24 American Cities Best Seen From The Water

Beach towns get a lot of attention in the summer because this is when people go there on vacations. But these trips usually include mostly on-land activities. Few stop to notice how breathtakingly gorgeous the coast really is. And this is true year-round.

Austin, Texas

The capital of Texas is absolutely stunning, and Barton Springs is a big reason why. This popular recreational outdoor swimming pool is filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs. With an average temperature of 68-70 degrees, it is ideal for year-round swimming. The 7.25-mile Barton Creek Greenbelt goes right through the city. Boating is a favorite pastime for residents. On hot days people will cool off by kayaking on the river, or they'll take their boats to the lakes nearby.

Beaufort, North Carolina

Whatever you imagine southern charm to be, Beaufort has it. Explore the nearby Hunting Island State Park, its maritime forest and the white-tipped waves of the Atlantic. There are seemingly endless ways to enjoy the water along the Crystal Coast – parasailing, jet ski, pontoon boats, paddle boards, and kayak rentals, to name a few.

Hood River, Oregon

The town is usually very popular among water sports fans but it certainly has that "winter town" vibe. Kayak off Celestial Falls for a thrilling experience, explore the jaw-dropping scenery, valleys and Columbia River Gorge. Hood River is just about an hour away from Portland.

Kihei, Hawaii

The town is beach-combing territory on Maui's southwest shore, the sunniest, driest end of the island, according to Go Hawaii. Enjoy the six miles of beaches, clear views of Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lanai and West Maui. Swimming, surfing, snorkeling and kayaking are everyday activities.

Falmouth, Massachusetts

Falmouth is a quiet town with more public beaches – over 68 miles of coastline and 12 miles of shorelines, and some of the finest restaurants on Cape Cod. The city is also an ideal base for day-tripping to Martha's Vineyard, Plymouth, and Nantucket, according to Falmouth Visitor. The average summer water temperature is 70 degrees—the warmest on the Cape.

Nashville, Tennessee

It's not all about music and nightlife fun. You may want to drop a hook in a local lake, swim some laps, explore the local waterways, or just take the family out for a day of fun in the sun, Nashville will accommodate you with plenty of canoe and kayak rentals, Hamilton Creek Marina, riverfront dockage, and boat ramps. In 2012, Outside Magazine named Nashville one of the "Best River Towns in America."

Yakutat, Alaska

It's best seen from a surfboard. Home to Alaska's first surf shop, Icy Waves, this tiny town on the northern end of the Inside Passage bills itself as the "Far North Shore," and rightly so. During the summer months, intrepid surfers make the trip by ferry and plane—the only way to get there—to surf in view of towering Mount St. Elias.

Sequim, Washington

If you want to find consistently sunny weather in Washington, you go to Sequim. It's a gateway to all the amazing water, river, lake, and mountain activities that attract people to the Olympic Peninsula. Sea kayaking and beachcombing are among the favorite activities.

Duxbury, Massachusetts

Duxbury Beach is famous for being among the most gorgeous as well as accessible beaches in the state.  It is a major, unspoiled, natural recreational asset. Snug Harbor, just north of Plymouth Bay, is a popular recreational boat basin on the coast. The charming New England town on Cape Cod Bay is a depiction of summer ideal.  

Morro Bay, California

This coastal city is mostly known for Morro Rock, which is an ancient volcanic hill at the end of Morro Rock Beach. Surf, cruises, a BBQ on the beach, kayak tours of Morro Bay National Estua, mountain biking...anything you want you will find it in Morro Bay.

Chicago, Illinois

During the summer, Chicago residents have plenty of lakes to choose from, including the fifth largest in the world, Lake Michigan. Between the Chain O' Lakes and Lake Michigan, there's a lot of waterfront property and places to boat in the area. The city offers plenty of SUP opportunities, especially in the summer. The skyline views are magical, too.

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, which is also on the list of most romantic city in every state, is a beautiful small town is just a couple of hours way from chaotic New York City. The entire town is a national historic landmark. The beaches are less crowded and quieter than other areas along the shore.

Laguna Beach, California

It is known for their beautiful cove beaches – Thousand Steps, Victoria Beach and Crescent Bay. The small coastal city in Orange County is very popular when the weather gets even a bit warm. Seeing it from the water may actually be the only way you can afford to anyway.

Richmond, Virginia

The city is an outdoor oasis. The historic city has become a hub for watersport enthusiasts. For example, the whitewater known as Hollywood is only about a mile from Virginia's seat of state government. Rafting, kayaking and canoeing trips give paddlers a different perspective on downtown Richmond.

Narragansett, Rhode Island

Clean beaches, nice surfing conditions with reliable swell of waves, and sandy beachfront. What else do you need? The town is within minutes of Newport and Providence, and has always been a getaway for people from Boston and even New York.

Ithaca, New York

Relax on the Finger Lakes' largest lake, Cayuga Lake, and spend quality time together. The water is refilled by nine creeks, which create many gorgeous waterfalls and geologically spectacular gorges. Outdoor fans will love that kiteboarding, fishing, and even cliff jumping are readily accessible.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Paddling is very popular in the summer. And how can it not be considering how many lakes and rivers – Lake Minnetonka, Lake Phalen and Bryant Lake Regional Park, to name a few –  are nearby to enjoy them? Stand up paddle boarding tours are even offered in metropolitan waters.

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach is actually known as one of the premiere surfing destinations on the East Coast. The most popular spot is The Washout. Go to the Folly Pier for fishing, walking, birding, and enjoying breathtaking views of the "Edge of America."

Miami, Florida

This beautiful city is famous for its gorgeous beaches, bustling nightlife, delicious foods, and most importantly, its year-round incredible weather. Given that its nickname is "America's Riviera," you should definitely see it from the water.

Long Beach, Washington

Long Beach is located on Washington's southwestern coast where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. Adventurers will like kayaking and clam digging. Long Beach is also home to the Washington State International Kite Festival that brings people from all over the world.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth prides itself on being one of the nation's oldest cities – it's existed since 1623. The history, the harbor and the food are just a few reasons why people love it. Go on lobster tours, whale-watching, deep sea fishing, and go on a day trip to the historic Isles of Shoals.

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Pick any of the island's beaches – crowded or more secluded – and you won't make a mistake. Go on eco-tours, boat tours, canoeing or kayaking, dolphin watching or stand-up paddleboarding...There is something to do for every level of active traveler.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Water fun is a given in this wonderful beach town. Plenty of adventures will give you an adrenaline rush. Make the Atlantic Ocean and local waterways your oyster for jet skiing, surfing, kayaking, parasailing, and windsurfing.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Alabama Gulf Coast offers something for everyone. Tourists and locals enjoy swimming, sunbathing, surfing and skim boarding on the beaches. Fishing is big there, too. Charter fleets leave every day. This small coastal city is really growing in popularity.