Last updated: August 2022
Anyone else daydreaming about white sand beaches, turquoise water and slow, breathtaking sunsets – without leaving the United States? You’re in luck. With the wealth of easily accessible locales boasting said wish list right here in the continental USA, this is one dream that can easily become a reality for fellow Stateside beach bums. No passport or achingly long flight needed! Just grab your swimsuit, oversized shades and SPF and get ready to say hello to your endless summer.
Nicknamed the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin has come a long way from it’s sleepy fishing town roots (stretching back to the 1830s) to become one of the most popular spots on the Florida Panhandle today. This peninsular paradise located off the northwest Florida mainland maintains an intimate, friendly atmosphere among 13,000 year-round residents and 40,000+ in the summer, offering everything a bonafide beach bum could ask for: posh beach houses, luxury beachfront condos, snorkeling, scuba diving, glistening emerald waters and of course, that perfect, sugar-white sand.
South Padre Island, Texas
Just a day’s drive from major Texas cities like Houston and Dallas, this seaside paradise is popular amongst families, couples and Texan spring breakers alike. Expect wide, powder-soft beaches and sparkling blue water alongside ample opportunities for activities like boating, fishing and kiteboarding – not to mention a string of funky hotels and late-night beach haunts to get your Mai-Tai on.
Catalina Island, Southern California
Nestled 22 miles off the Los Angeles coast, Catalina Island is known for its wildlife, dive sites, Mt. Orizaba (its highest peak) and storied history filled with tales of smugglers, gold diggers, pirates, hunters, the Union army and missionaries. Head to picturesque Descanso Beach for an Instagram-worthy shoreline endlessly dotted with palm trees and cabanas, then to the quaint social center of Avalon for shopping, gallery-hopping and fine dining. You’ll need to hop a ferry from Newport Beach, Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point to get to Catalina, or for the true jet-setter – arrange for a private plane or helicopter.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Lacing the edges of Alabama’s southern border against the cotton-white shores of the Gulf, Orange Beach offers miles of beautiful sand, calm, azure water and access to the interior bays and bayous lying just north of nearby Perdido Pass. In addition to getting in some serious beach time, expect activities like deep-sea fishing, championship golf, zip-lining, seaside shopping and dining, plus – Mardi Gras celebrations.
Florida Keys & Key West
Paradise found would be an understatement. Hardly an introduction needed, this string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida boasts hundreds of islands surrounded by endless Caribbean waters, cool breezes and as much relaxation, or action, as you desire – all at the tail end of the USA. Head to laid back Rest Beach in Key West (pictured above) to catch one of the most stunning sunrises (or sunsets) in all of the Keys, complete with a yoga deck to soak in the view while striking your morning warrior pose.
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