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

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.

Florida
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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.

Pacifica, California

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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Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

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.

Monterey, California

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.

View of McWay Cove, Highway 1, Big Sur, Monterey, California Coast, USA
GHI/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
GHI/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.

Edmonds, Washington

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.

1280px-Aerial_view_of_Edmonds,_Washington
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

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

Ocean City, New Jersey

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.

Ocean City Boardwalk Reopens For Memorial Day Weekend
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Ocean City is a place that thrives off its community.

Pensacola, Florida

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.

Trailer park at Pensacola Beach Florida on the Santa Rosa waterfront
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

Westport, Connecticut

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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Plain Mary/Pinterest
Plain Mary/Pinterest

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!

Portland, Maine

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.

Cape Elizabeth. Portland Head Light. Portland. Maine. New England. USA.
Paolo Picciotto/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Paolo Picciotto/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

Carlsbad, California

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.

NOVEMBER 11, 2008. CARLSBAD, CA An unseen seagull and a passing surfer leave temporary footprints a
Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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

Ventura, California

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.

Oxnard
Paul Harris/Getty Images
Paul Harris/Getty Images

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.

Kihei, Hawaii

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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Mia Shimabuku/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mia Shimabuku/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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!

Santa Cruz, California

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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JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

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

Goleta, California

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.

Exploring Santa Barbara From The Air
George Rose/Getty Images
George Rose/Getty Images

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

Encinitas, California

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.

beach-cities
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D├╝nzlullstein bild via Getty Images

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

Jupiter, Florida

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.

Michael Jordan Marries Yvette Prieto In Palm Beach
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jeffrealty.com/Getty Images

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.

Wilmington, North Carolina

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.

IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

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

Kennebunkport, Maine

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

Aerial view of Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, Tues. Nov. 20, 2012.
John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

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!

San Clemente, California

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.

People enjoy a day at the beach
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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

Santa Monica, California

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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Getty Images
Getty Images

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

Key West, Florida

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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Nicholas Kontodiakos/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
Nicholas Kontodiakos/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

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.

North Palm Beach, Florida

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.

Find Your PGA National or Palm Beach County Home _ Jeff Lichtenstein
Echo Fine Properties/Pinterest
Echo Fine Properties/Pinterest

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.

Santa Barbara, California

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.

Exploring Santa Barbara From The Air
George Rose/Getty Images
George Rose/Getty Images

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

Siesta Key, Florida

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!

Crescent Beach, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida
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Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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!

Lahaina, Hawaii

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.

Aerial View of Lahaina on the Coast of Maui
Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images
Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images

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

Venice, Florida

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.

Florida Beaches, Beaches, Venice, Florida
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Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.

Sarasota, Florida

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.

Sarasota Bayshore Park and Harbor
Independent Picture Service/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Independent Picture Service/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

Newport Beach, California

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.

Newport Beach, California
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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

Boca Raton, Florida

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.

Rocks on the beach at Boca Raton.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

Naples, Florida

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!

Naples, Port Royal, Gordon River Pass Gulf of Mexico
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

Destin, Florida

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.

Military beach on Okaloosa Island overlooks Destin a holiday resort
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Known as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” residents also get some of the best seafood around!