There is little more delightful than a trip to the beach, and there are some truly
beautiful beaches in America where one can do just that. And there are two main kinds of beach vacations: the adventurous, carpe diem, thrilling type of trip that features activities such as parasailing, surfing, and snorkeling; and the “get away from it all” kind of retreat that involves beach chairs, toes in the sand, book in hand, and perhaps an umbrella-topped drink. Happily, in the U.S., you’ll find beautiful beaches sure to satisfy both camps. From coast to coast, and even in between, these 25 best beaches in the U.S. are all superlative places that offer so much more than just sun and sand and will absolutely inspire you to plan your next beach holiday.
Best East Coast Beaches In The U.S. 1. Montauk Point State Park - The Hamptons, New York
2000 Old Montauk Hwy, Montauk, NY 11954, USA
Montauk Point State Parkway, Montauk Point State Pkwy, Montauk, NY 11954, USA
Address: Montauk Point State Pkwy, Montauk, NY 11954 Recreation Opportunities: Fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, windsurfing Where To Stay Nearby: Luxury Waterfront Barn-Style Home
The juxtaposition of rugged, weather-worn lighthouses and million-dollar mansions is unique to The Hamptons; a beautiful dissonance that defines the area. While many of the Hamptons' beaches can be prone to crowds, Southampton's Coopers Beach has some of the most serene, pristine shoreline on the island, offering a quiet and relaxing retreat for vacationers. This is one of the most beautiful New York beaches. And don't forget to check out the
oldest lighthouse in New York
located within Montauk Point State Park.
2. Hilton Head Island - South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, SC, USA
Address: Hilton Head Island, SC Recreation Opportunities: Kayaking, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing Where To Stay Nearby: Sea Pines Treetop Oasis
There's a reason Hilton Head is such a top U.S. vacation destination, and that's because this South Carolina island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. From the moment you drive over the iconic James F. Byrnes Bridge into Hilton Head, you'll truly be on island time. This well-planned island boasts 12 miles of beaches and is divided into 11 primary locales, each with its own restaurants, shopping, recreation, and beach access. Nothing about Hilton Head feels commercial or touristy either, as the main attraction here truly is the beach. And with a near-endless expanse of picturesque shoreline, you're sure to have the ultimate beach vacation at
Hilton Head Island
3. Ocracoke Island - The Outer Banks, North Carolina Address: Ocracoke, NC Recreation Opportunities: Fishing, water sports, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding Where To Stay Nearby: Luna Sea: Dog-Friendly Rental
Of all the North Carolina beaches, Ocracoke Island is constantly ranked as one of the best beaches in the U.S., and it's not difficult to see why. This
beach in The Outer Banks
is unique for myriad reasons, including its historical significance as the home of the infamous Blackbeard. As with most beaches in OBX, Ocracoke is more dunes and high tides than calm, pristine coastline, but there is a lot to be said for its rugged handsomeness. In fact, the choppy tides and uneven terrain make way for some of the best beachcombing in the country; a veritable treasure hunt that would make Blackbeard proud.
4. Virginia Beach - Virginia Address: Virginia Beach, VA Recreation Opportunities: Surfing, swimming, walking along the boardwalk Where To Stay Nearby: The Art Door
Virginia's eponymous beach is proof that you'll find some of the country's best beaches along the Eastern Seaboard. A beautiful coastal retreat with distinct New England ruggedness, Virginia Beach boasts 35 miles of scenic, sandy shores. There are many ways to enjoy Virginia Beach, but if you're looking for an adventure that's bucket-list worthy, opt for a
. During these guided tours, the horses trot right along the incoming tide, for what will surely be one of the most magical experiences of your life.
