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You might be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped back in time when you arrive on Anna Maria Island. Local residents are proud to have a hometown that feels like Florida from long ago, with its super-relaxed, quaint feel and its Mom and Pop stores. It also has seven miles of wide sugar-sand beaches to explore—Bean Point Beach is an especially secluded spot.
Villas are famously cheap in Phuket. You can rent an entire apartment in Phuket Town for as little as $26 a night, or a 2-bedroom villa with private pool for $48 per night. You can even afford to splurge on a beachfront villa with private pool, like this 3-bedroom (accommodating six guests) for $379 a night. With 6 people, that's $63 per person per night.
The fishing town of Wells, Maine, is made up of harbors, beaches, and nature reserves. From modest fishing boats to luxurious yachts, boat owners can dock at Wells Harbor. The coastline provides almost 4 miles of beaches. The longest stretch, Wells Beach, is almost a mile long, and here guests can enjoy the view from the sandy dunes and grassy knolls. In the summertime, music concerts in the gazebos are common and always free. The town is also home to an annual chili festival, where chili makers can compete in the World Chili Championship Cook-Offs.
With pristine, white-sand beaches and a heavy dose of Southern charm, Pensacola is your quintessential all-American beach escape. It’s also wildly affordable, thanks to the many direct flights from major cities and its wide range of budget-minded hotels and restaurants. We love the Margaretville Beach Hotel, a sprawling beach resort done up in coastal hues of whites and blues, and overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There are plenty of freebies—including WiFi and beer coupons—and the rooms are bright and breezy, with expansive balconies and sweeping ocean views. After you’ve hit the beach, stroll through the city’s historic downtown, where you’ll find restored Colonial-and Victorian-era buildings and an array of cool restaurants—like Al Fresco, a unique outdoor dining experience comprised of five food trucks serving everything from ice cold oysters to mahi mahi tacos.
History buffs will have plenty to see and do in Cape May. America’s first seaside resort town has over 600 well-preserved Victorian-era buildings, some of which now welcome guests as bed and breakfasts. Themed trolley tours led by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities are a popular activity for those who want to learn more about the fascinating history of this charming town. The “Painted Ladies” overlook the promenade and Cape May’s Convention Hall, which offers a year-round schedule of activities and entertainment. Past the promenade are miles of sandy beaches where visitors can soak up the sun. Things to Do in Cape May
With pet-friendly beaches, local brewery tours, and adventurous watersports, Virginia Beach is the ideal place for a family to find their own adventure. Visitors can navigate the city with a bike rental or take a stroll on the 3-mile boardwalk. Visitors looking for a tranquil place to unwind will find it at Chesapeake Bay Beach with its calm tide and lighthouses. For those looking to surf, kayak, or hike, Sandbridge Beach encompasses the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, two natural spots that are great for the nature-inclined. Visitors who want fresh seafood will enjoy going on an educational and fun oyster tour with a local. Next read: Things to Do in Virginia Beach, 15 Best Dog-Friendly Hotels in Virginia Beach
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It’s also perfectly possible to splash out in a trendy destination like Panama, and still come in within budget. Donald Trump’s curving skyscraper in Panama City should do the trick—with a deep-soak tub and high thread count included. Pair that urban beach experience with a stay along the Pacific coast beaches—fantastic for surfing—at the rustic-but-stylish El Sitio (from $99 per night).
Uninterrupted ocean views, stunning scenery, minimal crowds, and good old peace and quiet. If that sounds like your idea of vacation heaven, then keep reading. We’ve found 17 places across America that offer all this and more. And not just cities or towns, but specific beaches that are known for total relaxation—and minimal crowds. Some of our picks have a low-key village feel, others are so remote you’ll probably be able to add human-spotting to your list of activities.