The Best Beach Destinations in the Southeastern US

by Eileen Strauss on August 10, 2022

Nature’s gift to the human race, beaches are giant playgrounds for kids of all ages and families of all sizes, packed with fun things to do, great places to stay, and spectacular sights to see, requiring little more than your imagination (and maybe a plastic bucket and a shovel!)  

The southeastern US is home to some of the most magnificent beaches on earth, with the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico providing beautiful backdrops with crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, and endless entertainment for water sport enthusiasts. From Virginia Beach to the panhandle, with everything from laid-back luxury to fun for the entire family, the southeast has it all.  


Unplug and Unwind

  Best Beaches in the South East

Sanibel & Captiva Islands, Florida 


Located about 30 miles off the coast of Fort Myers, the famous shell-strewn beaches on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva are among the most beautiful in the nation. No amusement parks, traffic lights, billboard-lined highways, neon lights, or high-rise condos, this southeast secret gem has a laid-back vibe, the finest restaurants, chic shops, and 15 miles of magnificent beaches.   
Family vacationers and romantic adventurers alike can escape to these two small islands popular for their low-key vibe. The pristine white beaches and lush tropical environment provide a level of relaxation not found anywhere else on the mainland. If you’re looking for a beautiful place to unwind in the sand without a passport, the islands of Sanibel and Captiva are the perfect beach destination for you.


Daytona Beach, Florida 


If you want to unplug, relax and rejuvenate, Daytona Beach’s 23 miles of hard-packed, white-sand beaches and expansive 500-feet wide shoreline provides visitors plenty of  room to spread out,  create memories, 
and soak in the warm Florida sunshine.  Home to the famous Daytona International Speedway, the Daytona Beach boardwalk offers endless activities for family fun and free summer concerts all year-’round. 
 For visitors needing assistance, beach wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis, free of charge. 


Nature Lovers 

  Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia


A unique, tranquil island left mostly undisturbed, home to a nesting beach for sea turtles, Jekyll Island has over 5,000 acres of sandy coastline to explore. 

A peaceful place to chill  and enjoy nature, swim, surf, and fish,  Jekyll Island boasts over eight miles of white sandy beaches and protected natural habitat.  Purchased in 1887 for use as an exclusive club by a group of millionaires, including the Rockefeller and Vanderbilt families, who were enchanted with the island's pristine beauty, many of their opulent homes still remain.  

Visitors can ride horseback along the sandy coastline then enjoy a relaxing meal at one of the many casual beachside eateries. A Georgia State Park, sixty five percent of Jekyll Island is protected, ensuring that the island’s natural and wild atmosphere remains, making this island getaway a nature lover’s paradise.   

St. George Island, Florida


Tucked into the crook of Florida's Panhandle, the 28-mile St. George Island is renowned for its unspoiled beaches, natural setting,  and laid-back vibe.  

Located just off the coast, the barrier island is part of the long stretch of beaches known as Gulf Islands National Seashore. Enjoy an old-fashioned beach vacation at a place where you can rent a bike, enjoy ice cream and funnel cake, and watch birds and sea turtles in their natural environment. 

Canaveral National Seashore 


Florida's "Space Beach," Canaveral National Seashore is more than a fantastic beach. Its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the home to over 300 bird species and 1035 varieties of plants make it a great beach vacation for nature lovers. 

An idyllic setting for sunbathing and swimming, there's  a clothing-optional area for those that really want to get into nature. 



The Carolinas

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Nestled at the center of 60 miles of South Carolina shoreline known as the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach attracts more than 19 million visitors annually to the city's 10-mile-long beach. The laid-back South Carolina beach town is protected by lifeguards and monitored for water quality between May 1 and Oct. 1, when crowds pack the boardwalk's shops, restaurants and SkyWheel observation wheel. 

Take a relaxing  stroll through Brookgreen Gardens, practice your swing at one of 100-plus golf courses, or explore the natural saltwater estuary at the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk.

Lodging options range from campgrounds to five-star hotels, making this a popular destination for families of all sizes,  fitting a variety of budgets.  


Hilton Head

Hilton Head, South Carolina 


Best known for its world-class golf resorts, Hilton Head’s wide Atlantic beaches offer an upscale vacation alternative to the more laid back Myrtle Beach.  Just 20 miles north of Savannah, Hilton Head Island is a popular resort destination offering miles of white sandy  beaches, world-class golf and tennis facilities, and endless opportunities for watersports and seaside adventures. 


Folly Beach, South Carolina


Just a short drive from Charleston,  Folly Beach is a mecca for surfers, fishermen and all lovers of the laid-back beach lifestyle. With its “other world” feel, visitors flock to Folly Beach for the funky atmosphere and family fun from eclectic restaurants, bars, and live music to pier and surf fishing and some of the best surfing on the east coast. Popular with water sport enthusiasts and sunbathers alike, Folly’s  Center Beach and Folly Pier provide a high level of action, while Country Park provides a place for a peaceful escape. 


