The Ultimate Beach Playlist
Don’t worry. Beach happy.
Arizona: Lake Powell
Part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States. Visitors can take their RVs to camp or their houseboats to enjoy the water. Aside from taking in the sights, visitors can rent a variety of water sport equipment.
Arkansas: Caddo Bend
This family-friendly beach is a favorite spot at DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Forget about uncomfortable rocks, the beach at the Caddo Bend day use area is covered with inviting sand. The designated swimming area is perfect for floating and splashing. Caddo Bend is also home to plenty of shady areas that are perfect for picnicking or lounging the day away.
California: Santa Monica
Santa Monica has plenty of activities for everyone in the family. Eat at one of the several restaurants, enjoy the amusement park, Pacific Park, or ride your bike along the paved pathway. Visit the south side of the pier, Muscle Beach, to watch acrobatic feats on retro equipment like rings and bars.
Georgia: St. Simons Island
The location of HGTV's Dream Home 2017, St. Simons Island boasts Southern Oaks that provide a romantic backdrop. The island's unspoiled beach and Southern charm make it a perfect getaway to go on with your loved one.
Waikiki Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the world. You can do many activities on this two-mile beach, from sand combing to surfing. The Diamond Head Crater provides a one-of-a-kind backdrop. Check out our other favorite Hawaiian beaches>>
Idaho: Lake Cascade
Lake Cascade has as many camping options as it does recreational opportunities with hundreds of campsites ranging from primitive to fully-serviced hook-ups. The camp sites are located along 86 miles of shoreline with beautiful views of Lake Cascade and the North Fork Mountain Range.
Indiana: Miller Beach
Just a couple hours southeast of Illinois Beach State Park is Marquette Beach, located in the Miller Beach neighborhood. This beach offers amazing views of Chicago's skyline, miles of sandy beaches and plenty of recreational opportunities. The Lagoon is the perfect place for kayaking. Enjoy hiking in the Oak Savanna, or climb the dunes that can reach up to 75 feet high - all located off the shores of Lake Michigan.
Kentucky: Pennyrile Forest State Resort
While Kentucky might not be thought of as a beach destination, several Kentucky State Parks have beaches set in lake locations. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park in Dawson Springs is one of the most appealing. The beach's inviting sand is a great place to enjoy the views of beautiful Pennyrile Lake. The park staff hosts parties a few times a year that include food, music, beach volleyball and kids' games. You can also rent kayaks, canoes and pedal boats at the dock adjacent to the beach.
Louisiana: Grand Isle
Grand Isle is located in the Gulf of Mexico, a great place for deep-sea fishing adventures or setting up a tent right on the sand. Swimmers enjoy the warm Gulf waters, and bird enthusiasts revel in the many species present in the lagoons and shore. You definitely want your camera and binoculars when visiting this unspoiled destination.
Maine: Ogunquit Beach
The name Ogunquit means "Beautiful Place by the Sea", in the language of the Algonquin Native Americans. The 3.5-mile white sandy beach is a great place to build sandcastles, swim, collect seashells and fly a kite. Visit the section of the beach called Footbridge Beach to check out the gift shops, a snack bar and restaurants, or go to the southern end to relax in the calm waters on an inner tube or raft.
Maryland: Ocean City
Whether you're planning a family vacation or a romantic getaway, Ocean City has something for everyone. Ride the Tilt-a-Whirl and old-school carousel on the boardwalk, and feast on fresh crabs at one of the local restaurants. You won't run out of things to do at this popular beach.
Minnesota: Lake Carlos
The beach at Lake Carlos State Park provides great views of Lake Carlos, the park's shoreline. The beach has easy access from the campground or parking lot via the paved trail. Spend a whole day by packing a picnic lunch, enjoying a campfire, playing volleyball or exploring more of what the park has to offer.
Nevada: Sand Harbor
Sand Harbor is located in Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. The rich blue lake sits atop the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the sloping beaches and unique rock formations provide a great place for swimming, kayaking and scuba diving. After you enjoy water activities, set up a picnic at the barbecue area right underneath picturesque cedar trees.
New Hampshire: Hampton Beach
Known as one of the cleanest beaches in America, Hampton Beach is a great family desitination.The soft, white sand is perfect for sandcastle building, and kids can play in the tide pools or look for sea urchins on the rocks. Visit in June to check out the amazing creations during the annual Sand Sculpture Competition.
New York: Jones Beach
The 6.5 miles of beautiful white-sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean and 2,400-acres of maritime environment on the south shore of Long Island make Jones Beach a popular destination for families. Designed on the theme of an ocean liner, Jones Beach offers many activities including swimming in the ocean, a stroll on the boardwalk, fishing and grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many concession stands. If you want to take a break from the beach, play a game of putt-putt, or learn about the marine life at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center.
Pennsylvania: Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is a major recreational landmark for about four million visitors each year. As Pennsylvania’s only "seashore", Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling and in-line skating.
Rhode Island: Little Compton
Little Compton sits on a picturesque, pastoral and peaceful peninsula in coastal Rhode Island. People flock here to celebrate the simpler things in life: quiet living, bucolic stretches of farmland and unspoiled, gentle beaches. Bordered by the Westport River, the Sakonnet River and due south, the Atlantic Ocean, Little Compton contributes handily to Rhode Island’s coveted 400 miles of coastline. South Shore Beach is open to the public and its long, crescent-shaped swath of beach welcomes a swell of visitors during the summer season. Good waves lure area surfers, and an onsite boat launch is perfect for small vessels. On a clear day, bathers can even see Cuttyhunk Island and the Elizabeth Islands in the distance.
The 75-acre Goosewing Beach Preserve encompasses the barrier beach plus a pristine coastal pond and serene dune environments. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, this historic landmark is home to The Benjamin Family Environmental Center which offers environmental programs, walks and educational exhibits where visitors learn about important natural features and local flora and fauna.
South Carolina: Kiawah Island
Close to Charleston, this quiet, Southern beach has plenty to do. Go horseback riding right on the beach, or play a round of golf at one of the many courses. Read our guide to Kiawah Island>>
Utah: Quail Creek State Park
Boasting some of the warmest waters in the state and a mild winter climate, Quail Creek Reservoir lures boaters and anglers year-round. Spend a day on the water, or visit a nearby state or national park. Then, retire to a campsite in a spectacular red rock desert setting.
Vermont: Sand Bar State Park
Sand Bar State Park is located on the shores of Lake Champlain with sweeping views of the Green and Adirondack mountains. The park is famous for its long, sandy beach and expansive grassy lawns shaded by mature trees. The sandy beach bottom remains shallow well out from shore, making this an ideal swimming spot for children. To the south and east of the park is the 1,000-acre Sand Bar wildlife refuge, which provides excellent opportunities for birding and wildlife watching. The park also has a brand new playground and has canoe, kayak and standup paddle board rentals.
Virginia: First Landing State Park
A weekend may not be enough at First Landing State Park. Along with the 1.5 miles of sandy shoreline at Chesapeake Bay, the park offers an abundance of activities including boating, swimming, nature and history programs, hiking, biking, picnicking and cabin rentals.