10 Most Underrated Beach Towns In The U.S., According To Reviews

Planning a beach vacation in the United States? We bet that some of America's best beaches (like Key West, Nantucket, and Maui) come to mind. While these pretty strands are well-known, their popularity often means they're crowded and loud -– less than ideal qualities for a serene or romantic getaway. If you're hoping to enjoy a quieter experience on the coast, you should add a few of America's hidden gem beach towns to your bucket list.

With roughly 90,000 beaches and over 95,000 miles of shoreline, the U.S. is packed with enough sandy strips and accompanying beach towns to offer visitors a perfect spot for their next off the beaten path beach vacation. From family-friendly places in New York to budget-friendly spots in Alabama, there are plenty of underappreciated beach towns in America primed for fun, relaxing, and adventurous days by the shore.

The best part is you won't have to fight hordes of people for a spot on the sand at these top-rated yet undervalued beach towns. We found them by combing through TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews, advice on Reddit, and articles from travel experts. So smear on the sunblock, pull on your swimsuit, and get ready to dig your toes into some soft, beautiful sand at the 10 most underrated beach towns in the United States.

1. Siesta Key, Florida

Siesta Key isn't exactly a well-kept secret (this Gulf Coast town is the setting of the MTV reality TV series of the same name) but it's definitely underrated. Its super soft, white quartz sand beach has been labeled one of Florida's best family-friendly beaches, not to mention one of the most magical beaches in the world. Spanning 101 acres, Siesta Beach is primed for water sports, sunbathing, swimming, sandcastle building, and people-watching. Not surprisingly, this sandy haven is the main tourist attraction in this cute, underrated beach town. 

Siesta Key is located on a barrier island in Sarasota County and boasts plenty of fun things to do. Whether you're hoping to hit the water with activities like kiteboarding, boat cruising, and jet skiing, or you want to enjoy more laid-back activities like riding the Siesta Key Breeze Trolley, shopping in Siesta Key Village, and fishing off Sunset Pier, you won't be bored. The best time to visit Siesta Key to avoid crowds and enjoy comfortable temperatures (summer gets super hot and humid) is between April and May or September and October.

Carlisle Inn Sarasota is a highly-rated hotel just over 8 miles from Siesta Beach.  Hot breakfast is included and there is a fitness center and outdoor pool. The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota also gets good reviews. It's located just over 7 miles away, but this luxe property is so glam that the short drive is worth it. In addition to top-notch service, guests will enjoy plush accommodations, a spa, and fabulous food.

2. Northport, New York

The Hamptons are the place to be for glitzy New Yorkers looking for a summer weekend escape and wow, do they ever get crowded! The traffic alone makes this famed locale almost unworthy of a summertime visit. Northport, on the other hand, is a hidden gem beach town on Long Island's north shore. Praised for its old-world feel (some buildings date to the 18th century), scenic harbor, and the picturesque Main Street, the town offers multiple things to do in a much quieter environment. Catch a show at the John W. Engeman Theater, enjoy a tasting at the Del Vino Vineyards, and have a picnic at Northport Village Park. 

Crab Meadow Beach is a wide, family-friendly beach with a playground, basketball courts, and plenty of sandbars. With so many fun points of interest, Northport is a perfect day-trip destination from New York City, which lies about 46 miles away. Time your visit well by planning a summer trip to Northport. This is when you'll find outdoor festivals with live entertainment as well as weather conducive to a day spent by the water. The Summerfest Concert Series is free and takes place in Northport Village Park.

There are plenty of options in terms of accommodation, but The Northport Hotel is a favorite with TripAdvisor users, who rave about the restaurant, luxurious décor, and helpful staff. A complimentary continental breakfast is included with your stay at this brand-new boutique hotel, which opened in August of 2023.

3. Anna Maria Island, Florida

Do you want to enjoy an island vacation without leaving the country? Head to Anna Maria Island. A barrier isle stretching seven miles along the Gulf Coast, this hidden gem is technically home to three cities –- Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. Their beaches are the island's main draw. The family-friendly Coquina Beach boasts hiking, biking, and nature trails in addition to concessions, a playground, and beach volleyball. Bean Point Beach is romantic and secluded, while Manatee Public Beach is busier and filled with amenities.

A 55-mile drive southwest of Tampa, Anna Maria Island is ideal for a day trip. When you aren't sunning yourself on the sand, you can book a boat trip, go parasailing, or try your luck at fishing off Bradenton Beach City Pier. To make things even easier for visitors, there's a free trolley that runs from Anna Maria Pier in the north to Coquina Beach in the south. January through March is the best (and most popular) time to visit Anna Maria Island due to its ideal temperatures. Otherwise, October offers a nice break from the intense summer heat and a serious drop in tourists, meaning the island and its attractions will be much quieter and less crowded.

