Going to the beach is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing ways to spend a vacation, and fortunately, the United States is home to several stunning beaches. The beaches of the United States are scattered over 30 states and four coasts, including the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes (add Inland Lake coast too).
While the majority of beaches in the US are on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, some are in the Gulf of Mexico and near inland lakes. Depending on where you go, beaches can provide a family-friendly atmosphere and a party scene, or they can be the perfect venue for water sports.
This incredible variety means the USA boasts every kind of beach imaginable, and whether you’re a beach bum or an adventure seeker, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of the best beaches in the USA to add to your travel bucket list.
Best Beaches on the East Coast
Whether you are looking to learn about history, meet with nature, or just want to enjoy & party, the beaches on the east coast of the US have everything you need for the perfect vacation.
1. South Beach, Florida
South Beach, or SoBe, is one of the most popular beaches in the US. Stretching from South Pointe Park to 23rd Street on the nine-mile-long Miami Beach coastline, SoBe is packed with palm trees and fun activities.
Things to Do: Parasailing; Visit Lummus Park & South Pointe Park; Enjoy the bustling nightlife; Relax at the beach.
Location: Miami, Florida.
2. Sand Beach, Maine
Sitting between mountains and rocky outcrops of Mount Desert Island, Sand Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in the USA. The sand here is made of tiny pieces of shells pounded into a powder by waves.
Things to Do: Explore the hiking trails and sea caves; Hunt for seashells; Go fishing; Experiment and play with the sand.
Location: Bar Harbor, Maine.
3. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
Established by President Kennedy in 1966, the Cape Cod National Seashore is the first designated national seashore in the United States. It houses over 40 miles of pristine beaches, with over 44,000 acres of woods, ponds, and marshes. It is one of the best beach vacation destinations on the east coast of the USA.
Things to Do: Hiking, Trekking, Biking, Birdwatching, Wildlife Spotting, and Camping (with permit).
Location: Cape Cod Peninsula, Massachusetts.
4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Located at the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach offers a plethora of activities to do and enjoy. This 35-mile stretch is full of history and many interesting stories. It has the record for the “longest pleasure beach” by the Guinness Book of World Records. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best beaches in the USA.
Things to Do: Stroll through the Virginia Beach Boardwalk; Visit the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier; Enjoy fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, boating, and educational activities.
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia.
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach attracts millions of visitors to its stunning coastline every year. It boasts some of the best views of the Atlantic. This renowned beach town is stretched over several miles, making it a perfect getaway by the water.
Things to Do: Myrtle Beach Boardwalk; Visit the famous amusement park; Participate in Watersport activities; Surf on the Waves.
Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Best Beaches on the Gulf Coast
Spanning Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, the Gulf Coast offers it all. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful seaside escape or a beach with amenities like shops and water sports.
1. Orange Beach Area, Alabama
Spanning over 30 miles of crystal-white sand, the Orange Beach Area offers lots of sunshine and unspoiled natural beauty. This stretch of land on Alabama’s Gulf shores boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the USA. It is home to several ecosystems with many species of organisms.
Things to Do: Bask in the glowing sun; Admire the jaw-dropping sunset; Enjoy Watersports in the turquoise waters; Visit the historical and cultural attractions; Hike through the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.
Location: Orange Beach, Alabama.
2. South Padre Island, Texas
Located off the southern coast of Texas, South Padre Island is the “longest stretch of an undeveloped barrier island in the world.” This beautiful island is surrounded by miles of untouched beaches and calm waters. It boasts some of the best-unspoiled beaches on the gulf coast that offer something for all kinds of travelers.
Things to do: Try windsurfing; Walk along the shoreline; Go Kayaking; Visit Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center; Explore the Wilderness; Go Birdwatching.
Location: Cameron County, Texas.
3. Biloxi Beach, Mississippi
Biloxi Beach is renowned for its casinos and historic lighthouse. Visitors are often surprised by how family-friendly Biloxi is, despite its gambling and entertainment options. The pristine white powdery coastline of Biloxi is packed with fun-family attractions, including a science center, aquarium, and more.
Things to Do: Try your luck at one of the casinos; Explore Ship Island; Take a Pascagoula river tour; Bird Watching; Go kayaking.
Location: Biloxi, Mississippi.
4. Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach is one of the best family beaches in the US. It is packed with waterfront entertainment and natural wonders. Families flock to this white sand beach to enjoy thrilling and splashing around in the water with their kids. Its proximity to Orlando makes it a must-visit place for travelers visiting the city.
Things to Do: Play volleyball; Build sandcastles; Explore the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park; Participate in watersports; Traverse the Buccaneer Bay.
Location: Clearwater, Florida.
5. Grand Isle, Louisiana
Grand Isle, the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana, is home to expansive sandy beaches with an unblemished view of the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of the best gulf coast beaches to enjoy deep-sea fishing and bird watching. There is a state park lying on the eastern tip of Grand Isle where you can explore the wildlife or splash around in the beautiful waves.
Things to Do: Sample some of the freshest and best seafood; Birdwatching; Explore the trails; Check out the Grand Isle Butterfly Dome; Adventure sports.
Location: Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
Best Beaches on the West Coast
The West Coast beaches of the USA offer visitors a staggering array of choices to see and do, from the rugged coastline of Washington to the admirable shores of Southern California to beautiful Hawaii.