5. Rosemary Beach - Florida
Rosemary Beach, FL 32413, USA
Address: Rosemary Beach, FL 32413 Recreation Opportunities: Biking, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, beach bonfires Where To Stay Nearby: Charming Carriage House
If the turquoise waters and white sand beaches of the Caribbean are beckoning, leave the passport at home and head to Rosemary Beach, a lesser-known locale along the Florida panhandle. You'll be on official "island time" once you set foot on this beautiful beach, which boasts shimmering blue waters and white quartz sand. Rosemary Beach, however, really is the sum of its parts; in addition to its brilliant shoreline, the eponymous town features charming old architecture, stone sidewalks, and delightful restaurants. It's so quaint that a visit to this
really is a true
6. Caladesi Island State Park - Florida
Caladesi Island, Dunedin, FL 33767, USA
Address: Caladesi Island, Dunedin, FL 33767 Recreation Opportunities: Swimming, kayaking Where To Stay Nearby: Mango Tango Cottage
Florida's Caladesi Island (one of Dr. Beach's 2021 picks for Best Beaches in the U.S.) is the very definition of an
. Accessible by ferry or boat only, this Florida inlet features soft, white quartz sand, captivating turquoise waters, and near-perfect coastal panoramas. The ultimate place to unwind and "get away from it all," Caladesi Island also has amazing opportunities for outdoor recreation, including a kayak trail that traverses straight through the Florida mangroves and has unrivaled wildlife watching.
is completely unlike anything you'd expect from a Florida beach, in the best possible way.
7. Cape May - New Jersey Address: Cape May, NJ 08204 Recreation Opportunities: Swimming, whale watching, beach combing, kayaking, biking Where To Stay Nearby: 5-Bedroom Pool Property
One of the best beaches on the Mid-Atlantic coast, Cape May is a postcard-perfect place to kick back and enjoy a good, old-fashioned vacation. An island comprised of several small regions, the beaches of Cape May are all beautiful and family-friendly, with most easily walkable to charming accommodations, attractions, and dining venues in town. Affectionally referred to as "America's Original Seaside Resort," the town of Cape May is itself noteworthy, too; it's a designated National Historic Landmark due to its concentration of well-preserved Victorian buildings. In fact, the town's
opened in 1816 as the first seaside resort in the country. Today, this historic hotel offers vacationers a completely unique and charming place to stay in Cape May, one of the best New Jersey beaches.
8. Ocean City Beach - Maryland
Ocean City Beach, Ocean City, MD 21842, USA
Address: Ocean City Beach, Ocean City, MD 21842 Recreation Opportunities: Swimming, boardwalk, amusement park Where To Stay Nearby: Beach Cottage on the Boardwalk
With 10 miles of spectacular shoreline, a public promenade, and beautiful boardwalk (that has its very own Ferris wheel), Ocean City Beach offers visitors a classic beach experience. You'll feel like a true vacationer while at Ocean City Beach, as its endless shores and nostalgic seaside attractions are delightfully postcard-perfect. The open, sandy shore is perfect for enjoying old-fashioned beach activities like volleyball or picnicking. And if your perfect beach day begins with an immense, inspiring sunrise, this
is definitely for you.
9. Goose Rocks Beach - Kennebunkport, Maine
Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport, ME 04046, USA
Goose Rocks Beach is pure, unadulterated
and one of the most beautiful Maine beaches. With its craggy coastline, quiet atmosphere, and winsome architecture, Kennebunkport, Maine, is as postcard-perfect as it gets. This region is home to some of Maine's most scenic shoreline, with nearly four miles of beaches from which to choose. Goose Rocks is Kennebunkport's largest stretch of shoreline; a protected area featuring wide-open spaces and wonderfully soft sand. It's the best place for spending a relaxing day reading a book, toes buried in the sand, waves sonorously splashing in the background. If you're feeling ambitious, wander into Kennebunkport; this
charming coastal town
is home to incredible seafood restaurants and classic Old Maine architecture.
Best West Coast Beaches In The U.S. 10. Half Moon Bay - San Mateo County, California Address: Half Moon Bay, CA Recreation Opportunities: Hiking, biking, paddle boarding, surfing, walking Where To Stay Nearby: Coastal Tiny House
If you're looking for a postcard-perfect coastal experience, head to Half Moon Bay. This winsome town is located just south of San Francisco, and it's famous for its eponymous beach, which is so expansive that it's actually divided into several smaller beaches. In Half Moon Bay, Dunes Beach at the northern end and Francis Beach at the southern end are both must-visit shores. For the most sweeping beach views, pack your hiking shoes and head to the California Coastal Trail. While you're in Half Moon Bay, stay and enjoy some of the most scenic waterfront dining in the state - you'll find the
best lobster roll in NorCal
at Sam's Chowder House.
