Grab your sunglasses, pack your swimsuit and throw on a pair of sandals because it’s officially beach season. People from all over the country and beyond are setting out on summer vacations in search of sun, sand and waves. Whether you prefer to lounge on a towel, surf or swim, this week’s Bucket List brings you seven of the best beaches up, down and all along the U.S. coastline.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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No list of best beaches in the U.S. would be complete without a nod to Hawaii. Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu is one of the state's most famous, drawing visitors from around the world. If you're looking for a secluded stretch of sand, this is not it. Waikiki offers postcard-perfect beaches set along a picturesque backdrop that includes Diamond Head. Don't skip a trip to this beach just to avoid the crowds. It's popular for a reason.
Photo by clarkmaxwell, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Clearwater Beach is by far one of Florida's best stretches of coastline. Many head here for its miles of white sand and clear water, hence the name, but there are plenty of additional ways to enjoy the area. Those who prefer a more active trip to the beach won't be disappointed. Kayak, jet ski and boat rentals are available and parasailing and fishing are popular as well. Clearwater Beach is also home to abundant marine life. If you prefer spotting yours at a safe distance, head to Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Its exhibits feature sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, dolphins and more.
Photo by Matthew Paulson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the perfect beach destination for those who prefer to trade crowds for natural beauty. The area stretches for 70 miles between Bodie Island and Ocracoke Island and offers plenty of recreational activities ranging from hiking and kayaking to birding, crabbing and fishing along the beach. For an extended say within the park, camping and vacation home rentals are available.
Photo by Steve Walker, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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South Carolina's Myrtle Beach is a favorite among the Atlantic Coast beach destinations. It's home to countless hotels and resorts, a plethora of attractions and 60 miles of expansive sandy beach. Just about any beach activity can be enjoyed from sunbathing and swimming to wake boarding and parasailing. Myrtle Beach State Park is a great option if you're looking to avoid the crowds. Head here to enjoy nature trails, camping and fishing along the park's mile-long beachfront. When you need a break from the sand and surf, Myrtle Beach has an impressive roster of golf courses ranging from 18-hole to putt putt. When the sun sets you'll wan to be at Broadway at the Beach, a massive entertainment complex with bars and restaurants, shopping, nightclubs and more.
Photo by Mr. Nixter, CC BY-NC 2.0
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Santa Monica is one of Southern California's best destinations and for good reason. It boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and is home to a picture-perfect stretch of coastline. You can sunbathe and swim all day, or rent some wheels and head out along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail (The Strand). Once the sun has set, walk over to Santa Monica Pier for a night over the water on this classic boardwalk. The amusement park is the main draw and a ride on the Ferris Wheel is a must when visiting Santa Monica.
Photo by Pedro Szekely, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Miami has plenty to offer and one of its best attractions is South Beach. This popular district is home to one of the best beaches in Florida and has made many cameos in television shows and movies, most notably is Scarface. The area is popular for its beach and water sports, as well as topless sunbathing. Don't miss a visit to Lummus Park in South Beach's Art Deco district. Here grassy patches meet soft stretches of sand and palm trees and volleyball courts are aplenty.
Photo by Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC 2.0
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With a name like Ocean City, you can expect a great beach. This seaside resort city is one of Maryland's most popular summer destinations. Like any good coastal locale, Ocean City boasts great beaches and a plethora of other attractions like deep sea fishing, scuba diving, golf, a world-class boardwalk and amusement parks to keep visitors entertained both in and off the sand.
Photo by Eric B. Walker, CC BY-NC 2.0