The United States of America has 12,479 miles of coastline (95,509 miles by the NOAA), which means there are plenty of amazing beach towns from sea to shining sea. These coastal regions not only have some of the best ocean views and seafood cuisine in the world but there are so many communities to explore that it would take a lifetime to visit them all.
Beaches in the United States are not all the same. They vary a lot from place to place, from the local history to the animals and plants that live there, as well as the climate. In one of these exquisite treasures, you might find your next incredible vacation place, summer house, or new town of residence. Let’s look at a few of the favorite coastal communities spread across the US.
Here’s a sampling of the top beach towns in America to live and visit, in no particular order:
As of the 2020 census, 62,754 people live in Encinitas, California, a town known for its beautiful beaches and some of Cali’s best surfing. The seaside community, 25 miles up the coast from San Diego, is in demand by people who want to buy coastal homes because it has beautiful views and good schools.
Encinitas, whose name comes from the Spanish word for “small oaks”, was officially incorporated in 1986. The historic downtown area has a diverse mix of top surf shops, coffeehouses, and record stores and has long attracted surfers and hippies.
This town is one of the best places to live in the San Diego area because it is a traditional, well-rounded beach town with friendly neighborhoods. Visit in the spring to experience their annual street fair during the first weekend of April each year.
Moonlight State Beach is a broad, flat, family-friendly beach that got its name from the midnight picnics that locals enjoyed in the early 1900s. The beach also has volleyball courts, tennis courts, recreational equipment rentals, and a snack bar. The nearby surfers’ paradise of Swami’s beach is another favored spot, while D Street and Sea Cliff are two other shores that don’t get as much attention but are perfect for a day at the shore.
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Myrtle Beach, SC
South Carolina’s Grand Strand stretches for sixty miles down the coast, and Myrtle Beach is its centerpiece and most visited beach. Whether you’re house-hunting on your own or vacationing with the whole family, you can find a spot in town to satisfy your need for a beach fix.
The Waccamaw people used to live in the area, but they had left long before the Europeans came. As of the 2020 census, the population of his bustling seaside town was about 35,682.
Myrtle Beach is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the United States, attracting over 20 million people yearly with its pleasant subtropical temperature, miles of beaches, 86 golf courses, and hundreds of restaurants.
On the beaches of Myrtle Beach, you can do things like parasailing, canoeing, swimming, and surfing, to name a few. Other sought-after attractions include the coastal boardwalk and promenade, the SkyWheel, and the scenic fishing piers. Two of the most well-known beaches in the region to stretch out on the sand are Myrtle Beach State Park and Litchfield Beach.
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Rehoboth Beach, DE
Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach is known as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” since it is a trendy summer vacation spot for East Coasters and an excellent site for a seasonal home. This Delaware resort town has everything for everyone: a world-famous boardwalk, an amusement park, and plenty of delicious homemade saltwater taffy.
Inspired by resorts along the New Jersey coast to the north, the Rev. Robert W. Todd initially established Rehoboth Beach in 1873 to host Methodist Episcopal Church camp meetings.
The tight-knit community is a lovely spot to retire or raise a family, and the municipality now has roughly 1,108 permanent people (as of the 2020 census). Explore the many one-of-a-kind stores and boutiques in downtown Rehoboth then fuel up at one of the many delicious restaurants in the area.
Rehoboth Beach is now bustling throughout the year, not only during the summer. Relax on the beautiful sands of Rehoboth Beach or stroll down the mile-long boardwalk lined with shops and a bandstand that often hosts free performances. There are 30 miles of coastline, so watersports fans can easily find a spot to go wild on kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, and surfing.
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Carolina Beach, NC
Carolina Beach, North Carolina, is less than 15 miles south of Wilmington and one of the most low-key, fun beaches on the Atlantic coast. North of Kure Beach on Pleasure Island, this town is home to 6,564 people as of the 2020 census.
Carnival rides, a carousel, an arcade, ice cream stores, and beachside patio restaurants can all be found on the historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk. This beloved summer vacation spot also has natural attractions like Carolina Beach State Park, which has some of the best fishing and camping and hiking. It’s home to the Flytrap Trail, which gets its name from the Venus Flytrap plants that grow along it.