11. La Jolla Beach - California
La Jolla Shores, San Diego, CA 92037, USA
Address: La Jolla Shores, San Diego, CA 92037 Recreation Opportunities: Scuba diving, kayaking Where To Stay Nearby: Romantic Hideaway
If it's a laid-back, technicolor
California you're seeking, La Jolla Beach is the destination for you. Known for its breathtaking blue waters,
La Jolla Beach
is a dazzling California gem. The waters at this beach are so clear, you can see to the bottom of the ocean floor, which makes for amazing snorkeling. You'll want to stay as the sun goes down, as the sunsets at La Jolla Beach are downright glorious. The sky is ethereal as the sun dips behind the ocean and the experience will truly fill your soul.
12. Harris Beach - Oregon
Harris Beach, Brookings, OR 97415, USA
Address: Harris Beach, Brookings, OR 97415 Recreation Opportunities: Tide pooling, kayaking, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping Where To Stay Nearby: Peaceful Hilltop Cottage
Sea stacks and tide pools, verdant green foliage, and sand dunes - that's the Oregon Coast. And while most of Oregon's beaches are a bit more rugged, Harris Beach is a delightful anomaly, with a soft, sandy shoreline and cerulean blue waters. Swimming, hiking, and biking are popular activities at this
. Abundant wildlife, including migrating whales, harbor seals, and California sea lions, only add to its charms. The camping at Harris Beach is also spectacular -- fully-equipped campgrounds for RVs, tents, and even a few yurts are located a quarter-mile from the beach -- offering visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in pure, PNW splendor.
13. Hāpuna Beach State Park - Hawaii’s Big Island
Hapuna Beach, Hawaii 96743, USA
Address: Hapuna Beach, Hawaii 96743 Recreation Opportunities: Snorkeling, fishing, swimming, hiking Where To Stay Nearby: Sunset House
Best Beach in America
by Dr. Beach in 2021, Hāpuna Beach is the very definition of paradise. It's a 61.8-acre oasis with a gorgeous stretch of white shoreline and crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming, bodysurfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Hāpuna Beach State Park is also part of a sweeping sea change that's happening in Hawaii: in order to protect and preserve its pristine shores, the state has banned the sale of all SPF sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, and smoking is prohibited on all Hawaii beaches. Small steps can affect big change, and Hāpuna Beach State Park certainly is a treasure worth preserving and is one of the best Hawaii beaches.
Best Lake Beaches In The U.S. 14. Lake Travis - Austin, Texas Address: Lake Travis, Texas Recreation Opportunities: Boating, kayaking, water park Where To Stay Nearby: Lake Travis Escape
Lake Travis looks like something you'd see in Hawaii, not the middle of Texas. This pristine lake offers Texans the opportunity for a beach day that rivals any of its coastal counterparts. Technically a reservoir, with 30 square miles of surface area, Lake Travis has the largest storage capacity of the seven reservoirs known as the Highland Lakes, and it feels oceanic. A popular place for outdoor recreation (Lake Travis is home to the
largest zip line in Texas
), the sunsets here are positively perfect and best enjoyed over a relaxed dinner at
. This is sure to become one of your favorite Texas beaches!
15. Schoolhouse Beach - Washington Island, Wisconsin
Schoolhouse Beach Park, 1824 Washington Harbor Rd, Washington, WI 54246, USA
Address: 1824 Washington Harbor Rd, Washington, WI 54246 Recreation Opportunities: Sunbathing, picnicking, swimming Where To Stay Nearby: Shore Front Cottage
In Wisconsin, there's a beach that's superlative in every way.
is an oasis and one of the most gorgeous Wisconsin beaches that will take your breath away. A geological wonder, Schoolhouse Beach has a white shoreline, but no sand. Instead, the shore is covered in a layer of white limestone rocks that have literally been there for hundreds of thousands of years. The pebbles are silky smooth, having been buffed by millennia of waves and glacial movement. These rocks are so treasured, in fact, that there's a federal law prohibiting their removal from this beautiful beach.
16. Iona’s Beach - Two Harbors, Minnesota
3548 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616, USA
Address: 3548 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616 Recreation Opportunities: Walking, birdwatching Where To Stay Nearby: Beautiful Log Home
It should come as no surprise that there are some truly spectacular beaches in the
Land of 10,000 Lakes
, but the lesser-known Iona’s Beach on Minnesota’s North Shore is something special. Unlike some of the expansive white sand shores on this list, the terrain here is pink and pebbled, and as it is located within a designated Scientific & Natural Area, it’s one of the best-protected beaches on Lake Superior in Lake County. The color of the smoothly-worn stones isn’t the only impressive feature at this peaceful beach - when the waves hit the pebbles, they make a musical tinkling sound that has led to the nickname "the Singing Beach."
