The 50 Best US Beaches for Summer

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina aerial view at sunset. (Photo via Melpomenem/iStock/Getty Images Plus) (Melpomenem / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Scott Hartbeck
by Scott Hartbeck
Last updated: 9:34 AM ET, Mon June 20, 2022

America's Best Summer Beaches

When the thought of summer vacation comes to mind, the vision of a sandy beach and crashing waves isn't usually far behind. From the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, the best beaches in America get even better during the summer months as vacationers arrive to embrace beach life and make memories that will last a lifetime. The following list of summer beaches includes some of the most famous strands in the land and also some you may not have heard of before, so click on the slideshow to be taken away to the shore and find some inspiration for your summer vacation.

Coronado Beach, California

If there's one stretch of sand you need to see on your trip to San Diego, it's this one because Coronado Beach and its historic namesake hotel are just as handsome as you've heard. Walk along the sand while gazing upon the Hotel Coronado and its idyllic gardens before settling onto a beach blanket in time to take in the sunset.

Herring Cove Beach, Massachusetts

Sure, the East Coast is more known for its sunrises, but due to a geographical oddity, Herring Cove in Provincetown has a reputation for its gorgeous sunsets. In addition to the nightly displays of natural beauty, beach lovers from all over New England are drawn here for soft, light brown sand and relaxing surf.

Miami Beach, Florida

Whether you decide to hit the sand of scintillating South Beach or opt for more laid-back Mid-Beach or North Beach, Miami Beach is all you think it's going to be and then some. Gorgeous sands, warm water and elite-level people-watching opportunities all await at one of the nation's most famous strands.

Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, North Carolina

This beautiful beach on North Carolina's Outer Banks features a long, flat stretch of brown sugar sand, scenic dunes and a distinct lack of crowds. And if that wasn't enough, it was just crowned the "Best Beach in America" for 2022 by the sultan of sand himself Dr. Beach.

Hapuna Beach State Park, Hawai'i

The winner of Dr. Beach's top accolade in 2021, Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island feels like heaven with its snow-white sand, turquoise water and spotless facilities. Spend the day simply lounging on the beach or doing some swimming, snorkeling or bodyboarding.

North Avenue Beach, Illinois

It's most definitely a seasonal beach, but rest assured when the sun comes out from May until September, the denizens of the Windy City know that the best place to be is at one of the city's dozens of urban beach spots. North Avenue Beach is the standout as it's home to a beloved ocean-liner-inspired beach house complete with a bubbly beach bar.

Bowman's Beach, Florida

Sanibel Island is home to some of South Florida's finest beaches and you won't go wrong planting yourself in the sand anywhere on the isle. Come summertime though, Bowman's Beach is where you want to be. Each year, folks flock here from all over to swim, soak up rays and collect shells destined to become cherished summer vacation souvenirs.

Galveston Beach, Texas

The blowing sea winds and crashing waves of Galveston have been luring Texans to the coast for generations and for good reason: the beach here is one of the loveliest in the Lone Star State. Home to caramel sand, warm water, historic Victorian facades and a colorful boardwalk, Galveston's unique mix can't be found in many other places in the nation.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Could there be any better way to spend an Alabama summer day than by watching the tide roll in on the Orange Beach sand? Nope. Afterward, make your way to a beachside bar for sunset to enjoy the region's favorite frozen libation: the Bushwacker.

Carmel Beach, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea is famed for having a European flair and the fairytale feeling continues when you head to the town's splendid beach. Powdery clean sand calls out to surfers, swimmers and their canine companions for long days enjoying the sunshine and sea breezes.

Secret Beach, Hawai'i

Tricky to find but even more harder to say goodbye to, Secret Beach (also known as Kauapea Beach) on the Garden Isle of Kauai rewards all those who follow the unmarked road and steep hike to its sands. Spend a summer day here and you'll immediately start plotting a way to extend your va-cay.

Ka'anapali Beach, Hawai'i

Make your way from the Big Island to Maui to enjoy this ravishing stretch of sand. You'll be able to spot the islands of Lana'i and Moloka'i from your beach blanket, but if you prefer active pursuits, Ka'anapali Beach is also a hub of parasailing and cliff jumping off Pu'u Keka'a (the Black Rock)-for those who are up to the challenge.

Navarre Beach, Florida

It may not get as much press as some of its more well-known neighbors on the Emerald Coast, but Navarre Beach boasts the same chalky sand and seafoam green sea. Located on slim Santa Rosa Island on Florida's Panhandle, Navarre Beach makes a great base from which to explore this special region at a relaxed pace.

El Matador Beach, California

You'll descend a set of bluffs until you find a flight of stairs in order to reach El Matador, which is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Malibu. All the effort is worth it as here you'll find waves ideal for surfing, soft sand and a series of sea caves to explore at low tide.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Home to over 60 miles of soft tan sand, Myrtle Beach is perennially one of the Eastern Seaboard's most popular summertime escapes. After a day spent relaxing on the sand, take to the air with a spin on the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel or delight in one of the many local craft breweries or other fun diversions on the family-friendly boardwalk.

