What makes a great beach town? Is it the secluded white sand beaches, the historic appeal, the size, the weather, the celebrity count, a great boardwalk, or maybe just some great salt-water taffy? Well, if our picks are anything to go by, it’s a little bit of all of that. From South Carolina all the way to Maine, here are seven adorable (and popular) beach towns on the east coast.
Between the villages of Southampton, Montauk, Sag Harbor and East Hampton, the Hamptons has all bases covered, which is why the collection of idyllic beachside spots proves to be so exclusive — and popular. You don’t have to be rich and famous to visit the sought after holiday destinations, but it helps. From artists’ enclaves to A-list pads, lobster rolls to beach parties, the Hamptons provide an aspirational draw.
The winner of USA Today’s 10 Best Coastal Small Towns in the country, Ogunquit is about to swell for the summer. With a peaceful serenity in place for most of the year, the beach town fills in the summer with those in the know about its relaxed artistic vibe, picturesque New England buildings, tranquil harbor, and that gorgeous, sugar-fine white sand beach — the 15th best in the country as voted for by TripAdvisor users.
We may have left Miami off the list but there’s no way the other huge southern tourist magnet — Myrtle Beach — could be overlooked. Attracting 17.2 million visitors a year and rated the 21st most popular U.S. city to visit in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, the South Carolina seaside city remains the place everyone wants to go; we guess 60 miles of white sand beach will do that. The luxury golf courses, culinary scene, entertainment options, and choice of hotels also help.
Way out on the hook of Cape Cod, Provincetown is the very definition of a seasonal town. Winter sees the restaurants, stores, and bike rental businesses shut up for the cold snap and the owners deserve their rest because the summers get crazy. Home to America’s oldest artist’s colony, the town perpetuates a liberal, all-welcoming image and becomes the place to party from Memorial Day weekend onwards. Don’t leave without hiking the stunning Beech Forest Trail or going whale watching.
With 11.2 million annual visitors, Coney Island is up there with the most visited east coast beach towns. The beach was rated number three in a list of America’s most crowded beaches, so you won’t ever have a problem finding a neighbor to help apply your sunscreen. For those who don’t like the shoulder-to-shoulder scenario on the beach, there’s always Astroland theme park or a hotdog and a stroll along one of the country’s most famous boardwalks instead.
Racking up six million visitors a year, Rehoboth is pretty popular for a small coastal town in Delaware. A quaint, traditional town with one foot in the past, Rehoboth doesn’t do chain stores or souvenir shops. Visit for the salt-water taffy, beautiful buildings untouched by the hands of time, dolphin watching, sandy beach, good surf, and of course, the legendary Dogfish Head Brewery — a key tourist attraction in itself.
While Martha’s Vineyard isn’t a town, but a rather large island, we’re going to invoke poetic license and just say that the whole thing equates to one great big popular spot. From the pristine and picturesque South Beach to the dramatic Gay Head Cliffs, the rustic lighthouses to hikes through the green Island Reservations, Martha’s Vineyard has a lot worth visiting for. It may be expensive but it remains one of the most popular east coast beach destinations.
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