The Most Beautiful Beach in Every State (#20 Has Wild Horses)

Embark on a beach-hopping journey across the nation's most beloved shores.
Updated May 8, 2024
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woman sitting on deck chair at beach

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Craving a beach escape? You don't have to be near an ocean to dig your toes in the sand.

Believe it or not, there's a perfect beach waiting for you in every state, from coastlines kissed by turquoise waters to surprising freshwater gems.

So, grab your best travel card, swimsuit, and sunscreen — it's time to explore the best beach in every state.

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Alabama: Gulf Shores Beach (Gulf Shores)

Darryl/Adobe gulf coast sandy beach during day

Gulf Shores Beach sits on the southernmost corner of the state, making up part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Sunny and warm for a good portion of the year, it draws tourists who enjoy sun, surf, and the occasional round of golf.

Alaska: Black Sand Beach (Prince William Sound)

glass_frog/Adobe ocean foam on black sand

Although this beach doesn’t have driving access, the outstanding view of black sandy beaches surrounded by icebergs is well worth the boat or kayak trip.

Despite its location, the black sand can get quite warm on sunny days.

Arizona: Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City)

Norm/Adobe lake havasu arizona

Lake Havasu State Beach is a playground for water lovers.

It features white, sandy beaches and comfortable amenities like RV hookups, fire pits, and restrooms to entice visitors to stay as long as they like.

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Arkansas: Lake Ouachita (Mountain Pine)

Mitch/Adobe  sunrise on lake

Touted as one of the cleanest and clearest lakes around, Lake Ouachita is a stunning site to see.

Thanks to its pristine water, scuba divers can often spot jellyfish and sponges while swimming in the lake.

California: Coronado Beach (San Diego)

Hanna Tor/Adobe coronado beach at sunset

Coronado Beach is the quintessential San Diego beach experience. With long stretches of sparkling fine sand, no wonder it’s a family favorite.

If you visit during low tide, you’ll be able to explore the tide pools and the many creatures that live within.

Colorado: Medano Creek (Alamosa)

Howie Garber/Danita Delimont/Adobe medano creek at sunrise

This is one of the most unique beaches because you can only enjoy it for a few weeks each year. The melting snowpack floods the nearby sand dunes and creates an aquatic playland.

The water is most pronounced during the springtime, and thanks to Mother Nature, the experience will be different each year.

Connecticut: Hammonasset Beach (Madison)

Olga/Adobe Shoreline at Hammonasset Beach

With two miles of sandy shoreline, it's no surprise this beautiful beach draws over one million visitors each year.

Whatever activities you’re looking to do — cycling, swimming, hiking, fishing, and boating — this state park has it all.

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach (Rehoboth Beach)

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Often called “The Nation’s Summer Capital,” 30 miles of untouched coastline draws lots of summer visitors from Washington, D.C., and surrounding east coast states.

When patrons aren’t enjoying the beach, they can play at the mile-long boardwalk full of restaurants, shops, and Funland amusement park.

Florida: Siesta Beach (Siesta Key)

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The shallow water and lifeguards on duty 7-days a week make this beach a frequent destination for families. If you’re looking to get out of the sun for a bit, there are plenty of places to grab a snack or a drink nearby.

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Georgia: Tybee Island Beach (Savannah)

MelissaMN/Adobe seagull walks on the beach

With over three miles of beaches, Tybee Island is a beachgoer's paradise. Lined with tall palm trees and river grass, visitors can enjoy that relaxing island vibe while soaking up the sun.

Hawaii: Waimea Bay (North Shore Oahu)

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Waimea Bay is home to some of the best surfing around. While the winter season brings the big waves, during the summer months, the water can be as calm as a swimming pool.

Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and hiking when they come to the bay.

Idaho: Coeur d'Alene City Park (Coeur d'Alene)

Myk Crawford/Adobe Marina and lake front of Coeur D'alene

This city park has a little bit of everything–beach included. With 22 acres of beach, you can pitch your umbrella and enjoy the cool, crisp water on a hot summer day.

If you get bored of swimming, there’s a large playground, basketball courts, and a stage for summer concerts.

Illinois: North Avenue Beach (Chicago)

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Just outside of the skyscrapers, you can find the sandy shores of Lake Michigan which make up this popular Chicago beach.

Beachgoers can also enjoy the iconic blue and white 22,000 sq. foot beachhouse to access one of the best views in the city.

Indiana: West Beach (Gary)

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Located inside the Indiana Dunes National Park, this beach is great for families. It boasts large, sandy beaches, lots of parking, and a lifeguard on duty in the summer months.

Iowa: West Lake Okoboji Beach (Okoboji)

Jesse Kunerth/Adobe sunrise over lake okoboji

Home to the biggest natural lake in Iowa, this beach is packed full of fun and sun.

There are plenty of water activities to keep beachgoers busy, but if you do get bored there is historic Arnolds Park Amusement Park a few minutes away.