Coast Guard Beach, Massachusetts

It takes a lot to stand out when you're situated on a stretch of shoreline as fetching as the Cape Cod National Seashore, but Coast Gaurd Beach near Eastham does just that. One of the finest places to swim and soak up the summer sun in the region, it also boasts a series of nearby trails full of wildlife-many owning views of the ocean-and a historic Coast Gaurd Station.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland & Virginia

Slender Assateague Island stretches nearly 40 miles off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, with a majority of its beachfront being inside Assateague Island National Seashore. Head here in the summer to enjoy sensational beaches untouched by development and to admire the majestic wild Assateague horses.

Siesta Key Beach, Florida

Folks have been coming from all over to fawn over these fine sands long before MTV turned up a few years back to showcase the local scenery on Siesta Key. Soft and sugary, Siesta Key Beach is the perfect place to sunbathe, revel in romantic sunsets or take in the traditional Sunday evening Drum Circle event that has been bringing fun to the beach since 1996.

Venice Beach, California

One of the most famous beaches in Southern California, Venice Beach lives up to all your expectations-and then some. Home to a bohemian vibe and more people-watching opportunities than you're eyes will know what to do with, Venice really comes alive in the summertime. Spend some time cruising the boardwalk before hitting the sand or rooftop restaurant for sunset.

Mohegan Bluffs, Rhode Island

Block Island dangles off the coast of Delaware and owns a wealth of wonderful stretches of sand, but none can top the beauty of Mohegan Bluffs. This small beach is tucked away under its breathtaking namesake bluffs and descending the 100-plus steps to the sand only adds to the adventure.

Barnegat Light Bay Beach, New Jersey

The Garden State's narrow Long Beach Island (LBI if you're so inclined) stretches for nearly 20 miles and is home to many marvelous beaches. You will find this quiet strand at the northern end of the island, owning a dramatic backdrop in the form of the historic Barnegat Lighthouse.

Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Like Kiawah Island, the pretty powdery sand on Isle of Palms is located on the outskirts of historic Charleston albeit on the other side of the city. Admire the beachscape from the water in a kayak or just kick back, dig your heels into the sand and watch the sun make its way across the sky.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

There's no need to sugar coat it, the temperatures and seawater at Cannon Beach can be a bit on the cooler side, but that doesn't stop it from blossoming into a summer hotspot each year. Folks flock from all over the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the gorgeous scenery of Haystack Rock, play in the surf or splash in the tidepools so join them to see what makes this beach so beloved.

Beachwalker Park Beach, South Carolina

This stretch of sand on divine Kiawah Island is the only beach on the isle that's fully open to the public and has often been listed among the finest in the entire country. Spend a day under an umbrella or strolling down the sand at dusk and you'll be fully under the spell of this splendid island.

Cooper's Beach, New York

Known throughout the Hamptons for its swoon-worthy sand, surf and backdrop of historical mansions, Cooper's is the place to be when the calendar says summer.

Huntington Beach, California

Huntington Beach is home to five fine interconnected beaches, all possessing their own unique atmosphere and personality. Surfers, sunbathers, skaters and cyclists all feel at home in Huntington and after a session on the sand or in the water, there's no better way to end the day than by taking a walk on its historic pier that stretches out into the Pacific.

Kailua Beach, Hawai'i

Situated on the idyllic eastern shore of Oahu, this dazzling beach is home to serene turquoise water and soft white sand. And if that wasn't idyllic enough for you, Kailua Beach's setting includes a group of offshore islands-the perfect backdrop for your kayak trip pics.

Lighthouse Beach, North Carolina

You may notice right off the bat that this beach is missing a lighthouse. No need to fret though, because the legendary Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was only moved down the road in order to protect it from beach erosion. So what's left behind? Heavenly soft sands, dreamy dunes and some of the best surfing waves on the East Coast.

Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania

Okay, this state park is-geographically speaking-located on a peninsula, but the summer vibes at Presque Isle in Erie make it feel much more like an island. Each summer, the park's beaches blossom into the best places in Pennsylvania to post yourself in the sand and admire lapping Great Lakes waves.

Rockaway Beach, New York

When NYC is in the throes of a heatwave, the Subways fill up as people head out to Rockaway Beach in Queens. Join them to find a quality stretch of sand, perfect for soaking up some sun and cooling off in Atlantic sea breezes. After some time on the sand, head for Tacoway Beach, a legendary local fish taco stand.

Bean Point Beach, Florida

Located a seashell's throw from Bradenton, Anna Maria Island is a seven-mile-long slice of sandy paradise. Bean Point Beach-located at the northern tip of the island-is one of the island's best beaches and is both a sensational place to hang all day long or to roll into at dusk to watch the sunset.