Watersport Adventurers

  Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, Florida


Striking white sand encompasses the entire shoreline at Clearwater
Beach, which features engaging activities for the entire family.

Stretch your legs along the 1,080-foot pier, a multipurpose oasis offering everything from fine dining to fishing, shopping, and live entertainment.
Visit the marina to hop on board some of the state's finest fishing and sailing charters, take a sightseeing cruise, or swim with the dolphins. From parasailing to swimming, surfing, and jet skiing, aquatic activity lovers will never have a shortage of things to do.


Nightlife, Shopping, and Art 

  Delray Beach

Delray Beach, Florida


If nightlife, shopping, sand,, and sun is what you seek, Delray Beach, with one of the country's only downtown areas nestled directly on the beach, is for you. At just 2 miles long, Delray Beach earns accolades for its cleanliness and proximity to shops and restaurants.  Spend some time window shopping along Atlantic Avenue and hunt for street murals in the Pineapple Grove arts district. Conveniences including lifeguards, showers, concrete walkways for jogging, an abundance of restaurants throughout the downtown area, and wallet-friendly chain hotels make this a great family destination for families looking for a mix of luxury, adventure, shopping, and people watching. 

West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach, Florida 


Home to some of the chicest shopping, the finest dining, and the most exciting nightlife on the east coast, West Palm Beach is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. 

Often in the shadows of Miami and Palm Beach, West Palm Beach is rapidly evolving into the city’s most exciting neighborhood, with bustling restaurants and a dynamic shopping scene. In the downtown area’s 72-acre, open-air Rosemary Square, you’ll find world-class hotels, five-star restaurants,  and luxury shops.  enjoy the town’s exploding art scene and unique rooftop dining.

By day you can catch some rays at one of the many fabulous resort hotel beaches, snorkel on Singer Island, explore nature reserves, or explore the town’s exploding art scene. By night, dance at a rooftop bar, enjoy outdoor music festivals,  and dine at some of the finest restaurants on the east coast. If luxury is what you seek, West Palm Beach is the place for you. 

Kid-friendly Fun 

Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida 


With powdered sugar-like sand  and brilliant turquoise water, Destin is an Emerald Coast gem. Located in the panhandle of northwest Florida, this stretch of. sunshiny coastline, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, is a perfect family destination packed with kid-friendly entertainment. In addition to boardwalk exploring and sandcastle building, you can also catch a magic show, try go-kart racing, jump on rafts, relax on or attempt "hydroflying," a popular new water sport guaranteed to get anyone's blood pumping.

Crab Island, Destin

One of the most talked about attractions in Destin, Florida is the popular sandbar,  Crab Island. An underwater sandbar, known for attracting large crowds,  Crab Island is home to floating restaurants and mobile food vendors, making for a rollicking good time in the water. Only accessible by boat, Crab Island adventure tours offer paddleboarding, snorkeling, shelling, and access to a private inflatable water park.

Tybee Island

Tybee Island, Georgia 


Just 18 miles from Savannah, Tybee Island is a popular family getaway destination rich in history and natural beauty. A barrier island is famous for its seafood, quaint shopping, and spectacular uninterrupted three-mile beach, families can explore salt marshes teeming with birds and wildlife unique to Georgia’s coast. Visit the historic Tybee Island Light Station and tour Fort Pulaski, a key battlement in the Civil War.  

CaliCase Waterproof Phone Case

Fort Myers Beach, Florida 


If you’re looking for a super laid-back Florida beach with white-sugar sands and a vibe that's as kid-friendly as can be,  Fort Myers Beach, on a skinny barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, is for you.  Learn about seashells at the shell museum before going shelling on the beach and have fun with dolphins, manatees, and sharks at the Ostego Bay Marine Science Center.
Be sure to bring along a waterproof phone and dry bag to keep your valuables and memories safe while vacationing in Fort Meyers.


Happening Beach Towns 



Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama 


For those looking for a beach destination that’s both kid-friendly and happening, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are very popular with families looking for ol-fashioned fun and the college crowds who come to hang out with friends at local festivals every summer. With 32 miles of spectacular, sugar-white beaches and loads of outdoor activities and family attractions, the neighboring towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beaches are premier family beach vacation destinations. 

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia

This happening beach burg,  at the intersection of two great waterways, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the southeast’s most popular beach destinations. From its buzzing Oceanfront and the secluded Sandbridge,  to the 8,000-acre Pungo agriculture district, Virginia Beach packs a lot of variety into one destination.

Underwater Adventure

Key West, Florida

The beaches are as magical at the atmosphere and the people in this southernmost key. With everything from snorkeling to parasailing, diving and sailing, there is an abundance of outdoor activities on the island.

Check out our blog post for more information about fabulous watersport adventures on Key West.

When you head to the beach this summer, be sure to pack your sunscreen, your flip flops, your snorkeling gear, and your Waterproof Phone Case!


For more sensational shorelines and beautiful beaches on the east coast, check out our blog post, Boardwalks, Beaches, And Bon Fires: The Best Beach Destinations In The Northeastern United States.