Travel to USA Beaches

Over 54 million trips to beaches are made by U.S. households each year, according to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA, www.ustravel.org) and D.K. Shifflet & Associates (www.dksa.com). American beach travelers are found to take longer vacations, spend more money on their trips, and are more likely to stay in a timeshare than the average traveler. More than 15% of beach trips last a week or longer, compared with 5% of trips overall.

Going to the beach is more of a family affair than some other trips, with 36% of American beach-going households including children, compared with 22% of traveling households overall that include children on travels.

Beach travelers are also more likely than other traveling households to go camping or use an RV (7% versus 3%) or stay in a timeshare (4% versus 2%). They are three times as likely as the average traveler to use a second home or condo (6% versus 2%). And beach trips are more likely to include air transportation (14% versus 11%), and, perhaps not surprisingly, are more likely to include a rental car (9% versus 6%).

Beach travelers rate their favorite activities while at beach destinations as follows:

Travel to USA Beaches Photo Gallery




Dining out: 46%

Touring or sightseeing: 39%

Shopping 37%

Entertainment activities: 33%

Nightlife activities: 14%

Most-Visited Beaches

Annual visits to the most popular U.S. beaches are as follows (sources: United States Lifesaving Association (www.usla.org) and Travel + Leisure):

Venice Beach, CA: 16.0 million

Miami Beach, FL: 13.3 million

Coney Island (Brooklyn, NY): 11.2 million

Newport Beach, CA: 9.4 million

Daytona Beach, FL: 8.0 million

Huntington Beach, CA: 7.9 million

Hollywood, FL: 7.7 million

• Jones Beach, NY: 5.1 million

• Brevard County, FL: 4.8 million

• Ocean City, mD: 4.5 million

• Laguna Beach, CA: 4.3 million

• Oceanside, CA: 4.0 million

• Santa Rosa Island, FL: 4.0 million

• Virginia Beach, VA: 3.7 million

• Rockaway Beach, NY: 3.7 million

• Coronado, CA: 3.6 million

• Pinellas County, FL: 3.5 million

• Clearwater, FL: 3.5 million

• North Myrtle Beach, SC: 3.5 million

• Palm Beach, FL: 3.4 million

Top Beaches

Stephen P. Leatherman, Ph.D., a professor at Florida International University popularly known as Dr. Beach (www.drbeach.org) and author of America’s Best Beaches, publishes an annual list of the top beaches in the United States. The 2016 list is as follows:

1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (Oahu, HI)

2. Siesta Beach (Sarasota, FL)

3. Kapalua Bay Beach (Maui, HI)

4. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach (Outer Banks, NC)

5. Coast Guard Beach (Cape Cod, MA)

6. Grayton Beach State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, FL)

7. Coronado Beach (San Diego, CA)

8. Coopers Beach (Southampton, NY)

9. Caladesi Island State Park (Dunedin/Clearwater, FL)

10. Beachwalker Park (Kiawah Island, SC)

According to Dr. Leatherman, the designation as the top beach usually brings an increase in tourism of about 20%.

In addition to best overall beaches, Dr. Leatherman identified the best U.S. beaches with nightlife as follows:

• Main Beach (East Hampton, NY)

• South Beach (Miami Beach, FL)

• Panama City Beach, FL

• South Padre Island, TX

• Coronado Beach (San Diego, CA)

• East Beach (Santa Barbara, CA)

• Cannon Beach, OR

• Mauna Kea Beach (Big Island, HI)

• Waikiki Beach (Oahu, HI)

The 2016 Travelers’ Choice poll by TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) ranked the best beaches in the United States as follows:

1. Clearwater Beach (Clearwater, FL)

2. Lanikai Beach (Kailua, HI)

3. Siesta Key Public Beach (Siesta Key, FL)

4. St. Pete Beach (St. Pete Beach, FL)

5. Wai’anapanapa State Park (Hana, HI)

6. Ka’anapali Beach (Lahaina, HI)

7. Pensacola Beach (Pensacola Beach, FL)

8. La Jolla Shores (La Jolla, CA)

9. St. Augustine Beach (St. Augustine Beach, FL)

10. Beach at Panama City (Panama City Beach, FL)

11. Henderson Beach State Park (Destin, FL)

12. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (Honolulu, HI)

