Skip to Content

The 25 Best Beaches in the US

Fall hikes, summer nights, spring breaks, and winter getaways: there’s a beach activity for all seasons. The shoreline and sea air summon visions of relaxation, volleyball games, and surfing waves no matter where you are. Luckily for those in the United States, we have some of the best beaches in the world.

Different criteria define the perfect beach for different people, such as the quality of the sand, the waves (or lack thereof), level of seclusion, public transportation and accessible parking, whether there’s a boardwalk, activities, and even the amount of shade. Some beaches are found next to crystalline lakes, while others are beneath the peaks of majestic mountain ranges. Some are surf havens with stellar waves, while others cater to families with calm waters and things to do right on the sand.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, shores across the U.S. have immense natural beauty that draws crowds from all over, all year long. Here are 25 of the best beaches in the country.

Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands have so many sandy spots that they sometimes come in pairs. Located on the sunny southern shore of Kauai, Poipu Beach, popular for surfing, snorkeling, windsurfing, and bodyboarding, is made up of two small coves sharing one name. The spectacular beaches are separated by a narrow sand spit called a tombolo, and both sides offer breathtaking views. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal sunbathing.

Ocean City, Maryland

A groomed shoreline and lively boardwalk give this beloved East Coast beach a classic Americana vibe. Eight miles of white-sand beach, plus a three-mile boardwalk packed with amusement park rides, bike rentals, shops, and delectable treats make Ocean City Beach a popular vacation spot. After a day of Jet Skiing, fishing, or boating, you’ll find a variety of hotels, restaurants, and even a brewery on the boardwalk.

Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

The constant warm, sunny weather is reason enough to visit San Diego. Coronado Beach, a 1.75-mile stretch of golden sand sparkling with bits of the mineral mica, is just the family-friendly icing on the cake. Swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers flock to the coast of , staying until evening to witness the gorgeous sunsets. While you’re there, visit the storied for a bite and a tipple en plein air. The adjoining dog-friendly section of Coronado Beach, dubbed North Beach, is a popular pull as well.

Pope Beach, Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, sits on the border of California and Nevada and is known for its beaches and ski resorts. Located on the south shore of the lake, Pope Beach is a nearly mile-long stretch of sand bordered by towering pine trees. The beach offers excellent swimming, picnicking, and views of the mountains. Make the most of your day with the kayak rentals, picnic tables, and barbecue grills on-site.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

With airbrushed sunsets and white sandy shores, Florida is one of the in the U.S. Clearwater Beach boasts a gorgeous shoreline that stretches three miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Pier 60, a popular entertainment hub, is centrally located on the beach, and cabanas, umbrella chairs, and a well-equipped playground only add to the family fun. Visitors can rent fishing gear and drop a line off the pier for some of the best year-round angling in Florida. Clearwater Beach often has outstanding sunsets, and Pier 60 provides nightly entertainment 365 days a year, weather permitting.

Harris Beach, Oregon

Harris Beach, located in a state park on Oregon’s south coast, is known for the incredible rock formations rising from its waves and a string of tide pools ripe for exploration. Swimming, hiking, biking, and bird-watching are some of the most popular activities here. Abundant wildlife including migrating gray whales, harbor seals, and California sea lions adds to year-round excitement. Plus, has a fully equipped campground for RVs and tents, and it even has a few yurts.

Glass Beach, Port Townsend, Washington

Some people prefer to spend their time hunting for treasures on the beach instead of just lounging on the sand. Glass Beach, so named for its abundance of jewelry-quality sea glass, is a remote bluff and former small-town dump. Ecological concerns and development efforts saved the area from further pollution, and beachcombers are very grateful. You do have to work a little bit to get the goods, though: From North Beach, walk along the shore toward McCurdy Point, keeping your eyes peeled for pretty bits of smoothened glass. McCurdy Point is a three-mile walk, but you don’t have to go that far. Be sure to get a timely start to beat the high tide, which can become dangerous if you’re not careful, and enjoy views that include sea otters, bald eagles, and whales. Also, feel free to bring your pup.

Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois

Usually, you have to leave urban areas to find the best shorelines, but this Midwestern metropolis is one of the few exceptions. The impressive Chicago skyline serves as the backdrop for this popular beach, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Lounge chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas are available for rent, and there’s a variety of food from local vendors. Bikers, joggers, walkers, and roller-skaters abound on the paved path surrounding the beach. Relax in the sun, people-watch, or get in on a volleyball game or chess match — the choice is yours.

Carlsmith Beach, Hilo, Hawaii

This Hawaiian locale is the perfect place to see the black rocks and crystal lagoons the Big Island is famous for. Not your average sandy stretch, Carlsmith Beach is a grassy, tree-filled park overlooking brilliant lava-ringed lagoons. The clear, turquoise waters here are protected by a reef, making the area a snorkeling hot spot. An abundance of sea turtles adds to the unique experience of this magical habitat. Pack your lunch and picnic at one of the on-site tables in the shade of a palm tree.

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Across a drawbridge from the mainland, just a stone’s throw from the college town of Wilmington, is a quaint Atlantic waterfront. Wrightsville Beach is the quintessential beach town, offering water sports like surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and kiteboarding. It’s got summer charm aplenty with surf shops and classic beachfront hotels dotting its shore. Rent a rod and some bait and drop a line off at . Meanwhile, beach bars and live music take the party from daytime into the night.

Grand Haven State Park, Michigan

Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, this 48-acre park with powdery white sand offers activities like fat-tire biking, barbecuing, sunbathing, swimming, and volleyball. There’s also a playground for the children, as well as scenic views of the lake and the . While away the day on the beach, staying long enough to see a magical, dip-dyed sunset.

Santa Monica Beach, California

Nothing screams summer on the pier like funnel cake and a Ferris wheel. The famous draws people from all over the state with its classic amusement park complete with a roller coaster, games, and golden-fried carnival treats. beneath the Ferris wheel offers hands-on educational fun for the kids. This vibrant stretch along the Pacific is also a prime spot for partaking in all the usual beach activities: sunbathing, swimming, surfing, volleyball, and sunset viewing. You can also bike, jog, or walk along the paved path to iconic Venice Beach down the way.

Medano Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

in Great Sand Dunes National Park is a wide, shallow river that emerges every spring and disappears every August. The creek is dependent on the amount of snow in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, since the runoff forms this annual phenomenon. Visitors can enjoy wading in the water, tubing, skimboarding, and building sand castles. Because of the limited timeframe, it’s best to plan your trip for weekdays in late May or early June, when it’s also less crowded.

North Beach, Tybee Island, Georgia

Trade Spanish moss for grassy dunes at this coastal haven that’s perfect for a quiet getaway. Reachable in about a half hour by car or shuttle from Savannah, North Beach is a peaceful, family-friendly spot frequented by locals. The stunning 360-degree views from the top of the historical are well worth the climb, especially during sunrise and sunset. When you get hungry, head to , a casual restaurant with a tasty menu and a dog-friendly patio located between the beach and lighthouse.

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Good Harbor Beach is a family-friendly spot on with sugar-soft sand and relatively calm water. At low tide, you can walk across a sand bar and explore rocky Salt Island, while little ones get to play in warm tidal pools. Tasty snacks and toy rentals are available at the concession stand. Note that parking is limited and fills up fast, so arriving early is suggested. Off-site parking and shuttles provide other options.

Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York

This may not be a palm-tree-lined idyll, but for New Yorkers who can hop on a subway or bus to reach its white sand, five-mile boardwalk, and surf-worthy waves, it’s heaven. And it’s well worth the afternoon trip, as also features a skate park, volleyball and handball courts, playgrounds, spray showers, and restrooms. Barbecue areas for picnicking and eateries along the boardwalk ensure that no one goes home hungry.

