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Are you wondering which shorelines have the best beaches on the East Coast? You’ve surfed to the right place for answers to all of your aquatic questions. The truth is you’ll find excellent beaches in nearly every coastal town on the East Coast. But which one is perfect for you and your family? Your specific beach style is different.
Do you enjoy lounging and relaxing on soft white sand? How about surfing bodacious waves or diving with tropical fish?
Maybe swimming, snorkeling, and exploring via kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are more your style? Then there’s the pier, shore, and deep-sea fishing. See what we’re getting at?
We have the best East Coast beaches, whether you like crashing swells, gentle rolling waves, long stretches of secluded sand, or a bustling boardwalk scene.
So, what exactly did we base our beachy opinions on? We tried to choose beaches based on a variety of things like soft sand, wave strength, quiet and seclusion, a bustling atmosphere, kid-friendly, and proximity to nightlife. Restrooms and showers were other factors. And, of course, they have to have the scenery factor going for them.
Sandy strands from Maine to Miami, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Chesapeake Bay to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) are just waiting. Well, they’re constantly moving (water, ya know), but you know what we mean. Pack the sunscreen and lay out the swimsuits. It’s time to hit those East Coast beaches!
- Best Beaches on the East Coast
- 1. Sand Beach – Bar Harbor, Maine
- Fun things to do near Sand Beach
- Accommodations near Sand Beach
- 2. Goose Rocks Beach – Kennebunkport, Maine
- 3. Hampton Beach – Hampton, New Hampshire
- 4. Coast Guard Beach – Eastham, Massachusetts
- 5. Crescent Beach – New Shoreham, Rhode Island
- 6. Hammonasset Beach – Madison, Connecticut
- 7. East Hampton Main Beach – East Hampton, New York
- 8. Atlantic City Beach – Atlantic City, New Jersey
- 9. Rehoboth Beach – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
- 10. Bethany Beach – Bethany Beach, Delaware
- 11. Ocean City – Ocean City, Maryland
- Accommodations near Ocean City
- 12. Assateague Island National Seashore – Maryland/Virginia border
- 13. Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach, Virginia
- 14. Nags Head Beach – Outer Banks, North Carolina
- 15. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach – Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
- 16. Emerald Isle Beach – Emerald Isle, North Carolina
- 17. East Beach – Bald Head Island, North Carolina
- 18. Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- 19. Folly Beach – Folly Island, South Carolina
- 20. Beachwalker Park – Kiawah Island, South Carolina
- 21. Coligny Beach Park – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
- 22. Tybee Beach Pier and Pavilion – Tybee Island, Georgia
- 23. Driftwood Beach – Jekyll Island, Georgia
- 24. Fernandina Beach – Amelia Island, Florida
- 25. St. Augustine Beach – Anastasia Island, Florida
- 26. Daytona Beach – Daytona Beach, Florida
- 27. Cocoa Beach – Cocoa Beach, Florida
- 28. Jupiter Beach Park – Jupiter Beach, Florida
- 29. Palm Beach Municipal Beach – Palm Beach, Florida
- 30. Sebastian Street Beach – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- 31. South Beach – Miami Beach, Florida
Best Beaches on the East Coast
1. Sand Beach – Bar Harbor, Maine
Visitors enjoy Sand Beach’s beauty, nearby hiking trails, and relaxed natural settings. Located on Mount Desert Island, the popular Sand Beach is a small inlet backed by the forests and rocky cliffs of Acadia National Park.
The beach is on the east side of the island. It’s accessible by Park Loop Road. Summer water temps roam around the 55-degree mark, so you’ll want to be heavily invested if planning on swimming here. It’s been estimated that only about 10% of beach-goers get in the water. But there are lifeguards during the summer if you decide to brave it.
The sand is the cool thing about this beach (besides the water). It’s made up of about half sand. The rest are crushed pieces of crab, mussel shells, sea urchin spines, and other sea creature parts.
