The best beach in every single US state

As they say, life's a beach...and when it comes to sweltering hot summer weather, there's nowhere we'd rather be. Here, the best beach in every U.S. state.

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Best Beach in Every State
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Best Beach in Every State

Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach

Families flock to Alabama’s Gulf Shores, just an hour south of Mobile, to escape the heat of Bama summer. This public, white sand beach offers activity for the whole clan, from volleyball and boarding to deep sea fishing tours.

Image credit: John Tuggle/Flickr

Alaska: Black Sand Beach

OK, you probably didn’t travel to Alaska to swim. But this stunning black sand beach with sweeping glacier views in Prince William Sound is a popular spot for kayaking and simply taking in the view.

Image credit: David Ellis/Flickr

Arizona: Lake Havasu State Park

On Arizona’s west coast you’ll find Lake Havasu’s famed hidden coves. The most popular spot is “The Sandbar,” where families gather to wade in the ankle-deep water.

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Arkansas: Norfork Lake Beaches

Norfork Lake, in the Ozark Mountains, is known for quiet crowds, sloping shores and naturally white “sugar sands.”

California: Coronado Beach

The 1.5-mile stretch of sand just across the bay from San Diego sparkles in the California sunshine and is blessed with Mediterranean-like weather. The water is ideal for surfing and swimming.

Image credit: SDDirk/Flickr

Colorado: Medano Creek

Each spring, Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park fills with water flowing from the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, perfect for activities like skim boarding and tubing. But act fast; come August, the creek dries up until the next year.

Image credit: Great Sand Dunes NPP/Flickr

Connecticut: Ocean Beach

This might be the most family-friendly summer spot in all of New England. Think raucous boardwalk, public pool and mini-golf courses galore.

Image Credit: Davies/Flickr

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

Set in a quintessential beach town with an old-fashioned feel, Rehoboth is peaceful and clean yet active and amenity-laden (and a far cry from party-heavy nearby Dewey).

Image credit: jimmywayne/Flickr

Florida: Siesta Beach

This barrier island set between Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico is home to three popular beaches. The best, Siesta Beach, boasts turquoise waters and quartz sand. 

Image credit: Jeffrey Pott/Flickr

Georgia: Sea Camp Beach

Just north of the Florida state line sits Sea Camp, one of two beaches on Cumberland Island National Seashore known for its pristine marshes and roaming wild horses.

Hawaii: Lanikai Beach

Choosing the best beach in Hawaii is no small feat, but we’ll give it a go. Located in Oahu, Lanikai means “heavenly sea,” and it's easy to see why thanks to crystal blue water, soft sand, coral reefs and a protected lagoon that’s basically a swimmer’s paradise.

Image credit: Brian Hancock/Flickr

Idaho: Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake, set on the border of Idaho and Utah, is known as “The Caribbean of the Rockies” for its gleaming turquoise waters. On the northern and eastern shores you’ll find the state park, a popular spot for water sports and camping.

Image credit: Ken Lund/Flickr

Illinois: Oak Street Beach

Who says you can’t find tranquility in the middle of the city? Just steps from Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Oak Street Beach is surrounded by bars and restaurants, a running and biking path and a panoramic view of the downtown skyscrapers.

Image credit: Shutter Runner/Flickr

Indiana: Indiana Dunes State Park

That said, if you do want a respite from Chicago, head to this state park about an hour east of the city. Here, the rugged dunes, quiet hiking trails and tranquil shores are the perfect counter to a bustling urban lifestyle.

Image credit: Michael Kappel/Flickr

Iowa: Lake Red Rock

Hello, classic lake vacation. Cabin rentals surround this reservoir on the Des Moines River. Outdoor activities are endless, but the real reason to come is for the fishing. Rent a boat for the day and cast a line for bluegill, crappie and bass.

Image credit: Carl Wycoff/Flickr

Kansas: Lake Scott

This freshwater lake is surrounded by the Ogallala rock formation, making it one of the most interesting landscapes in a state known for, well, flatness.

Image credit: Kansas Tourism/Flickr

Kentucky: Barren River Lake

Sure, this state park in south-central Kentucky offers great swimming, but it’s best known for fishing. During the daytime, locals cast their lines off the marina to catch local bass, bluegill and catfish--then by night they camp out and cook their haul.

Image credit: LouisvilleUSACE/Flickr

Louisiana: Rutherford Beach

Along Louisiana’s 26 miles of Gulf Coast beaches, Rutherford stands out for its shallow waters and undeveloped shoreline dotted with beach comb trees, driftwood and seashells.

Maine: Sand Beach

Sunbathers, this one’s for you. The water in this stunning cove on the Atlantic Ocean hardly ever rises above 60 degrees, even in the warmest summer months. In other words, you probably don’t want to venture in the water.

Image credit: Abhishek Srivastava/Flickr

Maryland: South Ocean Beach

This unspoiled beach on Assateague Island feels like a throwback to another era: The landscape is rugged, the buildings are scarce and wild ponies wander from the forest to the shores.

Image credit: Meghan Hess/Flickr

Massachusetts: Cisco Beach

Many of Nantucket’s beaches are overcrowded with summer jet-setters, but not Cisco, the widest spot on the island. On your way, stop by nearby Bartlett's Farm to pack a lobster roll picnic lunch.

Image credit: Holly Ladd/Flickr

Michigan: Glen Haven Beach

You’ll find a handful of beaches along the coastline of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore, but none quite like Glen Haven, known for windswept dunes, turquoise water and quaint, nearby fishing villages.

Image credit: Josh Kellogg/Flickr

Minnesota: Lake Nokomis Main Beach

There’s no shortage of swimming holes in the state dubbed "Land of 10,000 Lakes" but this one in Minneapolis has it all: Canoes and kayaks for rent, running and biking paths galore and calm water perfect for swimming.

Image credit: Joe Passe/Flickr

Mississippi: Long Beach

Long Beach, located along Mississippi’s 26 miles of Gulf Coast, is a laid-back, Southern getaway just west of the popular vacation town Biloxi. Families bike to the public beach with picnic baskets and colorful kites in hand.

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Missouri: Osage Beach

Lake of the Ozarks National Park has lots of beaches, but this lively enclave stands out. Home to the renowned “party cove,” Osage is a haven for rowdy boaters looking to drink, swim and otherwise get down.
Montana: City Beach

Along a seven-mile glacial lake in Whitefish sits the picturesque City Beach. With a roped-off swimming area, day boat rentals, lifeguards on duty, gazebos and picnic tables, it’s the perfect escape for the whole fam.

Nebraska: Lake McConaughy

This reservoir on the North Platte River is seriously awesome if you’re into water sports. (Think: sailboating, waterskiing and scuba diving.)

Image credit: Janet/Flickr

Nevada: Sand Harbor

On the east side of Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor is a jewel in the Sierra Nevadas, thanks to glistening water surrounded by round boulders and a stunning view of the distant snowcapped mountains.

Image credit: Don Graham/Flickr

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach

This state park, an hour north of Boston, is a New England favorite. Think: sandy dunes, an active boardwalk and sweeping shores along the pristine Atlantic Ocean. It also boasts an annual sand sculpture contest and fireworks every Wednesday night throughout the summer.

New Jersey: Cove Beach

Of all the beaches that make up Cape May’s shore, Cove Beach is definitely the best. When you need a break from the sun, climb to the top of the famous Cape May Lighthouse for a panoramic view of the peninsula.

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New Mexico: Cochiti Lake

Cool off from the hot, arid weather at Cochiti Lake, a manmade beach on the Río Grande between Albuquerque and Santa Fe--and a total hot spot for camping and barbecuing.

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New York: Ditch Plains Beach

This refreshingly laid-back enclave in Montauk is a far cry from the glitzy beaches of East Hampton. Come for the iconic lighthouse and scenic cliffs. Stay for the stellar surfing and a pressed sandwich from Ditch Witch food truck.

Image credit: Michael Galpert/Flickr

North Carolina: Cape Hatteras National Seashore

This barrier island stretches for about 70 miles on Carolina’s outer banks. The coast is lined with picturesque sandy dunes and ends at the lovely Bodie lighthouse.

North Dakota: Lake Renwick

Head to Icelandic State Park to relax on this mile-long sandy beach with a designated swimming area and adorable cabins for rent.

Image credit: ND Parks and Recreation/Flickr

Ohio: East Harbor State Park

Set on the shores of Lake Erie, East Harbor State Park in Marblehead is a popular spot for boating, camping and swimming throughout the summer months. The lake is perfect for children since the water stays shallow far beyond the shoreline.
Oklahoma: Keystone State Park

Calling all teetotalers. Keystone Lake, found on the Arkansas River just 15 miles from Tulsa, contains three alcohol-free beaches. The most popular, Keystone State Park is great for families or couples looking for a low-key getaway.

Oregon: Cannon Beach

On Oregon’s northern coast, about 80 miles from Portland, stretches romantic Cannon Beach. Its most notable feature is the 235-foot Haystack Rock rising out of the water.

Image credit: Chedder/Flickr

Pennsylvania: Presque Isle State Park

This sandy peninsula that extends into Lake Erie contains about a dozen small and secluded beaches that open between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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Rhode Island: Fred Benson Town Beach

Fred Benson Town Beach, or Crescent Beach, as the locals call it, is the most spectacular part of Block Island’s 17-mile coastline. With lifeguards on duty and cabanas, umbrellas and boogie boards for rent, it’s one of New England’s best summer spots. 

Image credit: Block Island Organics/Flickr

South Carolina: Kiawah Beachwalker Park

This windswept haven is only a short drive from Charleston, but feels a world away. Plus, while most beaches on Kiawah Island are private and accessible only if you’re staying at a resort this one is open to any and everyone.

South Dakota: Angostura Reservoir

This lake in the southern Black Hills is known for crystal-clear waters and 36 miles of flat, sandy coastline.

Tennessee: Percy Priest Lake Swimming Beach

Its convenient location, just ten miles from downtown Nashville, makes Percy Priest Lake a popular summer escape. Kayak to Luau Island, a secret spot in the middle, for a picnic lunch. Or if you’re a daredevil, try cliff jumping from the towering rocks. 

Image credit: Denise Mattox/Flickr

Texas: Malaquite Beach

Unlike the beaches of South Padre Island, which are filled with rowdy spring breakers, Malaquite Beach on North Padre Island is rarely crowded. Visit during nesting season, from April to July, and you could see hundreds of baby sea turtles break out from the sand and run toward the sea.

Image credit: Terry Ross/Flickr

Utah: Wahweap Marina

One of the most popular swimming areas in Lake Powell, Wahweap Marina boasts cobalt blue waters surrounded by luminescent red stone.

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Vermont: Sand Bar State Park

Vermont has a handful of picturesque beaches on the shore of Lake Champlain, but most have awfully rocky terrains. The beach at Sand Bar State Park in Milton, however, is sandy, shallow and great for kids.
Virginia: Chincoteague Island Shoreline

Chincoteague, a small barrier island off Virginia’s coast, is known for its oyster beds, clam shoals and 14,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge. You won’t find any boardwalks, beaches or crowds--just miles of sprawling, clean coastline.

Wisconsin: Big Bay State Park

This 1.5-mile expanse of sandy shoreline on Madeline Island, the largest on Wisconsin’s 22 Apostle Islands, offers gorgeous views of Lake Superior and a rugged backdrop of sandstone bluffs.

Image credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Flickr

Washington: Ruby Beach

A popular spot along the southern coastline of Olympic National Park, Ruby Beach is known for its picturesque sea stacks and shores lined with driftwood. When the sun goes down, campers pitch tents and light fires on the sand.

Image credit: Ralph Arvesen/Flickr

West Virginia: Summersville Beach

Sandstone cliffs, clean water and about 60 miles of shoreline are what you’ll find at West Virginia’s largest lake. Summersville Beach is also situated right on the dam of the Gauley River, home to some of the country’s best white-water rafting.

Image credit: Facebook

Wyoming: Firehole River Swimming Area

When you think of Yellowstone, you probably think of geysers and hot springs. But America’s favorite national park has some awesome swimming holes, too. We love Firehole River, a deep pool surrounded by indigenous rock.
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