13. Poipu Beach Park (Poipu, HI)

14. Manini’owali Beach – Kua Bay (Kailua-Kona, HI)

15. Ogunquit Beach (Ogunquit, ME)

16. Newport Beach (Newport Beach, CA)

17. Coronado Municipal Beach (Coronado, FL)

18. Fort Myers Beach (Fort Myers, FL)

19. Race Point Beach (Provincetown, MA)

20. Los Olas Beach (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

21. Carlsbad State Beach (Carlsbad, CA)

22. Crystal Cove State Park (Laguna Beach, CA)

23. Navarre Beach (Navarre, FL)

24. Hanalei Beach (Hanalei, HI)

25. Ocean City Beach (Ocean City, MD)

The 2016 Readers Choice Awards poll by 10Best (www.10best.com), a USA Today travel site, ranked the Freshwater Beaches as follows:

1. Presque Isle State Park (Erie, PA)

2. Grand Haven State Park (Grand Haven, MI)

3. Park Point Beach (Duluth, MN)

4. North Beach (Racine, WI)

5. West Beach (Indiana Dunes, IN)

6. Oak Street Beach (Chicago, IL)

7. Huntington Beach (Cleveland, OH)

8. Bradford Beach (Milwaukee, WI)

9. Lake Michigan Beach Park (Empire, MI)

10. Sand Point Beach (Munising, MI)

24.4 Regional Beaches

Dr. Leatherman identified the best city beaches by region in America as follows:

• Northeast: Rehoboth Beach, DE

• Southeast: South Beach (Miami Beach, FL)

• Gulf: Clearwater Beach, FL

• Southwest: Newport Beach, CA

• Northwest: Harris Beach State Park (Brookings, OR)

• Hawaii: Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Oahu, HI)

The following are top Great Lakes beaches:

• Oak Street Beach, IL

• Presque Isle State Park, PA

• Sand Point Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

• Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shore, MI

Men’s Journal identified America’s best beaches as follows:

Northeast

• Ditch Plains (Montauk, NY)

• Higgs Beach (Scarborough, ME)

• North and South Beach (Chatham, MA)

Northwest

• Alki Beach (West Seattle, WA)

• Cascade Head (Lincoln County, OR)

• Orcas Island (Puget Sound, WA)

Southeast

• Clearwater Beach (Pinellas County, FL)

• Cumberland Island National Seashore (St. Mary’s, GA)

• Northern Outer Banks (Nags Head, NC)

West and Hawaii

• Hookipa Beach Park (Maui’s North Shore, HI)

• Pfeiffer Beach (Big Sur, CA)

• San Onofre State Park (San Clemente, CA)

According to New Yorker magazine, the following are the most popular beaches in the Hamptons:

• Flying Point Beach (Flying Point Road, Water Mill)

• Sagg Beach (Sagg Main Street, Sagaponack)

• Long Beach (Long Beach Road between Nyack and North Haven)

• Mecox Beach (Jobs Lane, Bridgehampton)

• Two Mile Hollow (Two Mile Hollow Road, East Hampton)

• Ocean Road Beach (Ocean Road, Bridgehampton)

• Gibson Beach (Gibson Lane, Sagaponack)

• Wainscott Beach (Beach Lane, Wainscott)

• Indian Wells Beach (Indian Wells Highway, Amagansett)

• Main Beach (Ocean Avenue, East Hampton)

Based on a poll of tourism experts, USA Today compiled the following list of the top beaches in each state:

Alabama

• Gulf State Park (Gulf Shores, www.alapark.com/gulfstate)

Alaska

• Homer Spit (Kachemak Bay, www.homeralaska.org)

Arizona

• Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City, www.golakehavasu.com)

California

• Crystal Cove State Park (Orange County, www.crystalcovestatepark.com) Colorado

• Medano Creek (Great Dunes National Park (www.nps.gov/grsa/medano-creek.htm) Delaware

• Delaware Seashore State Park (www.destateparks.com/park/delaware-seashore) District of Columbia

• The Yards Park (The Anacostia River, www.yardspark.org)

Florida

• Siesta Beach (Sarasota, www.visitsarasota.org/siesta-key)

Hawaii

• Hapuna Beach (Kohala Coast, www.gohawaii.com/big-island)

