach is popular in the region.
With a long pier extending out into the Atlantic, Lake Worth Beach is a great place to relax and watch the waves roll in. The beach also has a backdrop that makes for unique photoshoots for engagements, weddings, and family. The white sandy beach and the royal blue water of the ocean make photos pop.
The waves at Lake Worth make the place popular for surfing, paddleboarding, and even kayaking. When the surf rolls in, waves can get quite high. Nearby shops and restaurants after spending a day on the beach include Benny’s on the Beach, Mulligan’s Bar and Grill and John G’s Restaurant.
Recommended by Diana of The Elusive Family
Clearwater Beach, Florida
For me, the perfect beach must have powder-soft sand, water warm enough to swim in and somewhere to sit with a cool drink watching the waves come in. Clearwater Beach has all this and more.
The two-and-a-half-mile stretch of white sand is located on a barrier island on the West Coast of Florida. It’s easy to get to from St Petersburg and is just 20 miles from Tampa International Airport. Clearwater beach regularly wins spots on top ten lists of Florida’s best beaches for its laid back vibe and natural beauty. It is well looked after, extremely clean with plenty of bathrooms and showers.
There’s loads to do on Clearwater beach if you’re feeling active, you’ll find parasailing, jet skiing, beach volleyball, and dolphin sighting tours. When you’re hungry there are plenty of bars and eateries serving Floridian treats such as crab, tacos and even a frozen margarita or two. For souvenir shopping, head to Pier 60, a long fishing pier stretching into the ocean home to cute stalls, street performers and some of the best sunset views on the beach.
My very favorite thing to do on Clearwater Beach is sitting on the sand, looking out to the Gulf of Mexico, spotting dolphins and watching the sky come alive with color as the sun sets into the sea. Heaven.
Recommended by Karen of Are we there yet Kids
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
One of the most unique National Parks (and it’s a bit challenging and expensive to visit) is Dry Tortugas National Park. Located about 80 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote National Parks. Getting to Dry Tortugas is very limited and expensive – you can either hop onto the Yankee Freedom ferry, or a chartered plane to fly to this island chain.
Either way, you’ll land at some of the best beaches in the State of Florida and the United States.
The white sand beach of Dry Tortugas is pristine, thanks to its National Park status and the very regulated number of visitors who come here every year. In addition to the beach activities and Fort Jefferson guided tour, Dry Tortugas National Park offers several kayaking programs, as well as snorkeling the surrounding coral reef systems.
If you love camping, I would highly recommend reserving your spot during your visit to stay on the island overnight. Camping in the Dry Tortugas is very limited and only offers primitive camping with no place to get food, no shower facilities, cell connections, or even electricity.
Recommended by Halef of The Round The World Guys
Panama City Beach, Florida
With more than 27 miles of white sand, Panama City Beach is not short on amazing beaches. The panhandle of Florida has some of the best and underrated beaches in the country. Here you’ll find deep white sand beaches with clear waters in shades of aqua and teals.
As amazing as the beaches here are, that’s not the only thing going on. There are a whole host of activities in Panama City Beach to round out a beach vacation. Panama City Beach is home to several state Parks and lots of wildlife. One of the top attractions not too far from the beach is on shell island where you can swim alongside wild dolphins. The diving is also top-notch more than a dozen shipwrecks and other artificial reefs to explore.
To close out any day in Panama City Beach properly, you need to make your way down to the sand for sunset. The town’s unique position puts it just in the right spot for amazing sunsets more often than not. One great spot to catch the sunset is near the City Pier right in the heart of the entertainment district. After the sun goes down there are plenty of great restaurants serving up locally caught fish and if you are looking for nightlife – this beach town knows how to throw a party too. No matter what type of beach vacation you are looking for, Panama City Beach has something for just about every traveler.
