Which beach has the best waves to surf? What is the most family-friendly beach? America’s beaches are the best place to see and be seen during the summer, but all beaches aren’t created equal. From the nostalgic lighthouses in Nantucket, Mass. to the lively party scene in Miami, Fla., the experts at Homes.com have scoured the country to discover the top beaches to fit every family’s bucket list.
Top 10: Scenic Seasides
1: Something for Everyone: Provincetown, Massachusetts
In 1620, the Puritans landed on this remote island and sought refuge amongst its harbor utilizing the bay for fishing, creating a bustling center-city downtown. Today, Provincetown remains a bustling and vibrant city made unique by its clapboard houses and beautiful gardens. Located on the very tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a shopper’s delight, offering an eclectic selection of goods, from vintage and military surplus clothing to mosaics made by women. Visitors can spend the day lounging on the Cape Cod National Seashore, playing along the harbor beaches or strolling through the quaint downtown, filled with local vendors. This charming town has it all, whether you’re in the market for a beach read, a new bathing suit, or a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
2: Best Beach Town For a Classic Experience: Wildwood, New Jersey
Though not the Jersey Shore we have come to be familiar with, Wildwood offers its own mix of charm, relaxation, shopping and entertainment for the entire family. This Jersey Shore town is home to a two-mile stretch of boardwalk complete with carnival games, shops and plenty of delicious food. During the summer, visitors can enjoy ‘Family Fun Night’ each Thursday and free concerts and fireworks on Friday nights. Families can also enjoy a variety of rides and games available at the three piers.
3: Best Sandy Beach: Emerald Coast, Florida
Florida boasts some of the worlds’ most beautiful beaches, Florida’s Emerald Coast hosts a sunny spectacle of seaside festivals, competitions and special events along the sun-bronzed 24 miles of sugar-white sands and brilliant emerald-green waters of Northwest Florida’s Gulf coast. The laid-back beach towns of Destin, Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island create the perfect summer vacation.
4: Best Beach for Surfers: Huntington Beach, California
Often affectionately called ‘Surf City,’ Huntington Beach is well known for its beautiful coastline and waves of epic proportions. An eight-mile trail runs alongside the beach and is used for bikers, skaters and joggers alike. Travel to Huntington Beach and you may notice an impromptu game of volleyball taking place or see surfers riding the waves. If surfing isn’t your style, no worries, Huntington is minutes away from Disney, the Performing Arts Center of Orange County and the aquarium.
5: Best Beach Town for Golf: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Dubbed ‘best beach town for golfers,’ Myrtle Beach offers 60 miles of beach, which runs along the South Carolina coastline. Golf enthusiasts can choose from more than 100 courses each with their own unique challenges. Famous golfers like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus created challenging yet beautiful greens, making this beach town a golfers paradise. Families can expect lots of fun options as well, including water parks, the legendary Palace Theatre and the entertaining 2nd Avenue Pier.
6: Best Beach for History Buffs: Nantucket, Massachusetts
A visit to Nantucket is a quick journey back to historic New England. Just 30 miles south of Cape Cod, this small New England town is home to beautiful cottages, historic lighthouses and stunning wild roses that are native to the island. Well known for its visual and performing arts, the island also includes several historic museums including the Maria Mitchell Association and National Whaling Museum. Visitors can enjoy the open houses of several galleries in town on Friday evenings during the summer months.
7: Best Beach to Gather Seashells: Galveston Beach, Texas
This family-friendly beach offers more than 32 miles of shoreline for visitors to enjoy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes this beach as the perfect place to gather seashells because winds coming from the North push the water back and reveal the abundance of natural seashells available for collecting. This makes Galveston the ideal place for children and parents to stroll the shore, collecting treasures. Additionally, visitors can spend time at the nearby Moody Gardens, a large estate that’s part theme park, part educational facility and part pleasure garden. There’s also a nearby water park that includes an uphill coaster, several water slides and much more.
8: Best Family-Friendly Beach: Crystal Coast, North Carolina
The Crystal Coast – North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks – is the favored Atlantic beach destination for generations. The authentic “coastal experience” features waters of crystalline purity bordering sandy, sparkling beaches. Offering activities from dining on “fresh from the docks” seafood and exploring historic haunts in a 300-year-old town to enjoying 85 miles of silken shoreline and diving in the No. 1 dive destination in North America, the Crystal Coast provides a active and engaging getaway perfect for any family-friendly vacation. The Crystal Coast offers a variety of accommodations to suit every lifestyle and budget from seaside cottages to massive beach mansions.
9: International Playground, Miami Beach, Florida
Miles of golden sand and emerald waters define this now luxurious portion of South Florida. Known for its legendary club scene, Miami Beach is the hub of all things fabulous, active and creative. Home to several television, film and athletic super-stars, Miami Beach is a mecca for those looking to swim, surf and jet ski in the warm waters of the Atlantic ocean. Take a nap on the white sands underneath an oversized umbrella or jump into a game of pick-up volleyball or Frisbee. Hungry visitors can take a stroll along the ‘strip’ and choose from a variety of cuisines most featuring a Spanish influenced menu. At night, enjoy the legendary club scene or simply enjoy the view of the city lights from the beach.
10: Best Beach for Relaxation: Coronado Beach in San Diego, California
Dubbed an “Oasis by the sea,” Coronado Beach in Southern California is a beautiful stretch of uninterrupted sand and water totaling 70 miles. Visitors can enjoy ship watching or surf on the mild waves. The calm waters are a result of waters coming from the north and toned down by the Point Loma Peninsula. As such, families can experience time in the water without the worry of large waves. Visitors will find the beach free of distractions, which makes it the ideal place to settle in to read a book or enjoy quality time with the family. Turn-of-the-century mansions can be seen along the beach, while yachts line the bay. The small community gives the area a home-like feel, a warm welcome for visitors year-round.
Christine is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Homes.com. She's a small town girl at heart, who currently lives in Norfolk, VA with her husband and their fur baby. When she's not working, she enjoys cooking, decorating, traveling, and binge watching Netflix. As a proud Virginia Tech alum, she also loves cheering on the Hokies!