22 Best Beaches Across the U.S. (You Can't Get to #16 by Foot!)

From secluded dunes to vibrant boardwalks, explore the best beaches our country has to offer.
Updated April 9, 2024
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group of friends playing on beach

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Waking up to the sound of the ocean, building sandcastles, and then splashing in the water sounds like fantastic fun. And with two oceans on its shores, there’s certainly a lot of coastline to explore in the U.S.

Whether you’re in the mood to get lost for a bit or something more exciting, you’re sure to find a coastal destination that is exactly what you’re looking for to step up your travel game. 

You may want to find a way to earn travel rewards in order to save as much money as you can, but here are 22 of the best beaches in America.

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Alabama: Gulf Place

Darryl/Adobe gulf coast scenery

At the end of Highway 59 is Gulf Place, the main public beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s an excellent beach for anyone who loves activities, and it has areas for playing volleyball, swimming, sunbathing, and running around on a playground.

This beach also has multiple open-air pavilions, which makes it perfect for a get-together on the water. Plus, you'll keep more money in your bank account by coming here. 

Beach mats are also available, which makes it easier for individuals in wheelchairs or limited mobility to access the beach.

Alaska: Homer Spit

Ron/Adobe homer spit and kachemak bay

Homer Spit is a long peninsula of land with 4.5 miles of coastline to explore. Located in Homer, Alaska, It’s perfect for beachcombing, enjoying a drink at one of the many small restaurants, or fishing from the pier.

For wildlife enthusiasts, you can find guided boat tours at the harbor. The area is also home to some of the best eagle viewing in the state.

California: Santa Monica Beach

Tierney/Adobe santa monica beach from above

Arguably the most quintessential beach in the U.S., Santa Monica Beach has just about everything you’d want from a beach vacation. 

Located just outside downtown Los Angeles, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, bike trails, beach volleyball, and surfing.

It’s also home to the famous Santa Monica Pier. Here, you can enjoy shops and restaurants, an aquarium, and an amusement park featuring its famous sky-high Ferris wheel.

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Connecticut: Hammonasset Beach State Park

Olga/Adobe coast of hammonasset beach state park

Hammonasset Beach State Park offers a two-mile stretch of beach perfect for scuba diving, saltwater fishing, and swimming. There are also areas available seasonally for camping.

It’s hard not to enjoy the views on a hike along this coastline or to take a boat out for more fun. There’s also a natural center nearby for those who want to learn about the history of this region.

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

Chee/Adobe summer at rehoboth beach

Located off the Atlantic, Rehoboth Beach is a small coastal town in Delaware that takes fun to the next level with a boardwalk, amusement park rides, and some sought-after treats (those Thrasher’s French Fries are known everywhere).

The beach is simple and peaceful, with options like beachcombing and paddleboarding as common ways to explore the area.

Florida: South Pointe Beach

CascadeCreatives/Adobe south pointe park pier miami beach

Florida’s beaches are legendary, but South Pointe Park — right at the southern tip of Miami Beach — is perhaps the most stunning. 

With its views of PortMiami’s cruise ships, the city skyline, and the open ocean, it offers some of the most enjoyable beach views in the country.

Guests can relax under a palm tree with a book, explore the promenade with a kid-friendly splash pad, or rollerblade down the pier.

Georgia: South Beach at Tybee Island

Drew/Adobe tybee island at sunrise

Located 20 minutes outside of Savanah, Tybee Island offers multiple beach options for visitors. Arguably the most popular area is South Beach, with many tourist-friendly activities along the pier.

You’ll also want to check out Fannies on the Beach, known for its walk-up window to pick up to-go orders that you can enjoy on the sand.

Louisiana: Grand Isle Beach

Jennifer/Adobe grand isle louisiana beach

With the warm waters of the Gulf, swimming at Grand Isle Beach in Louisiana is a relaxing way to spend the day. 

Surfing, fishing, and paddleboarding are common here, as are birding and camping. The beach is less crowded than others, with a big lagoon for wading in the water.

Maine: Old Orchard Beach’s Pine Point Beach

Kristina/Adobe pine point at sunset

Old Orchard Beach is a 7-mile stretch home to numerous beaches. If you want a relaxing, slower experience, visit Pine Point Beach. It doesn’t have crowds and offers ample space for picnics, sandcastles, and boating.

When you are planning your visit, though, be sure to double-check the conditions ahead of time. The area is prone to red algae during some points of the year, meaning it’s unfit for swimming.

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Maryland: Ocean City Beach

Grandbrothers/Adobe ocean city maryland at afternoon

This 10-mile stretch of beach in Ocean City, Maryland makes it perhaps one of the most sought-after beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Ocean City Beach offers visitors kayaking, sailing, surfing, and fishing.

There’s also a boardwalk packed with things to do and see, fantastic restaurants, and lots of shops for some retail therapy. Even better, the beach is clean and spacious — providing lots of room to spread out.

