28 Best Beaches on the East Coast — From Maine to Florida

These East Coast beaches have blue waters, soft sand, and fun activities for everyone.

<p>DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images</p>

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

The East Coast of the U.S. is home to some seriously stunning landscapes, from rugged mountains to pastoral valleys. But no area showcases that natural artistry more than its gorgeous coastline.

The states bordering the eastern shore encompass nearly 30,000 miles of coastline, according to the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, stretching from Maine to Florida. But with all that coastline, it may be hard to whittle down which beach to visit.

Before we dig into our picks, though, let us start by saying there are plenty more beaches worthy of their day in the sun and your vacation time. So, by no means is this list ranked, exhaustive, or a slight to other local favorites. However, to keep things simple, we've compiled a list of two beaches per state along the coast. Here are 28 of the best beaches on the East Coast.

Maine

<p>KenCanning/Getty Images</p>

KenCanning/Getty Images

Sand Beach

Acadia National Park is one of the most stunning places to explore in the spring, summer, and fall. After hiking through its endless trails, make your way to Sand Beach, a small, 290-yard stretch of shoreline accessible via Park Loop Road. The water will be cold, but the refreshing feeling is worth it, thanks to the solitude and stellar views. 

Gooch&#39;s Beach

Those looking for more action can head to Gooch's Beach in Kennebunk. The soft-sand stretch is popular with surfers, thanks to a clean break typically best experienced in the fall, though the waves have been known to pick up in the summer if a good storm is on the way. While there's no snack bar here, there are lifeguards, making it an excellent place for families.

New Hampshire

<p>Walter Bibikow/Getty Images</p>

Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Hampton Beach

For miles of sandy shore, head to Hampton Beach State Park. Visitors here can camp, fish, picnic, and, of course, swim in the Atlantic waters. And because it's a state park, it comes with all the necessary facilities, including bathrooms, to make it a comfortable experience. Pets are not permitted in summer, though they can visit between Oct. 1 to April 30. 

Weirs Beach

Technically, this beach is at a lake — Lake Winnipesaukee, to be precise — but it's just as glorious as a seaside escape along the Atlantic. Come for plenty of sand and calm waters that are perfect for small children. The beach also has a lively boardwalk and other happenings, including lake cruises, tons of dining options, and live music every once in a while. Check the community calendar before your visit.

Massachusetts

<p>Ronald Wilson Photography/Getty Images</p>

Ronald Wilson Photography/Getty Images

Race Point Beach

Race Point Beach, located in Provincetown, comes with miles of silky sand. It's a prime place to get a summertime glow or sit with a cozy sweater to watch a fall sunrise or sunset. It even has its own lighthouse up on the dunes (though you will have to hike about two miles to get there, according to the local Chamber of Commerce).

Coast Guard Beach

For a gentler shoreline, head to Coast Guard Beach, a popular spot for families, locals, and travelers alike. Though it's just 25 miles from Race Point Beach, the waters here tend to be much calmer, plus it features facilities, including a bathroom and rinse-off showers, along with lifeguards all summer long.

Rhode Island

<p>Faina Gurevich/Getty Images</p>

Faina Gurevich/Getty Images

Easton&#39;s Beach

Easton's Beach in Newport is as idyllic as they come. The charming beach is also Newport's largest, making it easy to find a spot to lay down your blanket. In addition to amenities like a snack bar and bathrooms, it also has the bonus of a carousel and the on-site Save the Bay Aquarium.

East Matunuck State Beach

As the Ocean State, Rhode Island has its fair share of spectacular beaches, but none come with as much charm as East Matunuck. Nestled at the far end of the state, East Matunuck State Beach is equipped with typical perks such as a snack bar, bathrooms, and summertime lifeguards keeping a watchful eye, as well as gorgeous dunes and a view of Block Island. Plus, it's down the street from the famed Matunuck Oyster Bar, which is deserving of the short walk for a dozen oysters and a cocktail for lunch.

Connecticut

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KyleDunne/Getty Images

Compo Beach

Westport has several beaches ideal for exploration, but one that stands out is Compo. The 29-acre park includes a large sandy beach that looks out onto the Long Island Sound, as well as a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk and pavilion areas, where visitors will also find the concession stand. For those looking to break a sweat and have a little fun, the beach also has two sand volleyball courts.

Harvey&#39;s Beach

Harvey's Beach in Old Saybrook is the stuff of small-town dreams. The sandy beach, lined with gorgeous dunes, is a place where visitors can swim, fish, boat, and hunt for shells. There's a concession stand, changing rooms, and a small playground for kids too.

New York

<p>Kirkikis/Getty Images</p>

Kirkikis/Getty Images

Rockaway Beach

For New Yorkers, Rockaway Beach is as convenient as it gets. It's accessible via public transit and is a stellar spot to escape the hustle and bustle for a quick swim or a paddle out to surf. (It's technically the only beach in New York City where it's legal to surf.)

Cooper&#39;s Beach

There's no bad beach in the Hamptons, but for a more local vibe, make your way to Cooper's Beach. It's a gorgeous little pocket of sand along the Atlantic that's near restaurants. Even better, it's known for being just a little quieter in the summer than more popular nearby locales.

