The Best Beaches in the United States

With over 12,000 total miles of coastline, the United States is home to thousands of beautiful beaches waiting to be explored. Nestled in all corners of the country, the best beaches in the United States provide countless activities and hours of fun. Take a surf lesson, plan an idyllic picnic, attend a sandcastle competition, or play an arcade game on the boardwalk at these iconic beach locales. Spring break and the summer months prove to be the busiest times of the year at these vacation spots, but the beach towns provide entertainment all year around.


01Kauna'oa Bay, Hawaii

Kauna'oa Beach, Hawaii

Kauna'oa Bay, Hawaii, is the picture of paradise on the Big Island of Hawaii. The crystal blue water remains relatively calm, making this an ideal spot to swim and snorkel. After the sun goes down, enjoy dinner and a show at the Mauna Kea Oceanfront Luau. The luau tells the history of Hawaii through hula and fire dances while you get to enjoy fresh meat and tropical fruit. The beaches of Kauna'oa Bay are public, and parking is free, but be sure to arrive early to secure a prime spot.

StephanHoerold / Getty Images


02Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Marthas Vineyard colorful Aquinnah Cliffs, Massachusetts Denis Tangney Jr / Getty Images

Hawaii may take all the credit, but the United States is home to many picturesque islands. Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts is one such island. The rocky cliffs and iconic lighthouses show Martha's Vineyard's beauty in postcards and in person.  Martha's Vineyard has a rich history and was originally inhabited by the Wampanoag. Book a lighthouse tour to learn about these historic buildings dating back to 1817.


03West Palm Beach, Florida

Sunrise by the pier at West Palm Beach, Florida

Add an element of glitz to your next vacation by visiting West Palm Beach, Florida. West Palm Beach is home to a number of luxury retailers, five-star restaurants, and exciting nightlife. During the day, catch some sun and snorkel on Singer Island. If you are looking for some culture, the Norton Museum of Art is Florida's largest art museum. And music lovers should book their trips for early May when SunFest, Florida's largest waterfront music festival, comes to town.


04East Hampton, New York

The deck on Main Beach, East Hampton

Each summer, thousands of hardworking citizens of New York City pack their bags and leave the hustle and bustle of Manhattan to spend their weekends in beautiful East Hampton. East Hampton provides miles of scenic beach to bicycle down, sunbathe, or have a clambake with friends. Rent a kayak or canoe for an upper-body workout while enjoying the water. East Hampton is also home to a number of wineries that offer tours and tastings.

Kirkikis / Getty Images


05Monterey, California

Stunning natural landscape in California beach

In a state with hundreds of great beaches to choose from, Monterey is a gem offering some of the best views, dining, and shorelines California has to offer. Rent a convertible and take a road trip down Highway 1 for some of the best coastal photo ops in the country. Or visit Monterey Bay Aquarium, a non-profit aquarium home to a variety of sea life and reptiles.

gangliu10 / Getty Images


06Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Ferris wheel at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The boardwalk and coastline of Myrtle Beach make it a cant-miss vacation spot for thousands of visitors every year. The cluster of family-friendly beaches is known as the "Grand Strand" and invites you to hop from beach to beach in search of your favorite. Beat the heat with ice cream on the boardwalk or take in an evening show at the Carolina Opry.

Sean Pavone / Getty Images


07Gulf Shores, Alabama

Seaside Beach Walkway Path in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Travel down south to enjoy the warmer waters of Gulf Shores, Alabama. The city offers beaches, a pier, walking trails, and golf courses. Tour boats ship out daily during the summer for fishing excursions and dolphin watching. If you have had enough of the saltwater, head to Waterville USA, a family water park in Gulf Shores.

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08St. Augustine, Florida

Boardwalk to the beach at Matanzas Inlet near St. Augustine, Florida Michael Warren / Getty Images

St. Augustine, Florida, holds the claim as the oldest city in the United States. It offers breathtaking views of its Spanish colonial architecture. The white sands of St. Augustine Beach are perfect for an afternoon picnic or a round of sand volleyball. After a day at the beach, take a haunted trolley tour or visit the World Golf Hall of Fame.


09Hilton Head, South Carolina

Atlantic ocean in Hilton Head, South Carolina Ejla / Getty Images

Avid golfers agree that Hilton Head, South Carolina, is one of the top coastal towns for golf. This island community is under 70 square miles, and residents and tourists alike prefer to travel by golf cart around the island. Rent a beach cruiser bicycle to ride along the shoreline and then head to Salty Dog Cafe for some of their famous crab soup.


10Santa Monica, California

Aerial View of Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Santa Monica and its famous pier are known as one of the most recognized beaches in California. On any given day, you will find residents rollerblading down the beach and street musicians performing for the tourists. Pacific Park is a seaside amusement park with games and rides for the whole family.

chrisp0 / Getty Images


11Ocean City, Maryland

Crowded beach in Ocean City, Maryland Eliyahu Yosef Parypa /

The beautiful resort town of Ocean City offers visitors miles of serene beaches and a beautiful boardwalk that hosts a plethora of shops, restaurants, and hotels. The boardwalk is also home to Trimper's Rides, a theme park that's been around for decades.

In addition to the amazing shopping and entertainment on the boardwalk, Ocean City is also known for offering many water attractions. On any given day, you can find hundreds of kayaks and tour boats out on the beautiful water. And if you happen to be an angler, this quaint town is known as the White Marlin capital of the world.


12Pope Beach in Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Clear skies at Pope Beach in Lake Tahoe, Nevada Kusska / Getty Images

Located in the south of Lake Tahoe, Pope Beach is a beautiful sandy stretch perfect for swimming, picnicking, kayaking, and paddleboarding. While Lake Tahoe is known for its endless stretches of pine trees, this particular area offers plenty of sand for relaxing in the sun or building sandcastles.


13Harris Beach, Oregon

Children playing on the beach at Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon Blaine Harrington III /. Getty Images

A state park named after a Scottish pioneer, it has great beaches, beautiful sightseeing and is even great for birdwatching: The nearby Bird Island is a wildlife sanctuary that's home to rare species of birds. Facilities include day use and camping. If you're near Portland and you're looking for the perfect beachside camping destination, Harris Beach is the place.


14Glass Beach in Port Townsend, Washington

If you're looking for a fascinating and unique experience that isn't necessarily about swimming and tanning, Glass Beach in Port Townsend is the place. Its name comes from the fact that it's a prime location for finding beautiful beach glass. Formed when there are adequate amounts of surf tumbling, beach glass or ocean glass are beautiful stones that you can use to make jewelry or just simply admire for their beauty.


15Oak Street Beach in Chicago, Illinois

Located in Chicago, Lake Michigan's Oak Street Beach is an amazing destination for those living an urban lifestyle but looking to enjoy a little sun and waves. If you visit in the summer, it's a fantastic place to go swimming while still being able to see the sprawling Chicago skyline. The locals enjoy the beach's running and biking paths as well as its close proximity to downtown shops and attractions.

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