1. Dauphin Island, Alabama
Dubbed the “Sunset Capital of Alabama,” Dauphin Island is a quaint little Southern town on the Gulf Coast island of the same name. There’s boating, golf, sandy beaches, and excellent fishing. The 14-mile-long island has been designated a bird sanctuary, too!
2. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
A small beach city located on the Monterey Peninsula in California, Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its adorable cottages, museums, and art galleries. It’s also quite near the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, which is a fantastic scenic hiking point.
3. Laguna Beach, California
Down in Southern California, Laguna Beach is a picturesque seaside resort city located in southern Orange County. The weather is spectacular year-round, and the city is known for its scenic views and thriving artist community.
4. Sanibel Island, Florida
An island and city located in Florida, Sanibel Island is best known for its shell beaches and wildlife refuges. Sanibel is also noteworthy for being one of the more unique barrier islands in the world, given that it has an east-west orientation as opposed to the north-south orientation typical of most islands. Shell collectors will definitely want to take a trip down South to see these sandy shores!
5. Jekyll Island, Georgia
Located off the coast of Georgia, Jekyll Island is one of the Golden Isles of Georgia barrier islands. It’s a popular tourist destination in the South, with guided tours of its historic district, bike trails, and even a water park. There’s also plenty of wildlife to be found in the island’s salt marshes.
6. Maui, Hawaii
Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Also called the “Valley Isle,” it boasts a diverse landscape with volcanic rocks and craters in addition to its world-renowned beaches. It’s also known for being a great whale-watching destination, thanks to its location. Fans of Moana will also be particularly drawn to this beach destination!
7. Roque Bluffs, Maine
Roque Bluffs is a small Maine town and home of the Roque Bluffs State Park, one of the state’s greatest natural attractions. There’s a beach of sand and pebbles, and the area has both Englishman Bay for a saltwater swim and Simpson Pond for a freshwater swim.
8. Ocean City, Maryland
A major Atlantic resort town in Maryland, Ocean City sees a tremendous number of tourists during the summer, with millions of visitors coming to the hot spot annually. It’s got miles of beaches, a world-famous 3-mile-long boardwalk, hundreds of restaurants, and no shortage of resorts to accommodate its yearly tourism boom.
9. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod is one of those beach destinations everybody knows about, even if you haven’t personally been there yourself. Tourists love the picturesque New England locale for its beaches, biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, miniature golf, and shopping. The islands to the south of Cape Cod — Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard — are also extremely popular summer destinations.
10. Traverse City, Michigan
Those who have visited Traverse City likely know that the city is known for its cherries — in fact, it’s the largest producer of tart cherries in the country! It even hosts a National Cherry Festival the first full week in July, which attracts plenty of visitors on its own. The Michigan city is also known for its freshwater beaches and vineyards. You’ll definitely want to check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which has been part of the country’s national park system since 1970.
11. The Hamptons, New York
The Hamptons is another one of those ubiquitous beach destinations. Comprised of a number of villages and hamlets on the East End of Long Island, the locale has been a majorly popular tourist destination for decades. It’s particularly popular among New Yorkers looking to escape city life on weekends.
12. Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks is the collective name for a number of barrier islands and peninsulas off the North Carolina and Virginia coasts. The area boasts uncrowded miles-long beaches, parks, restaurants, shopping, and plenty of historical landmarks. Check out Jockey’s Ridge, the East Coast’s highest sand dune, or the country’s tallest brick lighthouse while you’re there!
13. Cannon Beach, Oregon
There’s a reason why Cannon Beach was named one of National Geographic‘s 100 Most Beautiful Places in the World. With gorgeous viewpoints along the coast and a quaint beach village, this Oregon city (just 90 minutes from Portland) is also known for being one of the top art towns in the country. It’s also home to Haystack Rock, a natural attraction and one of the state’s most recognizable landmarks. Those who love birds will also be excited to know that you can spot the colorful tufted puffin there in June and July!
14. Newport, Rhode Island
Lovers of architecture will appreciate the many gilded age mansions and the colonial architecture in Newport. The sweeping New England landscapes and abundance of clam chowder aren’t to be ignored, either. The gorgeous seaside city also hosts a number of annual festivals and fairs, including the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival.
15. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
This barrier island on the Atlantic coast of the country is located just 25 miles southwest of South Carolina’s oldest and largest city, Charleston. Kiawah Island is noteworthy for its 10 miles of beaches, maritime forests, sand dunes, and marshes, in addition to its shopping. The island is also home to an award-winning golf resort, which has hosted numerous major golf tournaments like the World Cup in both 1997 and 2003 and the PGA Championship in 2012 and forthcoming in 2021.