The Best Beach in Every Single U.S. State

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

The Ultimate Beach Vacation Bucket List

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.

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.

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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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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).

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.)

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

east harbor state park ohio
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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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Hannah Loewentheil

Freelance PureWow Editor

From 2015-2017 Hannah Loewentheil held the role of Editor covering entertainment, food, travel and all things nyc.
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