Fun things to do near Sand Beach
- Hiking and sightseeing at Acadia National Park
- Wild Gardens of Acadia
- Hulls Cove Sculpture Garden
- Abbe Museum
- Frenchman Bay
Accommodations near Sand Beach
See Related: Cheap Places to Visit in the US
2. Goose Rocks Beach – Kennebunkport, Maine
Contrary to its name, the three-mile-long Goose Rocks Beach doesn’t have many rocks (or geese, as far as we can tell). The crescent-shaped beach features soft, white sand and gentle waves backed by beach cottages and views of Timber Island. The water is pretty shallow, making it one of the best East Coast beaches for families with small children.
Bordered by Cape Porpoise and Granite Point, this Southern Maine beach is excellent for birdwatching, nature viewing, and exploring the tidal pools.
Fun things to do near Goose Rocks Beach
- The Tides Beach Club restaurant for drinks, lunch, or dinner
- Goose Rocks General Store for pizza and burgers to go
- Bicycling, kayaking, and paddleboarding
- Seashore Trolley Museum
- Wood Island Lighthouse
Accommodations near Goose Rocks Beach
3. Hampton Beach – Hampton, New Hampshire
For a lively boardwalk and resort-town ambiance, head to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. The Ocean Boulevard boardwalk has a paved area for walking or bicycling. You’ll find a variety of beach bars, restaurants, shopping, and attractions.
The beach itself is a nice flat stretch of beige-toned sand. The Hampton Harbor Inlet is to the south near the state park.
Fun things to do near Hampton Beach
- Swimming, fishing, and camping at Hampton Beach State Park
- Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom for concerts and comedy shows
- Tours and touch tanks at the Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium
- Search for native birds at the Hampton Salt Marsh Conservation Area
- Blue Ocean Discovery Center
Accommodations near Hampton Beach
See Related: Road Trip Ideas in the USA
4. Coast Guard Beach – Eastham, Massachusetts
Located on Cape Cod, along Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is popular for hiking, relaxing, sunbathing, and boogie boarding. It offers soft tan-colored sand and a beautiful natural setting of seagrass and sand dunes.
According to past reviews, there are quite a few rocks in the water, so you’ll want to wear your water shoes to this East Coast beach. The name comes from the former Coast Guard station complex near the Cape Cod shore. One of the buildings is now a bathhouse and restroom.
This East Coast beach doesn’t have on-site parking, but there is a shuttle service from the Little Creek parking area. You can also bike from the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Lifeguards are from July through Labor Day at this Cape Cod National Seashore beach.
Fun things to do near Coast Guard Beach
- Nauset Lighthouse
- Three Sisters Lighthouse
- Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar
Accommodations near Coast Guard Beach
- Rodeway Inn Orleans – Cape Cod
- Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod
- The Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club
5. Crescent Beach – New Shoreham, Rhode Island
Situated on Block Island, Rhode Island, in the middle of Block Island Sound, Crescent Beach is Rhode Island’s little island destination. It’s located southwest of Newport, Rhode Island, and east of Montauk, New York.
This curvaceous shoreline runs for about 2.5 miles, beginning at the ferry dock at Old Harbor and running to Clay Head on the island’s east side. There’s a wide block of golden tan sand with gentle waves backed by sand dunes and beach cottages.
To get to this East Coast beach, the Block Island Ferry provides access to the island from Point Judith, R.I. It takes about 55 minutes, and reservations are required (for vehicles, passengers don’t need a reservation).
It’s the only ferry that can take vehicles, but there are other cruise options if you’re going on foot, including ones from Montauk, Newport, and New London, Connecticut. Bicycles, mopeds, and good ole foot power are popular modes of transport on this tiny island (sometimes called the Bermuda of the North).
Along this strand of Block Island, Rhode Island, you’ll also find Baby Beach (great for kids), Scotch Beach, and Mansion Beach. Some of these other sections can be rocky, so be aware.
