Relax at these top beach spots recommended by guest blogger Alison Hoover.
Sun, sand, surf, and shore are the perfect ingredients for a relaxing beach vacation. When planning for a beach getaway, you’re probably looking for peace, calm, and a chance to recharge. Choosing a beach in a city with a relaxed vibe lets you get the most out of your vacation. We’ve rounded up a few lesser-known U.S. beaches where you’re sure to find peace, quiet, and a suntan.
Hammerman Beach: Baltimore, Maryland
Located just outside of Baltimore, there are many reasons to visit Hammerman Beach. In addition to relaxing on the half-mile-long stretch, you can kayak on Gunpowder River, grab a snack at the concession stands, or venture onto one of the many hiking and walking trails. Rental companies also offer various watercraft, or you can slip your small craft. If you’re an early riser, enjoy a beautiful sunrise where Gunpowder River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s beaches and coastline make Baltimore an untapped gem. You can easily make it an extended trip by visiting multiple beaches and enjoying some crab cakes along the way.
Black Rock Beach: Jacksonville, Florida
A quick drive from Jacksonville, Black Rock Beach (sometimes known as Boneyard Beach) boasts calm ocean waters, stunning driftwood trees, and towering bluffs. This destination is perfect for people looking to relax on the sand while basking in nature’s beauty. The 30-foot black-rock bluffs are a rare sight to see in the U.S. It is much quieter than many of Florida’s beaches, and we encourage you to pack a picnic basket and a blanket to cozy in for the entire day. Sunsets on the Atlantic Coast are stunning.
Half Moon Bay: San Francisco, California
Gray Whale Cove State Beach, in Half Moon Bay, is a lesser-known gem just outside of San Francisco, one of the most relaxed cities in the U.S. In addition to relaxation and the beauty of the coastline, sand, and sun, you might even see some gray whales as they migrate between summer and winter feeding grounds. From November through May, Gray Whale Cove State Beach will treat you to this unmatched experience. Another unique aspect is the nudist beaches. But don’t worry; there are plenty of areas that abide by more traditional beach attire depending on your preference. Just be sure to read the signs as you approach the beach.
Oak Street Beach: Chicago, Illinois
Between the skyscrapers of the Loop and the waves of Lake Michigan, Oak Street Beach is an unexpected respite in Chicago. Oak Street Beach attracts city dwellers and vacationers alike. Located on the edge of the Gold Coast neighborhood, this city park is easily reached via public transit. Swimming is permitted only when lifeguards are on duty, but the beach itself is open until 11 p.m. This means you can catch a lovely sunset and then head into Streeterville, another nearby neighborhood, for a drink at one of the many bars. If you’re looking for more sand, you can head a bit north to Montrose Beach (where kiteboarding is allowed!) or south to Ohio Street Beach, right next to the famous Navy Pier.
Discovery Park: Seattle, Washington
Seattle, as we know, doesn’t offer sunshine every day of the year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t myriad places to enjoy Mother Nature and relax alongside the gentle waves of the Puget Sound. The largest green space in Seattle, Discovery Park boasts over 500 acres of beaches, sand dunes, and forests. If the sun isn’t shining bright enough for your swim trunks, there is plenty else to do in the area. There are nature trails, miles of paved walkways, a lighthouse, and a nature center. Discovery Park is also great if you’ve ever considered becoming a birder – there are nearly 300 species of birds in the area! Seattle may not come to mind when you think of a relaxing beach vacation, but it is a unique spot for sun, peace, and a salt breeze.
With somewhere around 90,000 beaches in the U.S., you have a lot of choices for your next vacation. Whether you pick a popular destination or somewhere off the beaten path, remember to keep your travel plans simple so you can start relaxing the moment your bags are packed.
Alison Hoover is a world traveler who loves to spend her time writing and reading. When she’s home, you can find her playing with her pet rabbit and baking.