If you’ve always dreamed of taking a beach vacation, you should know that popular tourist destinations aren’t as idyllic as they seem. It’s much better to visit a small beach town where you can enjoy the surf, sand, and umbrella drinks without crowds jostling you at every turn. Here are just a few U.S. beach destinations that are worth a second look!
Avila Beach, California
You can’t talk about beach towns without mentioning California. Avila Beach isn’t the only small, modest town that dots the shore, but it’s one of the best, especially if you’re looking for a traditional “beach” experience. It offers piers, lighthouses, dunes, and other iconic imagery of coastal living. It’s also a great place for things like paddleboarding since its waters are known to be mild.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Skip Miami. Visit Anna Maria Island. A barrier island on the Gulf Coast, it has the quaint, picturesque vibe of a true beach town with ice cream shacks and multicolored houses stacked along the shore. You can hit the water at any time to enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking and snorkeling. When you’re feeling social, wander over to street markets and their stalls of food, jewelry, and kitschy souvenirs.
Garden City, South Carolina
Just a short hop from Myrtle Beach, Garden City is a fun, relaxed, and family-friendly town. The inlet meets the ocean nearby, so the waters are great for swimming, surfing, sailing, and more. There’s a long pier where people mill around all day and dance to live music at night. Other attractions include everything from vintage arcades to banana boat tours. Whether you’re traveling with kids or looking for an understated honeymoon destination, consider Garden City! For more information and current listing, feel free to visit Garden City SC real estate.
Tybee Island, Georgia
You don’t have to choose between visiting a beach and visiting the south. At Tybee Island, there are gorgeous shoreline views in almost every direction, and you can jump in the water for all kinds of recreational activities. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to one of the many bars and restaurants serving authentic southern cuisine.
Situated on Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is a nice place to get away from it all. It’s quiet, pretty, tranquil, and a favored spot by retirees. Attractions tend to be similarly sedate: You can go sailing, listen to live music at the performance hall or sample some wine at the local tasting room. Saugatuck isn’t the town to cut loose, but it’s the town where you can relax and recharge your batteries for a while.
Is Hawaii on your bucket list? You don’t have to spend big bucks to visit places like Honolulu. Instead, divert your flight to the west and soak up the sun at Hanapepe! It’s so beautiful that the Hawaiian government has forbidden the construction of anything taller than a palm tree, so your views of the local sights will never be hindered by a condo or resort. It also plays host to a weekly celebration on Hanapepe Street where everything stays open late and folks all party together.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Alabama might not be the first place that you imagine when you think of outdoor adventure, but Gulf Shores will prove you wrong. It’s home to everything from state parks to wildlife centers to historic military forts that you can explore. Hit the beach; catch a show; watch the sea turtles migrate; go ziplining through the trees. Gulf Shores will keep the adrenaline going 24/7.
If you like cutting loose after the sun sets, Provincetown is the destination for you. Despite being a small beach town, it’s brimming with nightlife, so you can drink and dance the night away at bars, clubs, and cabarets. It’s also a town known for being inclusive, so folks from all walks of life are welcome. You can truly let your hair down during your vacation.
The Pacific Northwest is another destination that might not immediately come to mind when you’re thinking about a beach vacation. It’s true, too, that Bandon stays chilly and overcast for most of the year. It’s just worth visiting anyway. Its stark and rugged beauty will move you, and if you go at the right time of year, you can watch seals playing on the rocks and whales migrating south. Not all beach vacations have to be sunny to be memorable.
Everything about Carmel-by-the-Sea is charming. Its name is cute; its entire town is only one square mile; its shopfronts have a deliberately old-fashioned look with striped awnings and bicycles parked out front. You’ll want to Instagram every minute of your visit here. It’s a town to consider if you want a memorable vacation.
These are just a few beach towns in the U.S. that are worth visiting. You don’t have to fly to Fiji to enjoy a tropical getaway! Just choose your American beaches wisely.