Fun things to do near Crescent Beach
- Check out the nearby Fred Benson Town Beach (known as “Town Beach”), where you can rent umbrellas, boogie boards, and chairs
- The scenic North Lighthouse or the South East Lighthouse
- Head to the Block Island Historical Society or the 150-foot clay cliffs of Mohegan Bluffs (an excellent sunrise or sunset spot)
Accommodations near Crescent Beach
See Related: Islands in the US to Visit
6. Hammonasset Beach – Madison, Connecticut
At Hammonasset Beach State Park, Hammonasset Beach sits on two miles of sandy beach along Long Island Sound in Madison, Connecticut. It’s the state’s longest shoreline and offers seasonal camping, fishing, boat launching, swimming, seasonal bicycle rentals, hiking, and concession stands.
With small and relaxed waves, this beach area is popular with nature lovers and sun seekers. Dogs are allowed at this East Coast beach, so bring your four-legged travel buddies.
Fun things to do near Hammonasset Beach
- Exhibits, observation decks, and touch tanks at Meigs Point Nature Center
- Essex Steam Train and Riverboat rides and cruises
- Shoreline Greenway Trail for hiking
Accommodations near Hammonasset Beach
7. East Hampton Main Beach – East Hampton, New York
Located in the exclusive Hamptons area of New York, East Hampton Main Beach sits along the south side of eastern Long Island. Long stretches of tan-toned sand make for a relaxing day of sunning, swimming, and castle-making.
There are lifeguards, a snack bar, and restrooms, making this an excellent East Coast beach vacation for families. 18th-century shingle buildings, high-end restaurants, boutique shopping, and interior farmland back the beach.
Fun things to do near East Hampton Main Beach
- Stay hydrated and happy with a selection of seafood, sandwiches, cocktails, and more at the beachfront Beach Hut on Main
- Cedar Island Lighthouse
- Guild Hall for theater, music, and cultural events
- East Hampton Historical Society: Mulford Farm Museum
Accommodations near East Hampton Main Beach
8. Atlantic City Beach – Atlantic City, New Jersey
You can’t have a list of the best beaches without including one of the most iconic beaches (and boardwalks) on the Jersey Shore: Atlantic City Beach. The wide stretch of flat sand is popular for relaxing and activities like surfing, fishing, parasailing, kayaking, and windsurfing.
The famous Jersey Shore Atlantic City Boardwalk, built in 1870, offers four miles of restaurants, bars, resorts, and casinos right along the beach. Atlantic City is the East Coast’s own version of Vegas with neon names like Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s, and Tropicana.
Try Seaside Beach Park if you prefer a more secluded vibe than the hustle and bustle of Atlantic City.
Fun things to do near Atlantic City Beach
- Shopping, dining, casinos, spas, and resort hotels along the Atlantic City Boardwalk
- Rides, carnival games, and activities at Steel Pier Amusement Park
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
- Atlantic City Aquarium
Accommodations near Atlantic City Beach
- Tropicana Casino & Resort
- Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino
- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
- Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City Hotel & Casino
9. Rehoboth Beach – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Rehoboth Beach is situated along the Atlantic and Rehoboth Bay on Delaware’s east coast. The area is popular for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and sunbathing. Stroll along the one-mile-long beachfront boardwalk, which is lined with hotels, restaurants, attractions, and souvenir shops.
While there are lots of businesses along the boardwalk, it’s much more relaxed than somewhere like, say, the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The Rehoboth Beach Bandstand presents free concerts and music events throughout the year.
Fun things to do near Rehoboth Beach
- Delaware Seashore State Park
- Cape Henlopen State Park
- Rehoboth Beach Museum
- Carnival games and rides at Funland on the boardwalk
Accommodations near Rehoboth Beach
See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends
10. Bethany Beach – Bethany Beach, Delaware
Just south of Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach is another terrific beach for families, couples, or groups. The small beach town offers coastal charm along its sandy shores and Atlantic waves.
The boardwalk is about a 1/2 mile long and 12 feet wide and has benches and foot washing stations along the way (super nice amenity to wash that sand off). Clapboard buildings with restaurants and shops along the boardwalk make this a charming destination for an East Coast beach vacation.