17. Windsor Beach - Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Lake Havasu City, AZ, USA
Address: Lake Havasu City, AZ Recreation Opportunities: Camping, hiking, fishing, boating, swimming Where To Stay Nearby: Luxury Home with Pool
Out to prove that Arizona is more than just desert,
Lake Havasu is an absolute oasis
that you might not expect to find in the landlocked Southwest. The fine, white sand (imported from nearby Nevada) and copious palm trees on Windsor Beach would look right at home on any tropical island, but it’s beckoning you to explore the Grand Canyon State beyond its world-renowned natural wonder. It's one of the best Arizona beaches. Once you’ve had your fill of fun in the sun on Lake Havasu’s stunning shores, dive right into the refreshing lake or consider renting a boat to take part in the endless options for exciting water sports. While you’re in Lake Havasu City, make sure to visit the
London Bridge, which was imported from England in 1968.
18. Lake Powell - Arizona & Utah
Lake Powell, AZ 86040, USA
Address: Lake Powell, AZ 86040 Recreation Opportunities: Boating, rafting, camping, paddle boarding Where To Stay Nearby: The Cowgirl Cabana
As the second-largest reservoir in the United States, you better believe that
Lake Powell offers some truly beautiful beaches
. The lake itself is one of the most pristine in the Southwest, created as a result of damming the Colorado River and straddling the border between Arizona and Utah. Sandy shores rim much of the reservoir, providing plenty of options when you visit. Lone Rock Beach is a particularly laid-back spot for swimming and camping, while Wahweap Beach provides stunning views while you kick back and relax. For the ultimate Lake Powell experience, consider renting a houseboat and spending a few days on the water to explore the copious canyons and seemingly endless selection of sandy nooks reachable only via boat. You’ll likely find a spot that you can enjoy all to yourself!
19. Sand Harbor State Park - Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Sand Harbor, 2005 NV-28, Incline Village, NV 89452, USA
Address: 2005 NV-28, Incline Village, NV 89452 Recreation Opportunities: Swimming, kayaking, scuba diving Where To Stay Nearby: Lake View Condo
Nevada's Lake Tahoe is an American treasure, and Sand Harbor State Park its crown jewel. The beach here is stunning; the white sand shores and turquoise waters look like something you'd find in the Caribbean. But Sand Harbor State Park is
, because it's nestled in one of the most pristine and picture-perfect places in the U.S. Lake Tahoe is the ultimate vacation for outdoor enthusiasts, offering some of the best hiking, camping, and recreation in the country. There's even a three-mile
pedestrian bike path
that will take you right up to Sand Harbor's stunning shores, for the perfect Lake Tahoe experience.
Best National Park Beaches In The U.S. 20. Lake McDonald - Glacier National Park, Montana
Lake McDonald, Montana 59936, USA
Montana's Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park, and it offers a beach experience that's truly unlike any other in the world. Known for its pebbly waters and scenic surroundings, this idyllic lake is also the perfect place to dip your toes and unwind in the majestic Montana nature-scape. Because of the park's year-round low temperatures, the waters of Lake McDonald are incredibly clear, and also quite cold. But if you can brave the chill,
's crystal-clear waters and prismatic pebble beaches are sure to take your breath away. It's one of the most stunning Montana beaches and lakes.
21. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore - Indiana
Indiana Dunes National Park, Porter, IN 46304, USA
Address: Indiana Dunes National Park, Porter, IN 46304 Recreation Opportunities: Hiking, camping, bird watching, horseback riding, picnicking Where To Stay Nearby: Indiana Dunes Beach Rental
Indiana Dunes is one of the Midwest's greatest secrets. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park features more than 2,000 acres of gorgeous beaches, dazzling coastal vistas, and a hilly, sandy terrain that's tailor-made for unique outdoor recreation. While renting dune buggies is certainly on most adventure seeker's Indiana Dunes bucket list, the
here is also phenomenal, and might actually the park's biggest draw. With some of the darkest skies in the Midwest, distant stars and galaxies are often visible above the rolling dunes and lulling waters of this national park, making for a wondrous, life-affirming, experience.