Idaho

• Lake Coeur d’Alene (Coeur d’Alene, www.coeurdalene.org)

Indiana

• Indiana Dunes State Park (Lake Michigan, www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm)

Iowa

• Clear Lake (www.clearlakeiowa.com)

Kansas

• Scott State Park (Scott City, http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/state-parks/locations/scott)

Kentucky

• Buckhorn Lake (www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/buckhorn-lake/default.aspx) Louisiana

• Grand Isle (www.grand-isle.com)

Maine

• Ogunquit Beach (www.ogunquit.org)

Maryland

• Assateague Island National Seashore (Ocean City, www.nps.gov/asis) Massachusetts

• Crane Beach (Ipswich, www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/northeast-ma/crane-beach-on-the-crane.html)

Michigan

• Stearns Park Beach (Ludington, www.michigan.org)

Minnesota

• Park Point Beach (www.exploreminnesota.com)

Mississippi

• Ship Island (www.msshipisland.com)

Missouri

• Table Rock Lake (near Branson, www.visittablerocklake.com)

Montana

• Whitefish Lake (www.explorewhitefish.com)

Nebraska

• Calamus Reservoir (www.outdoornebraska.com)

Nevada

• Zephyr Cove (www.zephyrcove.com)

New Hampsire

• Hampton Beach State Park (www.nhstateparks.org)

New Jersey

• Cape May (www.discovercapemay.com)

New Mexico

• Blue Hole (Santa Rosa, www.santarosanm.org)

New York

• Fire Island (www.nps.gov/fiis/index.htm)

North Carolina

• Southport Oak Island (www.southport-oakisland.com)

North Dakota

• Lake Renwich (Icelandic State Park, www.parkrec.nd.gov)

Ohio

• Cedar Point Beach (Lake Erie, www.cedarpoint.com)

Oregon

• Bandon Beach (www.bandon.com)

Pennsylvania

• Pymatuning Reservoir (www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/pymatuning) Rhode Island

• East Matunuck State Beach (www.riparks.com/Locations/LocationEastMatunuck.html) South Carolina

• Kiawah Island (www.kiawahresort.com)

South Dakota

• Lewis and Clark Lake (www.lewisandclarkpark.com)

Tennessee

• Nashville Shores Water Park (Percy Priest Lake, www.nashvilleshores.com)

Texas

• Padre Island National Seashore (near Corpus Christi, www.nps.gov/pais/index.htm) Utah

• Bear Lake Rendezvous Beach (http://stateparks.utah.gov/park/bear-lake-state-park) Vermont

• Lake Willoughby (Westmore, www.travelthekingdom.com)

Virginia

• False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (www.dcr.virginia.gov/state parks/fal.shtml)

Washington

• Second Beach (near La Push, www.nps.gov/olym)

West Virginia

• Summersville Lake (www.summersvillecvb.com)

Wisconsin

• North Beach (Racine, www.cityofracine.org/depts/health/beach.aspx)

Wyoming

• Horseshoe Bend (Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, www.nps.gov/bica)

24.5 Best Beach Cities and Towns

National Geographic rates the following as the Best Beach Cities in the U.S.

• Honolulu, HI

• Miami Beach, FL

• Santa Monica, FL

The following are recognized as the best beach towns in the U.S. (sources: Dr. Beach, Smarter Travel, and Travel + Leisure):

Avila Beach, TX

Bar Harbor, ME Boca Grande, FL Cannon Beach, OR Cape May, NJ Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA Chatham, ME Chincoteague, VA Clearwater Beach, FL Cocoa Beach, FL Delray Beach, FL Duck, NC

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island,

Gearbart, ME

Gulf Shores, AL

Haleiwa, HI

Hilton Head Island, SC

WA

Key West, FL Long Beach, NY Lubec, ME Mackinac Island, MI Myrtle Beach, SC New Smryna Beach, FL Ogunquit, ME Pacific Grove, CA Pensacola Beach, FL Provincetown, MA Rehoboth, DE Rockport, TX Sanibel Island, FL Santa Cruz, HI Santa Rosa Beach, FL Saugatuck, MI Seaside, FL Siesta Key, FL

St. Pete Beach, FL Tybee Island, GA

Wildwood, NJ

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