Kansas: El Dorado State Beach (El Dorado)

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With over 98 miles of shoreline, this wildlife park is great for outdoor lovers. With two beach areas and seven trails, visitors can enjoy boating, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and more.

Kentucky: Lake Buckhorn (Buckhorn)

Larry/Adobe lake barkley at dusk

During the summer months, people visit Lake Buckhorn to swim and hang out on the beaches. If they’re not swimming, vacationers can be found catching one of six types of fish in the lake.

Louisiana: North Beach (Lake Charles)

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This is the beach that all the locals flock to in the summer. It has white sand beaches that are open year-round. There is very little shade, so make sure to bring sunscreen.

Maine: Crescent Beach State Park (Cape Elizabeth)

Wangkun Jia/Adobe seapoint beach in fall

This moon-shaped beach offers a mile-long stretch of sand, perfect for walking or suntanning. It’s a classic beach with tall seagrass, picnic areas, and gulls who might try to steal your snacks.

Maryland: North Ocean Beach (Assateague Island)

Nathaniel Gonzales/Adobe Assateague beach

These sandy beaches are best known for the wild horses that roam freely on the island.

This popular beach gets crowded during the summer months, so get there in the morning to guarantee a sandy spot.

Massachusetts: Singing Beach (Manchester-by-the-Sea)

Wangkun Jia/Adobe good harbor beach

Called Singing Beach because the sand is said to “sing” as you walk across it.

Due to its increase in popularity, the beach requires a paid day pass during the busy season for residents and non-residents alike.

Michigan: Warren Dunes State Park (Sawyer)

EJRodriquez/Adobe Warren Dunes in Michigan

With three miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of beach real estate to spread out and enjoy.

As the name says, there are rugged dunes to enjoy exploring when you’re not playing in the water.

Minnesota: Zippel Bay State Park (Williams)

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In the summer, this lake offers visitors ocean-like waves and three miles of white, sandy beaches.

There is also boat access, a 90-foot fishing pier, and a fish cleaning station for those looking to catch a bite.

Mississippi: Gulfport Beach (Gulfport)

Fotoluminate LLC/Adobe Gulfport Beach in Mississippi

Gulfport isn’t just another beach; it’s an entire recreational complex.

With over six acres of well-maintained sandy beaches, volleyball courts, a playground, a fishing pier, and more, you’re sure to find something to keep you busy.

Missouri: Sinking Creek (Eminence)

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A year-round spot for outdoor adventurers, this beach is located in the heart of the Ozarks.

While this area doesn’t have sandy beaches, it does have crystal-clear water that’s warm enough for swimming and deep pockets that are perfect for bass fishing.

Montana: Flathead Lake (Kalispell)

Aaron Waller Photo/Adobe looking across flathead lake

The largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, Flathead Lake has 185 miles of shoreline. Recreation at the lake includes every kind of watersport you can imagine.

On your way out to the water, don’t forget to grab some fresh fruit from a local stand.

Nebraska: Calamus State Reservoir (Burwell)

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With almost 5,000 acres of land, this recreation area is great for swimming, boating, hiking, and fishing.

In the heart of the beautiful sandhills, this is a popular area for families and outdoorsmen alike.

Nevada: Sand Harbor (Incline Village)

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Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear water makes it a great destination for swimmers and scuba divers.

Visitors can also enjoy the picturesque view of the mountains while sitting on the sandy shore under the shade of the plentiful cedar and pine trees.

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach (Hampton)

Frank/Adobe hampton beach new hampshire

Rated one of the top three cleanest beaches in the US, Hampton is home to 18 miles of sandy shoreline to enjoy.

With fireworks, concerts, and events all summer long, this is a dynamic spot for your next beach vacation.

New Jersey: Cape May (Cape May)

Jason Logan/Wirestock Creators/Adobe lifeguard chair on the beach

Cape May is home to 2.5 miles of sandy shoreline, broken up into 16 different beaches. All beaches are family-friendly, clean, and close to restrooms and food options.

New Mexico: Elephant Butte State Park (Elephant Butte)

John Cameron Photo/Adobe elephant butte state park

Elephant Butte is home to New Mexico’s largest state park. This park allows beach camping, so you can go straight from your tent into the water.

While playing on one of the many sandy beaches, you might spot hot air balloons descending from the sky.

New York: Main Beach (East Hampton)

kirkikis/Adobe east hampton summer afternoon

While the Hamptons are known as a luxury summer escape, the beaches are available to everyone.

Main Beach is a popular swimming beach because of the strict rules against fishing and motorized watercraft in swimming areas. The on-duty lifeguards make the beach a particular favorite for families.

North Carolina: The Point (Emerald Isle)

adam/Adobe dusk beach scene at emerald isle

A favorite beach of residents, The Point offers everything from fishing to surfing. It’s the westernmost point of the island that tapers into a big sandbar.

While building your sandcastle, you might also find some horseshoe crabs.

