America's Best Beach Towns 5 Places to Visit This Summer
I grew up near the Twin Cities in Minnesota where nearly every town can be considered a beach town on some level owing to the plethora of lakes that speckle the land in every direction. It was only as I got older that I learned to appreciate the magic that is a true beachfront community like these five unique beach towns. A beach town isn’t necessarily all about the weather (in fact three of these aren’t in traditionally tropical climates), but more about a place to relax, take life at a slower pace, and enjoy the calm of the nearby sea.
Anna Marie Island, FL
We all know the Florida vacation vibes we love to hate: big, ugly condos that look like they were copied and pasted across the tropical landscape. Thankfully, there’s absolutely none of that in this historic Florida beach town that has kept a solid rein on new developments to preserve the bungalow and cracker house aesthetic of this beloved place. Try kayaking alongside dolphins, check out the local art galleries, hike, or just lay out and enjoy some of Florida’s best beaches. Also don’t miss two of Florida’s best burger joints, Skinny’s and Duffy’s, both conveniently located on the island.
Cape May, NJ
Few regions in the US hold as outsized a place in the American imagination as does the Jersey shore. While the reality TV show’s characters and their antics are well known, perhaps much less well known is the fact that the shore is geographically divided into two shores (a northern and a southern). Cape May is a beautiful, old world beach town located at the southernmost tip of the shore, making it as far from New York City as you can get in the state. The town boasts over 600 old Victorian houses and is technically a national historic landmark. The beaches are generally quiet and make for a perfect relaxation spot if you’re in the American Northeast. Don’t miss the historic Cape May Lighthouse tour which offers beautiful views all around.
Beaufort was literally discovered by Blackbeard the pirate. He ran his notorious frigate “the Queen Anne’s Revenge” aground on the beach in 1718 and the locale became a bustling port town filled with merchants and seamen within a couple decades. There are artifacts from the wreck on display in the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which combined with the town’s nautical history makes a unique siren’s song for many a maritime enthusiast. You can even dive to still unsurfaced shipwrecks if you like.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a truly unique town and a perfect vacation spot in California. Known for its inclusive artistic atmosphere, the town’s artistic history dates back as far 1906 when the San Francisco Call first devoted a full page of their newspaper to profile all the artists, writers, and poets who were making Carmel their home. The early city councils were all run by artists—a tradition that continued right up to 1986 when Clint Eastwood was elected Mayor. It’s a pricey stay, but worth it if you can swing it. Art galleries and quaint excursions abound and the town is located right off the Pacific Coast Highway which is a beautiful drive in any direction.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Home to the Haystacks rocks made famous in The Goonies and Point Break, Cannon Beach proves that California hasn’t cornered the market on idyllic west coast beach towns. This beloved community boasts over 363 miles of beautiful and sparsely populated beaches and sand dunes with a dual view of both the mountains and the sea. The rugged coastline is augmented by art galleries, seafood spots such as the Wayfarer, and a local distillery—not to mention the nine mile hike through one of the state’s most famous state parks, Ecola State Park.