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Hawaii and California might get most of the attention when it comes to beaches in the United States, but the East Coast’s 2,000 miles of shoreline has a lot to offer, too. Boasting perhaps the most variety when it comes to beachside fun, the East Coast is the place to go for all kinds of experiences. From family-friendly settings with gentle waters to gnarly surf spots, picture-perfect sunbathing coves, and backdrops to suit all tastes, the East Coast’s beaches cover a lot of ground – literally and metaphorically. Not sure which beach to hit up first? Read on for all of the best beaches on the East Coast.
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Nantucket is the true definition of a summer vacation spot, and it’s easy to see why. A popular spot for babymoons, this little island just off of Cape Cod in Massachusetts is home to some of the best beaches on the East Coast, with plenty of room for all. You’ll find a vast 82 miles of coastline across Nantucket, with multiple beaches boasting soft, golden sand, swim-friendly shores, and epic surf spots. If you’re traveling with children, head to the north shore to find Washing Pond Beach or Steps Beach. If you’re surfing, you’ll love the south, which faces the Atlantic Ocean and promises larger swells and cooler water.
Bethany Beach in Delaware is known for its small, cozy, family-friendly vibe and for being the perfect laid-back beach town for summer. It’s a place where, if you visit often enough, you’ll often end up making friends with the locals. This beautiful town is best loved for its wide stretches of sandy beach and accompanying boardwalks. It’s perfect for all kinds of guests, whether you’re looking to swim, tan, or explore. A top spot for families looking to spend a relaxing week catching up together, Bethany Beach is the kind of place where you’ll fall in love with the soft ocean air and the cute, familiar restaurants and shops that dot its coast.
If you haven’t visited Cape Cod in Massachusetts, you probably know someone who has. This ever-popular vacation spot has a lot to offer for all kinds of visitors and is a top spot for weekend getaways from Boston as soon as summer break hits. This dreamy peninsula is home to stunning coastal routes that offer plenty of opportunities to wander for hours without distraction. With over 40 miles of shoreline, you’ll never run out of places to set up camp for the day. Wondering where to start? Head of Meadow Beach and Highland Beach are two favorite spots.
A stunning stop on the Maine Coast, Old Orchard Beach is where you’ll set your towel down at the start of the day and not pick it back up again until after sunset. One of the best beaches on the East Coast for active beachgoers, it’s home to seven miles of coastline and activities dot almost every inch. Of course, you’re free to spend your days here tanning under the sunshine but, if you’d rather be a little more active, you can swim in the sea, play a game of volleyball, have a go at kayaking or jet skiing, or try your hand at bodysurfing.
Sure, it’s pretty touristy, but we’d still say Coney Island is one of New York’s City’s can’t miss spots. Offering a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Coney Island is a place that brings out the inner child within. Visit during summer to experience a haven of activities, from the famous theme park to the boardwalk filled with amusements, restaurants, and pop-up experiences. There’s a lifeguard on duty during the daytime, which means you can safely swim worry-free.
Head to the tip of southern New Jersey’s peninsula, and you’ll find one of New Jersey’s best beaches. Cape May is a gorgeous seaside haven filled with pristine sand and swim-worthy waters. Otherwise known as “The Jersey Cape,” this endlessly popular beach town does it all. Sure, the waters here are brilliant for surfing and swimming, but the surrounding area also has a lot to offer. Take a stroll away from the beach to discover historical sights, brilliant restaurants, and stunning views. So, even if you’re visiting Cape May with someone who struggles to lie back with a good book in hand, you know you’ll all be accounted for with entertainment here.
Come to Virginia Beach for stunning coastline walks, delicious and freshly caught seafood, and endless strolls along the promenade. This family-friendly spot is brilliant year-round, offering plenty to do even in the wintertime. This coastal city is known for its arts and entertainment, but no visitors should leave without having at least one beach day. Nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, each of the individual miniature beaches here has its own personality. Croatan Beach is the quietest and perfect for snoozing, while the beach at The Narrows is perfect for fishing or playing in the water.
There’s always something going on in Ocean City, Maryland. A popular and budget-friendly beach vacation spot renowned for its water sports, you can’t walk far without being tempted by a kayak adventure or a boat tour experience. Surfing, fishing, and swimming are other popular activities here, with individual coves suited to each kind of adventure and with differing conditions for all levels. If you don’t fancy the beach itself, take a bike ride along the lengthy promenade, where you can watch the waves crash without getting sandy toes. There’s also a classic American seaside amusement park there if you’d like to set free the big kid inside.
