What is regarded as a great beach? Everyone has different preferences. These days, a place where the water meets the land is often enough.
Some people prefer pristine white sandy beaches, while others are intrigued by volcanic black beach sand. A soft breeze, crystal clear and calm waters, or maybe shade from palm trees is exactly what you look for in the perfect beach.
From family-friendly, fun spots to clear and calm water beaches, plan a day at the seaside, with our top picks of the best US beaches.
Photo Credit: Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau
The most popular beach in Key West, Smathers Beach has earned its place due to outstanding swimming conditions, lots of interesting things to see and do, and 2 miles of soft sandy shores. The shoreline features a gradual slope which allows swimmers to easily wade through the waters for a decent distance. Combined with very mild currents, this is one of the best beaches for families in Key West, even when it gets crowded.
The amenities and services are also plentiful, from restrooms and showers to vendors and volleyball courts. You will also find numerous rental shops that provide snorkeling equipment, shade umbrellas, chairs, Jet Skis, along with other popular water-sports equipment. There are also no entry fees, and parking is free if you decide to access the beach from the Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Galveston CVB
This family-orientated coastline is situated on Galveston’s south coast. With calm and shallow waters along with on-duty lifesavers, this is one of those beaches where it is very safe to swim.
The beach is well-known for volleyball nets, allowing visitors to join in on friendly games. For the artistically inclined and children, there are also sandcastle competitions to take part in. For onlookers, this beach provides rental umbrellas and chairs. The onsite shower facility allows you to wash away the sand and salt once you leave the beach.
Photo Credit: NH Division of Travel and Tourism
New Hampshire has 13 miles of Atlantic coastline, and Hampton Beach is both the largest and most popular beach in the state. During the summer months, Hampton welcomes large crowds of locals as well as tourists. Hampton Beach has a well-earned reputation for being a homey, welcoming destination, and its boardwalk is considered a particular attraction.
The Hampton boardwalk hosts gift shops, restaurants, candy stores, arcades, and many entertainment venues. The area’s seafood is always worth checking out, but it’s especially tempting during the yearly Seafood Festival.
The Sea Shell Stage at Hampton offers live music every night throughout the summer season. There’s also a free weekly firework display on Wednesday nights, with additional firework shows accompanying holidays and events (e.g. the annual competition for sand sculpting).
Bryant Park Beach
Photo Credit: Traverse City Tourism
Bryant Park is found where Garfield Road meets Peninsula Drive, and its beach is one of the region’s best seaside destinations.
The long stretch of sand is backed by wide, grassy fields perfect for family play. The beach’s tall pines offer welcome shade in the hottest summer hours. Bryant Park beach is open all year, from 7 am to 11 pm every day. It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch, an afternoon Frisbee session, or to appreciate one of West Bay’s gorgeous sunsets.
Bryant Park beach offers families essential beach-going amenities, including ample parking, a playground, picnic tables, and grills. Swimming at Bryant Park is popular in the summer months, and lifeguard services are provided from mid-June through August.
Photo Credit: Brian Tietz
Bowman’s Beach has some of the most unusual and beautiful shells, but you might need to put in a bit of effort if you are after those true gems. This is one of the favorite beaches due to its secluded location that is harder to reach, and further away from the actual mainland.
Beachgoers praise Bowman’s due to its beautiful shells and the expansive sands allowing visitors to find secluded spots to relax or sunbathe with ease. Some people also enjoy riding bikes to this beach, with many stating that this ride is enjoyable and easy along the closeby path.
This beach stretches across several miles, offering more than enough space to find your own space. There is also a kayak and canoe launch. Even though these areas are not as developed when compared to other portions of this island, it still provides attractive amenities such as bike racks, bathrooms, grills, and picnic tables.
Photo Credit: wilmingtonandbeaches.com
Carolina Beach sits close to the outlet of the Cape Fear River, not far from Wilmington. There’s a well-maintained historic boardwalk behind the beach, offering lots of shopping and dining opportunities. The beach also offers a year-round midway (including a Ferris wheel), perfect for children.
Besides its beautiful shoreline, Carolina Beach has many other attractions. The boardwalk is perfect for lazy strolls and casual shopping. Bikes are available for rent if you’d like to explore the inland area. If hitting the water is your main reason for visiting, make sure you try stand-up paddleboarding, a favorite local watersport.