Sounds good, right? But where should you stay? Well, Anna Maria Beach Resort is praised for its proximity to the beach, shops, and restaurants as well as its outdoor pool and clean rooms. Elsewhere, the stylish Waterline Villas & Marina, Autograph Collection is highly recommended for its friendly staff, pool, restaurant, and location.

4. Gulf Shores, Alabama

A visit to Alabama's lovely Gulf Shores will do wonders for your body, mind, and wallet. Boasting one of the top budget-friendly beaches on the Gulf Coast, this laid-back, off the beaten path town is an affordable place to visit. It's also much less crowded than most of Florida's best beaches. While in town, spend time at Gulf Shores Public Beach and go fishing or paddling in Gulf State Park. Gulf State Park Fishing Pier is another worthy attraction. Also, arrive hungry: The food served in Gulf Shores is fantastic, especially for seafood fans.

Beat the crowds and the heat by visiting between March and June or September to December. Not only will you enjoy favorable temperatures, but the hotel rates will be even more reasonable, and you may feel like you have some areas of the beaches to yourselves. The Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss & Greatest Beach Party takes place over the last full weekend in April (it involves throwing dead fish, not '80s hairdos). October hosts another popular event, the annual Shrimp Festival.

One great place to stay is The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel. This eco-resort offers access to 28 miles of trails, an outdoor pool, and a freshwater lake. Travelers also love Kiva Dunes, a four-star resort with four pools, two restaurants, and a variety of accommodation options including everything from condos to beach houses. Staybridge Suites Gulf Shores, an IHG Hotel is another highly-rated option: It's pet friendly and it features all-suite rooms, complimentary laundry facilities, and free breakfast.

5. Long Beach, Washington

Stretching for a whopping 28 miles in southwest Washington, Long Beach certainly lives up to its name. This West Coast gem is America's longest connecting beach, and if you head out early, you'll feel like you have the entire place to yourself. Things to do here include biking, swimming, or walking on the beach. When you've had enough of the sand, take a hike on the Discovery Trail, visit the World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame, or visit the North Head Lighthouse at nearby Cape Disappointment State Park. Marsh's Free Museum, the Long Beach Boardwalk, and the Gray Whale sculpture should also be added to your list.

Weather wise, the best time to visit Long Beach is between June and late September. If you're looking for a quiet vacation, though, be warned that June, July, and August are the busiest and most expensive months to travel here. If you're a kite fan, visit in late August for the annual, seven-day Washington State International Kite Festival.

A stay at Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort is sure to be memorable. Set on the beach, this fun resort boasts a tennis and pickleball center, indoor pool, hot tub, walking trail, and a latte stand. Who knows, maybe this pickleball vacation destination will help improve your game. Another hotel to consider is the Oceanview Inn at the Arch. Travelers love the location, the large, clean rooms, the comfortable beds, and the friendly staff. There's also The Breakers, a family-friendly hotel featuring condos, a pool, and a hot tub.

6. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Yes, Hampton Beach is home to the most popular beach in New Hampshire, but this beach town is still very underrated. That's good news for those of you who hate tripping over beach umbrellas to claim your spot on the sand. When you aren't lounging in the sun, grab a pint at Smuttynose Brewing Company, enjoy the town's adorable buildings, attend a concert at Casino Ballroom, visit the Tuck Museum of Hampton History, or try your luck at the Ocean Gaming Casino. There are many exciting places to explore in this quaint town that don't involve getting wet or sandy. That said, visiting Hampton Beach State Park is one of the most popular things to do, so pack a swimsuit.

Summer is obviously the best time to visit Hampton Beach for warm weather. It's also the busiest and most expensive time to go, but the number of activities make up for that. In late June, the town hosts an annual Sand Sculpture Event – some of the intricate designs will blow your mind. And, if you're traveling with kids, don't miss the Hampton Beach Children's Festival. Held in mid-August, this annual event runs for a week and offers family-friendly fun such as live music, a costume parade, mini-golf, dancing, and, of course, ice cream. The best part? It's free. 

Where should you stay if you decide to take a trip to Hampton Beach? The Old Salt & Lamie's Restaurant and Inn is very charming, with a mix of historic décor and modern amenities. Elsewhere, SpringHill Suites Hampton Portsmouth is both affordable and well-reviewed: This all-suite Marriott hotel boasts a complimentary hot breakfast, an indoor pool, and a fitness center.

7. Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island is the perfect place to visit for an off the beaten path beach vacation. Plus, it won't hurt your bank account as much as a stay at New England's more popular and expensive beach towns, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. A 3-by-7 mile isle ringed almost entirely by sandy shores, Block Island is a haven for outdoorsy folks who like to soak up natural beauty. Hiking, biking, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, and fishing are among the best things to do. Visit the Southeast and North Lighthouses, and don't miss the picturesque Mohegan Bluffs. New Shoreham is the island's only town and boasts plenty of great restaurants. 