Salt Creek Beach, California

The shining star of Southern California's Salt Creek Beach Park, the beach here is perfect for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing all summer long. As a bonus, the local tidepools teem with life due to their protected status which helps make this Orange County park very popular with families.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

The stunning sand dunes at this national lakeshore grab most of the headlines and social media love, but the beaches are just as impressive. Come summer when the sun hits the water-turning it a sensational shade of teal blue-and you might just mistake Michigan for the Mediterranean.

Ocean City Beach, New Jersey

They call themselves "America's Greatest Family Resort" and it's easy to see why. Home to arguably the most family-friendly boardwalk in New Jersey, OCNJ is heaven on the shore from May until September. Sparkling Ocean City Beach stretches over eight miles and is home to a seemingly endless array of summertime diversions.

Park Point Beach, Minnesota

Here's the thing, when you live in Northern Minnesota and are treated to long winters, you embrace warm summer days with a gusto not seen in many other places in the Lower 48. Head to this municipal park in Duluth to laze away long sunny days in the sand or play a game of beach volleyball.

St. George Island State Park, Florida

They call this stretch of the Florida Panhandle "The Forgotten Coast" but a trip to this beach on St. George Island will prove to be an unforgettable experience. Located at the far east end of the island, this state park boasts nine miles of non-interrupted white sand and easy-going waves.

Port Aransas Beach, Texas

This centrally located stretch of sand is just one of many beaches in and around Port A, and in summer it comes alive with frolicking families, swimmers, and surfers. After you've enjoyed your time on the caramel sand, take a stroll down the pier for great views and refreshing Gulf breezes.

Windansea Beach, California

Each summer, Windansea welcomes scores of sunbathers and surfers who love this small stretch of sand that still manages to feel secluded in the heart of San Diego. Come for the surf, stay for the cotton-candy sunsets that take over the sky at dusk.

Caladesi Island Beach, Florida

You can't just rock up to this ravishing crescent of sand near Clearwater in your car, and that's part of what makes it so special. Accessible only by boat, Caladesi Island's seclusion has given it a bit of a "lost island" feel, and when you step off the boat, you'll be treated to mangroves rich with wildlife and a long sweep of unspoiled beach.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

In a state known as "Vacationland", Old Orchard Beach is its "Vacation Town". Home to seven miles-plus of tan brown sand and a historic pier filled with amusements that will delight the entire family, summertime in Maine doesn't get any better than this.

Sand Harbor Beach, Nevada

Be warned, when your toes are tucked into the sand at this beach in summer, you'll find it hard to believe that you're hundreds of miles from the sea. Spend your days on the sand and your summer nights watching the outdoor Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival or a concert at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena.

Sandbridge Beach, Virginia

A stone's throw from Virginia Beach, Sandbridge is an oasis of serene sands and sea oats blowing in the breeze. In summer, it comes to life as the perfect base for exploring all the Virginia Beach area has to offer with slightly fewer crowds.

South Beach, Michigan

Stand on this strip of soft brown sugar watching the waves roll over your ankles and you'll only have one question: "wait, this is a lake?". Yes, you're on the shores of Lake Michigan, just south of the iconic South Haven Lighthouse and there's nowhere else you'd want to be in the summertime.

Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Hawai'i

Located on the far western fringe of world-famous Waikiki Beach, Duke Kahanamoku boasts the same golden sands with a slightly more secluded and chilled-out vibe. The beach also owns a paradisical lagoon and picturesque views of Diamond Head mountain in the distance.

Santa Cruz Beach, California

In addition to owning a sensational stretch of fine light brown sand, Santa Cruz Beach boasts one of the only beachside amusement parks on the West Coast. After you've admired the Pacific from the old-school rollercoaster, play some mini-golf, shop at the retro magic shop or head to the sand for some fun in the sun.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

An all-time Florida classic, Clearwater Beach boasts soft white sand, inviting water and scores of watersports possibilities. Enjoy your time lounging on the sand before making your way to Pier 60 for the famous nightly sunset celebrations.

South Padre Island, Texas

A seemingly endless stretch of sand combines with nearly as long of a list of fun things to do in, above and beside the water to make South Padre Island a summer dream come true. Each year, Texans and those in the know from other areas of the nation flock here creating a truly special vacation experience.

Rosemary Beach, Florida

The second entry from Florida's enchanting Emerald Coast on the list, the town of Rosemary Beach is home to a ravishing stretch of beach that looks more snow than sand. After you've done some sun-worshipping, rent a bike to explore the cute neighboring towns and unique-to-the-region series of dune lakes.

Ocean City Beach, Maryland

You'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard that looks forward to summer as much as Ocean City does-and their signature beach is a stunner. Plant yourself in the soft, light brown sand before heading to the boardwalk to play amusements or treat yourself to a decadent summer treat.

Fenwick Island State Park, Delaware

Fenwick Island feels a bit more laid back than the surrounding beach towns and it doesn't hurt its case that the sands at its state park are renowned for being smooth and soft. After you've enjoyed relaxing on the sands, why not try your hand at beachcombing-a much-loved local tradition.

Where to go to find the top beaches in the United States.

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Scott Hartbeck

Scott Hartbeck

Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...

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