Carmel-by-the-Sea simply sounds like a romantic getaway destination, and this longtime artists’ haven on California’s Monterey Peninsula (chronicled by Jack London, among others) lives up to its name with surfing and snorkeling beaches as well as a downtown chock-a-block with museums, galleries, restaurants, boutique hotels and inns. Among the latter is the new Hotel Carmel, where the 27 guest rooms exude beach-cottage charm with private balconies and en suite fireplaces. Couples can hide out in the private courtyard or step out onto Ocean Avenue, Carmel’s main dining and entertainment boulevard. Day trip options include motoring along 17 Mile Drive to Pebble Beach, sampling the bounty of the Carmel Valley wine country, or soaking up the beauty of the California coast at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve. Book it here: Hotel Carmel. 
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The brainchild of American-born Beverly Deikel and her Dominican partner, Patris Oscar, the eco-friendly property is a microcosm of the island—and its first great place to stay. Set on 22 lush acres, its 28 cottages, each with carved mahogany and red-cedar four-poster beds, face onto a rocky beach or the Rosalie River. One of the world’s few carbon-negative resorts, Rosalie Bay not only relies on solar panels but has its own wind turbine, organic gardens, and spring-fed onyx-colored swimming pool.
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
Hang 10 with your finest friends in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which hosts surfing camps and lessons year-round in one of the best watersports destinations on the East Coast (and is a short drive from Wilmington). Combine mind, body and spirit at the Women’s Surf, SUP, & Yoga Retreat in August, where you’ll learn to surf and standup paddleboard, or just sign up for a lesson while you’re in town: they’re offered daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The waters off the laid-back village of Wrightsville Beach are also a great place to kayak or sail; fuel up for your next activity with coffee and acai bowls at the newly opened Sun Days Cafe; get an afternoon espresso and shop for gorgeous shark teeth jewelry at The Workshop, and then settle in for outrageously delicious, Panamanian-inspired cuisine (and cocktails) at Ceviche's.The perfect stay on Wrightsville Beach is the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, a classic 60s beach hotel redone in great boutique style (and the new culinary home of star chef Jessica Cabo).
Myrtle Beach has been a favorite beach destination on Atlantic Coast for decades. This is a wonderful place to visit for families, and there are lots of golf courses and nightlife options for adults too. Flight prices are often reasonable here to drive the tourism industry, and it’s also an easy drive from many cities in the South and Mid-Atlantic coast. There are lots of hotels here, but also look into condo-style vacation rental options if you’re traveling with a few other people.
The reefs surrounding the islands are among the most biodiverse in the Caribbean, including dozens of species of coral and hundreds of types of fish. Above water, the islands shelter numerous bird species (such as red-footed boobies and pink flamingos) and also host nesting sea turtles. Los Roques’ reliable trade winds also make it a good spot for sailing and kitesurfing. As for deserted-island dreams, many posadas can arrange for a day trip or picnic lunch to one of Los Roques’ uninhabited islands.

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Located on the barrier island of Topsail, North Topsail Beach has a reputation for attracting a wide variety of coastal wildlife. Instead of high-rise buildings and towering condos, you’ll find exceptional fishing, unobstructed birdwatching and sea turtle nests on the beach. Book a jet ski tour to see striking views of the whole island from the water.
The pace of life is slower in Molokai, which means that long hikes and afternoons spent snorkeling aren’t just recommended, they’re practically mandatory—if you’re up for a longer snorkelling or kayaking adventure, try a tour along the Pali coast. Take in tropical views like the swaying fronds of the Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove or an unforgettable sunset over Kepuhi Bay—both priceless experiences that won’t cost you a cent.

Once home to sea captains and ship builders, Dennis Port Village is now known for its coffee shops, boutiques, markets, and sandy south side beaches that overlook Nantucket Sound. This quaint village invites visitors to eat at one of its many New England-style restaurants and enjoy a post-dinner concert on the Village Green. Dennis Port is also a popular spot for windsurfers and kite boarders, who use the southwesterly breezes along the sound’s shoreline to their advantage. Overnight guests who want a true Cape Cod experience can stay in one of Dennis Port’s cozy bed and breakfasts or charming inns.


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.
When travelers think of beach vacations, the word “cheap” is not the first thing that comes to mind. Many may be surprised to learn that the United States has dozens of beach getaways for solo travelers, couples, and families that are easy on the budget. Non-motorized watersports, hiking, biking, and exploring can all be affordable alternatives to otherwise pricey resort stays. Whether it’s California surfing, Maine tide pooling, or Florida snorkeling that excites the traveler, an affordable beach vacation awaits. These 25 US beach towns welcome visitors to an array of sights and activities for their next seaside getaway.
Hobe Sound may not be an obvious choice for best beach vacations in America, but it’s truly an unspoiled paradise—just what you want when you need to escape the daily grind. Don’t miss Blowing Rocks Preserve, where at high tide you might get to see sea water spraying up through holes in the limestone that’s embedded in the sands here. Running right alongside Hobe Sound is the long, narrow stretch of Jupiter Island, where you can bike your way along the beach or join a tour and watch baby turtles hatching.
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