Summer is here, and the beach is the star of the show once again. Across the U.S. are a variety of sandy stretches that each offer a different experience—from scenic nature views to under-the-sun fun. Though there’s no set rule of what makes one beach better than another, the 10 beaches below have unique qualities and attractions that make them some of the best beaches in the U.S.
1. Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park beach stretches about a mile along the Atlantic and is a popular spot for its lively, clean beach. Colorful umbrellas, sun bathers, surfers, swimmers and fishers populate the white sand and refreshing water. Just behind the beach is a historic, bustling boardwalk that offers food, boutiques, family fun, nightlife and live music.
2. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Carmel-by-the-Sea is an international destination for its white sand, scenic views, and quaint downtown area that is just a short walk from the beach. The natural wonder of Carmel beach is enough to draw locals and tourists from all over the world. Admire the sunset from atop the sandy bluffs, walk along the shore to rocky tide pools or surf in the California waves. The beach is accessible for the whole family, including dogs who are allowed to roam off leash.
3. Clearwater Beach, Florida
As its name suggests, this gulf coast beach offers clear, calm water perfect for water sport activities, like jet skiing, parasailing and paddleboarding, as well as soft sandy beaches that attract those who prefer to lay under the warm sun. Located on the beach is the entertainment hub, Pier 60, where visitors can grab chairs, umbrellas and fishing gear or enjoy sunsets and socialize on the playground.
4. Coligny Beach Park, South Carolina
This charming, well-maintained beach park offers landscaped walking and biking paths along the beach, and lots of amenities that make your beach trip easy and enjoyable, such as outdoor showers, gazebos, swings, a splash fountain and free WiFi.
5. Coney Island Beach, New York
In addition to nearly three miles of sandy beaches, Coney Island Beach is home to a boardwalk and beachside amusement park that is one of New York’s top attractions. Kids and adults alike can find plenty of entertainment on the boardwalk with over 50 rides and attractions, including a rollercoaster, Wonder Wheel and New York aquarium.
6. Coronado Beach, San Diego
Coronado Beach is a premium spot in San Diego. Located along the coast of Coronado Island, its warm waves and favorable climate attract visitors all year long. Tiny specks of the mineral mica cause the sand to sparkle in the sunlight like glitter while The Hotel Del Coronado resort makes for a charming backdrop and a great place to grab a drink or a bite to eat.
7. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu Hawaii
Duke Kahanamoku Beach is part of the world-famous Waikiki Beach in Oahu. Not only is it the widest beach on this stretch of sand, it is located on the far west end of the main beach so it doesn’t attract as many crowds and is also protected from an offshore coral reef making it safe for kids.
8. Harris Beach, Oregon
Located on Oregon’s south coast, Harris Beach is a haven for wildlife and nature-lovers alike. Its beautiful rock formations are home to sea lions, harbor seals and sea birds, while its deep waters are a migration path for bigger animals like gray whales. Swimming, hiking, biking and bird watching are popular activities for visitors.
9. Long Beach, Washington
Stretching 28 miles along Washington’s southwest coast, Long Beach is the world’s longest beach on a peninsula. The massive expanse of sand continues as far as you can see from either direction. The beach is the official site of the week-long Washington State Kite Festival that fills the sky with hundreds of kites each year.
10. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, North Carolina
Wide, preserved sandy beaches, clean water, humble and quiet surroundings, massive sand dunes and the historical 1823 lighthouse are what led “Dr. Beach” a.k.a Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman to rank Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach as the best beach in the U.S. for his 2022 awards. The pristine beach is a quiet way to enjoy the Atlantic coast.
Photos: Getty Images