Remote professionals, families, and retirees who dream of a life by the ocean will find Carolina Beach an ideal spot to call home, thanks to its beautiful community. Fireworks and live music events featuring artists from various genres occur every Thursday night throughout the summer.
The waves at Carolina Beach are some of the finest in the state. There’s plenty of room to spread out on this broad, sandy seashore with 44 public beach access points. Some spots have parking lots, while others are small boardwalks or beach walkways near resorts and hotels. Watersports like surfing and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, boating, and fishing are just some ways to experience these seas.
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Galveston, Texas, is a delightful Southern hideaway located approximately an hour’s drive from Houston and boasting 30 miles of beachfront. This idyllic Gulf Coast barrier island is host to museums, galleries, shops, and many ghost stories from the buccaneer days.
Around 1816, pirate Louis-Michel Aury established the first permanent European colony on the island to aid Mexico’s revolt against Spain. Today, the city of 53,695 people (as of the 2020 census) is a sought-after beach resort and a desirable spot to buy a second home or retire.
Families are also attracted to the area because of the abundance of services, parks, and excellent local schools. Moody Gardens, a non-profit attraction with three themed pyramid experiences, beachfront rentals, and dolphin-watching trips, all draw visitors to the region.
Galveston has several public beaches that anybody may visit. The 32 miles of beaches here have semi-hard sand, making them ideal for strolling, lounging, and seashell searching. East Beach is one of the most well-known spots, while Stewart Beach is great for families. Although increasingly more people are visiting Galveston throughout the year, the best time to enjoy the beach is between April and October.
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Walking down the colorful, old streets of Seaside, Oregon, towards the coast, you’ll be taken back in time by the architecture and storefronts reminiscent of another decade. Whether you’re looking for a permanent residence or just a short weekend getaway, this charming coastal community of 7,115 (2020 census) has everything you could want.
Fans of history will relish the opportunity to follow the last steps of Lewis & Clark as the fabled trail they blazed stops at the Seaside shore. The famed beachside promenade is a great place to people-watch, shop, eat locally caught seafood, ride a pedal car, or treat yourself to a scoop of Tillamook ice cream.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, you can go hiking in the adjacent woodland at Ecola State Park or feed some attention-loving seals at the local aquarium by the coast. Seaside is about two hours from the Portland metro area and a little distance north of the more crowded and costly Cannon Beach and its famous Haystack Rock.
The broad, comprehensive, and level shores of Seaside Beach make it ideal for families. The beach is within walking distance of several places to stay, including hotels and many vacation homes on the shore and surrounding areas. The Pacific Northwest often has milder weather than the rest of the country’s coasts, so a trip to the sands in Seaside may be a terrific way to beat the heat without sacrificing your beach time.
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Cape May, NJ
Cape May is a city in southeastern New Jersey that is world-famous for its classic American beaches. These shores, which are representative of the Jersey Shore, are clean and well-kept, and there is a wide range of fantastic restaurants and pubs to suit every taste.
This city, which officially started in 1848, got its name from the Dutch captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who did some early mapping and exploration in the region back in the 1600s. About 2,768 people live there year-round (as of the 2020 census), making it an ideal size to raise a family or retire.
Visitors to the Jersey Cape enjoy a variety of cultural and recreational opportunities, including water sports, amazing nightclubs, outdoor concerts, and miniature golf. The “Wine and Brewery Trail” shows and fishing/crabbing trips are popular among adults.
Cape May has been called “America’s Original Beach Town” because it has some of the country’s most stunning beaches. Cape May’s shores, Victorian architecture, and boardwalk have attracted tourists for almost 200 years. Cape May Point, Higbee Beach, and Sunset Beach are some of the most visited spots because of their pristine sands.
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Destin used to be a small fishing village, but now it’s one of the most coveted places on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Now home to around 13,931 people (as of the 2020 census), the city has plenty of beachfront lodging options and attractions throughout the area.
Destin did not become an official town until 1984, even though the first condos were built there in the 1970s. Since then, the city has grown a lot, becoming a popular place for tourists to visit in Florida and a terrific place to settle down, start a professional career, or raise a family.