Recommended by Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped
South Walton, Florida
South Walton in Florida is home to many small beach communities affectionately called the Beaches of 30A. Loved equally by families who have beach homes here or visit on a regular basis, this is a little slice of paradise on the Gulf of Mexico. The sand is soft, the water a pretty shade of blue and green and the sunsets are stunning! 30A includes the many quaint coastal communities like Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, WaterSound, Seagrove, Seaside, WaterColor, and Sandestin among others. If you are looking for family-friendly beaches that are quiet, South Walton is just the place. There is no light pollution, you can see the stars, sometimes the Milkyway at night! South Walton is located in the northwest Florida panhandle, which is known as the Emerald Coast due to that jewel-toned water. There are very few hotels in the area, but you can rent nice beach houses. Perfect for a family trip or a beach trip with a big group of friends. Enjoy lazy days on the beach or relax with cocktails by the pool. You can bike to the different communities. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the nation and National Geographic included South Walton in their list of 28 places to travel in 2019. Recommended by Priya of Outside Suburbia
Miramar Beach, Florida
If you’re looking for a spotless beach with the perfect white sand in the U.S., head to Miramar Beach, Florida. Located right outside Destin in the panhandle of Florida, this gorgeous beach is the perfect spot right on the Gulf of Mexico.
Miramar Beach has bright white, powdery sand, and no seaweed. With gentle surf and ideal sandcastle-building conditions, it’s the perfect spot for your kids’ first trip to the beach.
In the Miramar Beach area, you’ll find tons of activities if you want them. It’s also a pretty chill place to relax if you’re looking for that, too. The area is known for its deep-sea fishing, kayaking, jet-skiing, and water sports so definitely check those out if you’re up for water adventures.
And if you ever get bored of the beach and water activities, there’s shopping, adventure parks and plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, too.
To get to Miramar Beach, you’ll likely fly into Pensacola or Panama City and will want to rent a car to visit this part of Florida. There’s a ton of hotels and private rental homes in the area, so finding a place to stay should be simple. For the best beach weather and water temperature, head to Miramar Beach May through October.
Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores, Alabama is located in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States and is home to 32 miles of pristine beaches. The fine, sugary sand will sink between your toes, as you take in the blue-green waters that this destination has to offer. Sandcastle building classes, beach volleyball, and parasailing are also popular beach activities. Early risers may want to take in a yoga class on the beach, whereas couples may want to take a romantic walk on the beach at sunset. Beachgoers with a little more adventure may opt for a parasailing adventure. With several public beaches, as well as private beaches with property nearby, visitors will find a beach to enjoy the beauty along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Visitors can arrive by car through I-10 and use Exit 49. To avoid excessive traffic, this is your best route. There is a small toll as you arrive at the beach, but well worth every penny. Air travelers can fly into Pensacola, Florida or Mobile, Alabama and rent a car. If weather permits, take the Mobile Bay Ferry from Dauphin Island to Gulf Shores. You will have a unique experience and save a few miles.
Recommended by Sara of Travel with Sara
The best Beaches in California & at the US West Coast
Crystal Cove, California
The beaches of Crystal Cove are part of the Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County in Southern California. The park is located just off the Pacific Coast Highway between Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar. As the clean, yellow sand beaches are within a state park, building and development have been strictly controlled. There is no beachside parking, basketball courts, busy bars or noisy water sports. You have to park at the fee-paying car park on the other side of the PCH and walk down to the beaches through an access tunnel. The three-mile stretch of pristine beach is quiet, uncrowded and ideal for walking, jogging or swimming. Stroll along the pretty beach, spend time exploring the protected tide pools or looking at the 46 Depression-era wooden beach cottages which form the federally listed ‘Historic District.’
At the end of your visit, grab a milkshake at the cafe on the Pacific Coast Highway above the beach and enjoy a cold drink whilst watching a glorious sunset on this unspoiled stretch of coastline.
Recommended by Sinead of Map Made Memories
Laguna Beach, California
About an hour south of Los Angeles is the small town of Laguna Beach. Originally an artist’s colony, Laguna is a year-round destination, known for its beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, and excellent art festivals.