Be aware that dogs are not allowed on the beach itself during daylight hours (9 am to 5 pm). The boardwalk is always off-limits to dogs. The nearby Carolina Beach State Park offers camping space for both tents and RVs.
Photo Credit: wildwoodsnj.com
The Wildwood Beaches sprawl across five whole miles of the New Jersey coast. This makes them one of the largest continuous beach areas on the entire eastern seaboard.
With all that space, visitors will find opportunities to try out virtually every beach and watersport activity known to man. If surfing is your primary interest, make sure you head for Rambler Road Beach; it’s the one beach that allows surfing. that allows surfing. Dog owners will be pleased to know that there is a beach set aside expressly for their canine companions: Wildwood Dog Beach. (Note dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.)
Grayton Beach State Park
Photo Credit: visitsouthwalton.com
Running right alongside 30A, Grayton Beach State Park is an expansive state park (over 2,000 acres) that offers many different ways to reconnect with nature. It has sandy dunes and extensive greenery in addition to beautiful beaches. Grayton Beach State Park is a great destination for boating, hiking, camping, bird-watching, bike riding, and more.
The Grayton Beach part of the South Walton coast is particularly attractive because it’s one of the few places where commercial and private properties don’t encroach on the sands. Note that some parts of the park will be cordoned off to protect nesting shorebirds. These restricted areas are only temporary — but because of the rare birds in the area, you cannot bring dogs to Grayton Beach at any time.
Fifth Avenue Beach
Photo Credit: Bureau
If you love to take your furry friends with you to the beach, Fifth Avenue Beach is one of the top choices. Situated in Manistee, there are many great facilities and amenities available, which makes this location one of the best outings for families or a fun afternoon with your four-legged friend.
There are tons to do and see when you visit Fifth Avenue Beach. There are many peaceful spots for picnics allowing you to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and to truly relax. This area is also home to fishing facilities, volleyball nets, and a well-kept playground for your younger ones. If you prefer driving to the beach, you will be happy to know that there are lots of parking spots to choose from.
Oxnard State Beach
Photo Credit: Brallan Perez Favela/Visit Oxnard
Due to the beachfront location, Oxnard State Beach is a very popular place to frequent. The easiest way to access the sand and the surf is at Oxnard State Beach. This coastline is centrally located offering several attractive amenities for an enjoyable day at the beach.
There are 2 large parking areas on South Harbor Boulevard close to the center of this beach, while Oxnard Beach Park features rolling, expansive lawns lined with swaying palm trees.
The park is one of the favorite locations for activities such as tossing frisbees, kite flying, and picnicking. There are paved paths throughout this area that crosses over dunes to reach a sandy and expansive beach. The massive playground in the park is one of the main attractions for younger children.
Pennyrile State Park
Photo Credit: Kentucky Department of Tourism
Pennyrile State Park is home to one of Kentucky’s most beautiful beaches. Boasting beautiful views and a range of fun activities, Pennyrile State Park is close to Dawson Springs.
The State Park is particularly good for wilderness activities, with some great hiking trails. There are also campgrounds and rental cabins available. Pennyrile is one of Kentucky’s underappreciated natural gems, ideal for vacationers who want to get away from it all.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
The most sought-after beach on St. Simons Island is East Beach, and it’s not hard to see why. The public facilities are immaculate, the sands are enormously wide, and parking is never a problem.
You’ll find Gould’s Inlet just to the north of the main beach. This is the must-visit spot for fishing and bird-watching; it’s also the perfect place to admire Sea Island. For history buffs, the World War II Home Front Museum and the historic Coast Guard Station are just south of Gould’s Inlet.
East Beach has hard-packed sands, which makes it perfect for lengthwise hikes and biking. Local restaurants and shops are mainly clustered at the southern end of the beach. The south end also boasts great low-tide fishing; just bear in mind that the area becomes inaccessible when the tide comes in.
San Buenaventura State Beach
Photo Credit: Visit Ventura
Also, part of a State Park, this beach is situated in the heart of Ventura, spanning down the coastline for 2 miles. Come and enjoy a game of volleyball or a picnic with family and friends. Pedal cycling, surf camps, and beach yoga are some of the more popular activities. This beach also hosts several special events, including volleyball tournaments, and triathlons.