This seaside area is perfect for those who like fishing, sailing, other water activities, golfing, shopping, and other land-based pursuits. Visitors to town should start their day with breakfast on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, take a dolphin-watching cruise, and enjoy the fresh seafood at one of the town’s numerous restaurants.
Henderson Beach State Park is home to some of Destin’s finest stretches of shore and is also thought to be one of the top beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Walking up the boardwalk over the dunes, you’ll be greeted with a long, beautiful expanse of white sand and sparkly water. Miramar Beach, Crab Island, and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park are a few of the many other famous beaches in the Destin region.
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Long Beach, WA
The community of Long Beach, Washington, is home to the longest beach in the United States—at 28 miles long. This town on the southern coast of the Evergreen State stands out from the crowd because of its picturesque scenery, charming boutiques, and the Discovery Trail, a frequented hiking and bicycling route that also contains an ancient whale skeleton.
In 1880, Henry Harrison Tinker purchased a property claim from Charles E. Reed, marking the beginning of what would become Long Beach; however, the city was formally founded on January 18, 1922. The waterfront attractions and fantastic walking neighborhood in this modern town of 1,392 (as of the 2010 census) on Washington’s coast make it a desirable place to live.
Locals and tourists to Long Beach enjoy the vibrant evening scene, which includes a wide variety of bars and restaurants. Visit the Cranberry Museum and the World Kite Museum to learn something new and view incredible exhibits.
Long Beach’s beachfront has miles of coastline, so there’s always something to do. Spend the day making a sandcastle, surfing, and catching a beautiful sunset on the beach. Book a one- or two-hour horseback ride around the beach and water for a fun and different beach experience.
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Besides its delicious lobster, clams, and other local delicacies, Kennebunkport is reputed for its beautiful beaches and picturesque lighthouses. This town’s beginnings are reminiscent of many others along the Maine coast, having been a fishing town and now transformed into a popular tourist attraction and pleasant residential area.
Kennebunkport is one of the earliest European-settled cities in the United States, having been founded in 1653 before the USA was even a nation. There are now roughly 3,629 permanent inhabitants (as of the 2020 census), with a significant influx of New Englanders searching for warm weather and sandy beaches each summer.
The Bushes, a former president and first lady, were among the most well-known summer residents. Kennebunkport is a charming and welcoming hamlet with all the trappings of a major city, including fine eating establishments, five-star hotels, and one-of-a-kind art galleries.
Kennebunkport’s beaches are one of the main draws to the charming seaside town. An unspoiled three-mile length of fine, white sand, Goose Beach is an excellent spot for local sunbathers due to its extended, shallow water area and lack of crowds. Between July and September, both Gooch’s Beach and Mother’s Beach provide visitors with lifeguards and portable toilets. Parson’s Beach is accessible year-round, welcoming winter visitors to walk the sands.
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Kihei, a town on the shore of West Maui, has expanded dramatically over the years, developing a variety of eateries and stores to meet the needs of the region’s tourists. This coastal community is favored by vacationers and residents for its laid-back atmosphere, postcard-worthy beaches, and reasonable prices.
The city of 21,423 people (as of the 2020 census) is a popular destination for visitors to Hawaii, but it’s also a terrific place to call home. Kihei hosts a free community gathering every fourth Friday of the month, featuring live music, food trucks, and a kids’ zone. If you’re interested in whales, you can learn more about them and other topics at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary visitors center.
From Sugar Beach in the north to Keawakapu Beach in the south, the casual community of Kihei boasts six miles of coastline with a dozen beaches and beachfront parks surrounding South Kihei Road. Most shores offer grassy areas with palm trees for shade, and some even have beach volleyball courts, skate parks, basketball courts, and tennis courts.
Kihei’s teal waters are a prime place to learn how to surf, snorkel, or use a stand-up paddleboard. The ocean here is typically calmer than elsewhere on Maui.
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It’s never too early to start planning a beach holiday, so consider one of these American seaside towns for your trip. These options are some of the most famous in the nation, whether you want to relocate permanently or discover a tranquil weeklong break.