Among the most popular things to do in Laguna Beach is explore the many beaches and coves. Instead of one long beach, this town offers 20 small beaches, often small and secluded, making it an ideal place for those looking for some solitude.
On the larger beaches, popular activities include volleyball, surfing, and paddleboarding. Depending on the time of day, exploring marine life in the tidepools is another great option.
During the summer Laguna is home to the Pageant of the Masters, Festival of Arts, the Sawdust Festival and the Laguna Art-A-Fair. The first is a unique theater production where actors recreate famous paintings and statues. The last three are gatherings of artists and craftspeople displaying their paintings, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, glasswork and more.
Laguna offers some of the best oceanview and oceanfront dining in all of Southern California including Las Brisas, Driftwood Kitchen, The Cliff, and K’ya Bistro. Locals like to pack a picnic dinner, head to Heisler Park and watch the sunset over the ocean.
If visiting from out-of-state, Laguna Beach is about 30 minutes south of the Orange County Airport and an hour south of Los Angeles International Airport. From either airport, a car will be needed to reach Laguna.
Recommended by Wendy of Empty Nesters hit the Road
Stinson Beach, California
San Francisco beaches are notoriously chilly, not at all like what is in most visitors’ mind’s eye for a California beach. However, located across the Golden Gate Bridge just north of San Francisco is beautiful, usually-sunny Stinson Beach – a magnificent Southern California-style beach found in Northern California, where the summer is chilled by the omnipresent fog. However, the fog often doesn’t make it to Stinson Beach or retracts earlier in the day than in other coastal areas. This 3-mile beach curves from the mouth of Bolinas lagoon in the north–where beachcombing is prime during low tides–to secluded bluffs in the south. In between, the white sand is plentiful and lifeguards are on duty, but the water is reliably cold and known for shark attacks. Though most people pack a picnic, a snack bar is located on the beach. And if you forget to bring beach playthings for the kids, a community box is filled with toys left behind that are now available to borrow.
Recommended by Carole of Berkeley and Beyond
Pleasure Point Beach, Santa Cruz, California
One of the best beaches in Northern California is Pleasure Point beach in Santa Cruz. It may not be the most spectacular but it is most famous for two main activities: surfing and tide pooling. Santa Cruz is the surfing capital of Northern California. A lot of well-known pro surfers come from and train in Santa Cruz, including Jay Moriarity, whose life and surfing quest was an inspiration for the Hollywood’s movie “Chasing Mavericks” (filmed in several locations in Santa Cruz, including Pleasure Point). The surf here is good for beginners and there are surfing schools in town that offer lessons. The other attraction of Pleasure Point is excellent tide pools when the surf is low. There is a significant portion of the beach covered in rocks that get exposed at low tides. You can encounter many sea creatures here: sea stars, anemone, mussels and if you are lucky – even an occasional octopus. You can also enjoy regular beach activities at Pleasure Point: sunbathing, kayaking or just relaxing. This is located in the center of Santa Cruz. The best way to get there is by car.
Recommended by Tatiana of Family Road Trip Guru
Cannon Beach, Oregon
The Oregon Coast is full of amazing beaches that are not as well known as the more southern and warmer United States beaches. One of the most popular and most beautiful beaches in Oregon is Cannon Beach. This beach is located about 90 minutes west of Portland, OR, and is best known for its famous rock features. Haystack Rock is a huge rock formation right on the shore of Cannon Beach, and you may recognize it from the movie The Goonies. This beach boasts some of the softest sand you will ever touch, and it is not even hot because of the colder climate here. Although most people don’t swim here because of the water temperature, it is a great place to wade in the water, especially during low tide. Jellyfish and other ocean creatures are often found washed up on the beach, and certain times of year you can see Puffins on Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach is located in a small town, where there are many options for hotels and house rentals, as well as camping. Just north of Cannon Beach, you will find an excellent state park, Ecola State Park, for hiking as well.
