When you think of beautiful beaches, you might think of hopping on a plane and flying halfway around the world, but there are plenty of beautiful beaches in the USA that are much closer to home.
From east to west and north to south, you can find plenty of places for an amazing beach escape. We are not speaking of Florida and Hawaii here. The best beaches in the US can be found in all corners of this beautiful country.
Whether you are looking for a romantic weekend getaway, or a family vacation with the kids here are 20 of the best beaches in the U.S., all just a drive or quick flight away.
The Best Beaches in the USA
1. Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
What is the prettiest beach in the USA? Hanalei Beach in Kauai has won the title of the best beach in the United States many times, and it’s no wonder! This family-friendly, two-mile stretch of sand has it all. It has lovely scenery with views of Bali Hai, and the warm water is perfect for swimming in the summer.
Spending the day here is easily one of the best things to do in Kauai. If you like to surf, the surf conditions in the winter months may just be the best in the world. You can find this beach along Weke Road in North Kauai.
2. Assateague Beach, Virginia/Maryland
Assateague Island National Seashore is a park area on Assateague Island that’s known for its wild ponies, virtually untouched nature areas, and sweeping coastal scenery. It’s also known for its two miles of beautiful beaches.
This sandy stretch along the Atlantic Ocean is one of the best places in the region for swimming. The park is also home to several nature trails where you can see wildlife and explore salt marshes and forest areas.
3. Coronado Beach, California
One of the best beaches in the US is Coronado Beach in California. Soft, golden sand makes Coronado Beach a great place for swimming, walking, and many other seaside activities. The beach’s boardwalk is a popular gathering place. Many beachgoers head to the boardwalk later in the day to hang out, take in the refreshing sea breeze and watch the sun go down.
Many shops and eateries are located close to the boardwalk. Free parking is nearby, and you can find this beach off Ocean Boulevard in Coronado.
4. Pope Beach, Lake Tahoe
Most people don’t swim in Lake Tahoe because the water is too cold! However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other things to see and do at this top beach in the United States.
Pope Beach is the longest beach along the lake, and this sandy stretch is popular for picnicking, sunbathing, and beachcombing. Boating is popular on the lake, and there are kayaks available for rent.
When hunger strikes, there are usually concessions or food trucks nearby, and you can legally enjoy a beer with your picnic at this beach. The best part is this beach is less crowded than the other beaches at Lake Tahoe, and you’re surrounded by stunning scenery with dunes, pine trees, and mountains. You’ll find this beach on the south shore of the lake on State Highway 89.
5. Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach certainly lives up to its name with calm, clear waters and soft, white sand. This laid-back seaside retreat on a barrier island has been named the best beach in the United States numerous times.
While most people come for the swimming, many also come for the chill beach town vibes and abundance of things to do such as jet-skiing, snorkeling, parasailing, and paddleboarding.
The beachfront promenade buzzes with activity and there are cute little eateries and cafes nearby. Every evening, a mini-festival with buskers takes place at Pier 60 and this is also a great place to watch one of the beautiful sunsets the area is known for.
6. Harris Beach State Park, Oregon
The south coast of Oregon is home to some of the most secluded hidden gems in the state, including beautiful, rugged beaches that are far less crowded than the ones to the north. Harris Beach is popular with families because it’s mostly sheltered from the wind, and there are many fun things to enjoy.
The long sandy beach is the main draw, but there are also several beautiful hiking trails in the area, including Sunset Point, Chetco Point, and Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.
There are also unique rock formations to explore, and the tide pools that appear at low tide provide an opportunity to observe various marine creatures. From the viewpoints around the park, you can often see whales, seals, and seabirds. You’ll find this beach on US Highway 101 near Brookings.
7. Cumberland Island, Georgia
Sure, developed beaches with modern conveniences are great. Still, to get a true seaside experience, one must occasionally venture to an untouched, undeveloped beach where nature and the tides shape the coast, and Cumberland Island is one of those places.
Along this barrier island’s 17 miles of soft, sandy beach is clear, blue water perfect for a refreshing ocean dip. There are no lifeguards on-site so beware that there are rip currents, and the waves can get high!
After a refreshing dip, go for a hike, do some fishing or check out the fascinating Dungeness Ruins. There’s a good chance you’ll spot wildlife, including deer, sea turtles, and wild horses, as you explore the area. To get to Cumberland Island, you must take a 45-minute ferry from St. Mary’s.
