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27 Best USA Beach Destinations

By Sandra Roussy November 03, 2023 Travel

Looking for your next beach getaway? From the rugged cliffs of the Pacific Coast to the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this vast country boasts an incredible array of beach destinations to satisfy every beach lover’s dreams.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a place to soak up the sun, the beaches in the USA offer an abundance of natural beauty and coastal wonders.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Florida’s iconic beaches, stroll along the shores of California, or immerse yourself in the laid-back vibes of the Gulf Coast. Get ready to discover coastlines, vibrant beach towns, and endless opportunities for fun in the sun.

Best Beaches on the East Coast of the USA

The East Coast of the USA is home to numerous inviting beaches.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With its wide sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, Myrtle Beach invites you to relax under the warm sun and feel the soft grains of sand between your toes.

The vibrant boardwalk buzzes with energy, offering a kaleidoscope of shops, restaurants, and attractions that cater to every taste and preference.

Whether you’re seeking thrilling amusement park rides, live music performances, or delicious seafood dining, Myrtle Beach has it all.

As the day transitions into the evening, the beachfront comes alive with a lively atmosphere, perfect for strolling along the illuminated promenade or enjoying the mesmerizing sunset over the Atlantic.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks is a captivating series of barrier islands that hold timeless beauty. Picture-perfect beaches stretch along the coastline, inviting you to stroll along their sandy shores and bask in the coastal splendor.

Charming coastal towns dot the landscape, offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere filled with local culture and hospitality.

Historic lighthouses stand tall, beacons of maritime history and scenic landmarks that add to the area’s charm.

From the wild horses that roam the beaches to the rich maritime heritage, the Outer Banks is a treasure trove of natural wonders and cultural delights.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Nestled along the South Carolina coast, Hilton Head Island is a paradise that blends natural beauty with refined luxury.

The island boasts several beaches, where the gentle waves kiss the shoreline, creating a serene retreat for relaxation and seaside enjoyment.

For golf enthusiasts, Hilton Head Island is a haven, offering championship golf courses that provide challenging fairways and stunning ocean views, making it a dream destination for golfers of all levels.

Upscale resorts dot the island, offering world-class amenities and accommodations that cater to every desire, ensuring a luxurious and comfortable stay.

Beyond the sand and fairways, Hilton Head Island offers a plethora of outdoor activities to indulge in. From biking along scenic trails to kayaking through tranquil waters and casting a line for a day of fishing, the island is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia

Famous for its wild horses that freely roam the sandy beaches, Assateague Island offers a rare and captivating coastal experience. Witness these magnificent creatures as they gracefully navigate the dunes and frolic along the shoreline, creating a scene straight out of a storybook.

But the allure of Assateague Island extends far beyond its equine inhabitants. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the island, with its unspoiled beaches, rolling sand dunes, and marshlands.

From birdwatching to kayaking through tranquil waters, Assateague Island offers a wealth of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Stretching along the coast, the Virginia Beach long boardwalk offers a scenic pathway for leisurely strolls and beachfront adventures.

Sink your toes into the soft sand as you bask in the warm sunshine, taking in the invigorating coastal air. The beachfront comes alive with an energetic atmosphere, bustling with beachgoers, live entertainment, and the tantalizing aromas of beachfront dining.

Virginia Beach seamlessly combines natural beauty with a genuine beachfront ambiance, offering something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, thrilling water adventures, or a true coastal experience, Virginia Beach is the ideal destination for a perfect beach getaway.

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May is a picturesque seaside town along the New Jersey coast. This charming destination is renowned for its Victorian architecture, where grand mansions and quaint cottages transport you to a bygone era of elegance.

As you wander through Cape May’s streets, a nostalgic vibe permeates the air, evoking a sense of timelessness and serenity.

The town’s lovely beaches beckon with their soft sands and gentle waves, providing a quiet escape from the bustling city life.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is a beloved coastal destination that captures the essence of New England’s magic. This picturesque peninsula in Massachusetts is famous for its idyllic beaches, where soft sands meet the gentle lapping waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Coastal towns dot the landscape, each with its own unique character and allure, offering quaint shops, cozy cafes, and historical landmarks to explore.

Indulge in the region’s culinary delights, as Cape Cod is renowned for its delicious seafood. From freshly caught lobster and clams to succulent oysters and fish, you’ll find a wide array of culinary treasures to satisfy your taste buds.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

With its spectacular beaches, rolling hills, and charming towns, Martha’s Vineyard embodies a perfect blend of relaxation and natural beauty.

Whether you prefer the lively atmosphere of Oak Bluffs or the peaceful seclusion of Aquinnah, Martha’s Vineyard offers a variety of beach experiences to suit your preferences.

