Sand & Surf: The Best Beach Towns In The United States

It's hard to argue the appeal of living near a beach with some sand and surf. Sleepy beach towns are a great option for people looking to have a slower pace of life while still enjoying outdoor activities, great food, community, high tides, and good vibes.

From the coastal communities in California to gorgeous seaside living in Florida, these beach towns are the best in the United States.

Clearwater, Florida

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Clearwater, Florida, is one of the top spots in the Tampa Bay area. Situated on the state's Gulf Coast, Clearwater is known for its beautiful weather and photo-ready beaches.

There is active nightlife and excellent eateries for those who want more than the sand and lazy. Clearwaterater Marine Aquarium is renowned for rehabilitating dolphins and sea turtles and is an interesting place to visit.

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Pacifica, California

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Nothing quite beats the sleeping beach community of Pacifica, California. Located between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, Pacifica is home to six miles of coves and beaches and is known for its ridiculous surf scene.

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This sleepy beach town has more to offer than the beach, though. Located just 20 minutes from San Francisco, it is the perfect spot for people who want a slower pace of life but still have access to city life.

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Monterey, California

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Once a major sardine-packing town, Monterey, California, has transformed its old factories into seafood restaurants, shops, and bars for residents and visitors. Located off California's iconic and scenic Highway 1, Monterey offers no shortage of amazing views of the rugged Northern California coastline.

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Some of the town's major attractions include the waterfront street Cannery Row, the California Roots Music and Arts Festival, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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Edmonds, Washington

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A population of 39,709 people, Edmonds, Washington, is a great seaside town for those who want to get away from crowds. All about its residents, Edmonds hosts annual festivals in its downtown area and is a major hub for the arts in the state.

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While it is a sleepy town, Edmonds is only a 20-minute drive to Seattle for those wanting a bigger nightlife scene.

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Ocean City, New Jersey

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Even during the off-season, there is always something going on in Ocean City, New Jersey. There is no shortage of fun activities, whether it be biking along the numerous trails, walking the boardwalk along the beach, or frequenting one of the local eateries.

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Ocean City is a place that thrives off its community.

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Pensacola, Florida

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Located on the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota County, Pensacola, Florida, is full of fun nightlife, amazing historical sites to explore, and some of the most gorgeous beaches in the United States.

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Crystal blue waters and stark white sand await people who opt to move to "The City of Five Flags."

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Westport, Connecticut

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Westport, Connecticut, is located along the Long Island Sound within Connecticut's Gold Coast. The town is a major hub for artists, musicians, and writers, with F. Scott Fitzgerald once calling Westport home!

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To leave the sleepy town for a little while, it is very easy for people to hop on public transportation and make their way to New York for the day!

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Portland, Maine

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There is always something to do in Portland, Maine, especially in the downtown area of Old Port. Known for its 19th-century architecture and nightlife, Old Port offers numerous breweries, shops, and various restaurants to enjoy while walking along cobblestone streets.

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A waterfront town, Portland is also known for its thriving fishing industry.

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Carlsbad, California

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A sleepy beach town nestled on the coast of San Diego County, Carlsbad, California, has marvelous beaches close to the community's village. Residents and visitors will find numerous restaurants, boutiques, and breweries to enjoy.

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When the beach gets to be too much, there are various hiking trails to explore and Legoland, the flower fields, and neighboring towns.

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Ventura, California

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Ventura, California, is home to the iconic Surfer's Point, a spot where the waves break so perfectly that it is always bustling with people.

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Riddled with hiking paths, biking lanes, and a thriving downtown area, Ventura is a great town for anyone who wants a sleepy beach life while still having access to bigger cities such as Santa Barbara.

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Kihei, Hawaii

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Kihei, Hawaii, might be a tourist destination, but there are also 21,423 residents living in the beachfront town. Located on Maui's west coast, Kihei is known for its surf spots, biking community, and a whole lot of hiking!

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A laidback vibe year-round, there is nothing quite like stopping by an eatery for some Huli Huli chicken before hitting the beach for the day!

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Santa Cruz, California

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There is never a shortage of things to do in Santa Cruz, California. Located on the state's central coast, Santa Cruz offers residents miles of beach, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and Pacific Avenue, which hosts an array of local eateries, cafes, vintage clothing shops, and wineries.

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There are also numerous hiking trails and the Natural Bridges State Beach to explore.

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Goleta, California

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Located in Santa Barbara County, Goleta, California, is a gorgeous area with a whole lot to do. Not only is there the West Wind Drive-In movie theater, but the town is not far from the bustling downtown life of Santa Barbara.

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The town is also great for young families, as it offers numerous public school and private school options.

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Encinitas, California

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Located in San Diego County, right on the beach, there is always something to do in Encinitas, California. After a morning surf, people tend to find themselves on Encinitas main strip, enjoying brunch with friends and enjoying the gorgeous Sothern California weather.

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The best part is the town is a quick train ride into San Diego!

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Jupiter, Florida

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Even though Jupiter, Florida, is located on the state's east coast, the seaside town still boasts crystal blue waters as if it were on the Gulf of Mexico.

