15 Best East Coast Beaches

With over 2,000 miles of sandy shoreline, the East Coast offers many incredible beach destinations, from Maine to Florida. There are tons of choices for you, with various spots offering water sports, relaxing shorelines, bustling beach towns, luxurious destinations, and everything in between. With so many options, we’ve made it easy for you by creating a list of the top East Coast beaches!

15 Best East Coast Beaches

From north to south, scenic beaches are ready for you to explore along the Unites States’ eastern coast. There’s something for everyone, from family-friendly spots and romantic beaches to fun coastal towns and unique destinations. We’ve even got a couple of hidden gems if you’re looking to get off the beaten track.

Let’s get to it and check out the best East Coast beaches, along with accommodation options and answers to common questions.

15 Best East Coast Beaches

No matter where you’re traveling from or what area you’re hoping to visit, there’s a perfect East Coast beach for you! Here’s a quick rundown, then we’ll go into the nitty-gritty details for each option.

  • Ocean City, New Jersey: bustling, family-friendly destination
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: beautiful, fun beaches for travelers on a budget
  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts: a charming beach town and award-winning golf
  • Outer Banks, North Carolina: various pristine beaches with something for everyone
  • Tybee Island, Georgia: a relaxing beach getaway
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia: an exciting destination with lots of activities
  • Southampton, New York: a stunning coastal town in the Hamptons
  • Rehoboth Beach, Delaware: a charming beach with a sandy coastline
  • Anna Maria Island, Florida: blue waters off the beaten path
  • Ocean City, Maryland: a family-friendly destination in a resort beach town
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: an upscale coastal destination with southern charm
  • Hampton Beach, New Hampshire: a small seaside town with a relaxing vibe
  • Old Orchard Beach, Maine: a hidden gem with beautiful shores
  • South Beach, Florida: an upscale, lively area close to Miami
  • Fire Island, New York: a tranquil destination near Manhattan

1. Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City, New Jersey is an exciting family-friendly vacation destination.
Ocean City, New Jersey is an exciting family-friendly vacation destination. (Credit: Christopher Pany/Shutterstock)

With 8 miles of wide sandy beaches and endless beach activities, Ocean City, New Jersey is many beachgoers’ favorite spot! In fact, it’s often referred to as ‘America’s greatest family resort.’ While it’s most popular during the summer when it’s warm, it’s also a great year-round vacation destination.

While all the beaches are lively and offer exciting experiences, Ocean City’s main beach is the most visited spot. There are several guarded beaches for safe swimming. Visitors also enjoy surfing, fishing, and sunbathing.

One of the most iconic attractions is Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, where you can enjoy rides, food, shopping, mini-golf and so much more! Playland’s Castaway Cove is another lively pier and boardwalk. There’s something for everyone!

Where to Stay

As such a favored destination, there are many great vacation rentals and hotels in the area. Here are a few top recommendations:

When to Go

A beach vacation in New Jersey is best during summer when it’s warm. Winters get pretty chilly, with lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s and 50s.

  • June-August: warmest weathers, peak-season
  • May and September: nice weather and fewer crowds

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach is more than a Spring Break destination with many beautiful beaches and fun activities.
Myrtle Beach is more than a Spring Break destination with many beautiful beaches and fun activities. (Credit: StacieStauffSmith Photos/Shutterstock)

You’ve probably heard of Myrtle Beach as a Spring Break destination. However, with 60 miles of stunning coastline, there’s something for all kinds of beachgoers in this area known as the Grand Strand.

Myrtle Beach is one of the most vibrant beaches in South Carolina. There’s a boardwalk filled with tons of fun and a Ferris Wheel. There are also many activities nearby, like Broadway at the Beach, golf courses, and a state park.

If you’re looking for other beaches in the area that are also fun but more relaxed, check out Cherry Grove or Surfside.

Where to Stay

While there are tons of places to stay in the area, here are a couple of excellent options:

When to Go

We recommend going to Myrtle Beach in May or September for pleasant weather and fewer crowds. Given that Myrtle Beach is in the Southeast, you usually don’t have to worry about the temperatures getting too cold. The best ocean temperatures are from May through September. With that said, peak summer days can get quite toasty and crowded.

3. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is home to a stunning shoreline, charming beach towns, and award-winning golf.
Cape Cod is home to a stunning shoreline, charming beach towns, and award-winning golf. (Credit: Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock)

Cape Cod is one of the most iconic and stunning East Coast beaches. This beautiful coastal area is famous for its pristine beaches, delicious seafood, quaint towns, and historic lighthouses.

Cape Cod was founded in 1645 and has a rich history and many sites to see. The peninsula has several charming beach towns perfect for a vacation home base. Some of the most notable ones are Provincetown, Chatham, and Falmouth. 

You’ll find sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. The beaches are quiet, perfect for those looking to get away from the hustle. During the summer, you can even ride horses on the beach for a unique adventure.

Aside from the beach, you’ll find other attractions to keep you busy. The local rail-trail is an expansive paved trail perfect for biking, walking, or running. Many visitors also flock to Cape Cod National Seashore and park for scenery and wildlife viewing.

Where to Stay

Cape Cod is relatively large, giving you plenty of options when it comes to places to stay. Best of all, many accommodation options feature unique old-school architecture and decor. Here are some of our favorite places to stay on the peninsula: 

When to Go

We recommend visiting Cape Cod National Seashore from June through September when it’s warm. During these months, you can find temperatures in the 70s, unlike the rest of the year when it can get quite chilly.

4. The Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is the perfect beach vacation destination for families, friends, couples, and solo beach travelers.
The Outer Banks is the perfect beach vacation destination for families, friends, couples, and solo beach travelers. (Credit: Jason Schronce/Shutterstock)

North Carolina has over 300 miles of ocean shoreline, but if you want to visit the best East Coast beaches in NC, you need to head to the Outer Banks. This lively area consists of a stretch of barrier islands off the coast, with tons of fun for all kinds of beachgoers.

Similar to Cape Cod, the Outer Banks has several towns nestled together on the beaches. The most popular areas are Kill Devil Hills, Manteo, Nags Head, and Kitty Hawk. 

With several public beaches and state parks with beach access, there’s enough room for visitors to spread out and enjoy beach activities. From fishing and sunbathing to surfing and swimming, there are endless experiences to be enjoyed.

Away from the shore, there are other popular North Carolina activities in the area. These include checking out the Wrights Brothers National Monument, state parks, and museums.

Where to Stay

North Carolina’s Outer Banks is a popular summer vacation destination, so there’s no shortage of accommodations regardless of which beach you visit. Here are some top choices:

When to Go

Like most beach towns in the north and Mideast, May through September are the warmest months. Summers get crowded in the Outer Banks, so go in May or September to enjoy nice weather but miss the larger crowds.

5. Tybee Island, Georgia

Georgia's best East Coast beach is less than an hour from Savannah. 
Georgia’s best East Coast beach is less than an hour from Savannah. (Credit: NatalieSchorr/Shutterstock)

Less than 20 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, is Tybee Island. This barrier island is easily one of the best East Coast beaches for those looking to relax. Tybee Island is a charming beach town, and while it’s not bustling like other destinations on this list, it offers the ideal laid-back getaway.

Tybee Island’s beaches are lined with palm trees and offer beautiful views. The most frequented beaches are North Tybee Beach, South Tybee Beach, and Mid Beach. Each beach features calm waters and quiet spaces, too.

South Tybee Beach is the closest to the Tybee Pier and Pavilion, which visitors love. North Tybee Beach gives you the most immediate access to the stunning lighthouse, and Mid Beach is smack dab in the middle. 

You’ll find most of the accommodations, restaurants, and shops close to the shore. We recommend renting a bicycle to wander around and appreciate all that the island has to offer

Where to Stay

Although Tybee Island is small, there are several hotels and vacation rentals available. Check out these fan-favorites stays:

When to Go

As we move to the best East Coast beaches further south, we get to destinations with more warmer months. Tybee Island boasts sunshine and great weather from April through October. While summer months are the most popular, Tybee never gets too crowded.

6. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is a fun beach town with tons to see and do.
Virginia Beach is a fun beach town with tons to see and do. (Credit: Jay Yuan/Shutterstock)

Virginia Beach is one of the greatest East Coast vacation spots and sits where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet. For those looking for a good mix of relaxation and exciting activities, you’ll love Virginia Beach.

Some of the best beaches in the area lay along the Chesapeake Bay, while several are along the Atlantic Coast. The beaches near Chesapeake Bay are great for families since the waters are a bit calmer. 