Fun things to do near Bethany Beach
- Fenwick Island State Park
- Holts Landing State Park for birdwatching, hiking, and nature viewing
- Bethany Beach Nature Center
Accommodations near Bethany Beach
- Hotel Bethany Beach
- Sea Colony – 17004 Bayberry
- Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn by Marriott
11. Ocean City – Ocean City, Maryland
Formed as a resort town in the 1800s, Ocean City Beach is your classic strip of sand, sun, and surf. Located south of Fenwick Island, Delaware, Ocean City sits along Maryland’s eastern shore and is one of the most popular beaches on the entire East Coast.
Isle of Wight Bay and Assawoman Bay are on the west side of the Ocean City beachfront. Swimming, surfing, and boogie boarding are popular on the ocean while kayaking and paddleboarding are perfect activities for the bayside.
This East Coast beach has one of the best boardwalks in the region. At about three miles long, you’ll find shopping, dining, activities, and nightlife on this wooden walkway.
Fun things to do near Ocean City Beach
- Seacrets for nightlife, live music, cocktails, and Caribbean-inspired cuisine
- Jolly Roger Amusement Park
- Ocean City Life Saving Station
- Carousel Ice Skating Rink
Accommodations near Ocean City
12. Assateague Island National Seashore – Maryland/Virginia border
On the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia, the 37-mile-long barrier island of Assateague Island National Seashore is well-known for its marshlands, dunes, wild horses, and long stretches of secluded sand. You may have to share the beach with a horse or two.
But we consider that a bonus. If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast to relax and get away from it all, this is the beach for you.
Fun things to do near Assateague Island
- Hiking, fishing, kayaking, and wild horse tours
- Assateague Lighthouse
- Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- Visit the town of Chincoteague and the ponies that inspired Marguerite Henry’s 1947 classic, Misty of Chincoteague
Accommodations near Assateague Island
13. Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach, Virginia
Situated on the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach is one of the most popular East Coast beaches. It’s perfect for families, couples, and groups who like the conveniences of a boardwalk, dining, shopping, attractions, and beach rentals to go with sunning, swimming, and surfing. Playgrounds and parks can be found from one beach end to the other.
The beach is nice and wide, with soft sand, from the boardwalk to the water. Waves can range from gentle to rough, so be aware of that.
This East Coast beach can get crowded during the summer months. Head to the north end of the beach, or even to Chic’s Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, for a more relaxed and “local” feel.
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is approximately three miles long and 28 feet wide, which is wonderful for runners, walkers, bikers, in-line skaters, and more. There’s even a devoted lane for bicycles. Designated surfing is at Rudee Inlet at the south end of the oceanfront.
Fun things to do near Virginia Beach
- Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
- Whale and dolphin watching tours out of Rudee Inlet
- First Landing State Park
- Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
- Virginia Zoo
Accommodations near Virginia Beach
- Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Virginia Beach
- Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach Hotel, an IHG Hotel
- Coastal Hotel & Suites Virginia Beach – Oceanfront
See Related: Where to Stay in Virginia Beach: Best Areas
14. Nags Head Beach – Outer Banks, North Carolina
You really can’t go wrong with any of the Outer Banks beaches. We chose Nags Head Beach for its excellent anchorage. It’s a convenient and central location to visit any number of beaches, from Duck to Cape Hatteras.
Visitors love this area for its wide-open beaches and long expanses of sand and surf. Vacation cottages, beachfront homes, and small hotels back the dunes. You won’t find a boardwalk on this beach, but the scenery makes up for it.
The Outer Banks is a barrier island on the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina. Waves can be gentle and smooth one day and rough with rip currents the next.
This is the area Blackbeard chose to hide out. He knew the area and could navigate through the treacherous waters. Other ships? Not so much. They wrecked and then pirate pillaging took over.
Fun things to do near Nags Head Beach
- Wright Brothers National Memorial
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park
- Jennette’s Pier for fishing or a charter boat for deep-sea fishing
- Elizabethan Gardens
- North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
- Bodie Island Lighthouse
Accommodations near Nags Head Beach
- Holiday Inn Express Nags Head Oceanfront
- Shutters on the Banks
- The First Colony Inn
- Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk
15. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach – Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Part of the remote end of the Outer Banks barrier island, Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach is perfect for a truly remote beach vacation. As one of the best East Coast beaches, it’s part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and features those wide-open beaches and wild waves that make the Outer Banks so popular.
