With nearly 100,000 miles of U.S. shoreline waiting for you this summer, it’s not a question of if you should visit a beach but where. There are numerous coastal stretches that get a lot of fame in the country, but there are plenty of underrated spots that deserve some love, too. So before you hit the sands at an old favorite, consider one of these six beach getaway destinations in the U.S.
1. Cannon Beach
Beaches in the Pacific Northwest are less about idyllic lulls in the sand and instead emphasize the dramatic landscapes that make the region so well-loved by nature enthusiasts. Case in point: Haystack Rock, a 235-foot basalt sea stack named after the shape it takes, towering off the shore in Cannon Beach. Stop by this landmark at low tide, where you can find surrounding tidepools teeming with colorful sea stars and puffins laying eggs in the spring. Of course, a walk on the beach and building a bonfire are other perfectly fine ways to experience this stretch of sand, a mere 80 miles west of Portland.
Where to stay: Inn at Cannon Beach
Book now: Inn at Cannon Beach
The Inn at Cannon Beach is one block from the south end of Cannon Beach and makes a fine base for exploring local art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Enjoy complimentary passes to Cannon Beach Fitness and Cannon Beach Yoga Arts while you’re here, and for a $20 fee, you can also bring your pet along to enjoy the stay.
2. Seal Beach
California’s Pacific waters draw plenty of tourists each summer, aiming to ride the waves of Huntington Beach—dubbed Surf City USA—or tour places like L.A.’s Santa Monica pier. But you can find lots of good beaches sandwiched in the middle, with Seal Beach as a shining testament. This beach in the O.C. was named after seals that once basked on its shores, though nowadays you’ll more likely see people surfing, kitesurfing, or windsurfing. After exploring the beach town’s 1.5 miles of coast, hang out at a restaurant on Main Street or head oceanside to its pier, the second-longest wooden pier in California.
Where to stay: Hotel Current
Book now: Hotel Current
Ten minutes north of Seal Beach is the 99-room Hotel Current in Long Beach. The trendy hotel features guest rooms made with ecofriendly materials (like hemp and recycled plastic bottle fabric) and hand-painted artwork by locals.
3. Rehoboth Beach
Delaware doesn’t get much clout in the U.S. for its beach potential, but Rehoboth Beach is one family trip not to be missed. Here, the clean water reaches the 70s by July, making it a worthwhile option if you want a perfect lounging destination on the mid-Atlantic coast. Summer is the prime time to check out free concerts at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand or visit Funland, a family owned and operated amusement park on the beach’s famous mile-long boardwalk. Alternatively, get in touch with the beach’s more than 300-year history by visiting the Rehoboth Beach Museum or Cape Henlopen State Park, a former military base.
Where to stay: Avenue Inn & Spa
Book now: Avenue Inn & Spa
Avenue Inn & Spa is one block inland from Rehoboth Beach and has been serving people in the area since its start as a “tea room” in 1937. There are plenty of amenities to explore in this historic property, including a saltwater pool, an apothecary spa, and a complimentary wine and cheese spread.
4. Wrightsville Beach
With warm waters and a temperate climate, the Carolinas have a reputation for having some of the best beaches on the East Coast. This can make beachgoing a toughie: Do you head to North Carolina for some fun at the Outer Banks? Or perhaps go south to Myrtle Beach, where there are plenty of attractions along its 60 miles of coastline? As an underrated alternative, consider Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina’s southeast. This laid-back summer destination boasts the energy of nearby college surfers with plenty of scenic views on its four-mile stretch. Go sailing, swimming, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding on the Atlantic.
Where to stay: Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Book now: Blockade Runner Beach Resort
The Blockade Runner Beach Resort, operating since 1964, offers such amenities as an American Sailing Association–certified sailing school, ecopaddle tours, and harbor cruises. The hotel also has a focus on sustainability, with an in-house Green Team assisting in projects like building oyster reefs and sorting trash.
5. Grayton Beach State Park
There’s plenty of beach to go around in Florida, each with different charms. Just look to South Beach’s art deco buildings or Clearwater Beach’s white sands as examples of the diversity. One overlooked seaside getaway is Grayton Beach State Park, located in the northern section of the state hugging the Gulf of Mexico. The nearly 2,000-acre park is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, with emerald green waters and sand dunes that offer high-quality beach time. Grayton Beach State Park is a particularly notable destination for road-trip enthusiasts; its location along the 28-mile Scenic Highway 30a makes it one of many points of interest en route to exploring the new urbanism architecture and coastal dune lakes of Florida’s Walton County.
Where to stay: WaterColor Inn & Resort
Book now: WaterColor Inn & Resort
If you’d rather not camp at one of Grayton Beach’s 59 campsites, drive five minutes from the park to the WaterColor Inn on Santa Rosa Beach. There’s a lot to explore around the property, which sits between a dune-backed beach and one of Walton County’s dune lakes. This year, the hotel is also adding seven family suites, a walk-in family swimming pool, and a new indoor/outdoor bar.
6. Playa de Luquillo
Completely surrounded by warm waters year-round, Puerto Rico’s main island has plenty of contenders vying for the “best beach” title. Sure, you can ride the surf-ready waves out west or hit the popular Flamenco Beach in Culebra. But if your ideal beach day is a quiet stay by calm waters and some local food, consider driving about 30 miles east of San Juan to Playa de Luquillo. This beach in Puerto Rico’s northeast section is one of several surrounding the small town of Luquillo. When you get hungry, stop by the Kioskos de Luquillo. This long strip of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops along Luquillo beach is the perfect place to try local dishes like alcapurrias and mofongo.
It can be tempting to go beach-hopping all day, but a 15-minute drive from here takes you to El Yunque National Forest, making Luquillo a convenient stopover option on your way to Puerto Rico’s mountains.
Where to stay: Rainforest Inn Boutique Bed-and-Breakfast
Book now: Rainforest Inn Boutique Bed and Breakfast
While beach bumming makes for the ideal daytime activity, journey to the Rainforest Inn in El Yunque National Forest—the only tropical rain forest in the United States—for a special ecoluxury experience, complete with locally sourced vegetarian breakfasts and freshwater collected by cisterns. Each of its three villas features spacious terraces and vistas of the surrounding rain forest, while the coquís singsong-y croak offers the perfect lullaby at night.
>> Next: The Best Small Beach Towns in the United States
Chloe Arrojado Chloe Arrojado is the associate editor of destinations at AFAR. She’s a big fan of cafés, dancing, and asking people on the street for restaurant recommendations.