New Jersey

<p>Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images</p>

Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images

The Cove

The beaches along Cape May go on for some 2.5 miles, and the best part about them is that they're within walking distance of many local accommodations and all the top attractions (a.k.a. those famous Victorian homes). But Cape May isn't just one beach; it's made up of many. One of the best is The Cove, ideal for everyone from families to solo surfers, kayakers, and those seeking a break from the more active beach scene down the sand.

Sandy Hook

Further north, beachgoers should make their way to Sandy Hook. The expansive stretch is, once again, perfect for a swim, fish, or paddle. The beach is also part of the larger Gateway National Recreation Area, which has miles of hiking and biking trails for when you've had enough of the sand.

Delaware

<p>Tetra Images/Getty Images</p>

Tetra Images/Getty Images

Bethany Beach

Picturesque Bethany Beach is speckled with grassy dunes sprouting up around the wooden boardwalk that goes on for a half mile. Come here for a stroll or sit and savor the sun for as long as you can before checking out the nearby shops and food vendors. (Note: No dogs, roller skates, or skateboards on the boardwalk.)

Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park, which be found at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, features more than six miles of pristine coastline, including the Point, the exact spot where the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. After spending some time at the beach, head to the Seaside Nature Center to learn more about the plants and animals that call the park home.

Maryland

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abriggs21/Getty Images

Ocean City

Looking for a really, really big beach? Then, it's time to plan a trip to Ocean City, home to 10 jaw-dropping miles of sand. The beach here is ideal for everything you'd ever want to do by the shore: surf, kayak, build sandcastles, play volleyball, and more. Ocean City also prides itself on its plentiful free activities in the summer, including free movie nights and concerts.

Assateague Island

Yes, there are two miles of beaches you can relax on at Assateague Island. But rather than park yourself in one spot for an entire day, stop in, get some sun, then go off and explore the rest of what this fantastic island has to offer. Hike, see the lighthouse, and, if you're lucky, spot one of their famed wild horses running down the shore. (Just don't try and touch or feed them for your own safety.)

Virginia

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DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is an energetic slice of land where the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet. It's a destination known for its lively boardwalk, plentiful events, and spectacular dining scene, all just steps from the sand, making it easy to go back and forth between the water and a good snack all day long.

Buckroe Beach

Further north, beach lovers will find Buckroe Beach, a smaller stretch that feels scaled back compared to its more bustling counterpart. At Buckroe, visitors can head out for a swim, walk the pier, and take the kids to the nautical-themed playground for a laid-back yet equally pleasurable day at the beach.

North Carolina

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catnap72/Getty Images

Nags Head

What would a list of great eastern seaboard beaches be without mention of the Outer Banks? For the ultimate in solitude on the Outer Banks, head to Nags Head and its 12 miles of sandy shoreline. There are plenty of public access points — all you need to do is find a patch that's ideal for you and set up shop. Just make sure to pack enough water and snacks to last the day.

Emerald Isle

For another island beach experience, make your way to Emerald Isle, which has fewer than 4,000 permanent residents, but swells to a much larger size when the weather is nice, thanks to its striking beach. Those looking to get out on the water can book a fishing charter to see the beach from a whole new perspective (and perhaps catch dinner while they're at it).

South Carolina

<p>John Coletti/Getty Images</p>

John Coletti/Getty Images

Burkes Beach

North Carolina isn't the only state with island paradise beaches. Just look to Burkes Beach in the ever-popular Hilton Head Island for proof. Burkes Beach is often considered the more local of the island's beaches, meaning it's both a bit more relaxed and comes with fewer restaurants nearby. That said, the trade-off of peace and quiet just might be worth having to pack a sandwich.

Myrtle Beach

Located along South Carolina's Grand Strand coast sits Myrtle Beach, one of the most popular beach destinations in the state. Made up of several connected beaches, the sand here goes on for miles. It's ideal for families, friends, and all who want to soak in the rays together. Plus, its proximity to nearby restaurants, accommodations, and attractions makes it easy to either pop in or spend the day.

Georgia

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sestevens/Getty Images

Driftwood Beach

Find a little peace and a whole lot of picture-perfect views at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. With beautiful sand, sea, and massive driftwood washed ashore, the beach is a real photographer's dream.

North Beach

North Beach on Tybee Island is made for those who enjoy long walks on the sand and hunting down the perfect seashells. It's a beachcomber paradise, and one that's easy to hop on and off between town shopping and dining excursions. Book a bed-and-breakfast for a charming stay.

Florida

<p>Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images</p>

Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

South Beach

The iconic South Beach has made its way into movies, music videos, and television series because it's that vibrant, eclectic, and downright stunning, thanks to its azure waters lapping the white sand. During your visit to one of the most happening beaches in America, you may want to splurge on a chaise lounger for the day.

Vero Beach

Seeking something a bit more low-key? Head to Vero Beach, a peaceful area that's actually home to several beaches worth exploring. Want to bring home a little souvenir? Try treasure hunting at Seagrape Trail Beach. Want photos of sand dunes? Go to Treasure Shores Park. Want to hang 10? Try Wabasso Beach. See all of Vero Beach's smaller shoreline stops here