If you’re a beach lover like me, you’re always looking for the next best spot to kick up your feet and soak up the sun – especially in the winter. But you can’t always make it to the white-sand, crystal-blue water beaches of Thailand, Maldives, or Seychelles.
You don’t need to leave the country or travel halfway across the world to find a great spot to relax in the sand. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite beaches that are just a short plane ride away.
Whether you’re looking for a beach vacation with the whole family, a romantic spot for a honeymoon, a place to party, or somewhere to escape it all to be alone, we’ve got you covered. Keep your sunny getaway simple this winter and visit one of these amazing beaches – no passport required.
Best Beach for Families: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
What makes a beach good for families? Safety, entertainment, cleanliness, accommodation, and affordability. You can check all of these off the list with a trip to Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the best places to take your family to enjoy the soft sand and calm surf. When the kids are bored with the water, swing up to the nearby Family Kingdom Amusement Park. Or maybe take the kids to the nearby aquarium, play some mini-golf, or head to the stadium for a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game – the area’s local minor league baseball team.
There are tons of relatively cheap accommodations throughout the area and loads of restaurants to explore. Make sure to grab a tasty meal at Pop Pop’s Pit BBQ. With no shortage of necessities, Myrtle Beach is a great pick for your upcoming family vacation.
Best Beach for Spring Breakers: South Padre Island, Texas
Just north of the Mexican border, you’ll find this beautiful stretch of land that hosts a month-long party every March. College students migrate here annually to partake in some much needed “relaxation” from their studies.
With a surplus of cheap accommodations nearby, it’s a very budget-friendly location for penny-pinching college students. You’ll find pool parties, beach parties, and water sports, just to name a few activities.
Best Beach for Honeymooners: Sanibel Island, Florida
Just tied the knot and want to get away? Forget the name change on the passport and keep honeymoon planning simple. Sanibel Island can be the perfect spot for you and your new honey.
Just a short drive from Fort Myers (RSW), this quiet gulf coast beach with calm waters and beautiful sunsets is a remarkable option for honeymooners looking to stay closer to home.
Slow-paced days on the lovely stretch of beach followed by a fresh seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants make this an ideal combination for some much-needed unwinding.
Best Beach for Music Festivals: Gulf Shores, Alabama
If you’re looking for the ultimate mixture of a music festival and a party on a beach, you’re looking for Gulf Shores.
Every May, The Hangout Music Festival brings in some of the biggest music artists – 2019’s headliners included Travis Scott, The Lumineers, Jimmy Eat World, and Cardi B.
You can party the night away on the beach, cool down by taking a take a dip in the ocean, or play some beach volleyball – all with some incredible live music in the background. It’ll be tough to beat the talent at here combined with the surprisingly beautiful beaches of Alabama.
Best Beach for Sports and Fitness Fanatics: Venice Beach, California
Whether you’re an athlete or content with being a spectator, Venice Beach is your spot.
I’ve been a few times and keep going back for the unmistakable Southern California vibe as skateboarders, rollerbladers, and surfers move past game after game of beach volleyball.
Stroll down the Venice Boardwalk and take in the spectacle of street performers. Head over to Muscle Beach Gym for a quick workout or watch the bodybuilders do their thing. There is always something going on at Venice Beach.
Best Remote Beaches: Culebra, Puerto Rico
About 50 miles east of San Juan, you’ll find the island of Culebra. This lovely little paradise is usually overlooked by most Americans looking for a beach destination in the U.S., making it the definition of “off the beaten path” and less busy with tourists. And remember: You don’t need your passport to visit Puerto Rico!
Culebra’s gorgeous beaches are rarely crowded, giving you plenty of space to take it all in. Head to Flamenco Beach, which is known as one of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean. Snorkel in the unbelievably clear water during the day, then close out your days of leisure by taking in the breathtaking sunsets on the west coast. They do not disappoint!
Best Beach for Surfers: Banzai Pipeline, Hawaii
When you first arrive at Pipeline beach you may be in shock. Yes, surfers really do ride those massive waves!
This beach is definitely not for beginners. But Pipeline Beach is our No. 1 beach for surfers for many reasons. The waves are magnificent year-round consistency producing 20-30 foot barrels.
It’s only about 35 miles from Honolulu, with easy access thanks to a parking lot next to the beach. The weather is pristine most of the year. And even if you’re not an experienced surfer this place is a must-see if you’re just interested in the sport. Head to the Billabong Pipeline Masters surfing competition, which is typically every year in December. You’ll see some of the best surfers in the world competing on arguably the best waves on the planet.
Best Beach for Beauty: Trunk Bay on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Trunk Bay is a breathtaking slice of the U.S. Virgin Island National Park.
Consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean – and sometimes the world – this surreal piece of land is a must for all beach lovers. Calm water, fluffy white sand, turquoise seas, all surrounded by a protected national park make this the ideal recipe for a mini paradise.
You’ll need to take one of the many ferries offered daily from St. Thomas to reach St. John’s. Just beware: Once you get to there, you may never want to leave.
While all of these beaches have a different vibe, they can be amazing for anyone. What could go wrong while you’re watching the tide roll in just hours from home?