Some of the best beaches in the city are Chesapeake Beach, First Landing Beach, and the North End Beaches on the Atlantic Coast. Enjoy jet skiing, surfing, sunbathing, and swimming.

When you need a break from the ocean, there are other exciting activities to check out. We love The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, First Landing State Park, and Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Where to Stay

The best places to stay in Virginia Beach are the closest to the beaches, while there are also options further away. Here are our top picks for where to stay in the area: 

When to Go

The best time of year to hit the beaches in Virginia Beach is between May and September. For nice weather and fewer crowds, visit in May or September.

7. Southampton, New York

Southampton is a beautiful beach town in The Hamptons. 
Southampton is a beautiful beach town in The Hamptons. (Credit: Joe Trentacosti/Shutterstock)

The Hamptons is one of the most famous beach and summer destinations for New York locals and nearby states. You’ll find Southampton on Long Island, closer to Montauk than the city. 

There are several beaches along the shoreline in Southampton. The three closest to town are Cryder, Cooper, and Southampton Beach. As you move west of Southampton Beach, you’ll hit Road D Beach and Shinnecock East County Park. 

Many beaches in the area have public access. Cooper Beach, Southampton Beach, and others are open to non-residents. 

While Southampton is a small coastal town and the beaches are one of its best attractions, there’s more to appreciate. Check out popular sites like the Southampton History Museum, the Thomas Halsey Homestead, and popular golf clubs.

Where to Stay

Many people opt for Airbnbs or other rental sites when visiting Southampton. There are also a few great hotels and inns, including these:

When to Go

We suggest visiting between June and August for the best beach weather when the highs are in the 70s and 80s.

8. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth is one of the most unique beaches on the east.
Rehoboth is one of the most unique beaches on the east. (Credit: Keri Delaney/Shutterstock)

Rehoboth Beach is a small town on the coast of Delaware that has an unmatched charm and beauty. Many Delaware locals love Rehoboth, but otherwise, it’s often overlooked.

Sandy beaches line the entire coast, but the most popular ones are Rehoboth Public Beach, Poodle Beach, and Deauville Beach. One of the most popular things to do in Rehoboth Beach besides swimming and lounging on the beaches is to walk along the boardwalk. You can find many shops, restaurants, and games.

When you’re ready to take a break from the beach, there are activities for everyone to enjoy. Cape Henlopen State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. And, if you’re a food lover, you’ll love Rehoboth’s incredible restaurant scene.

Where to Stay

Rehoboth Beach might be a smaller beach town, but there are plenty of places to stay for your next beach vacation. Here are some top choices:

When to Go

For the best beach weather, you’ll want to visit Rehoboth during summer. May and September are also good times to go with mild temperatures.

9. Anna Maria Island, Florida

Anna Maria Island is easily one of the prettiest east coast beaches on Florida's Gulf Coast. 
Anna Maria Island is easily one of the prettiest east coast beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast. (Credit: Mark Winfrey/Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for private beaches with public access, Anna Maria Island is the place to go! As one of Florida’s hidden gems, Anna Maria is a pristine beach with blue gulf waters and white sand. It’s also known as one of the best East Coast beaches for families on a budget.

Some of the top public beaches on Anna Maria Island are Bean Point Beach, Anna Maria Public Beach, and Bayfront Park. If you’re staying at a resort on the island, you may have access to a true private beach. Either way, Anna Maria Island’s coastline offers plenty of space to enjoy for yourself.

Most beaches in the area offer water activity rentals, including jet skis and paddleboards. You can also find beach shops and delicious seafood restaurants lining the beach.

Where to Stay

Florida thrives on tourism, so it’s no surprise that there’s a surplus of places to stay on Anna Maria Island. There’s something or everyone’s budget, and these are some of the best options: 

When to Go

Florida beaches are some of the best because of the fantastic weather year-round. And, since Anna Maria isn’t one of Florida’s busy tourist destinations, you don’t have to worry about summer crowds. With that said, make sure you check the weather before you go because summer is Florida’s hurricane season.

Local tip: Visit during October for great weather, prices, and beach privacy.

10. Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City, Maryland is a popular spot for families.
Ocean City, Maryland is a popular spot for families. (Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock)

Ocean City, Maryland is one of the best East Coast beaches for families. This resort town is perfect for a weekend or week-long getaway. It features ten miles of beaches, plenty of restaurants and shops, and an energetic boardwalk at the south end of the town. 