Recommended by Amanda of Patsey Family Travels
Rialto Beach, Washington
One of the best beaches to visit in Washington State is Rialto Beach, located in Olympic National Park. Rialto Beach is an excellent spot if you are trying to find the quintessential Pacific Northwest moody vibes. The area is filled sea stacks, tide pools, wildlife, and driftwood. You can grab a lawn chair and experience sunset here while taking in the views. If you hike up North, you will find an excellent photography spot called “Hole in The Wall”. There you can spot tide pools filled with many sea creatures and tall sea stacks. If you are lucky and the tide is low, you can even walk on over to the “hole” and take an excellent framing shot. It is possible to camp on the beach but make sure to have booked reservations with the national park services online. Lastly, a great local spot to grab some food is River’s Edge Restaurant. An added plus is all kinds of wildlife tend to hang out around the restaurant, especially bald eagles, really giving you unique dining experience.
Recommended by Michelle of The Wandering Queen
The best beaches in Hawaii
Kalapaki Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Kalapaki Beach is hidden away in the beautiful garden island of Kauai, Hawaii. It is in the city of Lihue and just 5 minutes away from the airport. Despite its proximity to downtown, it is a peaceful beach often overlooked by tourists. Nestled behind a shopping center and a Marriot hotel, most people don’t even notice it’s there and if they do they probably think it belongs to the Marriot, but it’s a public beach!
There is Kalapaki beach access parking just north of the shopping center. You can also park at the upper parking lot of the Marriot. There is no lifeguard on duty but thanks to the break wall, the water is calm and great for easy swimming. This white sand beach has a fine texture that won’t hurt your feet which makes it a great choice for sunbathing.
On the far west side of the shoreline, the Kalapaki Beach hut offers casual eats with a nice view of the beach. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Café Portofino is right on the water. The popular Duke’s restaurant is also located near the water inside the Marriot. Inside the Anchor Cove shopping center, JJ’s Broiler also offers views of the beach and has a large bar area as well.
You can rent paddleboards and snorkel gear at Kauai Bound right behind the Kalapaki Beach Hut. They also offer beach umbrellas and beach chairs for rent. The Kauai Beach Boys, located inside the Marriot offers paddleboards, surf lessons, canoe rentals, and boat rides. This beach’s ability to offer so much while still staying a quiet, hidden gem is why it’s my favorite spot in Kauai!
Recommended by Samantha of Have Seat Will Travel
Na Pali, Kauai, Hawaii
You know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, imagine gorgeous, uncrowded beaches in a protected nature reserve. Now imagine those beaches are so remote that you can only access them via a challenging 11-mile hike (the Kalalau Trail), boat, or a strenuous canoe/kayaking tour. Then imagine that, due to the intense tide, those beaches are only accessible at certain times of the year. Located in northwest Kauai, the Nā Pali coastline stretches from Keʻe Beach all the way to Polihale State Park. Part of the 6,175-acre Nā Pali Coast State Park, the coastline is dotted with numerous stunning waterfalls and picturesque beaches. Honopu Beach arguably among the most beautiful, with pristine white sand and brilliant blue waters backed by dramatic 1200-foot high sea cliffs. If you really want to see the area’s epic majesty, splurge for a 50-minute helicopter tour of the island, which topped our list of the best things to do in Kauai. The bird’s-eye view vistas of the Nā Pali Coast are truly awe-inspiring and worth every penny.