Beyond the shores, the island’s rolling hills and lush landscapes provide endless opportunities for exploration and outdoor activities.

As you venture into the quaint towns of Martha’s Vineyard, you’ll be greeted with charming streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes.

Miami Beach

We can’t create a list of the best beaches in the USA without adding Miami Beach. Known for its eclectic atmosphere, trendy nightlife, and iconic Art Deco architecture, Miami Beach attracts visitors from around the world.

With its wide sandy shores, clear turquoise waters, and bustling beachfront promenade, it offers a mix of relaxation and excitement.

South Beach, Key West, Florida

Located at the southernmost point of Key West, South Beach is a popular destination for beachgoers. It is celebrated for its lively atmosphere, with locals and tourists alike enjoying the upbeat energy.

South Beach offers stunning views of the ocean, with its crystal-clear waters and lovely coastline. Visitors can bask in the sun, relax on the soft sands, and take refreshing dips in the inviting waters.

The beach is also a great spot for various water activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding.

South Beach’s proximity to iconic attractions like the Southernmost Point Buoy adds to its allure, making it a must-visit destination in Key West.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and coastal wonders. The park showcases breathtaking rocky coastlines that meet the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring sight.

Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach are particularly popular spots, where visitors can enjoy the soft sand, refreshing waters, and beautiful views.

Acadia National Park is just one example of the many fantastic beaches along the East Coast of the United States.

Each destination has its own distinct charm and attractions, from the sandy shores of the Outer Banks to the charming towns of Cape Cod. Whether you seek rugged coastlines, gentle waves, or scenic trails, the East Coast offers a wealth of beach experiences for every preference.

Best Beaches on the West Coast of the USA

The West Coast of the USA is known for its gorgeous coastline and beautiful beaches.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is a coastal gem known for its iconic Haystack Rock and captivating beauty. This fascinating destination in Oregon offers a wide sandy beach that stretches as far as the eye can see.

The star of the show is Haystack Rock, a majestic monolith that rises dramatically from the shoreline, creating a striking silhouette against the horizon. This natural wonder is a haven for birdlife and tide pool creatures, offering a unique opportunity for nature lovers to observe the marine ecosystem.

Beachcombing is a popular activity in Cannon Beach, where you can search for seashells, polished stones, and other treasures washed ashore by the tides. The wide expanse of sand provides ample space for leisurely walks and picnics, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the coastal serenity.

Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

Coronado Beach is a stretch of sandy paradise located on Coronado Island, just across the bay from downtown San Diego. This coastal gem boasts not only a beautiful shoreline but also great views of the iconic San Diego skyline. The juxtaposition of the cityscape against the natural beauty of the beach creates a unique and memorable experience.

Coronado Beach is a haven for those seeking a serene escape. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, allowing the gentle waves to kiss your feet and the warm sand to massage your toes.

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer Beach is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This secluded paradise is renowned for its unique and captivating features that make it a haven for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

One of the standout features of Pfeiffer Beach is its enchanting purple sand. The distinctive hue, derived from manganese garnet deposits, creates an otherworldly landscape. As the sunlight dances upon the sand, it takes on an ethereal glow, adding to the beach’s mystique. The iconic Keyhole Rock, arches, and intricate caves on Pfeiffer Beach offer endless photo opportunities.

The secluded nature of the beach adds to its appeal, providing a sense of tranquility and seclusion. Surrounded by rugged cliffs and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, it feels like a private sanctuary, far away from the busy world.

Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

One of the main attractions of Rialto Beach is its opportunity for tide pooling. As the tide recedes, it reveals a fascinating world of marine life in the tide pools scattered along the beach. Take a closer look and you’ll discover colorful sea stars, elusive anemones, and scurrying hermit crabs, offering a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest.

Beachcombing is another popular activity at Rialto Beach. Comb the shoreline and uncover treasures washed ashore, from multicolored seashells to polished stones.

As the day draws to a close, prepare to witness dramatic sunsets that paint the sky in hues of orange, pink, and purple. The rugged coastline serves as a backdrop to these awe-inspiring displays, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, California

No list would be complete without adding iconic Santa Monica Beach located in the heart of Los Angeles. This popular beach offers an active and energetic atmosphere that captivates visitors of all ages.

The lively boardwalk is a hub of activity, with locals and tourists alike. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, soak in the festive ambiance, and indulge in some people-watching. The street performers, artists, and vendors add to the unique charm of Santa Monica Beach.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the beach is home to an amusement park with thrilling rides and attractions. From roller coasters to Ferris wheels, there are plenty of opportunities for exhilarating fun and breathtaking views of the coastline.