To be closer to one of America’s most exciting boardwalks, you’ll need to head to the southernmost portion of the beach. It is the most crowded area, but it’s worth it if you can find a space to settle for the day.

Other popular attractions in the area are Trimmer Rides amusement park and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Where to Stay

As a popular vacation destination, there are many hotels and rentals in the area. Here are a few top options:

When to Go

While May offers nice weather, June through September are the warmest months if you’re looking for perfect beach weather. Since you’ll usually see the most crowds from June through August, we suggest booking your trip for September.

11. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island offers southern charm and luxurious beach vibes.
Hilton Head Island offers southern charm and luxurious beach vibes. (Credit: Denise Kappa/Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for an upscale beach town in South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is the place to go! This award-winning city is famous for its beaches, lighthouses, golf courses, and other resort-like amenities.

The best beaches are Coligny Beach Park, Folly Field Beach, South Beach, Hilton Head Island Beach, and Burkes Beach.

There are many private beaches if you’re staying in a resort, and there is also public beach access. Many beachgoers enjoy water adventures like boating, fishing, and swimming.

While the beaches are spectacular, the golf courses are the next best attraction. Many visitors also enjoy visiting local museums and galleries.

Where to Stay

Many Hilton Head travelers opt for resorts to align with the luxurious lifestyle, but there are simpler hotel options, too. Here are a few top choices:

When to Go

Coastal South Carolina has some of the best beach weather throughout the year. Average highs in the 70s begin in April then rise to the 80s and 90s through September. The 70s return in the fall.

Note: Some visitors have mentioned that visiting October through March feels like you’re interrupting the locals’ vibe, so we prefer visiting Hilton Head during the travel season.

12. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach is smaller than many of the best East Coast beaches but offers a fantastic vacation by the sea.
Hampton Beach is smaller than many of the best East Coast beaches but offers a fantastic vacation by the sea. (Credit: Lucile Purnell/Shutterstock)

Just above the border of Massachusetts is Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. This beach resort town is booming during the summertime and for great reason. The town is small but it’s an excellent place to vacation for a few days or longer when all you want to do is unwind and lay on the beach. 

Hampton Beach Main is the primary beach in the town, and it stretches for the length of the city. There’s plenty of space to spread out and feel like you’ve got your own little piece of paradise.

Other popular East Coast beaches in Hampton Beach are Hampton State Beach, North Beach, North Hampton State Beach, and Rye Harbor State Park. 

Besides the gorgeous beaches in Hampton Beach, visitors like to explore other attractions. Popular activities include Hampton Beach State Park, casinos, and whale watching tours.

Where to Stay

Hampton Beach has limited options for accommodations due to its smaller size. However, there are a couple of great choices:

When to Go

We recommend going between June and September if you’re looking to visit during the warm months. Average highs are in the 70s and 80s, whereas winters get pretty chilly.

13. Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Old Orchard Beach is one of the prettiest beaches for a summer vacation.
Old Orchard Beach is one of the prettiest beaches for a summer vacation. (Credit: Susan E. Viera/Shutterstock)

Old Orchard Beach is a small town in Maine that isn’t on everyone’s list of coastal vacation destinations. This hidden gem has a population of fewer than 10,000 people, but the beaches see more visitors during summer.

The best beach in the town gets its name after the city, Old Orchard Beach. It’s in a central location near hotels and resorts, a pier with restaurants and shops, and the Palace Playground with rides and carnival games. You can also find beach sports rentals and charter boats in the area.

There are several cool things to see and do away from the beach. These include The Old Orchard Beach Historical Museum, Veteran’s Memorial Park, and mini-golf.

Where to Stay

If you want to stay on this beautiful east coast beach, here are some great options that are affordable and great for solo travelers or families: 

When to Go

It’s always best to visit any area in Maine during the summer. In fact, many attractions and accommodations are closed during the off-season. The best weather for beaches is from June through September.

14. South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida

South Beach is the perfect glamorous but fun beach destination.
South Beach is the perfect glamorous but fun beach destination. (Credit: Matt Tilghman/Shutterstock)

Miami beaches are some of the best in the country, and South Beach is a top choice! South Beach is on the southernmost area of the largest barrier island in Miami, Florida. This exciting beach town has many resorts, restaurants, bars, and beaches for you to explore.