Recommended by Bret and Mary of Green Global Travel
Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
Nestled along the southern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, there is a unique beach experience that is totally worth the additional work to get there. After a 2.5-mile hike, you’ll get to a green sand beach! The sand has this tint because it is mostly olivine (a green glassy crystal created as a result of volcanic activity) and there are only four beaches with sand like this in the world! It’s remote and scenic location in a cove along the coast adds to the beauty of this place and makes it even more memorable. While swimming is allowed, caution is strongly advised since the waves and current can be extremely strong here. As mentioned, getting to Papakolea Green Sand Beach can be a challenge. Since it is almost two hours from Kona just to get to the parking area, it should be planned as a day trip of its own and not just a stop on a longer tour of the island. Keep in mind that it is not recommended to drive (and some sites say it is illegal), although you will see people in four-wheel-drive vehicles going to the beach. However, the hike is lovely and the better option anyway – just bring plenty of water because it gets hot! Recommended by Brooke and Buddy of Trailing Away
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
Waikiki beach is situated within the neighborhood of Honolulu, on the south shore of the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. It is a hub of activity from surfing to snorkeling, paddle boarding to hula performances not to mention one of the safest beaches on Oahu to swim in due to the protection from the sea wall. A popular spot with tourists and locals alike who sunbathe under the shade of palm trees, surrounded by towering resorts that meet the shoreline. One of the best things to do at Waikiki beach is to attend the free fireworks performance every Friday at 7:45 pm. Pack a BBQ and some deck chairs and head down early to secure a good spot. Hilton Hawaiian Village organizes the fireworks display, so most people watch from the shores of their Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, but they are visible from anywhere on Waikiki beach. Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a man-made wading pool surrounded by sand which is ideal for younger children or non-swimmers intimidated by the ocean at Waikiki. It’s open to the public not just those staying at the hotel and is an ideal activity for those visiting Hawaii on a budget as it’s free to use mere meters from Waikiki beach. Recommended by Lauren of Faramagan
Amazing Beaches at the US East Coast
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Cumberland Island National Seashore must be one of the most spectacular natural beaches in the US. This barrier island off the coast of southeast Georgia can only be accessed by boat or the daily passenger ferry. As a result, the seventeen miles of unspoiled beaches receive very light traffic throughout the year.
Yet those who make the effort to get to Cumberland Island’s beaches are rewarded handsomely and will often have the scenic white sands all to themselves. Rather than a horde of sunbathers, you’re more likely to be in the company of wild horses. That’s because there are over a hundred feral horses that roam free around Cumberland Island and its pristine beaches.
Sea birds, deer, and even dolphins are also regularly spotted along Cumberland Island’s beaches. It all adds up to a fantastic beach experience for nature lovers. In addition to swimming and enjoying the beach itself, Cumberland Island also boasts hiking, birding, shelling, camping, and exploring the island’s interesting history.
To get to Cumberland Island, a ferry makes two trips per day from the small town of St Marys, Georgia. It’s a scenic ride that takes about 45 minutes and costs of $32.10, plus a $10 park entrance fee. Once on this remote island, it’s a 15-minute walk through an old-growth forest and over sand dunes to ultimately access the seemingly endless expanse of beautiful undeveloped beaches that awaits.
Recommended by John of Roaming Around the World
Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
On the north end of Jekyll Island, Georgia is one of the most famous beaches in Georgia, Driftwood Beach. To find the beach, just cruise up Beachview Drive by car or bike to Clam Creek picnic Area or keep an eye out for beach access points with designated parking along the drive. People love visiting Driftwood Beach (AKA Boneyard Beach) because of the dramatic landscape of abandoned oak trees bleached by the sun lie on this long stretch of undeveloped beach. These forgotten trees create a very eerie yet romantic landscape that brings hundreds of locals and visitors to visit year after year.
As you walk the white sandy beach you’ll see school groups exploring the landscape discussing the changes in the landscape, families taking photos, joggers, you may even see a proposal take place. You can even explore the beach by horseback by booking a beach trail ride with Three Oaks Farm. Sunrise and sunset are particularly gorgeous in this spot and it is an ideal place for a picnic.
Recommended by Emily of Ems on the Road
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
All along its 60 miles of beautiful white-sand beaches, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a popular vacation destination, a growing retirement community, and host to umpteen bachelorette parties, guys’ golf outings, family reunions, and conventions.