Crystal Lake State Park, Barton, Vermont

Lined with about a mile of white sand and backed by scenic mountains, Crystal Lake’s rich history dates back to the 1700s. The bathhouse with restrooms and a concession stand is made from granite mined from the nearby hills. The lake’s cold waters are filled to the brim with rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed, and yellow perch, among others, making it great for anyone who prefers to spend their beach days casting a line instead of swimming or serving a volleyball. It’s a wonderful place to spend the night. There’s an stocked with all the necessities (including a canoe) available for rent.

Gulf Shores Public Beach, Alabama

You can’t do much better when it comes to U.S. beaches than the Gulf Coast. Pretty palm trees, clear water, and pristine white sand make this Gulf beach a standout. It’s located close to a boardwalk, restaurants, and shops with easy access to parking. The well-kept beach is also a great place for activities like volleyball and boogie boarding in the relatively calm surf — and the $3 admission to the pier is worth getting to see the friendly fishermen, hungry pelicans, and an occasional dolphin.

Park Point Beach, Duluth, Minnesota

In Minnesota, you go big or you go home. Located on Lake Superior, the , Park Point Beach is the world’s longest freshwater sandbar. The beautiful beach and its waves have the feel of an ocean locale. It offers great views of Duluth and Lake Superior and is known for its spectacular sunrises. A nearby playground, barbecue grills, and a ball field are all popular with visitors. Leashed dogs are also welcome.

Asbury Park Beach, New Jersey

A little bit historic charm, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, this has everything you want out of a Northeastern summer spot. Stretching about a mile along New Jersey’s Atlantic coast, Asbury Park Beach is a lively, clean, white-sand paradise. Sunbathing, swimming, surfing, fishing, and people-watching are popular activities here. It’s backed by a historic boardwalk bustling with restaurants, bars, fast food, and interesting shops, in addition to a splash park and miniature golf courses. The boasts more than 150 games including working pinball machines dating back to the 1930s. And just across the street is the fabled bar, , made famous by locals Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

might be one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., apparent in its lapis-colored waters and rocky shoreline. This spectacular white-sand beach, located at the foot of Ocean Avenue, is a popular surfing spot. Visitors can enjoy a dip in the cool, crystal-clear waters with views of to the north and Point Lobos to the south. Dogs are allowed off-leash with conscientious owners. Pack a picnic and a bottle of local wine (also permitted), and savor a magnificent California sunset in this seaside paradise.

Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head isn’t just golf courses and candy-colored resorts. Its incredibly well-maintained beaches have made it a summer destination for people all over the southeast. The beautifully landscaped entrance to Coligny Beach welcomes you to its accessible location, made all the more popular by amenities that include showers, gazebos, benches, swings, free Wi-Fi, and a splash fountain to rinse off your sandy children. Wheelchair- and stroller-friendly matting leads to the water. Get there for sunrise, if you can, and keep an eye out for dolphins, which are known to pass by its shores.

Alki Beach, Seattle, Washington

Accessible by car or water taxi, this family-friendly beach on Puget Sound offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and downtown Seattle. Sand, salt water, volleyball courts, grills, and bonfire pits are all options for keeping yourself entertained. Joggers, bikers, and skaters fill the two-and-a-half-mile path that runs along the beach. Tip: Enjoy a sunset dinner at one of the unique waterfront restaurants.

Ocean Beach Park, New London, Connecticut

This half-mile, golden-sand beach with gentle tides provides great views of ferries and schooners sailing past the . , located along the boardwalk, features a picnic area, playground, snack bar, mini-golf, arcade, and more. When you’ve had your fill of one of New England’s premier sugar-sand beaches, take a dip in the Olympic-size pool. The on-site parking fee (from $30) covers admission for up to five guests. Otherwise, it’s $10 for walk-ups.

Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn, New York

Nothing pairs with salt air like the smell of hot dogs and the sound of Rollerblades on the boardwalk. If you’re seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without having to go too far, Coney Island is a perfect seaside wonderland of nostalgia and kitschy fun. With miles of sand, this public beach is rich in history and tradition. There are courts for beach volleyball, handball, and basketball as well as playgrounds to keep you entertained all day long. But, of course, you’ll probably spend most of the time on that leads to the famed amusement park, home of the Wonder Wheel, Cyclone roller coaster, and New York Aquarium.