The Best City Beaches
These urban beaches prove that some of the best can be found within city limits.
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Miami Beach, Miami
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
Waikiki Beach has become synonymous with Honolulu, and its popularity attracts tourists the world over. It’s perfect for those who want the convenience of city offerings, but less perfect when it comes to staking out a patch of sand. Luckily, Waikiki actually consists of numerous sections. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, named after the famed surfer, tends to be one of the most crowded parts, while the Fort DeRussy and San Souci beaches are less packed and more family friendly. If you care more about watersports, then Royal Hawaiian Beach is your best bet, where you can while away your days surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or riding in an outrigger canoe.
Santa Monica State Beach, Los Angeles
Thanks to the Santa Monica Pier, odds are that you’ve seen this iconic beach on TV and film many times. It’s also on the map as the official end of the road for Route 66. But the beach is equally famous for being one of the most beautiful in the country, and with 3.5 miles of wide soft sand, there’s usually a good chance of securing a prime spot. Take advantage of the café and amenities at the Annenberg Community Beach House, from yoga classes to stand-up paddleboard rentals. Biking (or roller skating) along the boardwalk to Venice Beach is also de rigueur. Of course, make time to visit the Pier, complete with shops, dining, rides and the famous Ferris wheel.
Revere Beach, Boston
Unless you’re from the Boston area, you probably didn’t know that Revere Beach is the country’s oldest public beach. This National Historic Landmark was founded in 1896, and while technically not within city limits, it’s just five miles north. In fact, you can even catch the blue line train there. The long crescent-shaped beach has maintained its popularity throughout the years, but without the madding crowds. Come for the low-key vibe, stay for the promenade and food options. Don’t miss the annual sandcastle competition, which takes places at the end of July.
Mission Beach, San Diego
As with other climes that enjoy year-round sunshine, San Diego boasts about a dozen beaches that could vie for the title of best. However, Mission Beach offers more than a mile of white sand, along with a boardwalk and plentiful shopping and dining options. When you need a beach break, Belmont Park beckons with a roller coaster and other amusement park rides, plus wave-riding attractions. Of course, you can always take surf lessons from Mission Beach Surfing School, or learn how to stand-up paddleboard like a pro.
Jacob Riis Park, NYC
Baker Beach, San Francisco
San Francisco’s temperatures rarely warm up to beach-going weather, but that doesn’t mean you should skip its picturesque beaches. In fact, iconic Baker Beach features not only a mile of smooth sand and picnic areas, but also spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to sweeping views of Lands End and the Marin Headlands, keep your eyes trained on the water and you might spot porpoises or sea lions. If you have children in tow, just a heads up that the northern section of this beach is popular among nudists. Also be forewarned that Baker isn’t a swimming beach due to dangerous undertows and rip currents.