Myrtle Beach should be top of mind for any northerners wanting an inexpensive break, especially from a late April blizzard or lingering cold spring showers. Families, couples, young and old, will find plenty of things to do and ways to refresh their Mid-America outlook.
A drive through town on the main drag captures the Southern scene. It’s sprinkled with Piggly Wiggly, Chick-Fil-A, and Krispy Kreme stores. And it immediately screams beach town and family resort, with mega beach shops, mega-tsunami surf stores, dozens of miniature golf courses, and pancake houses every couple blocks.
Resort properties on the beach are usually reasonably priced, especially during shoulder seasons. Many have pools, spa, fitness room, and bar. Enjoying the ocean is as simple as walking onto the terrace or out the hotel’s back door. Choose between poolside loungers, lawn chairs overlooking the beach, or beach chairs half-buried in the sand. Or take a long beach walk.
Extended families circle together on the wide beach, fishermen cast from the shore, teens and kids play with the tide. The boardwalk in downtown Myrtle Beach offers a pleasant option to walkers. Built in 2010, the boardwalk stretches over a mile from the restaurant and shopping section to the 14th Avenue pier and provides displays describing the history of the beachfront and city.
Day trips from Myrtle Beach are highly recommended. Don’t miss the Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture Garden, a national historic site in nearby Murrells Inlet. Also, you can visit the Hopsewee Plantation for a sobering glimpse of America’s pre-Civil War slave-driven agricultural history.
Recommended by Tom of Travel Past 50
Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks stretch for 200 miles along the North Carolina coast, forming one of the most beautiful collection of beaches in the eastern United States. Affectionately nicknamed OBX, the Outer Banks is made up of barrier islands and peninsulas that protect the North Carolina mainland from the Atlantic Ocean.
Beaches are the biggest draw for Outer Banks visitors. Almost the entire coast is open for swimming, boating, skim and surfboarding, and, of course, just relaxing at the shore. The light brown sand is soft; ocean views stretch to the horizon, and the surf is welcoming. Unless a storm is brewing, the beach slopes gently into the water, and waves offer just enough action for boogie boarding.
Towns and parks offer a wealth of fun things to do on the Outer Banks when you need a break from the beach. Family-friendly fun includes cute towns, souvenir hunting, mini-golf, boat tours, and plenty of places to indulge a sweet tooth. Try the custom-made treats at local favorite Duck Donuts!
More adventurous groups and romantics can horseback ride on the beach, charter a sail, climb a lighthouse, and more. The Outer Banks is rich in history too. The first American colony was established here in 1587, then mysteriously vanished. Explore the most famous OBX history at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, where man first achieved human flight.
Norfolk Virginia is the closest airport to the Outer Banks, though most visitors arrive by car. Home and condo rentals fill OBX beach towns, from massive oceanfront homes to modest condos, along with campgrounds and a few motels. Wherever you stay, you are sure to enjoy your vacation on the Outer Banks.
Recommended by Julie of McCool Travel
Assateague Island, Maryland & Virginia
Located on the east coast of the United States in both Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the perfect beach escape.
What makes Assateague a unique beach destination is the fact that it is home to wild ponies. As you drive up to the island you may observe the ponies walking right alongside the road. Take all the pictures you want but never approach them as they are wild.
If you are looking for more than just a beach day consider making it a weekend by reserving a campsite. Camping on Assateague Island is a great way to really experience the beauty of everything the Island has to offer.
As the sun goes down enjoy a bonfire on the beach. But don’t stay up too late because you are going to want to take advantage of the beautiful sunrise. It is also a great time of day to watch the ponies playing the ocean as you sip your morning coffee.
Want something quieter and less crowded. Check out the Bay Side. It is perfect for children. The water is calm, swimmable and shallow. You can also try your hand at some kayaking, clamming and even crabbing on the bayside.