1. Coronado Beach, California
Coronado Beach is a 1.5-mile stretch of golden powdery sand on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is truly one of the best beaches in the US with lots to offer. Tourists and locals flock here to witness the gorgeous backdrop and enjoy the beach activities—the waves here allure surfers from all over. Plus, nearby dog-friendly North Beach adds more charm to Coronado Beach.
Things to Do: Participate in watersports; Bask in the sun; Enjoy delicious eateries; Witness beautiful sunset; Play with dogs.
Location: San Diego, California.
2. Ruby Beach, Washington
Located inside the protected area of Olympic National Park, Ruby Beach is one of Washington State’s most beautiful beaches. The coolest attribute of the beach is the gorgeous sea stacks – large rock formations with tidal windows and pools. The beach is covered with driftwoods, making it a perfect backdrop for photoshoots.
Things to Do: Explore Tidepools; Walk the Sandbar; Admire the sea stacks.
Location: Jefferson County, Washington.
3. Kaanapali Beach, Hawaii
Ka’anapali Beach boasts clear blue water, lush green trees, and pristine soft powdery sand. This Hawaiian paradise is a popular stop for tour guides, cruise ships, and travelers. The beach is ideal for laying out and swimming. There are several resorts and eateries in the backdrop too.
Things to do: Try paddleboarding, surfing, and kayaking; Soak up the sun; See the Puu Kekaa; Walk the beach.
Location: Maui, Hawaii.
4. Laguna Beach, California
Laguna Beach boasts 36 iconic stretches of sand that form an iconic coastline in southern California. Crystal Cove State Park, a designated underwater park, is also located within its borders. Thousands of visitors flock to these golden shores every year. Newport Beach and Thousands Steps Beach stretches are the most famous beaches in the region.
Things to Do: Explore sea caves; Search for tide pools; Backcountry hiking; People watching; Play volleyball; Relax and bask.
Location: Laguna Beach, California.
5. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Renowned for its long, powdery shores, Cannon Beach is a small beach town with a massive Haystack Rock that makes a great backdrop for incredible photo shoots. It has an abundance of restaurants, boutique shops, and wineries spread across the streets in charming buildings.
Things to Do: Long walks; Wildlife spotting; Family picnic; Wine tasting; Camping.
Location: Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Incredible Inland Beaches
The coastal areas are not the only places to bask and dip your feet on powdery beaches. In the United States, there are a variety of breathtaking freshwater beaches along the inland lakes.
1. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
Located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore offers pristine lake beaches and the Indiana Dunes. There are 25 miles of trails running along the shores of the lake. Visitors will spot several unique wildlife along the dunes and unspoiled waters.
Things to Do: Hiking; Wildlife spotting; Camping; Swimming; Sunbathing; Cross-country skiing (winter); Driving
Location: Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana.
2. Tenaya Lake East Beach, California
Located between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake is referred to as the “Jewel of the High Country.” The west bank boasts a spectacular view of the surroundings, while the east bank is covered with pristine sands, and visitors love spending their day nestled among the mountains.
Things to Do: Paddle boarding; Kayaking; Hiking; Sunbathing; Swimming; Camping; Boating
Location: Yosemite National Park, California.
3. Million Dollar Beach, New York
Located on the southernmost shore of Lake George, Million Dollar Beach offers 1,700 feet of golden sand on the shores of the magnificent lake. Tourists and locals flock here to witness the gorgeous backdrop and enjoy the beach activities.
Things to Do: Parasailing; Cruise ride; Paddleboarding; Kayaking; Explore the town; Steamboating; Dinner cruise.
Location: Lake George, New York.
4. Sand Harbor, Nevada
With more than 70 miles of shoreline, there is no shortage of great beach spots to choose from at Lake Tahoe. Yet, there is no doubt that Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe is one of the best freshwater beaches in the US. It boasts the iconic granite boulders dotted on the soft golden sands with crystal clear azure waters. The majestic snow-capped rugged mountains in the backdrop make it one of the most picturesque beaches.
Things to Do: Explore the Divers Cove; Go Paddleboarding & Kayaking; Hike through Water Trails; Camp by the shore; Sunbath or Go swimming
Location: Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
5. Medano Creek, Colorado
Medano Creek is one of the best-undiscovered swimming beaches in the USA. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ wide, shallow, and softly flowing waters of Medano Creek make a quiet oasis each spring behind the towering dunes (médano is Spanish for “sand dune”). However, this creek can only be visited during the appropriate season.
Things to Do: Swimming; Sand sculpting; Skimboarding, Stroll along the world-famous dunes that encircle the water.
Location: Grand Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado.
Of course, there are countless other beaches in the US with a multitude of attributes for you to explore, from tropical paradises to relaxed, family-friendly beach destinations; from beaches ideal for water sports to those suitable for sunbathing; and even some, especially with distinctive attractions.
No matter which beach you visit to enjoy your time, don’t forget to pick up after yourself. Every year, trash claims the lives of several marine organisms. Plus, it throws off the beaches’ natural equilibrium and vibe. Be a lifesaver and not a murderer! Have a great time in the sand!
Read Also: Top 6 Lakes in Nevada, USA You Must Visit