This soft sand beach tends to be lively, but you’ll have enough space to relax, swim, play beach volleyball, and build sandcastles. There’s also a popular boardwalk with tons of activities to enjoy.

While many people head to South Beach to enjoy beaches and nightlife, there’s something for everyone! Some of the best activities away from the beach are exploring art-deco around town, hanging out at South Pointe Park, and shopping at Lincoln Road Mall.

Where to Stay

South Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, so you’ll find dozens of accommodations. From luxury resorts to affordable hotels, there’s something for everyone. There are also many vacation rentals for more of a homey vibe. Here are some excellent options:

When to Go

Since South Beach is a barrier island, it doesn’t get as hot as other parts of Florida. Most of the year, you’ll enjoy temperatures in the 70s and 80s, meaning you can lounge on South Beach anytime. If you’re planning a trip in the summer, be cautious with hurricane season. 

15. Fire Island, New York

Check out Fire Island for a quiet beach getaway that's close to Manhattan.
Check out Fire Island for a quiet beach getaway that’s close to Manhattan. (Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock)

A barrier island off of the south shore of Long Island makes for a wonderful East Coast beach vacation. Fire Island, New York, is between Manhattan and The Hamptons, about 65 miles from each.

This is one of the quietest and most beautiful beaches in the Northeast. Like many barrier islands, there are a bunch of other beaches to visit while you’re here if you’re looking to change things up on your vacation. The most frequented beaches are the Fire Island National Seashore, Barrett Beach Park, Robert Moses State Park, and Lighthouse Beach. 

While it’s easy to spend all your time relaxing on Fire Island, there are other experiences to appreciate. We recommend visiting Fire Island Lighthouse and The Sunken Forest.

Where to Stay

This small barrier island is quiet and perfect for families, and the lodging options reflect that. Many are small guesthouses and hotels, with these being a couple of the best:

When to Go

Like with other beaches in the Northeast, it’s best to visit Fire Island when it’s warm from May through September.


As you plan your next beach vacation, let’s answer some common questions.

Which East Coast states have beaches?

There are over 2,000 miles of shoreline along the edge of these East Coast states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

You can find beaches in each of these states on this list, aside from Rhode Island and Connecticut. If you’re looking for beaches in these areas, check out the 15 best beaches in Connecticut and Rhode Island, as there are several incredible options!

What is the nicest beach on the East Coast?

With so many beautiful beaches in the East Coast region, it’s hard to name just one. But, if we had to choose, we’d go with the Outer Banks for its blue waters, white sand, and amazing accommodations.

Where is the clearest water on East Coast?

South Beach! If you’re looking for clear waters on the East Coast, you should definitely head to Florida and hang out at South Beach.

What is the least crowded beach on the East Coast?

Fire Island in New York or Anna Marie Island in Florida! If you’re looking for a peaceful beach escape, you can’t go wrong with either of these spots. They’re both off the beaten path and offer a quiet getaway.

What is the cheapest beach to vacation at?

Myrtle Beach is one of the most affordable beaches to vacation at on the East Coast. With so many beaches and being such a large area, there are tons of options to plan a trip on a budget.

To plan an affordable Myrtle Beach vacation, visit during the off-season (fall & winter). If you want to go when the weather is warm, but accommodations and attractions are more affordable, we recommend going in May, June, or October.

Best of all, there are many free activities to take advantage of. Here are a few fun options:

  • switch up your beach spots (60 miles of free to access shoreline!)
  • visit the Vereen Memorial Gardens
  • birdwatch and see the sunset at Murrels Inlet Marshwalk
  • check out to the South Carolina Hall of Fame

What East Coast beaches are best for families?

Many beaches on the East Coast are great for families! Some of our favorites are Ocean City (NJ), Outer Banks (NC), and Myrtle Beach (SC).

Where is the best place to vacation on the East Coast?

This really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re hoping to visit an activity-filled beach destination, check out the Outer Banks, NC. If you prefer a low-key beach vacation, head to Tybee Island, GA. With that said, each place on this list offers a great vacation adventure and offers a variety of experiences, depending on what you’re looking for.

Enjoy Visiting East Coast Beaches

We hope you’re excited to check out a fabulous beach along the East Coast! While these are 15 of our favorite options, there are hundreds of unique spots from Maine to Florida. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot, party scene, or relaxing beach, we’re confident you’ll find your new favorite seaside destination!

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