Families will be happy to know that the word “Lifeguarded” is accurate (there are lifeguards between Memorial Day and Labor Day). Other family-friendly amenities include restrooms, outdoor showers, parking, a wheelchair/stroller-friendly beach access ramp, water fountains, and a wooden walkway to the sand.
Ocracoke Island is accessible via ferry from Hatteras Landing, the southern end of Hatteras Island. It’s free, and cars are allowed. It takes about an hour to get to the other side at the northern end of Ocracoke Island.
There are two other ferry ports for visitors traveling to Ocracoke Island: Swan Quarter (which takes about two hours and 45 minutes) or Cedar Island (which takes about two hours). These two are both in North Carolina, west of the island. They’re tolled and do require reservations.
Ocracoke has marinas if you’re traveling by boat. There’s also an airstrip for those traveling by private plane.
Fun things to do near Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach
- Ocracoke Lighthouse
- Ocracoke Banker Ponies at the Ocracoke Pony Pens on Highway 12 (188-acre fenced-in area for descendants of the area’s wild Spanish mustangs)
- Springers Point Preserve
- Ocracoke Preservation Society
- Strolling, shopping, and sightseeing in the historic Ocracoke Village
Best accommodations on Ocracoke Island
See Related: Outer Banks vs Myrtle Beach: What’s Better?
16. Emerald Isle Beach – Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Emerald Isle is part of the southern section of the Outer Banks and North Carolina’s Crystal Coast (due to its sparkling emerald-colored water and its position as the “crown jewel” of the southern Outer Banks). This pristine beach is located on Bogue Banks Island, a skinny stretch of land between Bogue Sound and the Atlantic.
You’ll find approximately 12 miles of beautiful shoreline and ocean views. The sweeping coastline features an array of beach cottages, restaurants, and shops in a small coastal community.
Fun things to do near Emerald Isle
- Bogue Inlet Pier for fishing
- Salty Pirate Water Park
- Fun World Motorsports
- Hammocks Beach State Park
- North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores
Accommodations near Emerald Isle
17. East Beach – Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Once known as Smith Island, the small and remote Bald Head Island features quaint inns and the vehicular traffic of golf carts, bicycles, or trams. No passenger vehicles are allowed on the island, making this one of the best East Coast beaches to escape it all.
Located along the Cape Fear River, south of Wilmington, NC, the island is accessible via a 20-minute ferry ride, which departs from Deep Point Marina (about three miles east of Southport, NC). Bald Head is also accessible through the ICW if you travel by boat.
The island has about 14 miles of beaches, and East Beach is one of the best for swimming, surfing, and relaxing with family and friends. You’ll find many hotels, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts with easy access to sandy beaches.
Fun things to do near Bald Head Island
- Old Baldy Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum
- Bald Head Island Club for golf
- Oak Island Lighthouse
Best accommodations on Bald Head Island
- The Hideaway by Oak Island Accommodations
- Caswell Dunes of Oak Island Accommodations
- Fire Hut, Bald Head Island
See Related: Things to Do in Fayetteville, North Carolina
18. Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of the best beach towns on the East Coast for families, couples, or groups seeking fun, relaxation, entertainment, and outdoor recreation. Hang out on the sand of this famous beach near the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk for easy access to dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Other beachfront activities include jet skiing, parasailing, fishing, and more. The Grand Strand stretches for nearly 60 miles, so you’re sure to find just the right beachfront setting for your preferences.
Nightlife in Myrtle Beach ranges from dinner theater and live shows to nightclubs, line dancing, and tribute bands.
Fun things to do near Myrtle Beach
- Broadway at the Beach or Barefoot Landing for dining, shopping, entertainment, and attractions
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach South Carolina
- Pirate’s Voyage Dinner & Show
- Carolina Opry, Alabama Theater, or Legends in Concert for tribute shows, concerts, and holiday performances
- Huntington Beach State Park
Accommodations near Myrtle Beach
19. Folly Beach – Folly Island, South Carolina
Folly Beach, South Carolina, is just a bit south of Charleston along the Atlantic. One of the Sea Islands (a chain of about 100 small islands on the southeast coast extending 300 miles from SC to Florida) offers soft sand, gentle waves, and a laid-back attitude.
