Want to tick another state off your visited list? Then make it Alabama, where Gulf Shores offers nature (it's home to 6,500-acre Gulf State Park), entertainment (outdoor concerts) and foodie fun (from shrimp to barbecue). In total, there are 32 miles of white-sand beaches that let you explore the region's beautiful landscapes as you spy on seabirds (eagles, too), alligators and even black bears. Accommodations include condo rentals, B&Bs, motels, hotels and campsites.
The most famous beach in the DR is also the cheapest in the Caribbean; once you get there, you can coast on $20 a day. The beaches here are all the bright white sand and turquoise waters of your Caribbean fantasies, and only a few hours flight from most US cities. It’s also home to some of the best golf courses in the islands, and a marine park where you can swim with dolphins or play with manatees.
The “Spice Island” has something for everyone, including Afro-Caribbean culture, one of the Caribbean’s prettiest colonial cities, fragrant spice plantations, dozens of beaches and bays, and a mountainous national park great for hiking. In the capital of St. George, you can walk along narrow colonial streets lined with a rainbow of pastel-painted houses and shops and watch masted ships sail in and out of the harbor. While in town, browse the spice and food markets and visit the 18th-century French fortification Fort George.
An unpaved maze of roads leads the way to Le Rêve, an intimate, 25-suite boutique property with more romance and charm than its neighboring mega-resorts combined. Couples hang out in private hammocks by the garden suites, accented with colorful, locally sourced Mexican tiles. Bungalows come with private plunge pools overlooking a generous stretch of ocean. Snorkeling gear is on the house.
Maine’s Sebasco Harbor Resort is an old-school New England family vacation destination, but it’s not all croquet lawns and canoeing on the pond (though the resort does offer both of these, of course). A spa, morning yoga, and cooking classes are also in the mix, and guests of all ages can enjoy a guided fishing tour or hiking up gentle Merritt Mountain. Grown-ups can tee off on a resort golf course laid out along the shores of Casco Bay—the course finishes with a 510-yard, par 5 monster—but there’s also a three-hole family course where grandma and grandpa can teach the youngsters how to play. On a rainy day, there’s no better place for the whole family to gather than at the resort’s classic Quarterdeck recreation center for some candlepin bowling (shown here). Book it here: Sebasco Harbor Resort.
From white sandy shorelines to first-class wineries, Pismo Beach has lots to offer vacationers. This classic beach town in California’s central coast sits right along the Pacific Highway, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Pismo Beach has no shortage of outdoor activities as visitors have their pick of golfing, horseback riding, surfing, body boarding, and fishing. Suntanned shoppers can grab great deals at Pismo Beach Premium Outlets. Meanwhile, the award-winning boardwalk gives guests a chance to soak in the sun while satisfying their stomachs at the many restaurants and food stands.
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Come to Roque Bluffs for its crowd-free sand and pebble beaches, for glimpses of waterfowl, bald eagles, and plovers, or to kayak and fish your way around the gentle waters of Simpson Pond. Then why not wander the trails through the Roque Bluffs State Park to discover its orchards and fields? We can feel the stresses of real life melting away just thinking about it…
It takes effort to reach the beaches of Panglao Island—an hour-long flight from Manila to Bohol Island followed by a 25-minute drive. But the payoff comes when you check-in to Ananyana Beach Resort, where the 12 luxe thatched-roof huts have bamboo-framed king-size beds and the lounge is outfitted with regionally made rattan and abaca furniture. The resort has a prime spot on a mile-long stretch of beach.
Channel your outdoorsy soul (or your inner hippie) by renting a restored VW Westfalia camper van for a Northwest road trip on Washington's spectacular Olympic Peninsula. Peace Vans Rentals will hook you up with a fully stocked and versatile ride that smartly converts into a pop-up camper sleeping four. Hit the road in Olympia, near the southern tip of Puget Sound, and start by exploring Tolmie State Park, which has 105 acres of hiking trails, campsites, and beaches where you can try clamming or oyster harvesting. The South Sound region has both wine and craft beer trails, and when you’re ready to really get back to nature turn your wheels onto Highway 101, the gateway to the Olympia Peninsula, where you can camp in Olympic National Park and spend days exploring the rugged coasts and primordial forests.
Historic lighthouses, wild horses and scenic flights in open-cockpit biplanes above the spot where the Wright Brothers first flew — a vacation in the Outer Banks can include all this, and more. With a large inventory of beach house rentals (and quite a few resorts and inns, too) towns such as Duck, Corolla, Hatteras, Nags Head and Kitty Hawk are scattered along this series of sand-dune-studded barrier islands, making it a top spot for leisurely getaways with friends and multi-generational family vacations. Fresh seafood is plentiful and activities include hang gliding, bike riding and deep-sea fishing.
The value along the northern part of America’s Gulf Coast (don’t you dare call it the Redneck Riviera!) is easily the best in the country. The cheapest beach destination in the US, according to TravelBird, is Gulf Shores, where the beaches rock all the white sand and calm Gulf water of places further south in Florida, for a fraction the price. The quiet, funky beach town filled with pastel houses and legit-good food doesn’t gouge tourists, and is also home to a surprisingly diverse zoo. On Sunday, head a piece down the road to the (in)famous Flora-Bama bar.
Many people who haven’t traveled in Texas are surprised to learn that there’s an amazing beach along the southern coast of the state. South Padre Island is accessible by road and very popular as a budget-friendly beach destination in the U.S. Accordingly, this area has become famous for its spring break parties, but the beach is very calm and serene if you visit in September or October. In the early fall, the crowds disburse but the temperatures are still warm enough to spend your days at the beach. Families and adventurous couples can keep busy here with water parks, sailing, kiteboarding and even dolphin watching. The town of Galveston is also a fun place to visit for a beach trip because it’s only 45 minutes from Houston and has a nice beach, winery, parks, and gardens.
The beachfront resorts along Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast, or condos in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, offer incomparable views of the Gulf of Mexico. Private homes on Hilton Head Island overlook the greens at championship courses where the pros play. Oceanfront condos in Myrtle Beach put you just steps from the sandy shores of the Grand Strand.
The beautiful island of Molokai is where you’ll find an authentic Hawaiian welcome without the crowds or modern interruptions you get on some of the more popular neighboring islands. This is a place where you’ll have certain beaches to yourself and where the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. Seek out the black sands of Awahua Beach (you may need a guide to help you find it). The water’s a bit choppy so be careful swimming, but the peace and quiet is unbeatable. You could explore the Pali coast on a leisurely sea kayaking trip or head up, up and away, sweeping over the area in a helicopter. With beachfront bungalows or tropical rainforest cabins for rent, Molokai is truly one of the best beach vacations to explore your inner zen.