Recommended by Taima of Poor in a Private Plane
Montauk, New York
When people think of the best beaches they tend to think of fluffy, white sand, palm trees for miles and crystal clear water – descriptions not typically associated with the Northeast part of the United States, especially not the Tri-State area. But this is where you would be surprised. New York’s Long Island, more specifically the town of Montauk, is where you can find the ultimate beach getaway within hours of Manhattan.
If you live in New York City, or are just visiting, and don’t have a car, getting to Montauk is surprisingly a breeze, all thanks to the Hampton Jitney. There are 4 stops throughout the city where you can catch the Jitney, as well as 4 stops within Brooklyn, so you can be sure wherever you are coming from you’ll be able to make it to the bus. From there it’s just over a 3-hour ride (which will be between $33-38 one way) out to Montauk.
The thing that makes Montauk so special is the fact that it is out on Long Island near the Hamptons, but you don’t have to deal with the stereotypical Hamptons “fussiness” where wealth tends to be on full display. Montauk is the “California cool” beach of Long Island. There is surfing, hotels in the form of beach houses, white sand, beautiful sunsets, BBQs and fire pits, and a multitude of great places to eat. The thing that really makes Montauk stand out against the LI crowd is the fact that it is literally the last point on the island, so you can’t go any farther. You feel isolated even though there are people around, and if you go during the off-season you can have the town almost to yourself.
If you want to have a more unique experience while visiting, Deep Hollow Ranch (the US’s oldest working ranch) offers horseback tours on the beach, Manhattan Biergarten staple Zum Schneider also has an outpost here, Ditch Plains Beach offers a prime spot for watching surfers or exploring along the walking trails (parking permit required!), and Montauk Point State Park (the farthest you can go on Long Island before you feel like you’ll fall off the edge of the world) features New York State’s oldest lighthouse, and the best waterfront views to see where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Block Island Sound.
Recommended by Lindsey of Seven Day Weekender
Long Beach, Long Island, New York
Located on the South Shore of Nassau County on Long Island, New York, Long Beach is actually it’s own Island, itself! Long Beach is the Westernmost of the Long Island Barrier Islands, surrounded by Reynolds Channel to the East, West, and North with the Atlantic Ocean along the south of Long Beach. Long Beach is on it’s own line on the Long Island Rail Road which operates out of New York City’s Penn Station and is only about a 35-45 minute train ride from midtown Manhattan. Peak beach season runs from May until September, although the shoulder season is great time to catch a walk or bike-ride along the 2.2-mile boardwalk. The beach itself boasts over 3.2 miles of both public and private beaches. Long Beach, as many of the beaches on Long Island, isn’t particularly great for diving or snorkeling but surfers and swimmers alike can rejoice as it’s the perfect beach to catch a wave or get in a good swim. For those who aren’t too fond of the water, catch some rays on the soft sandy beaches that Long Beach boasts. After your day at the beach, head over to the West End of Long Beach to dine at one of the many restaurants or cool off with a drink at one of the dozen or so bars!
Recommended by Jacklyn of Get Lost with Jackie
Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Massachusetts
Although the waters off the coast of Cape Cod are pretty chilly for most of the year – even in summer! – Coast Guard Beach is still worth a visit, even if it’s just for a scenic stroll through the marshes and dunes. Coast Guard Beach is part of the 40,000-acre Cape Cod National Seashore, operated by the National Park Service, and regularly makes many “top 10 beaches” lists. It’s easy to see why – called “the Great Beach” by Henry David Thoreau, it’s a wide, white sand beach with no buildings encroaching on it. There are bathrooms and outdoor showers on-site; however, but be sure to pack food and drinks, since there are no snack bars or restaurants.
Since the beach part of a protected area, it’s a great place for nature lovers – terns and endangered nesting plovers are frequent visitors in early spring to early summer, and you can often spot seals popping their heads out of the water. There’s access to hiking and cycling trails as well. Eastham is about a two-hour drive from Boston. From mid-June to Labor Day, there’s no parking on-site – you have to take a shuttle bus from a lot about a mile away.
Recommended by Brianne of A Traveling Life