22. Ruby Beach - Olympic National Park, Washington
Ruby Beach, Washington 98331, USA
Address: Ruby Beach, Washington 98331 Recreation Opportunities: Tide pooling, camping, birdwatching Where To Stay Nearby: Private Quiet Cabin
Ruby Beach is one of the greatest treasures of the Pacific Northwest and one of the most beautiful Washington Beaches. Here, the craggy coastline of Olympic National Park is on full display, making the sunset vistas that much more sublime. A classic PNW beach, Ruby Beach is marked with dramatic sea stacks, abundant driftwood, and rocky shores. This postcard-perfect sea setting makes Ruby Beach one of the most popular places in the park - which is saying something, because Olympic National Park is home to some of the most
wondrous places on the planet
23. Marconi Beach - Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
Marconi Beach, Marconi Beach Rd, Wellfleet, MA 02667, USA
Address: Marconi Beach, Wellfleet, MA Recreation Opportunities: Swimming, surfing, sunbathing, beach bonfires (by permit only) Where To Stay Nearby: Beach Walk Bungalow
Located within the
Cape Cod National Seashore
, the sweeping dunes and pristine sands of Marconi Beach in Wellfleet make it one of the best Massachusetts beaches. During the daytime in the summers, a lifeguard is on duty. This is also an amazing beach to go stargazing at night. You can also inquire with the Cape Cod National Seashore about obtaining a beach bonfire permit which will make a summer night all the better!
24. Padre Island National Seashore - Texas
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, USA
Padre Island National Seashore
is a barrier island off the coast of South Texas that offers some of the best beachcombing in the state. You'll find seashells, sea beans, driftwood, and other surprises. When the weather is warm, take a dip in the gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
25. Dry Tortugas National Park - Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA
Dry Tortugas National Park
is home to one of the best Florida beaches. However, it's quite remote and is reachable only by boat or seaplane. Located 70 miles from Key West, a day trip will reward you with unspoiled natural beauty, a pristine beach, and some of the most jaw-dropping views in the state.
While some of these beautiful beaches may challenge your very conception of a beach, the fact remains that
all of these places make for incredible waterside retreats. Craggy coastlines, pebbly sands, waters in every blue and aquamarine hue, horizons dotted with sea stacks and lighthouses – you’ll find all of these things at America’s beaches. Don’t be limited by definitions; be open to expanding your horizons. Because that’s when you’ll discover some of the most spectacular places in the entire country.
If you’re looking for more beautiful beaches in America for your bucket list, be sure to check out these
crystal clear lakes across the U.S.
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More to Explore
Beautiful lakes in America
What are the best lakes to visit in America?
Some of the best lakes to visit in America include the following:
Known as the “Queen of American Lakes,” Lake George in New York is 32 miles long and fed by underground springs that give the lake its signature crystal-clear waters. It boasts over 109 miles of shoreline and more than 300 islands, many of which feature lodging and campgrounds perfect for those looking for a more immersive experience of this natural wonder. There's nothing like the Third Coast, and the Great Lakes State does not disappoint in terms of beautiful and clear-blue lakes. Known for its pristine, aquamarine waters, Torch Lake in Michigan is an undeniable natural beauty. Part of Michigan's "Chain of Lakes" -- 14 lakes and connecting rivers -- Torch Lake is the state's longest inland lake and its second-largest. However, this dazzling Michigan lake truly looks like it belongs in the Caribbean. A
favorite destination for water recreation, Torch Lake's waters are so crystal-clear that boats and swimmers appear as though they’re suspended in the air. It's something you truly must experience. If
alpine lakes are more your cup of tea, the United States is home to some glorious bodies of mountain water that rival anything you'd find in Europe. Some of our favorite alpine lakes to visit include Gem Lake in Washington, the Wallowas of Oregon, Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park, Lake Tahoe (which boasts beautiful beaches in both California and Nevada), and Lake of the Clouds, a total hidden treasure located in New Hampshire.
Where are the best beaches in the United States?
Among the best U.S. beaches are:
Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Siesta Key in Florida
Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island in Georgia
Coronado Beach in San Diego, California
Clearwater Beach in Florida
Cannon Beach in Oregon
What is the best time of year to visit beaches in the United States?
The best time of year to visit beaches in the United States depends on what part of the country you’re visiting or live in. Most beaches around the country are best to be visited between June and August. The best year-round beaches can be found in Hawaii, Florida, Southern California, and Texas.
What activities can I do at the beach?
There are many activities you can do at the beach, but it also depends on the rules of the beach you are visiting. Activities may include: