Top Ten Best City Beaches

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Let's face it: even if the economy were humming, the odds of most of us jetting off to St. Tropez for a summer beach break are pretty slim. But if the thought of a "staycation" doesn't quite get your adrenaline rushing, consider that America is home to some pretty amazing beaches-many of which are within city limits. From Florida to California to Illinois (yes!) and Manhattan (what?), the surf's up and the sun-kissed sand beckons.
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Top Ten Best City Beaches

Let's face it: even if the economy were humming, the odds of most of us jetting off to St. Tropez for a summer beach break are pretty slim. But if the thought of a "staycation" doesn't quite get your adrenaline rushing, consider that America is home to some pretty amazing beaches-many of which are within city limits. From Florida to California to Illinois (yes!) and Manhattan (what?), the surf's up and the sun-kissed sand beckons.

The world's most famous city beach is probably Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana, but America finds its answer to south-of-the-border beach bliss in the likes of Waikiki and Miami's white-hot South Beach. And if Californians have to settle for shakier ground than the rest of us, they also have arguably the finest array of beaches in the nation.

It's summertime and the beach is closer than you think, so check out our list of America's Top Ten City Beaches.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

It may be true that in Hawaii you're never very far from the beach, but when in Honolulu, this famous one is always close at hand. It was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s, but now modern surfers and sunbathers find their place in the sun here, under the protective watch of Diamond Head. The water's deliciously warm and the surf is known for its long rolling break.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

The first thing you'll notice about Oak Street Beach is the lack of an ocean, but once you get past that little fact you can show off your latest swimsuit and make the most of this swath of sand, open only in summer. Near the John Hancock Tower, it adjoins the more famous North Avenue Beach, but with its palm trees and skyline views, offers an enjoyable way to bask along this otherwise very urbanized stretch of the Lake Michigan shore.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

Sizzling, seductive and convenient, too: South Beach is America's hottest city beach, and in more ways than one. While the estimated 1,500 models who live in the area may keep the beach goddess bar raised high, the place is undeniably fun. With the hopping restaurant and shopping scene on Lincoln Road and Art Deco fabulousness of Collins Ave and Ocean Drive for distractions, you could forget about the actual beach-almost. The blazing white sand and inviting blue water is still SoBe's biggest draw-despite some 150 nightclubs in the neighborhood and the occasional Madonna sighting.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

It's hard to pick a bad patch of sand if you're anywhere near San Diego, and locals are certainly spoiled for choice. But Pacific Beach might be their favorite. The golden sand stretches from the Mission Bay jetty in the south to the La Jolla cliffs in the north. In between there's Crystal Pier and a quintessentially Southern Californian boardwalk, with all manner of rollerbladers and surfer studs. The social scene and area clubs are geared to college students and a younger crowd generally, but everyone appreciates the unadulterated natural beauty of the beach itself.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

There may be more beautiful beaches in the L.A. area (keep reading), but nowhere else in the country will you find so much quirkiness and creativity as abounds on this coastal stretch between Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica. You've got Muscle Beach, volleyball courts, fortune tellers, Skate Dancing plaza, and the bike path and boardwalk to take in the whole show. Of course, you could go for a dip too-the water's usually pretty calm here-but nothing beats just watching the spectacle of Venice Beach unfold. Great eateries abound in the vicinity.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

From the tourist crowds on the Freedom Trail to a great Atlantic beach experience, it's not that far. Just take the Blue Line of the "T" to Revere Beach or Wonderland and before you know it you'll be sinking your teeth into a Kelly's roast beef sandwich or dipping your toes in the water...or both. America's oldest public beach is equal parts quick urban escape and New England honkytonk. The three-mile crescent can get crowded in summer, so for more elbow room check out Castle Island in South Boston, too.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

If there were an award for most postcard-perfect city beach, Santa Barbara's East Beach would take home the prize. A mountainous backdrop, a promenade of tall palm trees, and a gorgeous beach that stretches south over a mile from Stearns Wharf and State Street toward Montecito. There are plenty of picnic facilities, a dozen volleyball courts and a longstanding weekly art show under the palm trees.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

Summers in Savannah are sultry, and savvy locals know where to go when a pitcher of iced tea doesn't provide quite enough refreshment. They repair to Tybee Island, just a 20-minute drive east. The barrier island has salt marshes, forts, an 18th century lighthouse and the pirate lore you'd expect to go with it. There are plenty of opportunities to go kayaking, biking and, of course, swimming and sunbathing.

Top Ten Best City Beaches

Sooner or later, even The City That Never Sleeps needs a break. Fortunately, city dwellers can hop on the Subway in midtown Manhattan and find themselves on sandy shores in just around a half hour. Known as "the Playground of New York," Rockaway is the largest urban beach in the U.S., with a seaboard that stretches more than 170 acres. Stroll along the boardwalk, surf on the Atlantic's high cresting waves, or spread out a towel and enjoy the sun's glow. The iconic seashore was even canonized by quintessential New York rock band, The Ramones, in song: "It's not hard, not far to reach: we can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach."

Top Ten Best City Beaches

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