So where do you go to get a healthy dose of “vitamin sea”? The USA has over 12,000 miles of coastline complete with cozy coastal towns. Pack your swimsuit into your suitcase and prepare to check out America’s most charming seaside towns.
Located in southern Alaska, Ketchikan features a wee colorful cluster of stilt houses poised o’er Ketchikan Creek. It’s most famous for its indigenous heritage which is mainly Haida and Tlingit. Thus it’s also the best place in the US to see brightly painted and intricately carved totem poles in their intended environs. Take in the mountains, glacier-born valleys, and verdant green forests too.
The rugged San Juan Islands are an archipelago in Washington next to the American-Canadian border. Here you’ll find the historic Friday Harbor. Explore the various enticing restaurants and little shops there. Kick back and enjoy the relaxed local lifestyle for awhile. Then you can sign on for a whale-watching cruise or even go explore the other islands there.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is not your stereotypical California surf town. Situated just off the well-known Highway 1, this is a one-of-a-kind place along the Big Sur. Its thatched cottages bring to mind an old Brit village and yet you can find almost anything here. You’ll find art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, wine tasting rooms and a beautiful beach with azure water and nigh pristine white sand.
This stunning town is situated on the tip of Deer Isle in Maine’s Penobscot Bay. It is most known for its lobster fleet which, with over 300 boats, is the largest in the entire state. Naturally, the seafood here is great. In fact, if you stay at the memorable waterfront Inn on the Harbor, you can see the boats return with the catch of the day.
Ensconced in Connecticut, this is a great place for live music and theatre, especially if you visit in the summer. Only an hour’s train ride from New York’s famous Grand Central Station, this affluent area offers visitor’s numerous opportunities. Attend a concert, catch a show, go paddling on the Long Island Sound or the Saugatuck River. After that, dine at the popular Black Duck Cafe.
Just a half-hour drive out of Tampa, Florida, you’ll discover sunny Clearwater. Take a dolphin sightseeing trip, go fishing, or go jet skiing or parasailing at the beach. Buy souvenirs at the popular Cleveland Street District and don’t miss Blast Friday. Family-friendly Blast Friday’s reportedly thrown “on the last Friday of every month.” It’s an outdoor festival complete with contests, food, live music and more.
Savannah, Georgia locals confirm that Tybee Island is a favored weekend spot for family-friendly getaways. Here you’ll find an 18th-century lighthouse, Fort Screven complete with 19th-century gun batteries stunning stretches of welcoming white sand beach. Explore the South Beach’s pavilion and pier then have a fulfilling meal in one of the numerous area mom-and-pop diners.
The state of Alabama has a secret. It’s the Caribbean-like Orange Beach. It’s becoming a hotspot on their part of the Gulf Coast. You can enjoy a number of water sports including deep-sea fishing, hike the nature trails there or have fun at the local amusement parks. This family-friendly place also offers festivals, concerts, and assorted other events during the year too.
Not to be confused with Camden, New Jersey, this Camden is known as “the jewel of the Maine coast.” This quintessential seaside town comes complete with an old lighthouse, jagged rock bays, an attractive harbor, and even regular sunset cruises. Take a healthy hike up Mount Battie then sate your appetite with a meal in one of the town’s quaint coastal restaurants.
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island is a great vacation spot in South Carolina. It’s known for its great golf courses, welcoming beaches and an impressive network of biking and hiking trails. But there’s more.
Get a bird’s-eye view from atop the Harbour Town Lighthouse, or go kayaking. It’s a family-friendly spot complete with a pirate ship, a miniature golf course and playgrounds too. Don’t forget the local seafood either!
Just off North Carolina’s coast, on the southern tip of the northernmost of the trio of islands named Outer Banks, is Nags Head. It’s more than fresh seafood and secluded beaches. Check the Bodie Island Light Station and Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Stay in a late 19th-century oceanfront cottage located on historic Cottage Row and learn how the South’s wealthy planters used to spend their summers.
Saint Michaels in Maryland is situated on the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore. Highlights include the Hooper Bay Lighthouse located in a real shipyard and the popular Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum that includes a noteworthy number of vessels and artifacts. Walk through town and see Talbot Street which features charming storefronts, picturesque Colonial-era buildings, and several worthwhile seafood restaurants.
An old resort town, some say that laid-back Capitola is the place “where summer never really ends.” The brightly painted houses and many Mediterranean-style bungalows might make you think you’re in an Italian coastal town, but the first-class surfing conditions will remind you that you’re in California. Visit Venetian Court (recently added to the official National Register of Historic Places then enjoy a drink at one of several waterfront cafés.
Situated on Cape Cod’s “elbow,” Chatham is full of classic New England charm. This is reportedly the official “first stop of the East Wind.” Stroll along the nigh pristine sand of South Beach. Visit the Chatham Lighthouse and learn of its two-centuries-old history harking back to the 19th century when then-President Thomas Jefferson originally commissioned it. Book seaside accommodations and see the Chatham fog too.
Approximately one hour out of Boston, Rye is a charming New Hampshire coastal town. See the beaches, the rocky shore, and popular Odiorne Point State Park. Between Portsmouth and The Hamptons, this laid-back locale also includes excellent lobster shacks conveniently located between the two big beaches. You can also hop aboard a scenic boat cruise, go whale watching, and go deep-sea fishing too.