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Jupiter is a historic location, offering residents a museum devoted to regional history, a preserved pioneer-era homestead, and the red 1860 Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse that shows off a panoramic view of the gorgeous town.

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Wilmington, North Carolina

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Situated between Wrightsville Beach and the Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina, has all of the qualities of an amazing beach town. While the beach offers sand and surf, the downtown area along the river is a hub of entertainment venues, delicious restaurants, and a whole lot f bars.

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Over the summer, there are even free concerts on the river!

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Kennebunkport, Maine

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A coastal town in southern Main, Kennebunkport is known for its beaches, such as Goose Rocks Beach.

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A lobster-fishing village, the small town's downtown area, is a bustling area with numerous restaurants, each serving up its own specialty lobster dish, including lobster mac and cheese, lobster tacos, and, of course, lobster rolls!

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San Clemente, California

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Known for San Onofre and San Clemente state beaches, San Clemente, California, is a sleepy surf-heavy beach town located in Orange County. Smack dab between Los Angeles and San Diego; residents have an option to make quick getaways to either city, thanks to public transportation.

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With stunning Spanish-influenced architecture, San Clemente is a gorgeous area with bustling activity.

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Santa Monica, California

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Santa Monica, California, is a great option for people who want a bit more life in their seaside town. A small city, Santa Monica offers a population of over 90,000 people and a slew of activities.

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While there is the beach, there is also the iconic pier amusement park, third street promenade shopping, and numerous restaurants and bars to enjoy!

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Key West, Florida

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While Key West, Florida, is known for its tourists, there are people who live there year-round. And, it's not hard to see why.

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An island in the Straits of Florida, Key West is known for its scuba diving-ready crystal blue waters, delicious assortment of cuisine (it's 90 miles from Cuba!), and rich history.

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North Palm Beach, Florida

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Home to Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, North Palm Beach, Florida, is a golfers' dream. Aside from that, though, the town offers a great school system and safe communities for families to live in.

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Thanks to North Palm Beaches' pristine weather and water conditions on the Intercoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, there is also a thriving boating scene.

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Santa Barbara, California

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Beautiful with some of the best Mexican food around, Santa Barbara, California, is a stunning area with some of the best Southern California beaches. Known for its Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings with red rooftops, the town is picturesque with numerous things to do.

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Whether it's hiking through the botanical gardens or grabbing something to eat downtown, the "American Riviera" never disappoints.

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Siesta Key, Florida

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Siesta, Florida, has a lot to offer. Residents get to enjoy Siesta Beach's crystal clear Gulf waters and white sand made of 99% quartz, a material that will stay cool even on the hottest of summer days!

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On top of that, restaurants such as Captain Kurts, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, and the Old Salty Dog are known to have some of the best seafood around!

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Lahaina, Hawaii

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Located in West Maui, Lahaina, Hawaii is one of the more gorgeous places in the United States. The epitome of the tropics, Lahaina residents get to enjoy pristine beaches, hiking trails, and numerous other outdoor activities.

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Due to the popularity of this tropical getaway, it is one of the pricier spots in the island chain.

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Venice, Florida

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Known as the "Shark's Tooth Capital of the World," Venice, Florida, really does not disappoint. While people might not see sharks on a regular basis, their teeth can be found on beaches such as Caspersen.

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After looking for teeth, people can either enjoy Venice's downtown eateries or take a seat at Sharky's On the Pier, a beachfront restaurant nestled on the base of the town's famed fishing piece and offering live music, amazing drinks, and a seafood-heavy menu.

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Sarasota, Florida

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Sarasota, Florida, is not a typical beach town. The city of Sarasota offers shopping, industry, and numerous eateries, but even though it is right on the water, people will want to drive to the nearby beaches of Siesta Key or Long Boat Key.

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Even so, there is a lot to do in Sarasota's inner coastal, including kayaking, boating, and even manatee watching!

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Newport Beach, California

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While the real estate isn't cheap, it is worth the money to live in Newport Beach, California. Once a bustling maritime industry, Newport Harbor is now full of fun recreation activities, including swimming, paddle boarding, and boating.

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Newport is continuously making it on lists of "Top Places to Live in the United States."

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Boca Raton, Florida

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Boca Raton, Florida, has a lot to offer people looking to make a lifestyle change. One of the richer areas of the state, Boca Raton, has gorgeous beaches and the oceanfront Red Reef Park.

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The park features a butterfly garden, sea turtle sanctuary, and various hiking trails to ensure people get the most out of the area.

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Naples, Florida

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Right on the water, Naples, Florida, is known for its landmark pier and high-end shopping. Well, there is also a lot of golfing to be had in the area, too, of course!

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With fine white sand and clear water from the Gulf of Mexico, there is no getting bored in this area!

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Destin, Florida

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Located on the panhandle, Destin, Florida, is a seaside town that is a great option for families. With numerous hiking trails, miles of gorgeous beaches, various golf courses, and a bustling downtown life, there is always something to do.

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Known as "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village," residents also get some of the best seafood around!