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9 Beautiful East Coast Beach Towns

When I travel to the beach for vacation I look forward to spending time exploring small towns up and down the coast from where I am staying.  Aside from the beach, these little towns are the main attraction providing unique traditions and memorable experiences to visitors of every age.

No matter whether you’re shopping for a seashell necklace or looking for the best salt water taffy, the beauty and history of these towns are remarkable:

Chincoteague, Virginia

Escape the crowds and enjoy the rustic serenity of Chincoteague Island.  If you plan now, you can see the Annual Pony Swim (July 29, 2015).  For 90 years, the Chincoteague Ponies have been starring in their own summer blockbuster as they swim across the channel between Assateague and Chincoteague Islands.  You will love the quaint feel of this historic little beach town and it’s a short drive from all major cities in the mid-Atlantic area.


Anna Maria Island, Florida

This tiny barrier island proves that smaller is better when it comes to Florida beaches. If you like to avoid the crowds, catch a glimpse of a dolphin or manatee, dip your toes in perfect white sand, and spend your afternoons biking around town, then Anna Maria Island may become one of your favorite Florida beaches.

[Related: Escape to Anna Maria Island]


Cape May, New Jersey

While technically Cape May is on the Jersey Shore, it’s the opposite of what you would expect.  This historic Victorian seaside gem is one of the most beautiful beach towns and weekend getaways you can imagine with nearly 600 preserved Victorian buildings.  Ride the trolley, search for Cape May Diamonds or stroll along the Washington Street Mall.


Duck, North Carolina

Along Route 12 in the northern Outer Banks sits a small, quiet and very charming beach town that you are sure to love.  The perfect setting for a family vacation you can ride your back along the path, go kayaking in the sound, and enjoy the 7 miles of clean, pristine beaches.  The shopping is incredible and you must try the donuts.

[Related:  Dreaming of Duck]

Photo by sugargliding/Flickr
photo by sugargliding/Flickr

Chatham, Massachusetts

A classic old-school beach town, Chatham sits at the elbow of Cape Cod’s bent arm.  With its unique “modern fishing town” personality, you’ll find it the perfect place to escape the crowds and relax. Be sure to visit Chatham Lighthouse Beach, it’s one of the best places to enjoy an afternoon and has to be one of the best beaches on the Cape.


Folly Beach, South Carolina

Located right outside of Charleston (about a 20 minute drive) is a charming little beach community called Folly Beach. Seems like the perfect place to unwind, eat some seafood, do a little paddle-boarding and relax and watch the waves tumble in.  Spend the day hunting for beach treasures, fishing or kayaking and then head out for some fun on Center Street or live music at Loggerheads or the Sand Dollar.


Tybee Island, Georgia

If you drive roughly 20 miles east from Savannah, you’ll run into the wonderful white sandy beaches of Tybee Island.  Known for its mesmerizing combination of natural marshes and Atlantic shoreline, you’ll be treated to a fantastic dolphin show along the water.  There are historic forts, a great old lighthouse and museums to entertain you when you’re not at the beach or strolling around town.


Rehoboth, Delaware

When people think of Rehoboth, they think All-American classic.  Located on the Delaware Shores, its ocean-front boardwalk, incredible beaches, 50-year-old amusement park, and saltwater taffy remind us of days gone by.  The very popular (and major party scene) Dewey Beach is two miles south on Hwy 1.  If you drive another 3 miles you can visit the Delaware Seashore Park, which is a preserved area that is both rustic and unbelievably beautiful.

Photo by ehpien/Flickr
Photo by ehpien/Flickr

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

I meet a lot of folks who have never heard of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  Its ample supply of Victorian era homes ranging from ocean-side mansions to prim cottages make it easy to imagine life before 24 hour news cycles and social media. The thought of spending some time there with my cell phone and laptop replaced with a book, sunscreen and a towel makes me very happy.


More from Samantha Brown:

3 Great Beaches for Treasure Hunting

East Coast Beaches with Nearby History

10 Best Boardwalks for Summertime Fun

America’s Coolest Coasters

8 of America’s Top State Fairs

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I clicked into this expecting to see the six Martha’s Vineyard towns, plus three others. Samantha you need to get to the Island if not one MV town is on this list. Also, Chatham isn’t even the best town on the Cape.

  2. I love Samantha Brown, and I have been to four of these beaches. My favorite, on the East Coast, is in Brigantine New Jersey a short distance from Atlantic City.

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9 Beautiful East Coast Beach Towns
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