Top 10 Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in the U.S
America boasts some of the world’s most diverse coastlines with its 23 coastal states. We visit ten of its most picturesque coastal communities. From the untamed Pacific Northwest to the subtropical regions of the Gulf Coast, and from the charming, historic coastal towns of New England.
Paia, which was once a thriving sugarcane plantation town, now has a much slower pace of life and, in contrast to many other Hawaiian resort towns, has not succumbed to over-commercialization. Despite its diminutive size, Paia is well-known for its multicultural atmosphere and has a picturesque downtown with colorful storefronts housing eateries, boutiques, and art galleries. However, Ho’okipa Beach Park is the town’s most well-known feature.
Ho’okipa, known as the “windsurfing capital of the world,” draws professional wind and kite surfers from all over the world, while Baldwin Beach Park in Paia offers gorgeous white sands ideal for more leisurely pursuits like swimming and shore fishing.
Outside of San Francisco, Cape May in New Jersey holds the distinction of being the oldest seaside resort in the United States and is home to the largest concentration of exquisitely preserved Victorian architecture. Indeed, the entire town was named a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Its streets and shorefront, lined with vibrant “painted ladies,” are a joy to simply stroll through for history and architecture enthusiasts. Sophisticated eaters will also not be dissatisfied.
The New York Times dubbed Cape May the “culinary capital of New Jersey,” and it also has a sophisticated and varied dining scene. See the sights from a horse-drawn carriage to stay true to the town’s Victorian heritage.
Carmel Beach, one of the most picturesque places in the country, is situated on California’s Central Coast. A lovely walking trail, the Scenic Bluff Path offers views of Carmel Beach’s soft white sands and craggy coastline. Surfers love it too, and the views from the water, which stretches from Point Lobos in the south to Pebble Beach in the north, are even more breathtaking.
Both tourists and residents of the town can stroll along the streets adorned with English cottages and Mission-style buildings. Visit one of the town’s renowned art galleries or shop at posh boutiques owned by foreign or local entrepreneurs.
Not too long ago, Asbury Park was best known as an out-of-date Springsteen allusion, a once-great tourist destination that had become as stale as saltwater taffy that had been sitting on the shelf for months. Things have turned around. The city’s renowned—and recently revived—music scene is infused with a “Brooklyn on the beach” vibe that has replaced AP’s iconic boardwalk vibes.
Desire a drink? Among the more than fifty bars in the area, the always lively Johnny Mac’s and the delightfully divey Bond Street Bar rank first and second, respectively, for al fresco drinking. Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten is a great place to enjoy drinks outdoors. How about a game of old-school pinball? There are over 600 machines at the Silverball Museum Arcade. Asbury Park has a vibrant art scene, a storied LGBTQ community, and a gorgeous beach, so it’s definitely worth saying “yes” once more, boss.
Must eat/drink: Moonstruck, which serves a Mediterranean menu in a classic Victorian home on the Jersey shore, strikes a nice balance between fancy and beachy-casual. Talula’s, Asbury Park’s understated yet excellent pizzeria, is one of the best in the nation; Pop’s Garage, a beachside favorite with two-for-$6 tacos and $3 happy hour beers, is equally affordable.
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Nantucket means “faraway place” in Wampanoag, and when you visit this stylish island retreat, you’ll feel a world away. The island, which is 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, was once the center of a prosperous whaling industry. Stroll along the quaint cobblestone streets that are surrounded by boutiques and tastefully renovated homes.
On the south side of the island, surfers and those who enjoy windswept, quiet beaches should visit Cisco, Surfside, and Miacomet. Bring your Nantucket reds to Brant Point Grill in the White Elephant Hotel for a great evening out under the starry sky. Are you going as a pair? See which ten American islands are the most romantic.
Bar Harbor, which is beloved by tourists even today, was one of New England’s most well-known summer resorts in the 19th century and is situated on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine. Right outside Bar Harbor lies the stunning Acadia National Park, which spans more than 50 square miles of coastline, lakes, and mountains and is ideal for hiking, biking, and camping. A variety of boats depart from the town harbor to provide fishing excursions and nature-spotting excursions.
Following a strenuous day of exploring the untamed island community, guests can unwind at the vibrant pubs and seafood eateries that line Bar Harbor’s thriving downtown.
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St. Michaels is situated on the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a must-see when visiting the small town, which is rich in maritime history. This magnificent assemblage of relics and ships features a functional shipyard as well as the Hooper Bay Lighthouse.
Wander along charming Talbot Street, which features colorful storefronts and buildings from the Colonial era. Savor a luxurious stay at the renowned Perry Cabin Inn after arriving by boat from Annapolis on a Hinckley Talaria 55 yacht, all while sipping champagne. This is the history of the names of all the states, including Maryland.