It’s one of the best East Coast beaches for swimmers, anglers, kayakers, and nature enthusiasts. Check out these top restaurants in Charleston to make the most of your visit.
Fun things to do near Folly Beach
- Folly Beach Pier for fishing
- Fort Sumter
- Morris Island Lighthouse
- Folly Beach County Park
Accommodations near Folly Beach
- La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Charleston Riverview
- Beachside Boutique Inn
- Cozy Cottage a Block From the Beach
- Tides Folly Beach
- Pet-Friendly Oceanview Bungalow
See Related: Day Trips from Charleston, South Carolina
20. Beachwalker Park – Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Located along the Kiawah River and the Atlantic Ocean, Beachwalker Park is on the west end of Kiawah Island, South Carolina. With 10 miles of shoreline, there are lifeguards, restrooms, outdoor showers, a picnic area, and a snack bar, as well as beach chair and umbrella rentals.
If you decide to leave the sand for a bit, a wooden walkway winds through a forest of palmettos, pines, and live oaks at this Kiawah Island beach destination.
Fun things to do near Beachwalker Park
- Practice your swing at Osprey Point Golf Course, Kiawah Island Golf Resort, or Cougar Point Golf Course
- Night Heron Park for a nature center, live exhibits, sports fields, and a kid’s water play area
- Kayaking tours
Accommodations near Beachwalker Park
- Beach Villa at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
- Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn
- First Floor Villa with Lagoon Views
21. Coligny Beach Park – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head has long been a favorite for the golfing set, but beach enthusiasts love it for its wide stretch of soft sand and warm water. Coligny Beach Park, South Carolina, amenities include restrooms, outdoor shower areas, changing rooms, and accessible walkways to the beach.
You also have access to chair and umbrella rentals. Shaded gazebos offer a way to escape the sun for a while. It’s one of the best East Coast beaches to relax on.
Fun things to do near Coligny Beach Park
- Coastal Discovery Museum
- Harbour Town Lighthouse
- Hilton Head Distillery
- Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf
Accommodations near Coligny Beach Park
See Related: Things to Do in South Carolina & Places to Visit
22. Tybee Beach Pier and Pavilion – Tybee Island, Georgia
On the south end of Tybee Island, Tybee Beach Pier and Pavilion is decked out in swaying palms, seagrass, and low-lying sand dunes. There are restrooms and a pier for fishing. The pavilion hosts live music and other events.
Sometimes called South Beach, you’ll find North Beach and Mid Beach nearby. Tybee Creek and the Savannah River flow on either side of the island to meet the Atlantic Ocean.
Tybee Island has been a popular vacation destination since the 1800s. Check out the downtown district of Tybrisa Street for shopping, dining, and accommodations, such as historic inns, resorts, and boutique hotels.
Fun things to do on Tybee Island
- The 18th-century Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and the 19th-century gun batteries at Fort Screven
- Fort Pulaski National Monument
- Tybee Island Marine Science Center
Best accommodations on Tybee Island
23. Driftwood Beach – Jekyll Island, Georgia
One of the Sea Islands, Jekyll Island is a designated state park. It’s located where the East River slices through to Jekyll Sound, cutting the island off from the mainland. There’s a toll booth and a fee to enter the island, where you’ll experience beautiful beaches and nesting sea turtles.
Driftwood Beach is one of the best East Coast beaches for nature lovers and photographers. The tranquil beach has stunning driftwood formations, most likely caused by years and years of erosion of the former maritime pine and oak forest (some of the trees are probably 500 years old).
It’s particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset and is often voted among America’s Most Romantic Beaches. Located on the island’s north end, the beach has some rocky areas, but swimming is great here. Beachfront cottages and charming hotels can be found around the island.
If you want a fun experience for the kids (or yourself), head to Sharktooth Beach on the East River. This riverfront beach has naturally occurring oyster shells instead of sand.
