Best Beach Towns In America

Best Beach Towns in America

What should be the definition of a cool beach town? A place where people go to relax, avoid crowds, surf gigantic waves, witness stunning sunsets, walk barefoot on mile-long beaches, or perhaps all of the above? The best beach towns are also about waking up with a nice breeze, enjoying world-class seafood at just about any small restaurant, and feeding off positive energy because of the art and music festivals that are scheduled all throughout the year. These places are as much about the beach as they are about its residents, local vibe, culture and nightlife.

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Pick any of the island's 7 miles of long sandy 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 paddle boarding...There is something to do for every level of active traveler. Golfing and fishing are especially popular. Spend your day sunbathing in this spotlight-free gem, sipping summer cocktails in one of the boardwalk's many venues. Anna Maria Island is a laid-back paradise with bungalows and charming Floridian architecture.

Lubec, Maine

Lubec, the easternmost town in the continental U.S., is one of the few calm and serene places in the busy, over-crowded eastern seaboard Maine. Hike through pine forests or walk for miles on the salt-sprayed shoreline, and explore secluded tidal inlets. The more active adventurers can bike down quiet country roads or across hilly islands and go birding on steep rugged headlands and tidal flats. Fishermen run whale-watching boats as well.

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City is known for its outdoor recreation every season of the year, according to Pure Michigan. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a magnificent mix of water, sky and towering sand dunes on the Lake Michigan shoreline, is a famous attraction with an abundance of hiking trails. Biking and fishing opportunities are endless. Fall is the favorite season of many locals and visitors mostly for the exceptional wine tours, colorful displays, hay rides, and cider and doughnuts.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is a popular vacation resort that extends for four miles along the Pacific Ocean. The town is adorned with bright flowers and lots of places to stop, sit and relax. Cannon Beach was in the Top 15 off the beaten path rental destinations rated by FlipKey and one of the Ten Most Romantic Coastal Destinations ranked by USA Today. The town is also among Northwest's top art places and greatest escapes. You'll enjoy gorgeous beaches, odd rock formations, stunning coastline, unique lodgings, and scenic trails.

Chincoteague, Virginia

You won't find any high rises, board walks or traffic jams. Chincoteague Island, Virginia's only resort Island which is just 7 miles long, is a serene, yet fun filled, tourist destination. It is home to the famous Chincoteague Wild Ponies. They are free to roam across Assateague Island's National Shoreline. Other things visitors enjoy are beach-combing, boating, fishing, kayaking, clamming, crabbing, swimming, hiking and bird watching.

Chatham, Massachusetts

Chatham is known as "the first stop of the East Wind." The town has  first class beaches, especially the Outer Beach, accessible only by boat or oversand vehicle, according to Cape Cod Travel. Seafaring sights include the Fish Pier where you can watch the day's catch come in, Stage Harbor, and the romantic Chatham fog, which rolls in nightly in the summer. Seal tours have grown in popularity because of the appearance of great white sharks off Chatham. Hikers and bikers will love the Old Colony Rail Trail, a side trip off the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

South Padre Island, Texas

This barrier island in Texas, the only one in the state, is a top spring break spot for students looking to save some money while still having an amazing experience. Enjoy powder-soft beaches, 34 miles of beautiful white sand and clear emerald water, sun-soaked shores, postcard-perfect settings, a lavish nightlife with many popular beach haunts rocking until the wee hours, according to the Travel Channel. The island is preferred by all kinds of travelers – a family, a newlywed couple, fishing enthusiasts, nature lovers or people who want to swim with dolphins and sea turtles.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island is also known as Savannah Beach. It is easily accessible and located just 18 miles away from the Hostess City of the South, historic Savannah, Georgia. Rich in both history and natural beauty, Tybee Island is also famous for its diverse cuisine, excellent accommodations, and a variety of exciting recreational activities, according to Discover Tybee Island. The five miles of public beach offer endless views of the Atlantic Ocean and are ideal for sunbathing, walking, biking, sailing, and fishing. Various art and music events are scheduled almost every day.

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Ocean Springs is a dream town that locals call "the city of discovery." There are dozens of independent shops and art galleries for the artistic side of every visitor; music and food festivals are scheduled year-round; the day is never boring at the beach. Also America's largest national seashore, the Gulf Islands National Seashore, practically surrounds the town, according to NPS.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth prides itself on being one of the nation's oldest cities – it's existed since 1623. The history, the shopping, the harbor and the food are just a few reasons why people love Portsmouth. The city is near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, between New Hampshire and Maine. Portsmouth regularly lands it on various "best places to live" lists, according to Go on lobster tours, whale-watching, deep sea fishing, and go on a day trip to the historic Isles of Shoals.

Mobile, Alabama

The Gulf Shores are certainly more famous than Mobile, but Mobile is much cheaper and it, too, offers stunning waterfront access and beachfront homes. Once called the Paris of the South, Mobile has long been the cultural center of the Gulf Coast and you'll find an authentic experience found nowhere else in the southern U.S. The city is home to America's original Mardi Gras, dozens of festivals, art shows, and culinary cook-offs nearly every weekend.

Narragansett, Rhode Island

If you try to picture what a classic New England coastal town would look like, you're probably going to imagine everything Narragansett has – clean beaches, delicious food, nice surfing conditions with reliable swell of waves, and sandy beachfront. The town is within minutes of Newport and Providence. Narragansett has always been a getaway for people from Boston and even New York.

Long Beach, Washington

Long Beach is located on Washington's southwestern coast where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. The city is rich with coastal beauty and fresh Northwest cuisine. Adventurers will like kayaking and clam digging, nature lovers will love the horseback riding and bird watching opportunities. A favorite among locals and visitors alike are the two lighthouses, Cape Disappointment and North Head, which open year-round. Long Beach is also home to the Washington State International Kite Festival that brings people from all over the world and the SandSations, an annual sand sculpture competition.

Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Anywhere you turn in the island-town that is 7-mile long and 1 mile wide island you will see breathtaking views. Aside from awesome beaches, Isle of Palms stands out for its commitment to safe its natural ecology. Back in 2002, the city was the first in the state to achieve the Blue Wave Designation from the Clean Beaches Council who recognizes environmentally well-managed beaches. It has successfully kept this designation every year since.

Carmel-by-the Sea, California

California is a big state and you will find many different beaches, but Carmel Beach is something else. Even though it's located in a small and artsy chic town along the state's amazing coastal highway, it maintains its old-fashioned vibe. The main beach also has a laid-back atmosphere, which you may not expect from a beach in California. Rated a top-10 destination in the U.S. year after year, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a stunning, European-style town snuggled above a scenic white-sand beach where everything is within walking distance.

Sunset Beach, Hawaii

Sunset Beach Oahu is a surfing mecca where people can also watch big-wave surfers in action during the wintertime when they try to conquer gigantic 15- to 30-foot waves, according to Best of Oahu. Summer is perfect for snorkeling. But the sunsets are otherworldly every day. Sunset Beach State Park is located nearby so people can explore one of the few long stretches of sand that you get to drive right next to, traveling along the Kamehameha Highway.