Take a leisurely walk along the oceanfront when you visit this New Jersey charmer. But don’t think you’ve seen it all once you’ve been to the beaches. The waterfront is full of colorful, attractive Victorian buildings. In fact, the efforts of it roughly 4000 residents to preserve these buildings scored it a place on the list of official National Historic Landmark back in 1976.
Once a mere fishing village on the southern coast of Maine, Ogunquit is now a must-visit travel destination. It’s now nearly famous for its boutique shops, exciting theatre scene, indie eateries, and beautiful beaches. Local legend has it that the town was named by the Abenaki tribe.
Ogunquit means “the beautiful place by the sea.” So explore the town and be sure to have some of the fresh Maine lobster.
A visit to Beaufort is now a requirement for anyone visiting North Carolina. Walk down iconic Front Street. Take in the classic Southern architecture. Visit the parks or go to the harbor and try some waterfront activities. You can go fishing, kayaking or even sign on for a cruise.
Ensconced in northwest Oregon, this beautiful beach is the biggest attraction. While there are also several microbreweries here, the most well-known landmark is Haystack Rock which towers 235 feet over the beach.
Here you can go swimming, surfing, and tide pooling. Nearby is Ecola State Park. Go in spring or winter and you might even be able to see the gray whale migration.
Maine’s picturesque Bar Harbor is well worth the visit. Stay in one of the boutique B&Bs and dine at one of the quaint seafood shacks or one of New England’s best restaurants. If you enjoy camping or just are a fan of nature then, by all means, visit the popular Acadia National Park. This spot is considered “an unmissable Maine destination.”
Romantic Rockport, Massachusetts, is situated on Cape Ann. Home to Motif Number 1, it’s surrounded by beautiful beaches. It is also home to the official “most-painted building in America,” a bright red fishing shack. Check out memorable Main Street and see the pottery studio, the gift shops, quirky art galleries, and the famous Tuck’s Candy Factory with its sensational saltwater taffy.
Siesta Key is a Caribbean-like barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, Florida. This beach is one of America’s best. Thanks to the variety of accommodations and the calm, shallow waters this is a very family-friendly place. Additionally, just a short walk from the beach is popular Siesta Key Village which is famous for its cafés, shopping, and outdoor dining.
Not far from Charleston, South Carolina, this is one of the East Coast’s top surfing destinations. You can also enjoy birdwatching, fishing, swimming or even shopping. The famous Folly Beach Pier is over 1,000 feet long. There’s also the Folly Beach Country Park which has a pelican rookery and is also a great place for picnics.
Just an hour’s drive out of Houston, Texas is Galveston Island and the popular beach town known as Galveston. This family-friendly spot features 32 miles of shore. South Beach’s Pleasure Pier offers old-fashioned entertainment, including roller coasters, carousels, and even a Ferris wheel. See the downtown area’s historic homes and the eateries on Broadway Boulevard too.
Virginia’s Chincoteague Island is three miles wide and seven miles long. Highlighted by quaint cottages and sandy shores, this nostalgic spot features no bawdy boardwalk, high-rises, or overly fancy resorts. It does have something to offer animal lovers though including the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, the 400 wild horses roaming the adjacent Assateague Island and the popular annual Chincoteague Pony Swim.
Washington’s lively Port Townsend is a noteworthy Victorian seaport, found located on the Quimper Peninsula. Every month there’s something happening. In July there are concerts by the docks, the Jefferson County Fair’s in August and the Wooden Boat Festival is held in September. Visit in October and see the fall foliage in different shades of amber, bronze, and russet.
Little New Shoreham located on Block Island is reported to be “the smallest town in the smallest state” in the United States. Compared to nearby Narragansett or Newport it is a far quieter place to visit. Here you can enjoy hiking literally miles of nature trails, shining lighthouses, and strolling along serene sandy shores as well.
Poised on the northern tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown, Massachusetts, this historic place is the renowned site of the famous Mayflower’s landing in 1620. Visit the Provincetown Museum and the Pilgrim Monument. Every summer this town celebrates its rich maritime history by hosting numerous tall ships. Most of these seafaring vessels even offer sailing excursions and onboard tours.
Rockaway Beach, Oregon is said to be “the place where the mountains meet the sea.” The best example of its natural beauty is the place known as the Twin Rocks. Be sure to also visit the beach, the lighthouse, and the well-known Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. Visit in the winter and dine on fresh crab harvested by the local fishermen in December. Drop by in the summer and enjoy some cheese and ice cream from Tillamook Creamery.
This dreamy California beach destination enjoys nearly 300 sunny days every year. It was originally erected sometime in the 1920s as a seaside Spanish village. Once a major draw to Camp Pendleton military personnel and surfers from around the world, this town is accented by gourmet restaurants and Mediterranean-style architecture.
Old Orchard Beach
The seven-mile Old Orchard Beach in Maine is truly pristine. Enjoy the family-friendly beachfront amusement park. Explore the pier then enjoy the eye-catching New England scenery from high atop the fun Ferris wheel. After you’ve taken in the sunset, check out the various bars and assorted eateries and chow down on some of the best lobster in the state.