Delray Beach in Florida has a sophisticated air that you’ll notice as soon as you arrive. This affluent and family-friendly Florida beach steps things up a notch with a range of premium restaurants and luxurious experiences tailored to those looking for the classiest of beach days. Known as “Florida’s Village by the Sea,” Delray Beach is definitely friendly, with a hard-to-beat atmosphere of friendliness all around. Once voted “Most Fun Small Town in America,” you can be certain that a day trip to Delray Beach will always be enjoyable. Expect plenty of natural beauty and energetic vibes all around.
Rehoboth Beach in Delaware is the sort of beach you’ll visit first as a kid and remember for years to come for its magic. A beautiful spot known for its stunning sunsets and peaceful atmosphere, it’s home to an incredible range of restaurants you’ll appreciate after a long day in the sunshine. As well as the beach itself, Rehoboth’s boardwalk, one of America’s most fabulous, has a lot to offer. A stroll down here isn’t complete without checking out the multiple stores, buying some beachside snacks, and even trying out the amusements. There are also a lot of wonderful hotels nearby if you fancy extending your stay in the area.
It’s impossible to talk about the best beaches on the East Coast without mentioning Hampton Beach. This prestigious spot is not only a clean five-star award-winning beach but is also renowned for its endless promenade, home to restaurants, bars, and arcades. Considered one of the best weekend getaway spots in New Hampshire, Hampton beach is often called one of the most beautiful in the world. There’s always something going on here, from fireworks to yoga on the beach, movie nights, children’s activities, and more. Expect year-round entertainment with an extensive range of nearby hotels to match.
If you’re a lover of soft, white sand, you can’t find anywhere better than Siesta Key Beach. And that’s more fact than opinion, as this Florida-based spot has officially been awarded “the finest, whitest sand beach in the world.” With year-round lifeguards and peaceful swimming conditions, it’s easy to fall in love with this beach and even easier to spend multiple days relaxing here. When you’re hungry or thirsty, you’ll find a range of excellent restaurants nearby, as well as vendors selling budget-friendly cocktails and snack food along the coastline. It’s a must-visit during your time in this part of Florida.
One of South Carolina’s best beaches, Folly Beach has a little bit of everything: live music to keep you entertained, a range of restaurants to suit all budgets, great spots for fishing if you’d prefer to catch your own dinner, and enough natural beauty to simply spend your time gazing around. Referred to by locals as the “Edge of America,” Folly Beach is a picture-perfect setting that comes alive during sunset. A popular spot with photographers and artists, it’s common to set up camp with a blanket here during the evenings and see at least a few people capturing the beauty of Folly Beach close by.
Block Island’s pristine beaches ensure its enduring popularity summer after summer as a top East Coast vacation destination. But don’t worry, as there’s plenty of space to stretch out here, even at its busiest. With 17 miles of beautiful beaches and a backdrop of lighthouses, rolling roads, and dramatic cliffs, it’s worth a day trip from Rhode Island. These beaches offer many experiences, and those who like to keep active will find plenty to do. Hiking, kayaking, cycling, and swimming are common activities on Block Island, with a range of charming shops, independent restaurants, and a quintessential island experience overall. This uncluttered spot is a place you’ll treasure forever.
Madison has four beaches, each offering something a little different. Known as the largest public beach area in Connecticut and one of the best, Madison’s shoreline comes accompanied by a few luxury hotels and plenty of gorgeous nature-filled views. This elegant spot is particularly popular with travelers looking for a premium experience, and many of the five-star hotels here directly back onto the beaches. Even if you’re not checking into a hotel, you can spend an entire day exploring Hammonasset Beach State Park, the largest shoreline park in the whole of Connecticut, which takes up almost 1,000 acres with two miles of unobstructed beach to enjoy.
South Beach in Miami is the place to go if you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere, luxurious ocean-facing hotels, and plenty to keep you entertained. Sure, if you’re looking to lie back on an empty beach and nap, this probably isn’t the place to go, but if you’re visiting with friends and want a little excitement, it’s a top spot for sure. With a wide, swimmable shore, a backdrop of Art Deco architecture, a place to run, roller-skate, or cycle, and restaurants to please all kinds of appetites, it’s fair to say South Beach is one of the most versatile beaches on the East Coast. Its impressive party scene means this beach never sleeps – there’s always something fun going on here.
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has a huge 60 miles of beach to explore, so there’s always room for everyone without tripping over your temporary neighbor’s feet. A popular beach for families, as there’s plenty to do with the kids, as well as those exploring with friends or their other half, Myrtle Beach is a top spot during the summer months to take a dip in the sea or relax on its white sands. With excellent fresh seafood just offshore, gardens to wander through, a boardwalk with plenty of entertainment, and family-friendly accommodations options nearby, it’s never a bad idea to visit Myrtle Beach.