At low tide, the muddy beach bottom is exposed (sounds pleasant, huh?), making it excellent for shark tooth hunting. You may even find other treasures such as sea glass or cool shells. This isn’t your typical soft sandy beach, so be prepared with walking shoes.
Fun things to do on Jekyll Island
- Summer Waves Water Park
- Georgia Sea Turtle Center
- St. Andrew Beach at the south end of the island
- Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum
- 18th-century Horton House remains
Best accommodations on Jekyll Island
- Seafarer Inn & Suites, Ascend Hotel Collection
- Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island, an IHG Hotel
- Courtyard by Marriott Jekyll Island
- Jekyll Ocean Club Resort
See Related: Beaches in the US to Visit
24. Fernandina Beach – Amelia Island, Florida
You’ll find calm water and soft tan sand at Fernandina Beach. This is one of the best East Coast beaches for fans of nature and secluded spaces. Yet, there’s a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops just beyond the beach.
What’s nice is that there are areas where you can park your car right on the beach. Convenience is right at your fingertips. Fernandina Beach offers small-town charm among cobblestone streets, historic buildings, beach houses, and a scenic waterfront on the Amelia River.
Fun things to do near Fernandina Beach
- Amelia Island Museum of History
- Main Beach Park and the skate park at Fort Clinch State Park
- Amelia Island State Park
Accommodations near Fernandina Beach
- Comfort Suites Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island
- Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island
- The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island
25. St. Augustine Beach – Anastasia Island, Florida
Hard-packed sand and a wide shoreline make St. Augustine Beach an excellent area for bicycling, as well as swimming, surfing, sunning, and body boarding. There are sections of the beach where you can drive a vehicle.
This Atlantic Ocean beach features a fishing pier, a bait shop, a beachfront park, a kid’s splash park, a sand volleyball court, and lots of parking space. There are restrooms and an outdoor shower nearby.
Don’t miss a visit to the historic beach town of St. Augustine. First discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, it’s the oldest city in America and offers a unique section with cobblestone streets, Spanish influences, historic structures, and a scenic waterfront.
Fun things to do near St. Augustine Beach
- St. Augustine Lighthouse
- Historic St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
- Old Jail Museum
- St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
Accommodations near St. Augustine Beach
- The Flagler Inn – St. Augustine
- Holiday Inn St. Augustine – Historic, an IHG Hotel
- Guy Harvey Resort on St. Augustine Beach
- Ocean Sands Beach Inn & SPA
See Related: Beautiful Springs in Florida to Visit
26. Daytona Beach – Daytona Beach, Florida
You can’t leave out an icon regarding the best East Coast beaches. Daytona Beach is one of the best beaches on the East Coast for swimming, fishing, surfing, and relaxing.
And you can drive on it! The hard-packed, wide, sandy beaches are perfect for driving (in designated areas) and bicycling. The convenience of having a vehicle right there for easy access to all your beach gear, snacks, towels, and other stuff is worth its weight in golden sand for any East Coast vacation.
The concrete Daytona Beach Boardwalk was built in the 1920s and had shops, restaurants, bars, and a bandshell for concerts and live music events. There are a lot of other beach towns near Daytona, but it’s hard to beat this American classic.
Fun things to do near Daytona Beach
- Daytona Lagoon Water Park
- Daytona International Speedway
- Daytona Boardwalk Amusements
- Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
Accommodations near Daytona Beach
- Fountain Beach Resort – Daytona Beach
- Holiday Inn Resort Daytona Beach Oceanfront, an IHG Hotel
- Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
27. Cocoa Beach – Cocoa Beach, Florida
As the hometown of surfing legend Kelly Slater, you can expect Cocoa Beach to be on our list of the best East Coast beaches. The water is perfect for up-and-coming surfers, swimmers, and beach bums.
The Cocoa Beach Pier has restaurants, bars, gift shops, and live entertainment. The area has parking spaces, lifeguards, and beach volleyball courts.
You could probably spend the day (well, okay, we could) and your savings at the flagship store of Ron Jon Surf Shop. Located just a couple blocks from the beach, this place has everything from sunscreen, swimsuits, and apparel to surfboards, paddleboards, dive gear, and more.
