Life can be stressful, and there’s no better way to remedy this quite like a few days of relaxing on the beach. So, if you are planning a getaway and looking for the best beach vacations in the U.S., you’re in the right place. 

From the gorgeous coast of California to the basalt towers of Cannon Beach, the United States offers diverse and unique beaching options. Whether you are traveling as a family, couple, or solo – you’ll find something below to suit your needs. 

If you are hunting for cheap vacation spots in the U.S. or want to splurge on a beachfront villa, this guide has got you covered. 

Best Beaches in the U.S. for Vacation 

Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. that you could be spending long, sunny days on. From quaint seaside towns to large well-known beach destinations, take your pick and start packing.  

Capitola, California

Capitola Beach Wharf

You don’t get much better than the golden coast of California, and Capitola brings you a more private beach experience than some other popular places on this coast.

Characterized by colorful houses hugging the shore and a laid-back vibe, you’re guaranteed a wonderful beach vacation at Capitola.

The town gives off a Mediterranean feeling with its waterfront scene consisting of a bay, wharf, and village shops. You’ll have a variety of dining options to choose from, between laidback taco joints and local pubs, to fancier, wine-centric restaurants. 

If you are looking to relax in a cute beach village away from the crowds, this gem of a spot is calling your name. 

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida, US

Much like California, Florida boasts many white sandy beaches with sparkling turquoise waters, and St. Augustine is no exception to this.

Not only are you treated to peaceful beaches, but this Spanish-settled town is steeped in rich history and cultural sites.

After you have spent a day soaking up the sun on the shores of St. Augustine, this town filled with old-world charm has a host of things waiting to be explored.

Check out Castillo de San Marcos – the country’s oldest standing masonry fort, and the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. A great way to see this and more is with a Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour.

For those not interested in museums, hit the European-style shopping streets of St. George and Aviles to pick up some unique items. Finally, end your day with a beer tasting at the St. Augustine Distillery. 

Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island Lighthouse, US

Does a remote island off the coast of Rhode Island known for hiking, biking, sailing, and much more sound like the perfect place for you?

Well, then head to Block Island and enjoy a seaside vacation that satisfies both adventure seekers and chilled beach lovers alike. 

Okay, so this Island is remote, but its population can triple over the popular summer months. So, if this is your destination of choice, be sure to book accommodation early.

In the Old Harbor, which resembles an old village town, you’ll find Victorian B&B’s and unique boutique shops. It’s also where you’ll find the island’s only grocery store.

Those looking for a slower pace need to look no further. On Block Island, your days will consist of misty mornings, lazy beach walks to the lighthouse, and relaxed sundowners on the porch – dreamy right? 

Solana Beach, California

Solana Beach Sunset

Solana Beach is in the laid-back county of San Diego, and if you’re looking for a barefoot beach adventure, it doesn’t get much better than this.

It’ll be hard to tear yourself away from the stunning beaches, but for those who can, you don’t need to look far to keep busy.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll enjoy trying out different things, from hot tamale to chocolate halvah at the Sunday farmers market. The seafood restaurants, wineries, and pancake houses also make for a delightful afternoon with friends and family.

The area also boasts some breathtaking scenery. For the best views of the ocean and lagoon, set off on one of the rugged hiking trails – Annie’s Canyon Trail is particularly stunning.  

Cape May, New Jersey 

Cape May Houses

If you are looking for the best beach vacations in the U.S. that are suitable for families, Cape May could just be your spot.

On the Southernmost tip of New Jersey, you’ll find one of America’s oldest and most charming seaside resort towns. To get into the seaside vacation mood, why not start your trip with a sunset & dolphin watching cruise?

Lovers of history and architecture will be wowed by the Victorian-style hotels and cottages.

Stroll through the brick sidewalks and pop into the mom-and-pop shops to make the most of the town. Here you’ll find unique local goods and delicious saltwater taffy before hitting the beach for a day in the sun.

For kiddies’ entertainment, head to Congress Hall Hotel, where classic carnival nights are held every Monday evening during the summer months. Beach Plum Farm is also a great place for the whole family.

In summer, the working farm welcomes children to the adventure club for kids, with activities such as birdhouse making, archery, and nature hikes. 

For those traveling without kids, make sure you enjoy a night out at The Chalfonte. The fried-chicken dinner served on the wraparound porch with live music is a great way to end your day.  

Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu Hawaii Beach

This wouldn’t be a list of the best and prettiest beaches in the U.S. if somewhere in Hawaii wasn’t on it.

Oahu, also known as “The Gathering Place,” is the perfect vacation spot for families or groups of friends looking for a fun holiday packed with activities and gorgeous beaches.

Oahu is a U.S. island in the Central Pacific and is also home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu.

Populated with many resorts, like the Sheraton Waikiki, it’s the perfect spot for every occasion – family adventures, romantic trips, or solo travel – it really suits every traveler.

For nightlife and excellent dining options, be sure to check out Waikiki Beach. The history buffs should make a note of visiting the Pearl Harbor Site, where you can learn more about the WWII bombing attack.  