Cannon Beach is situated 90 miles northwest of Portland on the Oregon coast. The views along this stretch of coastline are breathtaking with Haystack Rock standing 235 feet above the sandy beach as the most recognizable landmark. Visitors staying in one of the upscale oceanfront resorts can easily stroll to the village with its lively art scene, Cannon Beach Distillery, and chef-owned restaurants serving locally sourced ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.
Cannon Beach is also close to Ecola State Park, a perfect destination for surfing, tidepooling, and wildlife viewing—head there in winter or spring to catch the migration of the gray whales. Just like Cannon Beach, these 16 “summer” destinations are even more beautiful in winter.
Located in San Diego County, in the southwest of California, directly across from the city’s downtown, along the crescent of San Diego Bay.
What: This beachside resort city is almost entirely sand, but it is still connected to the rest of California by a seven-mile causeway called the Silver Strand. With a plethora of events, eateries, and attractions, especially along Orange Avenue, Coronado Beach has long been regarded as one of the best on the west coast. After a successful day of surfing or skimming sand dollars, there’s plenty to choose from.
Highlights: Coronado offers an island atmosphere while remaining connected to the mainland, making it a very friendly destination for families traveling to California. When it comes to getting on and off Coronado, regular ferries and water taxis are great options compared to the frequently congested bridge from San Diego. Hiring bikes provides visitors with an ideal mode of transportation. Along with the Hotel Del Coronado and the Babcock and Story Inn, which offer a fine selection of craft beer and old school charm along with those scintillating views over the Pacific, there are plenty of artisan workshops and galleries down by Ferry Landing.
Hilton Head Island, also known as just Hilton Head, is a barrier island and Lowcountry resort town located in Beaufort County, South Carolina, in the United States. It is located 95 miles (153 km) southwest of Charleston and 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Savannah, Georgia. The island bears Captain William Hilton’s name. Hilton discovered a headland close to Port Royal Sound’s entrance in 1663, and cartographers named it “Hilton’s Headland.” The island is a well-liked vacation spot with 12 miles (19 km) of Atlantic Ocean beachfront. An approximate of 2.25 million tourists contributed over $1.5 billion to the local economy in 2004. According to the 2010 census, there were 37,099 year-round residents, but during the busiest part of the summer vacation season, that number can rise to 150,000. The population of the island has grown at a rate of 32% over the last ten years. The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort metropolitan area includes Hilton Head Island as one of its primary cities. As of 2015, the estimated population of this area was 207,413.
Beginning thousands of years ago with the seasonal occupation of the island by Native Americans, the island has a rich history that was further enhanced by European exploration and the Sea Island Cotton trade. During the Civil War, it developed into a crucial hub for Union operations blocking the ports in the South. Following the island’s capture by Union forces, hundreds of former slaves descended from freed slaves known as the Gullah (or Geechee) swarmed to Hilton Head, where many of them still reside and maintain a significant portion of their ethnic and cultural identity.
Numerous species of birds, dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, deer, manatees, and alligators can be found in the Hilton Head Island region.
As part of the Sea Turtle Protection Project, the Coastal Discovery Museum and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources patrol the beaches from May through October. The project’s goal is to inventory, keep an eye on, and, if necessary, relocate nesting sites to better ones. The Turtle Talk & Walk, a unique tour intended to inform the public about this endangered species, is sponsored by the museum during the summer. A town ordinance mandates that artificial lighting be turned off by 10:00 p.m. from May 1 to October 31 every year, or it must be shielded so that it cannot be seen from the beach in order to protect loggerhead sea turtles. One of the few places on Earth where dolphins regularly engage in “strand feeding” is the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. In this technique, schools of fish are herded up onto mud banks, and the dolphins lie on their sides while they eat before sliding back down into the water.
Stingrays are particularly common in the ocean waters around Hilton Head Island, and many beachgoers find them to be both fascinating and painful natural encounters. Little stingrays live in the calmer, shallower area of the ocean floor just past the surf break; they are usually hidden under a thin coating of sand. A common species of cartilaginous, demersal fish found along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina and other regions is the stingray. Unless they are inadvertently trodden upon, stingrays usually stay away from people. In such cases, the stingray will puncture the victim with its poisonous barb, causing a stingray injury. Even though these injuries are excruciatingly painful, they are typically not fatal as long as a medical professional gives them the proper care.
Many saltwater species of game fish, sport fish, and marine mammals use Hilton Head Island’s saltmarsh estuaries as feeding, breeding, and nursing grounds. The murky brown-green color of the coastal water is caused by a dense population of plankton.
Plankton is the food source for larger fish and mammal species that inhabit the nearby waterways. It also provides support for marine life such as oysters, shrimp, and other invertebrates, as well as bait-fish species like mullet and menhaden. The red drum, also known as spot tail bass, spotted sea trout, sheepshead, cobia, tarpon, and several shark species are popular sport fish in the Hilton Head Island region.
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