From the East Coast to the West Coast, beaches across the United States are getting their fair share of visitors this summer. Yet some tend to get overshadowed by others. Or, taken as a positive spin, these seashores are perhaps a best-kept local secret. For those seeking to find their patch of sand, or getaway from the crowds, here are a few under the radar – but still accessible – beaches to visit.
California has many beaches to see, but this SoCal coastal beach is especially great for cyclists. This 1.5-mile long beach is the starting point for a bike path called "The Strand" leading to and from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades. Going one way, it’s a 22-mile ride. If your style of cycling is more of a slow pace, the beach scene offers other enticements: nice views of Palos Verdes, being near Riviera Village, a shopping area and a chance to explore the city of Torrance.
In North Carolina, Kure Beach is a sandy wonder with a big impact. It has the unique distinction of being the location of what was the largest land-sea battle during the American Civil War. What’s now called Fort Fisher State Historic Site was formerly the site of a Confederate fort that protected the trading routes of the port of Wilmington. At this historical landmark, visitors can go on a quarter-mile walking loop and see a replica of a cannon and underground bunkers. Plus there’s a summer long, open-air beach market at the beach’s front park and pavilion.
Washington State has its small-town beaches – like La Push, Long Beach and Ocean Shores – but it might be good to take a drive to Pierce County. A short drive from downtown Tacoma, Owen Beach has good opportunities for picnicking, scenic photo taking, kayaking and a good bit of walking. The driftwood-covered waterfront is close to a series of trails – some foot traffic only and others also extending to include runners and cyclists – that weave throughout Point Defiance Park.
In Kennebunkport, Maine, this three-mile stretch of white sand beach is so quiet you’ll feel like you need to be on a guest list to visit. Offering gentle surf and plenty of room to spread out, this is an ideal spot to relax along the coast of Maine. Plus, there are great views of the Goose Rocks and Timber Island, and it’s located in a protected bay, between nearby Cape Porpoise and Biddeford's Fortune's Rocks. Note: parking is pretty limited; a sticker is required. Or you can get beach access through a trolley service from some nearby resorts.
Located in Florida’s Panama Beach City, Shell Island is an uninhabited, seven-mile peninsula situated between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay. The sand is white, and the water is a beautiful shade of emerald green, plus there are some woodsy elements like coastal scrub forest nearby. Quite a mix of wildlife can also be spotted here – ranging from shorebirds to turtles – but always remember to keep a respectful distance. Plus take your trash back with you; remember to leave no trace! As for getting to Shell Island, it’s mainly accessible by boat or ferry, or a shuttle service from nearby St. Andrews State Park.
Virginia Beach can be pretty overpopulated during summertime, but this more secluded beach takes visitors away from that scene. Based 15 miles from Virginia Beach’s resort area, this hideaway is includes five miles of sand dunes and sea oats. Outdoor recreation aficionados will also be content with the beach’s connection to the both equally scenic Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.
What beaches would you add to this list?
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As a kid flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines, Michele Herrmann became hooked on learning about new places and cultures. As an adult, she's turned her love for writing and passion for travel into a career that's been full of adventure and surprises. Her work has appeared on Yahoo Travel, The Lost Girls, The Points Guy, ShermansTravel, Epicure & Culture, and Budget Travel. She also posts about travel from her own perspective on her blog, She Is Going Places. Follow Michele on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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