(Photo by Sftm/Gado/Sipa USA)
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the unofficial start to summer, which means beach season has arrived!
Sand, surf, sun, drinks—drinks again —and a whole heap of relaxation while the salty air wisps away the stale monotony of daily indoor grinds and the colder days of the past few months.
Are you looking for a beach to hit? No clue where to head?
Here are the top 15 beach spots, according to US News.
15. Monterey (California)
(Brian Baer/California State Parks, 2020, via AP)
Kicking off the beach days out west, with a calmer option in Monteray Bay. The area has the scenery and top spots like Carmel Beach, and all of it skipping on the crowded norms you’d expect in the summer months.
14. Miami Beach (Florida)
(Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Miami Beach is an all-time classic summer destination, a spot mixed with relaxation and all-out partying.
13. Naples (Florida)
(USA TODAY Network)
Staying in the Sunshine State, we head to the Gulf of Mexico side, where Naples awaits beachgoers looking for everything from snorkeling to paddleboarding to snoozing beachside.
12. Laguna Beach (California)
Tucked between Los Angeles and San Diego lies the quaint area of Laguna Beach. The destination has the same type of surf, sun and fun associated with SoCal beaches, but the Orange County offering is a tad calmer. The community has an incredible art scene, too, which adds to the hillside attractions that overlook the cool Pacific.
11. Cannon Beach (Oregon)
(USA TODAY Network)
The traveler looking for a beach destination that is more of a majestic experience—instead of a swimming mecca—should certainly look at the Orgain coastline and Cannon Beach (where they filmed the final scenes of “The Goonies”!).
Its four miles long, dotted with tide pools and various habitats, plus the striking serenity of the famous Haystack Rock, which rises some 230-plus feet in the misty air.
But alas, the water is quite chilly. So this would be more for the adventurer …who might have a few wetsuits.
10. Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia)
(Jay Diem/Eastern Shore News via AP)
The photograph does this beach destination justice — after all, who wouldn’t want to ride horseback along the shoreline at sunset?
Assateague Island is a barrier island that is part of Maryland and part of Virginia, a calm getaway with some of the most scenic offerings of any Atlantic beaches. The horses are wild, so you can watch them frolic about in the surf or feast on the vegetation. And there’s plenty more to do if equine activities aren’t your thing, with kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming available.
9. Outer Banks (North Carolina)
(Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)
Another Atlantic Ocean gem—this one, with 200 miles of coastline to choose from—North Carolina’s Outer Banks is excellent for beachgoers. Much of the variations from beach town to beach town make the OB like its own little world, where visitors can do everything from fishing to surfing to sunbathing, skimboarding, and even boating while taking in the sunset views.
8. Half Moon Bay (California)
(JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
While many people would associate Half Moon Bay with Mavericks Beach—where the best surfers i. the world go to tackle some historically monstrous waves—that’s only a small part of the area’s larger beach-going splendor.
7. Clearwater Beach (Florida)
(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY NETWORK)
The calm, warm water at our next stop on the list is another perfect match for beachgoers looking to relax or hit every water sport available. Clearwater Beach works for all ages, too, which is always a nice bonus during decision time.
6. Malibu (California)
(Sipa via AP Images)
From the pier to the surfing to the outstanding sunsets—even the possibility of rubbing elbow with A-list celebs—Malibu is a definite go-to if you’re looking at SoCal beaches this summer.
5. Honolulu – Oahu (Hawaii)
(Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
Whether you; ‘re looking to take a dip at Waikiki Beach, watch some top-tier surfing at Waimea Bay Beach, or chill at the calmer Lanikai Beach — it’s pretty hard to pass up a trip to Honolulu. But if you’re looking to go the island route and to avoid major expenses—like a flight to Hawaii— then we’d look to the next stop on this list …
4. Sanibel Island (Florida)
(DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
Just a short drive from Fort Myers, Florida, sits the pristine beauty of Sanibel Island. The low-key spot located on the Gulf of Mexico offers something for all ages, from shelling (seashell collecting) to lounging along the calms waters—and sipping a Tiki drink—to activities like wildlife sightseeing and kayaking.
3. Destin (Florida)
USA TODAY Network
Heading up to Florid’s Panhandle, we land at the first spot in the Top 3 beaches. Destin is another spot that boasts warm waters and plenty of space to relax or go nonstop with water activities, hiking, or even testing your angler skill in what has been called… the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”
2. Kauai (Hawaii)
(Dan Dennison/Hawaii DLNR via AP)
Looking to make the Haiwiin Islands the summer journey of 2022 — but don’t want too much of a crowd? Kauai is the spot. The laidback vibe has a backdrop of rugged and lush landscape that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time — to, perhaps, the Jurassic era.
Add in a trip around the Na Pali Coast, grab some local coffee, and please — watch out for the local chickens!
1. Maui (Hawaii)
USA TODAY Network
Maui lands at the top spot for the second time, and for a good reason — the Hawaiin haven has everyone that the above-listed places offer… but adds in a type of geographical setting and ambiance that you can only get from the famed island.