Leave your troubles behind in charming Cape May. (Photo: Alamy)


Why Settle for Less Than Perfect? Visit These 4 Must-See East Coast Beaches

Leave your troubles behind in charming Cape May. (Photo: Alamy)

From rugged, rocky shores to soft, sandy ones, the eastern United States boasts a wide variety of beaches on its more than 1,864 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. Here are five dazzling East Coast beaches that deserve a visit.

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Cape May, New Jersey

Nineteenth-century Victorian houses overlook a sandy coastline in Cape May, one of the USA’s oldest vacation destinations. Located at the southeastern tip of New Jersey, it’s been hosting visitors for more than two centuries.

The charming seaside escape sits on several stretches of sugary sand. Look for “Cape May diamonds,” clear quartz pebbles that wash ashore from the nearby Delaware River. Nature lovers should watch for some of the 400-plus bird species that call this area home.

In the evening, sit down to a romantic seafood dinner at Peter Shields Inn and Restaurant, housed in an elegant mansion built in 1907.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

best u.s. beaches
Surfs up in North Carolina’s spectacular Outer Banks. (Photo: Getty Images)

In 1903, on a deserted beach near the seaside town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. More than 100 years later, Kitty Hawk and the many towns dotting the approximately 143-mile strip of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks have evolved into beloved popular vacation spots.

People, especially from the Southeast and Northeast, come to relax along the quiet beaches lined with flowing sea grass, especially in summer and during parts of March and April, when schools are out of session for spring break. Several historic lighthouses watch over the waters, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

For a taste of local flavor, make reservations at the Harbor House Seafood Market, a family-owned restaurant whose owners have decades of experience in the fishing business. Note: It helps to have a car in the Outer Banks. Rent one at a nearby regional airport. The closest is Virginia’s Norfolk International Airport, about a 90-minute drive.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

best u.s. beaches
Satiate your sweet tooth at Dolles. (Photo: Getty Images)

Located about 113 miles southeast of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Maryland, Rehoboth Beach has been a summer favorite among Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia residents for generations.

Each summer, Rehoboth’s population swells from about 1,400 to more than 25,000, so be sure to reserve a room well in advance.

Popular pastimes include strolling the wide beachfront boardwalk to famed Dolles Candyland, which is known for its saltwater taffy, or to the Ice Cream Store, where you can choose from more than 70 flavors.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

About 22 miles southeast of downtown Jacksonville sits Ponte Vedra Beach, a north Florida destination known for its outdoor activities. Vendors along the coast facilitate wakeboarding, waterskiing and surfing, while Ponte Vedra Beach hosts the PGA Players golf tournament each May.

Florida’s natural beauty shines here, too. At the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, you’ll experience Florida’s rich natural biodiversity and find ample opportunities for animal watching. Rent a kayak and look for bald eagles, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and West Indian manatees.

This article was published through a partnership with Visit the USA, inspiring travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.