The beachfront itself is a playground for sunbathers, swimmers, and beach fans. The soft sand invites you to lay out your towel and soak up the California sun, while the refreshing waves offer a respite from the warm weather.

Santa Monica Beach’s animated beachfront atmosphere extends beyond the sand and surf. The surrounding area is dotted with trendy shops, and upscale restaurants providing endless opportunities for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Pismo Beach, California

Pismo is a coastal town that embodies the essence of a laid-back beach getaway. It is renowned for its sandy beach and a range of activities that cater to both relaxation and adventure.

The beautiful beach is the centerpiece of Pismo, inviting visitors to sink their toes into the soft sand and soak up the sun. Whether you’re lounging with a good book or taking a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, the beach provides a calm escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

One of the unique attractions of Pismo Beach is the chance to go horseback riding along the shore. Go on a guided tour or rent a horse and trot along the water’s edge, immersing yourself in the beauty of the coastal scenery while connecting with these majestic creatures.

The town is filled with charming shops, local eateries serving up delicious seafood, and cozy accommodations that add to the overall delight of the area.

Best Beaches in the Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico is home to numerous beautiful beaches with warm waters and sugary sands. Here are some of the best beaches in the Gulf of Mexico.

Siesta Key, Florida

Siesta Key Beach is a tropical paradise nestled in Sarasota, Florida. With its powdery white sand, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets, it’s no wonder this beach is celebrated as one of the finest in the United States.

The powdery white sand of Siesta Key Beach is a true natural wonder. Composed of 99% pure quartz, it feels soft and cool beneath your feet, creating an unparalleled beach experience. Also, the waters of Siesta Key Beach are mesmerizing shades of turquoise.

As the day draws to a close, prepare to witness stunning sunsets that illuminate the sky with rich hues. Siesta Key Beach offers the perfect vantage point to marvel at nature’s artistry as the sun dips below the horizon.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

With its soft white sand, calm waters, and beachfront atmosphere, Clearwater Beach has earned its reputation as a beloved coastal paradise.

The soft white sand of Clearwater Beach is a delight to behold and sink your toes into. As you stroll along the shoreline, feel the velvety sand beneath your feet and take in the spectacular views of the sparkling turquoise waters.

Whether you’re paddleboarding, kayaking, or trying your hand at jet skiing, the calm waves offer a safe and enjoyable experience for water lovers of all ages. Snorkelers will also find delight in exploring the underwater world, where marine life awaits.

The promenade is lined with an array of beachfront restaurants, cafes, and shops, inviting you to indulge in delicious cuisine, shop for souvenirs, or simply soak up the ambiance. Live music, street performers, and events throughout the year create a spirited and entertaining atmosphere.

South Padre Island, Texas

Known for its expansive sandy beaches, warm Gulf waters, and thriving wildlife, South Padre Island is a wonderland for beach enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Stretching along the Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island boasts long stretches of sandy beaches that invite you to relax, play, and soak up the sun.

The warm Gulf waters surrounding South Padre Island offer the perfect setting for swimming and water sports. Dive into the refreshing waves, feel the saltwater on your skin, and enjoy the freedom of floating in the crystal-clear Gulf waters.

South Padre Island is also a haven for wildlife crusaders. The island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and an array of bird species. Take a dolphin-watching tour, join a sea turtle rescue program, or simply observe the abundant birdlife as they gracefully soar through the skies.

Beyond its natural wonders, South Padre Island offers a chill beachfront atmosphere with a range of accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores, located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, is a beach destination that boasts white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. It offers a relaxed atmosphere, family-friendly attractions, and ample opportunities for water sports and fishing.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skiing are readily available to enjoy the calm and inviting waters.

The laid-back beach town atmosphere adds to the allure of Gulf Shores. Sample fresh seafood at local restaurants, browse through beachside shops for souvenirs or simply take in the dazzling sunsets that paint the sky with deep hues.

Captiva Island, Florida

Captiva Island is a serene paradise that captivates visitors with its picturesque beaches, seashells, and abundant wildlife. Known for its natural beauty, Captiva Island offers a more secluded and peaceful atmosphere compared to some other Gulf Coast destinations.

Whether you’re strolling along the shoreline, collecting seashells, or simply lounging under the shade of a palm tree, the tranquil beauty of Captiva Island’s beaches is sure to leave you in awe.

Captiva Island is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for dolphins frolicking in the waves, sea turtles nesting on the shore, and a variety of bird species soaring through the sky. The island’s natural habitats provide a sanctuary for these creatures, allowing visitors to witness the wonders of nature up close.