To get here, take the Block Island Ferry. You can board at Perrotti Park in Newport or Port Judith in Narragansett. Both ferries take about an hour, or 30 minutes for a high-speed ferry from Port Judith. Summer is the most enjoyable time to visit in terms of weather and activities — between Memorial Day and Labor Day is best. This is peak season, though, so it will be more crowded. Book early if you're planning a ferry ride at this time. Reservations for late June through early July open after New Year's.

In terms of accommodation, Old Town Inn on Block Island receives great reviews for its location, outdoor games, complimentary breakfast, and location. The Rose Farm Inn is another comfortable option that travelers enjoy visiting. A stay here includes breakfast and the inn offers bike rentals to help guests explore the island.

8. Capitola, California

A little town in California about 6 miles east of Santa Cruz, the colorful Capitola is the West Coast's oldest beach resort and a refreshing place to visit for a fun day out. Flanked by a kaleidoscope of beachfront buildings, this quaint town often feels more Mediterranean than American. Esplanade Park is where you'll find the beach, a bandstand, and amenities like restrooms and outdoor showers. The sea wall is an attraction in itself, highlighted by tiles painted by locals. Visitors can surf, kayak, and swim, among other fun activities. Capitola Village is filled with eclectic shops and tasty restaurants. 

Late summer is the best time to visit: Warm-weather fun can be had between the end of June and late September, when temperatures are optimal. The town boasts outdoor movies, concerts, and other live entertainment. Twilight concerts are held outside in Esplanade Park on Wednesday nights in the summer and are a great way to spend a mid-week evening. Later in the week, enjoy the Sunday Art & Music at the Beach events, which are held on multiple Sundays at this time of year.

Where should you rest your head at night? Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Cruz – Capitola is highly rated for its covered parking, clean and spacious rooms, and complimentary breakfast. The Best Western Plus Capitola By-the-Sea Inn & Suites offers mini-suites with a fireplace for those who require more space and extra comfort. They also serve a free hot breakfast and have an outdoor pool, spa, and fitness facility. Capitola Hotel sits close to the beach, right in the middle of Capitola Village. It also offers complimentary breakfast as well as afternoon cookies.

9. Brewster, Massachusetts

It's easy to take things slow in Brewster. Located on the southeast coast of Cape Cod, this beautiful, underrated beach town is filled with family-friendly things to do. The top places to visit when you're in town include Nickerson State Park, Paine's Creek Beach, and Crosby Landing Beach. Speaking of beaches, there are 11 in this seaside town. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is another attraction to add to your list, and the Captains Golf Course and Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club are a must for anyone who enjoys the game. Don't miss the Brewster Tidal Flats. Best seen in low tide, you can walk for miles from shore on the town's best beaches.

It's no secret that Cape Cod gets packed during the summer. That's when you'll experience the most favorable weather, but it can also get crowded. Luckily, Brewster is small and less popular than other towns like Provincetown and Hyannis, making summer a good time to visit. If you're hoping to explore the tidal flats, aim to arrive an hour or two before low tide.

Since Brewster is small, it's best to book early if you're hoping to stay in town on a busy, summer weekend. The Candleberry Inn on Cape Cod is a charming B&B that serves a multi-course breakfast and features an outdoor fire pit, bike rental, and plush décor. The Mansion at Ocean Edge boasts a beachfront location and access to a spa and a private golf course.

10. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Best known as home to the remarkable Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a beautiful place to visit on Oregon's captivating coast –- it was even dubbed one of the 100 most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic. A wonderful day trip destination, Cannon Beach lies about 79 miles northwest of Portland. A quaint town beloved for its sandy beach and unique rocky outcroppings, it has an adorable seaside village peppered with cute shops and restaurants.

Top things to do in Cannon Beach include lounging on the area's scenic sandy shores, hiking through Ecola State Park, and touring the town's public art installations and indoor galleries. October through May are the best months to visit if you'd like to feel like you have the beaches and the town to yourself. Hotel rates are cheaper then, too. However, the weather can be a bit iffy, so pack layers and waterproofs. Tourists who brave a winter trip between mid-December and mid-January will be rewarded with peak whale-watching conditions during the gray whales' migration. They're on the move again between late February and May, so keep your eyes peeled for the majestic beauties.

Stay at the very highly-rated Inn at Cannon Beach for a cozy experience that includes large rooms, friendly staff, fire pits, and free breakfast. The Ocean Lodge is beloved for its rustic décor, stunning views, wine receptions, and free breakfast. Hallmark Resort & Spa Cannon Beach also boasts fab vistas, easy access to the beach, and complimentary cookies.

Our ranking methodology

Determining the most underrated beach towns in the U.S. is not a simple task, so how did we come up with this list? We combed through hundreds, if not thousands of reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Niche to offer you the most accurate and up-to-date information available. We also took into consideration opinions shared by locals and travelers on Reddit to guarantee we picked beach towns that are both underrated and worthy of a visit. Plus, we consulted in-depth articles published by travel experts. When it came to narrowing down the best places to stay, we assessed reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com and took into consideration high ratings in combination with the amenities offered.