12 Beaches You Need in Your Life: No Passport Required
Sun on your hair, sand in your toes, breeze at your back—a little beach time can work wonders. Meet 12 of the best places to see for yourself, each totally transporting (but none requiring a passport).
La Jolla Shores, CA
Early morning brings the surfers (this is a great spot for beginners); daytime means snorkeling, scuba lessons and kayaking (all particularly great from June onward, when the famed docile leopard sharks start congregating here); dusk promises spectacular shows by Mother Nature (see above). And whatever your budget, we have San Diego hotels to fit it—including one on a private island.
Paradise Cove, CA
A stunning slice of Malibu, this beach upholds the posh local rep with (rentable) private cabanas, beach beds and lounge chairs. If you do nothing else here, have a meal at the Pacific-facing café, where fans of classic beach flicks may recognize the scene from the likes of How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and Beach Blanket Bingo. In fact, Tinseltown is close at hand, as you'll discover when you take advantage of these hotel deals.
Pfeiffer Beach, CA
Tucked into California’s Central Coast, this little hideaway is known for striking rock formations and purple sands (the latter not always visible, but amazing when they are). Don't miss sunset through the famed keyhole in the offshore rocks, nor a hike in nearby Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park.
Cannon Beach, OR
Oregon's coastal Highway 101 connects hundreds of miles of secluded surfing spots, dramatic cliffs and quaint towns. Along the way, there's a beach to fit just about every need, but—for natural beauty alone—Cannon Beach is hard to beat, thanks to Haystack Rock (see above) and the surrounding title pools (you can walk right up to them at low tide to check out the resident sea stars and friends.
Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico
Though the main draw is—clearly—the aquamarine water and its inhabitants (sea turtles, rays and all manner of tropical fish), this Culebra island beach is also home to a unique brand of street art: creatively graffiti-covered tanks—an evocative remnant of the U.S. military presence here.
Lanikai Beach, HI
While the Hawaiian islands are home to more edenic beaches than, arguably, the rest of the states combined, this Oahu gem is among the least touristed. Its access somewhat hard (but not impossible) to find, this is a great place to make your own any time of day, but especially at sunrise and sunset—the Mokulua islets stunning against the glowing sky. To say aloha to Hawaii in person, check out these hotel deals, flights and vacation packages.
The barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks (or OBX, in local parlance) don't want for gorgeous beaches. But the shores around Corolla are among the few that come with an unusual and beloved bonus: wild mustangs—presumed descendants of the horses that accompanied Spanish settlers centuries ago. For some of the best sightings, consider a tour.
The beaches of Ogunquit, ME
Though we defy you to find a stretch of this quintessential New England coastline that isn't dreamy, certain sections are particularly beloved. Main Beach, for one, is a family favorite, thanks to its public restrooms and rentable beach chairs, umbrella and floats. On the other side of the spectrum (and shoreline), the quiet and somewhat secluded Footbridge Beach is a ridiculously romantic retreat.
Oak Street Beach, IL
A Chicago favorite, this sandy stretch of North Lake Shore Drive draws volleyball players, runners, sun worshippers, picnickers and architecture buffs (the shot above represents just a fraction of the famed skyline you can see from the beach). To stay and play in the Second City, check out these deals.
Oval Beach, MI
Though the dreamy local dunes are reason enough to visit this Lake Michigan favorite, the journey may well rival the destination: To get here, take the Saugatuck Chain Ferry—a pulley-driven system that's been crossing the Kalamazoo River since 1838—then climb to Mount Baldhead, take in the view, then descend onto the sand.
South Beach, FL
To swim in Caribbean-caliber water without leaving the mainland, head to Miami Beach. And to add amazing people-watching, night life and Art Deco design to the mix, head to South Beach, in particular. But wherever you want to stay, eat and play in the area, we have wide-ranging deals.
Siesta Key Beach, FL
While the beaches above appear in no particular order, you could argue we've saved the best for last: This stretch of crystalline sand (a favorite of sand sculptors) and blue-green waters is the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice for Best U.S. Beach of 2020. Go check out the the wide-open, borderline surreal scene for yourself once you've secured a hotel deal at one of Florida's West Coast Beaches.