Pensacola Beach, Florida

With its natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere, Pensacola Beach offers a delightful blend of relaxation, history, and entertainment.

The white sand beaches of Pensacola Beach stretch for miles and invite visitors to sink their toes into the soft, powdery sand. The clear emerald-green waters create a striking contrast against the white sands, making it an excellent destination for beach lovers.

Beyond the beaches, Pensacola Beach is rich in history and culture. Explore historic sites like Fort Pickens, a 19th-century military fort that played a significant role in the region’s past. Take a stroll along the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk and enjoy the lively beachfront entertainment, including restaurants, shops, and live music performances.

The Gulf Islands National Seashore, a protected area that encompasses Pensacola Beach, offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and birdwatching along its scenic trails.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island National Seashore holds the distinction of being the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. This pristine stretch of coastline offers a remarkable escape into untouched natural beauty.

Miles of unspoiled beaches stretch along Padre Island, inviting visitors to enjoy the serenity of the sandy shores. Whether you’re looking to unwind under the sun, take leisurely walks along the water’s edge, or engage in beachcombing to discover seashells, Padre Island’s unblemished beaches provide the perfect backdrop for coastal tranquility.

As you explore the seashore, you’ll also encounter a range of fascinating wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and various coastal birds. The preservation of this natural habitat ensures a sanctuary for these creatures, allowing visitors to witness them in their natural environment.

Destin, Florida

Destin is a renowned destination celebrated for its breathtaking emerald-green waters and pristine sugar-white sand beaches. With its natural beauty and abundance of recreational activities, Destin attracts visitors from around the world.

The crystal-clear clarity of the water allows for excellent visibility, making it an ideal location for snorkeling and underwater exploration. Dive into the underwater world and discover colorful marine life and vibrant coral reefs.

Boating is another popular activity in Destin, with its picturesque coastline and calm waters. Rent a boat and cruise along the coast, explore hidden coves and remote islands, or simply bask in the tranquility of the open water.

Destin offers a wide range of amenities and attractions. From upscale resorts and beachfront dining to shopping, golfing, and nightlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

St. Pete Beach, Florida

St. Pete Beach, situated on a beautiful barrier island along Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a destination that easily attracts visitors with its wide sandy beaches, warm waters, and laid-back atmosphere. This coastal gem is a haven for those seeking relaxation and an array of water sports activities.

The warm Gulf waters of St. Pete Beach are perfect for swimming, wading, and engaging in various water sports activities. The beachfront rental shops offer equipment for a range of water sports, allowing you to explore the coastal beauty.

What Makes a Beach Worth Visiting

Several factors contribute to making a beach worth visiting. Here are some key aspects that make a beach appealing:

Natural Beauty

A visually stunning beach with clear waters, clean and soft sand, and picturesque surroundings can enhance the overall experience. Features like unique rock formations, lush vegetation, or colorful sunsets add to the beach’s allure.

Water Quality

Clear, clean, and inviting water is essential for a pleasant beach experience. Visitors appreciate beaches with good water quality, free from pollution, and suitable conditions for swimming, snorkeling, or other water activities.

Amenities and Facilities

Access to amenities and facilities can greatly enhance a beach visit. Restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and shaded spots for relaxation are valued by visitors. Other amenities like beach rental services, food concessions, and beachside bars or restaurants add convenience and enjoyment.


Beaches that prioritize visitor safety are highly regarded. Lifeguard services, clearly marked swimming areas, and safety signage can provide peace of mind to beachgoers, especially those with families.


Easy access to the beach, including parking facilities, ramps, or boardwalks, is important for visitors of all ages and abilities.

Scenic Surroundings and Attractions

Beaches located near or surrounded by other points of interest, such as nature reserves, parks, hiking trails, or cultural sites, provide additional value and opportunities for exploration beyond the sand and water.

Environmental Sustainability

Beaches that demonstrate a commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability initiatives are increasingly valued. Efforts like recycling programs, beach cleanup initiatives, and protection of marine ecosystems contribute to the appeal of a beach.

Atmosphere and Ambiance

The overall atmosphere of a beach, including its vibe, energy, and general ambiance, can greatly influence its desirability. Some visitors prefer animated beaches with entertainment options and a social scene, while others seek tranquility and a peaceful setting.

Positive Reviews and Recommendations

Positive word-of-mouth recommendations and high ratings from previous visitors play a significant role in attracting new beachgoers. A beach that consistently receives positive feedback for its overall experience is likely to draw more visitors.

Ultimately, what makes a beach worth visiting is subjective and varies based on personal preferences. The ideal beach experience may differ from one person to another, depending on factors like preferred activities, desired atmosphere, and individual tastes.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

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The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

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