8. Nags Head, North Carolina
If you are wondering which states have the best beaches? We think the winner is North Carolina! Nags Head’s claim to fame is its natural sand dunes which are the biggest in the region. It’s also known for its stunning beaches that are suitable for swimming. This quintessential OBX beach town with its long, sandy coast in the central Outer Banks is a perfect seaside escape and one of the best beaches in all of North Carolina.
An ocean rescue team supervises the beach to ensure everyone remains safe. Dogs are allowed on the beach as long as they are on a leash. Responsible beer drinking is allowed, too, so you can relax in the sun with your favorite cold beverage. The town is home to excellent seafood restaurants, fishing piers, parks, surf shops, and many family-friendly attractions. You’ll find Nags Head on Bodie Island.
9. Sombrero Beach, Florida
The Florida Keys are home to some great beaches, but many of them tend to get very crowded. Sombrero Beach is not one of them. This beautiful beach is more of a hidden gem on Marathon Key, which you’ll pass when driving between Key Largo and Key West.
It’s sandy, it’s accessible, it’s quiet, and the water is shallow, clear, and calm, so swimming is safe for the whole family. Besides swimming, visitors come to Sombrero Beach for paddleboarding and snorkeling. On-site facilities include picnic areas, volleyball courts, and restrooms with showers.
10. Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
Situated in the town of Kailua on the island of Oahu, Lanikai Beach is another stunning beach that’s often voted as one of the best in the United States. Although small, this half-mile stretch of soft, white sand bordered by palm trees and clear, calm water looks like a postcard. It is just that beautiful!
Did I mention that the water often reaches temperatures of 80 degrees? Those warm temperatures and a lack of rocks and coral make it an excellent location for swimming and snorkeling, so make sure to pack all you need on your Hawaii packing list.
Besides the water, there’s so much more to do at this beach. Hike along the Lanikai Beach Pillbox Trail or enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, or snorkeling. The beach is also one of the best places to watch sunrises and moonrises.
11. Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico
Some beaches rank among the best in the country, and then some rank among the best in the world. Flamenco Beach is one of those beaches, and yes, it’s worth it to travel to the island of Culebra, off the coast of Puerto Rico, to see this beach.
Seclusion, clear blue water, and soft white sand make this beach a popular destination for travelers seeking sun and relaxation. The water is calm and shallow with hardly any waves, so it’s safe for swimming and snorkeling. Something you may not expect to see in a tropical paradise is the US Navy Tank that was left behind after the navy’s occupancy of the area.
You’ll also find many amenities, including a camping area, restrooms with showers, and food stalls selling local delicacies. Nearby, you’ll find the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.
12. Huntington Beach, California
While it’s famously known as one of the top surfing beaches in the country, Huntington Beach also attracts people from all over who come to enjoy swimming and sunbathing on this 3.5-mile sandy stretch.
On-site, you’ll find many amenities, including volleyball courts, concession stands, restrooms, surf rentals, bike rentals, bonfire pits, and the historic Huntington Beach Pier. So make sure to pack your beach bag for a fun day here!
Many events are hosted at the beach throughout the year, including surfing and volleyball tournaments. This beach is located along the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the world’s most beautiful road trips.
13. Black Rocks, Michigan
Black Rocks isn’t a sandy Michigan beach along the ocean, but it’s a top swimming hole along Lake Superior in Presque Isle Park in Marquette. This place is popular for cliff jumping, with visitors jumping off the rocks into the cool water.
The incredible cliffs are between 20 and 30 feet high, so they look intimidating, but after your first jump, you’ll keep returning for more! Other fun activities include canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, biking, and fishing. Hiking is available along the trails of the Noquemanon Trail Network, making this area one of the best places to visit in Michigan!
14. Cooper’s Beach, New York
With contrasting views featuring natural landscapes and sprawling mansions, Cooper’s Beach in South Hampton is a quiet beach with white sand among the country’s top ten beaches. The beach is one of the only public ones in the area, and its guarded, calm waters make it a perfect escape for families.
A concession stand and restrooms are on-site, and chairs and umbrellas are available to rent. Parking at the beach is $50 a day, but you can skip the fee by parking at nearby Halsey Neck.
15. Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
Situated on an undeveloped barrier island, Caladesi Island State Park is a beautiful, natural escape from the crowds. The best part of the park is the beautiful, three-mile stretch of soft, white sand where you can swim in clear, warm waters.
Unlike many other beaches around Florida, this one rarely gets crowded, especially during the week. Some other activities you can enjoy here include kayaking in the nearby mangrove forest, birdwatching, fishing, and hiking along the nature trail that leads to Scharrer Homestead. The beach can only be reached by ferry from the dock at Honeymoon Island.
16. Beachwalker Park, South Carolina
Beachwalker Park is a lovely public beach situated on the west end of Kiawah Island in South Carolina. Enjoy 11 miles of sandy, undeveloped beach popular for swimming and sunbathing.
The scenery, which consists of a river and many trees, just adds to the lively ambiance of the area. The beach is supervised and has many convenient amenities, including an accessible boardwalk, picnic areas, restrooms, a snack bar, and beach chair rentals.
17. Coast Guard Beach, Massachusetts
The Cape Cod National Seashore is home to stunning natural areas, including Coast Guard Beach, located in Eastham on Cape Cod.
This beautiful sandy beach is excellent for swimming during the summer, and there are restrooms and a wheelchair-accessible ramp. Nearby, many fascinating places exist, including Nauset March and Nauset Spit.
As you explore the park, you have a good chance of spotting seals and many species of birds. Parking is quite a distance away, but a shuttle takes visitors back and forth.
18. La Jolla Cove, California
Although La Jolla Cove is popular for swimming, it’s best to do so at low tide because the water can get rough. Low tide is also the best time to check out the tide pools that form when the waters recede. The beautiful little sandy beach protected by high cliffs is also known for its snorkeling.
The La Jolla Coast Walk Trail is situated above the beach, and seals and sea lions are spotted on this walk. You’ll find this little gem in the Ellen Browning Scripps Park, about 12 miles from San Diego.
19. Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach, Hawaii
Not all beaches have golden-colored sand, and this one is one of the best beaches in the United States. Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach, as the name suggests, has black sand. This black sand was made by a lava flow hundreds of years ago. Swimming is not always possible at this small beach because the waters tend to get rough, and there are strong rip currents.
However, there are many other things to see and do in the area, including exploring two nearby sea caves, observing many species of seabirds, and checking out the tide pools that appear during low tide. You can find this secluded beach three miles from the town of Hana on the island of Maui, and it’s well worth adding this to your itinerary when planning a trip to Hawaii.
20. Sand Beach, Maine
Situated on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park, Sand Beach is a small, pretty stretch of sand surrounded by spectacular coastal and mountain scenery.
There are many things to do near this beach, but swimming might not be one of them because the water is very cold. Only the very brave dare to take a dip in these waters!
That said, it’s still a great place to take a relaxing stroll along the ocean or sunbathe on warm days. The Ocean Path is a hiking trail. Along this trail, you’ll see many interesting natural wonders including the Thunder Hole, where the waves crashing into a semi-underwater cave sound like thunder.
21. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach is a town located in Wilmington and is a popular tourist destination known as being one of the top beaches to visit in the entire state. At Wrightsville you’ll find clear waters, and a variety of recreational activities such as swimming, surfing, fishing, and paddleboarding.
The town of Wrightsville Beach is a charming one to stroll around. It is home to a number of parks and playgrounds. In addition to its natural beauty, Wrightsville Beach has a rich cultural and historical heritage, with several sites of interest including the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, the Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier, and the Wrightsville Beach Park.
22. Dauphin Island, Alabama
When you think of the best beaches in the USA, Alabama may not come to mind. However this stunning barrier island is known for its wide, white-sand beaches and clear, shallow waters. In addition it is rich in wildlife and natural beauty.
Dauphin Island is home to Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and historic fort as well as Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alabama’s primary marine education and research center.
23. Olympic National Park, Washington
Washington State is known for its rugged coastlines, forests and mountain ranges, and while it doesn’t have the same reputation as beach destinations such as Hawaii or Florida, it still has some beautiful beaches to offer. Some of the best beaches in Washington can be found at Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is a popular spot for beachcombing and sunset-watching. Some of the best beaches are Rialto Beach, known for its sea stacks and driftwood-strewn beach. Second Beach, Kalaloch Beach, Ruby Beach, and Shi Shi Beach, a remote and rugged beach accessible by a short hike.
24. Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana
Another unlikely candidate for one of the best beaches in the USA, but Louisiana is known for its diverse coastal landscapes, from the Mississippi Delta’s marshes to the Gulf Coast’s sandy beaches.
One of the best beaches is Grand Isle State Park, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Grand Isle State Park offers miles of white sandy beaches and crystal clear water, perfect for swimming, fishing, and bird-watching.
25. Grand Haven State Park, Michigan
Nestled on the eastern shore of the vast Lake Michigan, Grand Haven is known for its stunning sandy shores along this scenic landscape. It’s one of the best places to visit in Michigan, and during the summer visitors from around the state flock here in search of sunshine and warm water.
Grand Haven is rich with history and Americana, strolling around the charming town will certainly bring back memories as you enter boutique shops or dine at some of the best Grand Haven restaurants.
While at the beach, make sure to see the Grand Haven Lighthouse built in 1839 and comprised of two separate lights on either end of the enchanting south pier. Both are painted bright red and are connected by a lighted catwalk. This catwalk stretches on to connect with the boardwalk, as well. Walking to the end of the pier is one of the best things to do in Grand Haven.
26. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Kiawah Island is a popular destination for beach-goers, offering 10 miles of sandy beaches and 10,000 acres of woodlands to explore, all on one of the most stunning islands in South Carolina. Visitors can take advantage of the many trails that wind through the area, making it a great spot for wandering and taking in the unique natural beauty of South Carolina. If you’re looking for a great beach experience near Charleston, Kiawah is a must-see.
The Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island is a great spot to spend the day. There, you’ll find showers, boardwalks, barbecues, and various beach gear for rent, making it easy to enjoy your day on the beach. All you need to bring is a cooler filled with drinks.
27. Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Little St. Simons Island is a private barrier island located off the coast of Georgia. It is known for its natural beauty and diverse wildlife, and is a popular destination for eco-tourism, birdwatching, and outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing.
The remote island is only accessible by boat, and home to a luxury resort that offers a variety of accommodations and activities for visitors.
28. Black Sands Beach, California
Another black sand beach makes this list of best beaches in the USA! This remote beach is located on the Lost Coast in California, a mostly natural and undeveloped area of the California North Coast. Black Sands Beach only accessible by foot and it’s known for its black sand and rugged beauty. If visiting Redwoods State Park it’s well worth adding this on to your day.
There are no amenities here and it’s likely you’ll be one of the only people on the beach if you decide to visit. Make sure to research a beach packing list so you have all your favorite picnic essentials for the beach.
29. Smathers Beach, Florida Keys
This public beach is also the largest beach in Key West and is known for its crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. The beach is popular for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing. It’s also a great place to have a picnic as there are plenty of places to picnic.
After a day at the beach, head to the Southernmost point in the Continental US, stroll Duval Street, and then dine at one of the best Key West restaurants.
30. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
Not just one of the best beaches in the USA, but likely one of the most well-known and iconic in the world. Waikiki Beach is known for its crystal clear water, white sand beaches and iconic sunsets however if you have planned your trip to Hawaii already, you probably already know that!
Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular places in Hawaii, and the crowds and prices will surely reflect that. Book your hotel here well in advance, and try to get a top floor so you have stellar ocean views.
31. Siesta Key Beach, Florida
Just Googling “Siesta Key Beach” will yield thousands of photo results of a dream like destination that may look too unreal to be real. This Florida beach is known for its powdery white sand, clear blue water, and shallow waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing.
32. La Jolla Shores Beach, California
La Jolla Shores Beach is a public beach located in the coastal community of La Jolla in San Diego, generally less crowded than other beaches in the city. It is known for its wide, sandy beach and clear, calm waters, making it a trendy spot for all beach goers.
The beach is also a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, as the underwater kelp forest just off the shore is home to a diverse array of marine life, including fish, sea lions, and leopard sharks.
La Jolla Shores is also home to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the world’s oldest and most important oceanographic research institutions. Visitors can also enjoy a walk or bike ride along the picturesque La Jolla Shores boardwalk, which offers panoramic ocean views and easy access to the beach.
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