Massachusetts: Cape Cod National Seashore’s Coast Guard Beach

Brendan/Adobe cape cod national seashore

The Cape Cod National Seashore is an incredible 40-mile waterfront area, but Coast Guard Beach is by far one of the best options. It’s a curved area along the coast noted for its sand dunes and perfect views.

It includes Nauset Marsh, which makes for excellent birdwatching. Other wildlife to enjoy include seals that can be seen around Nauset Spit during the winter months

Mississippi: Biloxi Beach

Kovcs/Adobe lighthouse at biloxi mississippi

Biloxi Beach is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a beach vacation that offers a mix of sand and entertainment. You can sit and fish off the long wooden pier or explore the 19th-century lighthouse just off the coastline.

You can also walk along the boardwalk to take in the views and shops and — depending on where you stay — take your chances at some of the tables in nearby casinos.

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach

Wangkun Jia/Adobe hampton beach state park

The most notable of all beaches in New Hampshire, Hampton Beach is a fun beach town with everything from arcades to restaurants.

The beach is wide open, with lots of room to spread out and 13 miles of coastline to explore by jet ski, boat, or kayak. Many come to relax in the sun, while others visit the area to add to their seashell collection.

New Jersey: Beaches of Atlantic City

SNEHIT PHOTO/Adobe lifeguard boat in atlantic city

Long recognized as one of the best places to visit for boardwalk fun, Atlantic City has everything you can imagine. Known for its retail options, visitors can also enjoy the famous fresh, saltwater taffy that’s been produced locally for decades.

The beach allows for swimming, jet skiing, fishing, and just about anything else. If you want to sunbathe during the day and enjoy vibrant nightlife in the evening, check out Atlantic City.

New York: Coney Island Beach

Travel Wild/Adobe Coney Island amusement park

Coney Island may be known for its hot dog eating contest, but it’s also one of the best places to get away on a hot summer day. With nearly three miles of beaches to explore, visitors can also enjoy areas designated for volleyball and handball.

You’ll also find the famous Riegelmann Boardwalk, home to numerous amusement rides. The boardwalk is the place to be for food and fun, but the beach itself is well-maintained and offers lots of sunbathing opportunities.

North Carolina: Carova Beach

RbbrDckyBK/Adobe wild horse on sandy beach

If you’re looking for the ultimate secluded beach on this list, look no further than Carova Beach. Located along the northern portion of the Outer Banks, it’s only accessible by a 4x4 vehicle.

Once you get there, you can relax and enjoy some of the best nature has to offer. From the wild horses in the area to the extensive, open beaches, this spot is truly one of a kind.

Oregon: Cannon Beach

Zak Zeinert/Adobe sun setting behind haystack rock

Oregon’s Cannon Beach is a beautiful, unspoiled treasure along the Pacific coastline. When the tide is low, you’ll see Haystack Rock, a massive structure that simply juts out of the water. 

Other spots to enjoy include the Tillamook Lighthouse and the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum. 

Something unique about this destination? There are also numerous spots to camp or pull up your RV around the area.

Rhode Island: Narragansett Town Beach

jayyuan/Adobe point judith lighthouse at narragansett

A New England classic, Narragansett Beach is also a popular destination thanks to the 19 acres of beachfront to explore. This beach is filled with soft sand, rolling waves — and a large surfing area.

The town also offers several ADA surf chairs, allowing visitors with limited mobility to get out into the water.

South Carolina: North Myrtle Beach

jdwfoto/Adobe sunrise view of the atlantic ocean

Myrtle Beach offers some of the most pristine coastlines along the Atlantic. The area known as North Myrtle Beach is noted for its larger beaches, clean and soft sand, and access to various waterfront activities.

This is also the birthplace of the “shag” dance, which is the official state dance of South Carolina. Visitors looking for vibrant nightlife are sure to have a fun time.

Texas: South Padre Island Beach

David/Adobe south padre island texas

Located along the Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island Beach offers white sand and warm waters. Visitors can spend time looking for seashells or swimming.

Other popular activities include birdwatching and dolphin tours. The area also offers sunset horseback riding tours.

Virginia: Croatan Beach

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe waterfront homes on croatan beach virginia

Croatan Beach isn’t a flashy location, which makes it so special. It’s ideal for surfing (even for those with experience looking for a challenge) and swimming.

The beach, just south of Virginia Beach, is also near the Rudee Inlet.

Washington: Ruby Beach

Krzysztof Wiktor/Adobe beautiful rocks at ruby beach

Located within the coastal section of Olympic National Park, Ruby Beach is noted for its marine life. Visitors enjoy hiking along the coast, and it’s possible to see bald eagles, gulls, and a wide range of other animals.

Another fun fact: The beach is named after the ruby-like crystals that can be found in its sand.

Bottom line

Day Of Victory Stu./Adobe retired couple enjoying beach vacation

There’s certainly a wide range of coastal beaches to explore in the U.S., and any of these destinations is truly the ideal place for those who want to be steps away from the ocean.

The only limitation is deciding whether a busy location is desirable or if a quiet, tucked-away community is best. There’s really no wrong answer here if you're ready to start traveling more

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Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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