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach Sunset

Home to the distinctive Haystack Rock, a basalt tower protruding from the water just off the shoreline, Cannon Beach is worth a visit. Some even argue that this is the most beautiful beach in the USA, given its unique and striking rocks.

Debates aside, you can’t argue that the basalt towers aren’t worth the trip, and the 9-mile strip of beach certainly won’t disappoint. 

This beach doesn’t only offer stunning views, you’ll also be able to swim, kayak and bird-watch along the shores of Cannon Beach.

If you really want to see something special, visit at low tide. This is when the ocean recedes and reveals secret caves and marine life. 

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown Massachusetts, US

You don’t have to worry about fitting in in Provincetown. The population increases from a mere 3000 residents to a whopping 60,000 in the high summer months.

The bohemian crowds create an everyone-is-welcome type of atmosphere where you’re sure to enjoy a chilled-out seaside vacation. 

Spend long summer days frolicking in either Race Point Beach or Herring Cove Beach before grabbing a snack at one of the many eateries in town.

Other fun day activities include biking through the surrounding pine forests and dunes. A stroll down the funky Commercial Street, home to vibrant shops, galleries, and restaurants, should also be on your list.

Tip: For an affordable place to stay on the beachfront, check out the Breakwater Hotel.  

Bald Head Island, North Carolina 

Bald Head Island Beach

This peaceful beach community on the northern part of the East Coast is for those looking to slow down from the busyness of day-to-day life.

The subtropical island has miles of unspoiled beaches perfect for long walks and spending hours in the fresh ocean water kayaking or swimming.

The best part about the whole island is that there are no cars. Yes, you read right; no cars are allowed on the island, which means that you either have to catch a ride in a golf cart, ride your bike, or simply just walk. This gives off the quintessential feeling of laidback island life.

Port Aransas, Texas

Flying Bird

A stunning strip of beach may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Port Aransas.

The self-proclaimed “Fishing Capital of Texas” has so much more to offer than the catch of the day.

With 18 miles of beach just waiting to be explored, you’ll find a plethora of popular activities like kayaking, swimming, parasailing, and dolphin spotting.

Out of the water, you can enjoy a game of golf or try your luck with spotting some birds. Given the area’s marshy type of terrain, you’ll find birds such as pelicans, ducks, and roseate spoonbills (which look similar to pink flamingos).

Culebra, Puerto Rico

Tank in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Last on this list, but not least, is San Juan, Puerto Rico. With over 270 miles of coastline, there’s no denying that Puerto Rico will offer some of the best beach experiences in the U.S.

From the vibrant and bustling beaches of San Juan to the surfing haven of Rincon, and the pristine crystal clear waters of Culebra, Puerto Rico has a beach experience for everyone.

The small island of Culebra is one of my favorite places on earth. It is very chill and laid back, and it has some of the top beaches in the world, according to many “top beaches in the world” lists. And I don’t disagree.

The world-famous Flamenco Beach is considered the best beach in Culebra. Its crystal clear water and white sand shores are protected by a picturesque cove that makes this beach a family-friendly stop.

But beyond the picturesque natural landscape, two WWII tanks are lying on the beach, making them popular spots for photos.

Should Flamenco Beach be too crowded for your liking, then head to Zoni Beach on the opposite side of Culebra. It is just as stunning but not as famous as its sister beach.

Discovering the Best Beaches in the USA

There you have it, the top 11 beaches in the U.S. for a lovely seaside vacation.

Unwind in an isolated location like Bald Head Island, where the only thing you have to worry about is how long your beach walk will be. Or opt for Waikiki beach, with bustling nightlife and abundant sporting activities.  

Whichever option you choose, you’re sure to have a dreamy beach vacation at any of these wonderful destinations.

Planning another seaside vacation? Check out the beaches in the Caribbean for an unforgettable trip. 

Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
When it comes to cheap airfare, I highly recommend using Skyscanner, Expedia, and CheapAir. These are three of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.

In fact, CheapAir has a handy tool that tells you the best time to book your flight depending on your route. Check it out here.

BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
For hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and other types of accommodation, I highly recommend Booking.com. They are my go-to booking site because they usually have the cheapest fares.

If you’re a registered Booking.com user (“Genius”), you can take advantage of their “Genius discount” to save even more money. I almost always book my accommodation with Booking, and I’ve saved thousands of dollars with their Genius discount.

And of course, as one of the largest travel booking sites in the world, Expedia is another excellent accommodation booking site with a free reward program and discounted member prices.

If you’re looking to save money by staying at a hostel, HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels with shared dorms and private rooms. On the other hand, Vrbo offers a wide variety of rooms and apartments at affordable prices.

DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness. I use World Nomads to insure my trips.

If you’re a nomad and travel often or long-term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on long-term travel insurance.

FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.

BOOK YOUR LOCAL TRANSPORTATION AHEAD OF TIME
Bookaway
 offers the easiest and most accessible way to book overland transportation with local operators, be it by bus, train, ferry, plane, mini-van, or even private transfers.

If renting a car, then I highly recommend DiscoverCars to get the largest car selection at the best price.

OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.

11 Best Beach Vacations in the US: Seaside Towns & More
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