North Dakota: Grahams Island (Devils Lake)

DeVane/Adobe canoe on the lakeshore at sunset

Hidden in heavily wooded forests, Grahams Island is a fisherman’s dream.

It’s home to world-class fishing. If you’re not an angler, there are plenty of swimming beaches to enjoy.

Ohio: Headlands Beach (Mentor)

Richard/Adobe headlands park on lake erie

This massive beach covers 35 acres on the shores of Lake Erie. When you’re not swimming or sunbathing, you can collect sea glass or look for bald eagles nesting nearby.

Oklahoma: North Beach (Lake Eufaula)

omar/Adobe catching fish over the lake

With shallow sandy beaches, visitors say this area is great for playing with kids and swimming. There aren’t a lot of trees or places for shade, so pack an umbrella and plenty of sunscreen.

Oregon: Cannon Beach (Cannon Beach)

Zak Zeinert/Adobe sun setting behind haystack rock

Home of the famous Haystack Rock, beachgoers can walk all the way out to the unique formation during low tide.

Across the street from the beach is a plethora of art galleries, shops, and restaurants to enjoy.

Pennsylvania: Bald Eagle State Park (Howard)

Wirestock/Adobe bald eagle state park

This 1,200-foot-long beach is open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Unlike a lot of beaches, swimmers are permitted to use inflatables of all kinds, not just those approved by the Coast Guard.

Rhode Island: East State Beach (Charlestown)

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East State Beach is a seaside treasure. It’s undeveloped, and people like it that way.

It may be a struggle to find parking, but the three miles of shoreline have an almost 5-star rating from visitors, reassuring you it’s worth the trip.

South Carolina: Coligny Beach (Hilton Head Island)

scottevers7/Adobe coligny beach sunrise

Not only is this beach a popular destination for both residents and visitors, it’s wheelchair accessible.

The beach offers a long list of amenities, including outdoor showers, lifeguards on duty, chair and umbrella rentals, and free Wi-Fi.

South Dakota: Sylvan Lake (Black Hills)

Jez Campbell/Adobe sunset on sylvan lake

This lake, made famous by the movie "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets," has long been a local favorite.

When you’re not swimming at the beach, you can visit the general store or one of the fine-dining restaurants nearby.

Tennessee: Cheatham Lake (Ashland City)

nov2874/Adobe norrislake

This spacious, sandy beach has a clearly defined swimming area to keep visitors safe from other watercraft on the lake.

Lakegoers can also enjoy convenient picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms nearby.

Texas: Padre Island (Corpus Cristi)

JACoulter/Adobe Beach pier at sunset

Part of the Gulf of Mexico, Padre Island is home to warm water and sandy beaches.

Because it’s a natural body of water, you may encounter jellyfish or other sea life. Watch the beach warning flags for signs that they may be hanging around.

Utah: Sand Hollow State Park (Hurricane)

Fotoluminate LLC/Adobe sand hollow state park in utah

Home to red sandy beaches, this reservoir is the perfect spot for lying around and enjoying the outdoors. The water hovers around 80°F, which is perfect for swimming or any other watersport.

Vermont: Boulder Beach (Groton)

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Despite its name, Boulder Beach has 200 feet of sandy beach for swimmers to enjoy. Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats are also available for visitors to rent.

Virginia: Virginia Beach (Virginia Beach)

jomo333/Adobe Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach has 14 miles of public beaches for visitors to enjoy. When you’ve had enough sun, you can take a walk on the paved boardwalk, exploring local shops and restaurants.

Washington: Ruby Beach (Port Angeles)

Krzysztof Wiktor/Adobe beautiful rocks at ruby beach

Ruby Beach gets its name from the reddish sand that covers the ground. It’s a popular destination because of the “sea stacks,” large rock formations separated from the mainland.

Bring your water shoes because you won’t want to go barefoot on this beach.

West Virginia: Summersville Lake (Summersville)

Matthew Carroll/Adobe summersville lake west virginia

With over 60 miles of shoreline, Summersville Lake is a water playground.

Swimming, water skiing, boating, and fishing are just some of the sports that attract over a million visitors each year.

Wisconsin: Big Bay State Park (La Pointe)

Jim Schwabel/Adobe boardwalk to the beach

Surrounded by rugged cliffs, this state park has 1.5 miles of sandy beaches calling to visitors. The mile-long boardwalk gives spectacular views of Lake Superior.

Wyoming: String Lake (Grand Teton)

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Sitting below the towering mountain peaks, String Lake is a shallow lake perfect for swimming or wading. After you’re done in the water, you can explore one of the many nearby hiking trails.

Bottom Line

Peera/Adobe woman on beach in summer

The allure of the beach isn't limited to far-flung destinations. Breathtaking coastlines may be closer than you imagine.

So, if you're looking for ways to travel more and craving a dose of ocean air, consider exploring the hidden gems or familiar shores in your own backyard.

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Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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