15 best weekend beach getaways
The best beaches for a quick US getaway, from the beautiful California coast to the sunny Florida Keys.
June 24, 2022 8 min read
Most people could probably use a beach vacation every now and again. But taking a weeklong trip to a faraway coastal destination isn’t always possible. Enter: weekend beach getaways. When you’re short on time but in need of some sand and surf, a rejuvenating weekend trip is the perfect way to get your fix before heading back to work on Monday—or Tuesday, if you can squeeze in a three-day weekend.
From the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest to the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore and the relaxing beach resorts of the Florida Keys, there’s a perfect beach getaway for every type of traveler. Here are 15 of the best weekend beach getaways from major cities around the U.S., so you can plan your next escape.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Get out in nature and enjoy the stunning rocky beaches of Olympic National Park in Washington. A perfect weekend trip from Seattle or Portland, Olympic National Park is an ideal destination for those looking to explore the great outdoors during their beach weekend getaway.
Ruby Beach is known for its incredible rock formations, piles of driftwood and active tide pools. Kalaloch Beach and Rialto Beach—known for the Hole in the Wall tide pools—are other popular beaches in the park. There’s also a lodge and camping available at Kalaloch, so you never have to leave the area. Of course, if you want to, the nearby Hoh Rain Forest is a great place to hike. Its lush green foliage will be a stark contrast to the rocky shores just a few miles away.
Hamptons, New York
If you’re a New Yorker looking for a beach weekend getaway, the Hamptons is a natural choice. East Hampton, Southampton and Montauk are among the most popular destinations. They’re all worth visiting, thanks to their beautiful hotels, great shopping, delicious food and, of course, pristine beaches.
Monterey County, California
Covering some of the most picturesque spots on the California coast, Monterey County is perfect for a beach getaway from San Francisco. Opt to stay in a charming waterfront town like Carmel or Monterey to enjoy great local dining and sandy beaches.
This area is heaven for golfers, too, with several stunning courses located on the water. During your getaway, be sure to take a drive south along the Pacific Coast Highway toward Big Sur for incredible views of the coastline.
Laguna Beach, California
Although there are several great beaches in Los Angeles, sometimes you just want to get away. Just an hour’s drive from downtown L.A., Laguna Beach feels like a vacation from the city without having to go too far. Relax on the beach, see marine creatures in the tide pools or enjoy water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing or skim boarding, which actually started in Laguna Beach.
About a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Chicago and less than three hours from Detroit, Saugatuck, Michigan, is an ideal destination for a Midwestern beach getaway. With 10 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, you can lounge on the beach and soak up the sun or go for a refreshing swim—no need to worry about sharks here.
This area is known as “the art coast of Michigan,” so be sure to check out the local galleries or the Saugatuck Center for the Arts for a dose of culture during your beach vacation. Plus, with outdoor activities like kayaking, horseback riding, sailing and hiking, there’s really something for everyone here.
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia
Escape Baltimore for a weekend and enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of Assateague Island National Seashore, located just a three-hour drive from the city. This 37-mile-long island is best known for the wild horses that roam its sandy shores, so get your camera ready for unique wildlife photography opportunities—while maintaining a safe distance from the animals, of course.
Hiking, swimming, surfing, birding and kayaking are among the many other activities visitors can enjoy in this park. Oceanfront campsites also make Assateague Island one of the most scenic places to camp in the U.S., so bring a tent and your camping supplies to fully immerse yourself in the great outdoors for a weekend.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
The string of barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks in North Carolina is perfect when you need a heavy dose of sand and surf in a peaceful, quaint setting. Duck, North Carolina, is located just under five hours from Washington, D.C., by car, making it a great destination for a long weekend away from the nation’s capital.
The Outer Banks are also home to some of the best beaches in North Carolina. Nags Head, Cape Lookout National Seashore and Ocracoke are just a handful of the destinations worth visiting in this scenic region.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Located an hour and a half to two hours from Boston by car, Cape Cod is the quintessential Massachusetts beach weekend getaway. There are a number of quaint towns to choose from, including Hyannis, Provincetown and Chatham. Of course, when it comes to lounging on the sand, you can’t beat the Cape Cod National Seashore, which offers six swimming beaches. The Coast Guard Beach is a family-friendly option. And mile-long Nauset Light Beach offers great surfing.
Florida Keys, Florida
The three-and-a-half-hour drive from Miami to Key West should be on every traveler’s bucket list. With stunning views of the islands and ocean, plus plenty of places to stop for a slice of Key lime pie, this is the ultimate beach road trip.
Once you arrive in Key West, you can enjoy the beach, visit the southernmost point in the continental United States, or check out the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Finish the day with a seafood dinner and sunset cruise, and you’ve got a perfect weekend.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island is the closest beach destination to Atlanta, so it’s the perfect weekend escape when you want a break from the city traffic. There are plenty of beautiful Georgia beaches to choose from, but Tybee is great because it has something for everyone.
North Beach is a popular spot to enjoy the sand and surf, but Back River Beach is the place to go if you want to avoid the crowds. Plus, downtown Savannah is just a short drive away from Tybee Island, so you’ll have tons of great restaurants, museums, shops and bars within reach.
Just an hour from Houston, this Gulf Coast destination is the place to go when you need a nearby beach vacation. Galveston has attractions the whole family will love, like Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Pleasure Pier, the Galveston Naval Museum and more. There are several beaches to choose from, too, like the popular East Beach or the Galveston Island State Park. At the end of the day, you can enjoy the views from a sunset cruise or take a ghost tour to learn about the area’s history.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
There are dozens of great South Carolina beaches to visit for a weekend getaway, but one of the best destinations in the Palmetto State is Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head is consistently ranked among the best islands in the U.S., and once you visit its white-sand beaches, you’ll see why.
About two and a half hours from Charleston and less than four hours from Charlotte, North Carolina, Hilton Head is perfect for families. Plus, with more than 33 championship golf courses, this is the ultimate place to go for a golf vacation.
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
From beautiful Cape May in the south to bustling Atlantic City and Ocean City, there are plenty of New Jersey beaches that are perfect for a weekend trip from New York City or Philadelphia. If you’re looking for a quiet, family-friendly spot, consider Point Pleasant or Asbury Park, which have fun boardwalks and nice beaches. No matter where you go, it’s sure to be a welcome reprieve from hectic city life.
Amelia Island, Florida
Located near the Georgia border just north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a picturesque barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. It’s home to golf courses and a charming downtown area. With 13 miles of coastline, there’s plenty of space to spread out on the beach.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
A peaceful South Carolina sea island located under an hour from Charleston, Kiawah is the place to go for a blissful weekend away. World-class golf, soft and sandy beaches and friendly hospitality make this island a great place to unwind for the weekend.