There are arguments for why both the east and west coasts of the United States have the best beaches. The west coast boasts endless, pristine stretches of compact sand (perfect for long walks and sandcastle building), while east coast beaches have higher water temperatures and more beachfront excitement going on.
No matter which coast you live or vacation on, you’ll find many great beaches close to the city, making for easy weekend beach escapes that will provide you with the necessary sunshine without the long journey to get there.
We recommend the following 5 beaches for your next sun and sand vacation.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
(Image: Corey Hewitt)
In the summer, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware really comes alive with city dwellers looking to escape the grind for a long weekend. Due to its close proximity to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, it make a great location for sun seekers who don’t have a lot of time to spend. Of course, Rehoboth Beach is also the perfect spot for a week or longer trip, because there’s plenty to do and see.
Sandy beaches, warm sunshine, and crisp ocean breezes are the main reason why Rehoboth is the most visited city in Delaware. There are multiple areas of Rehoboth that cater to different vacation styles. Partiers will want to stick with Dewey Beach, while families and groups might prefer the atmosphere in Bethany Beach.
Top features of Rehoboth Beach:
- There is a bustling beach boardwalk lined with restaurants, shops, hotels and things to do
- There are summer concerts at the bandstand near the boardwalk
- Many kid-friendly things to do
- Cape Henlopen State Park is nearby
- Many beaches to choose from: Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey, Bethany or Fenwick Island
- Lots of great restaurants and eateries: Rusty Rudder, Harpoon Hannah’s, Cultured Pearl, Nage, Henlopen City Oyster House
Cocoa Beach, FL
If you’re not from Florida, it might seem like the whole state is made up of beaches. How do you choose just one? Cocoa Beach is one of the more unique and unspoiled beaches in the state, because it is secluded on a peninsula south of Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center. It’s an easy weekend escape from Orlando, and you’ll really feel like you’ve gotten away from it all. The best part is that all of the hotels, such as the Hilton and Doubletree, are beachfront properties.
Top features of Cocoa Beach:
- Visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex nearby
- Cocoa Beach Pier and boardwalk has many fun eateries and shops to explore
- Lori Wilson park has wide beaches, thick sand and lovely nature trails
- Renowned for its calm, consistent waves
- Great for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, kitesurfing and surfing
Vero Beach, FL
Did you know that Florida has named a section of its coastline Treasure Coast? Vero Beach is located right in the middle of it. There are three separate beach areas; South Beach, Humiston Park, and Jaycee Park. With more than enough beaches, coastal walks, museums, and even a botanical garden, there is plenty to keep you busy.
Couples will want to stay in one of Vero Beaches top resorts, like the Caribbean Court Boutique Hotel or the luxurious Vero Beach Hotel & Spa by Kimpton.
Top features at Vero Beach:
- Vero is an under-the-radar beach destination, so it doesn’t feel as touristy as other Florida beaches
- Long stretches of white sand perfect for long walks on the beach
- A large portion of the world’s sea turtles nest in Vero Beach
- The Indian River Lagoon is the most biodiverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern hemisphere
- Great places to dine with local seafood specialities: The Tides, The Crab Stop, Scampi Grill, the Ocean Grill
Manhattan Beach, CA
Manhattan Beach is the perfect place to unwind for a long weekend getaway from Los Angeles. It’s popular with families and outdoor lovers due to its upscale surroundings and great surfing. It’s clean, safe, and a bit posh. The Manhattan Beach Pier and the Strand offer lots of services an amenities. There’s beach volleyball, sunbathing, biking and walking paths and lots of space to mix and mingle with fellow beachgoers.
Top features of Manhattan Beach:
- It’s very close to the city so it’s easy to get there
- Great for people watching and day dreaming – the beach is lined with uber-expensive houses
- The 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail extends along almost the whole west coastline of LA. It’s a well-maintained trail perfect for long bike rides
- The 928-foot pier that stretches out into the ocean was constructed in 1920 and is a great spot to watch the sunset
- Sand Dune park nearby offers a fun place to play in the sand, plus a great workout challenge
Newport Beach, CA
If you’re dreaming of long walks on the beach, head to Balboa Peninsula Beach, just south of the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach, CA. The beach appears to stretch on forever and there are usually less people around, since it’s more removed from the activity at the Newport Pier. In Newport Beach, you’ll be close enough to enjoy the many beaches and parks nearby, as well as the amenities the local resorts offer, like large outdoor pools and lounge chairs.
Top features of Newport Beach:
- Nearby is Corona del Mar State Beach, loved by families, scuba divers, and surfers.
- The Newport Pier is 1,032 feet long and incredibly impressive
- The 5-mile-long Newport Beach has soft sand and is a favorite among sunbathers
- The Balboa Village is a historic amusement area on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach
- Newport-Balboa Bike Trail runs along the beach and is nice for bike rides and walks
- Great whale watching
If you’re looking for the perfect beach vacation, both U.S. coasts offer fantastic choices, but you can’t go wrong with any of the five popular beaches above. Do you have a favorite beach destination? Share it with us in the comments!
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.