The pier is one of the best spots to take in stunning views of this coast. You can also enjoy a breathtaking sunset while enjoying some of the best fresh seafood. The playground close to the pier, offers climbing structures, slides, and swings, for kids to enjoy while parents take a break on one of the nearby benches.
Photo Credit: City of Seaside Visitors Bureau
Seaside Beach is close to Portland, Oregon, along with many other family attractions. This beach is popular throughout the year on the Oregon Coast. While visiting, you can also choose to stroll the Promenade, visit an art gallery, take your kids to enjoy the arcade games, or visit the aquarium, the oldest one on the West Coast.
If you prefer not to leave town for an enjoyable walk along the sand, head to the beach at Seaside. This beach stretches across 3 miles, with around half on the beach bordered by a Promenade, and a walkway that creates a border between the town and the beach. This beach also has restrooms and several volleyball nets. Seaside along with its beach often gets extremely crowded, especially during the summer school breaks.
Herring Cove Beach
Photo Credit: Provincetown Tourism
This beach is narrow but long, and it offers clear waters and pristine shores. Herring Cove Beach is a great place to catch a sunset, with dramatic colors lighting up the sky even after the sun sinks below the horizon.
Herring Cove Beach is a real collector’s paradise, with lots of stones and shells awaiting the attention of sharp-eyed visitors. Since the shoreline often gets rocky, it’s a good idea to bring along a good pair of water shoes.
This is also a great beach for fishing. Parking is convenient along the vast majority of Herring Cove Beach; you can park amazingly close to your chosen spot.
This beach also boasts a well-equipped and scrupulously clean bathhouse with changing rooms, indoor hot water showers, and outdoor rinsing stations.
Photo Credit: visithampton.com
Buckroe Beach, nestled along the coast of Chesapeake Bay, is a very popular beach in Hampton’s that offers a wide range of activities for the entire family.
The beach is three-quarters of a mile wide, and it covers eight acres. It is a wonderful place for swimming, and there are lifeguards during the summer months. You can rent kayaks and paddleboats. There is a playground for kids and three sheltered picnic areas with tables and grills. There are paths for biking and hiking.
The summer season brings special activities. Part of the tradition includes the Groovin’s By The Bay concerts that happen every Sunday. On Tuesdays, there is a Family Movie Series with outdoor movies.
There is always plenty of parking. Dogs are allowed, but not during the summer season.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
As one of the highest-rated beaches in America, it isn’t hard to see why. The beach is dazzling with pure white quartz sand that never seems to burn regardless of the temperature! The gorgeous yet clear turquoise waters offer a serene and calming landscape for all visitors.
There are many amenities that visitors can enjoy such as a special playground for kids, lifeguard supervision, covered picnic tables, restrooms, and even a special wheelchair area. Siesta Beach visitors will also find that the sand is the perfect mixture to build and mold sandcastles.
Situated near downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key offers amazing nightlife opportunities, great shopping venues, restaurants, and many other beach-related activities such as boating, nature tours, and fishing.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Daytona Beach has been dubbed by many as a vacation paradise. Home to NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway, and well over 50 festivals related to art and culture, it is a hotspot for families. The 23 miles of oceanfront sandy beaches offer white sand and plenty of relaxing activities.
It is near the city of Orlando, and it is also the closest and most taken care of beach. With many beachfront parks, picnic areas, pavilions, and boardwalks, it offers a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Grand Haven State Park
Photo Credit: Pure Michigan
Voted Michigan’s top beach and preferred by the AAA, Grand Haven State Park is situated right on Lake Michigan for easy access.
The park boasts 48 acres of stunning beaches and many playgrounds, campsites, and fishing opportunities. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and volleyball. Its proximity to downtown Grand Haven makes it ideal for tourists!
Panama City Beach
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Situated in the Gulf of Mexico with a refreshing ocean breeze, Panama City Beach is the most active hotspot in the city. The clear blue waters offer plenty of fun and adventurous activities, and when you’re out of the water, there are many restaurants and shopping opportunities available to tourists as well.
Perhaps the reason this beach is so popular is due to its social nature. Brimming with people, it is a great place to have fun in the sun and hear laughter floating in the breeze. Swimming and surfing the waves are just two favorite activities enjoyed by many.
Pier Park and Russell-Fields Pier are the highlights of this location. They offer a fantastic view for pedestrians and are close to more than 100 shops and restaurants.
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