If it has anything remotely to do with the beach lifestyle, it’s bound to be there. Don’t forget to check out the surf sculptures in front of the building or the Florida Surf Museum inside the store.
Fun things to do near Cocoa Beach
- Airboat ride on St. Johns River
- Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral
- Historic 1962 Cocoa Beach Pier
Accommodations near Cocoa Beach
- Days Inn by Wyndham Cocoa Beach Port Canaveral
- Beachside Hotel and Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn Cocoa Beach – Oceanfront
See Related: Things to Do in Orlando, Florida
28. Jupiter Beach Park – Jupiter Beach, Florida
Coastal Living magazine has named Jupiter Beach one of the 10 Happiest Seaside Towns. We think that’s a good enough reason to include it on our list.
The water is warm thanks to the Gulf Stream. Speaking of water, you have lots of access to it with the ICW, the Loxahatchee River, and the Atlantic Ocean, all at your beck and call.
Jupiter Beach is one of the Palm Beaches (which extends about 47 miles south from Jupiter Beach to Boca Raton). Jupiter Beach Park (Jupiter Inlet) offers a safe shoreline with soft sand, picnic areas, a sand volleyball court, restrooms, and outdoor shower areas. Beachgoers enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and fishing.
Fun things to do near Jupiter Beach
- The 1860 Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum on the Loxahatchee River
- Blowing Rocks Preserve
- Loggerhead Marine Life Center
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
- Carlin Park
Accommodations near Jupiter Beach
29. Palm Beach Municipal Beach – Palm Beach, Florida
We’re there if it has “palm” and “beach” in the name. The Palm Beach area became popular in the late 1800s as a getaway for Hollywood celebrities and industrial aristocrats.
Today, the million-dollar mansions, glamorous resorts, high-end restaurants, and upscale boutique shops provide a setting for the white sand beaches and crystal-clear water of South Florida. The town even removes seaweed from the beachfront. You can’t get much fancier than that, now can you?
Fun things to do near Palm Beach
- Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
- Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
- Manatee Lagoon
- Lion Country Safari
- Worth Avenue shopping
Best accommodations in Palm Beach
- Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Palm Beach
- Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa
- The Breakers Palm Beach
30. Sebastian Street Beach – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
They say Fort Lauderdale is where the boys are (according to the 1960s movie), but the town has grown from its spring break status to a world-class destination. Fort Lauderdale has many scenic beaches along its shoreline. You really can’t go wrong with any of them, as the water is warm and the waves are gentle.
Sebastian Street Beach is just one of many beaches along the Fort Lauderdale coastline. It has a nice sandy beachfront area with a playground and easy access to ice cream shops, snacks, restaurants, high-end hotels, and the A1A. It’s one of the best East Coast beaches for families or couples wanting easy access to hotels and attractions.
If you’re looking for flights in or out of nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, check out Scott’s Cheap Flights for the best rates.
Fun things to do near Fort Lauderdale
- Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
- Mansion gazing and water views on the Water Taxi
- Shopping and dining on Las Olas Boulevard
- International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum
Best accommodations in Fort Lauderdale
31. South Beach – Miami Beach, Florida
Between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach extends north from South Pointe Park to 23rd Street, where it becomes Mid-Beach and then North Beach. All three of the beaches along this nine-mile section offer soft white sand and warm waves, but for glitz and glamour, South Beach (or SoBe) is where it’s at.
“It” is all the trendy clubs, exclusive lounges, high-end boutiques, and other hot spots just blocks off the beach. Art, culture, and architecture mingle to create a unique destination whether you’re on the sand or not.
For clarification purposes, Miami Beach is its city; it connects to mainland Miami via several bridges. South Beach is a beach that’s in the city of Miami Beach. Make sense?
Fun things to do near South Beach
- Art Deco Historic District tours
- Miami Beach Botanical Garden
- Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel
- Miami Seaquarium
Best accommodations near South Beach
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- About the Author
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Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and yacht charters to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and other fun spots. She loves Nashville, Las Vegas, and Williamsburg, Virginia – but you’re most likely to find her on the beach. In addition to ViaTravelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.