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These 6 US Beach Towns Are at the Top of Traveler’s Wishlists for Good Reason

Honolulu San Diego Florida Key West Beaches and Islands
by Katie Scott Aiton May 16, 2024

Summer is on the horizon and it’s time to plan beach getaways. Fortunately, we don’t have to venture far to reach some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Our coastline delivers outstanding stretches of sand and beach towns with a slow pace, ocean-fronted accommodation, and world-class dining to match. If you’re still undecided or need inspiration, TripAdvisor’s recent data reveals the US’s most sought-after beach town vacations.

According to Tripadvisor’s 2024 Summer Travel Index, Americans are gearing up for an action-packed summer vacation season. The Summer Travel Index compiles data from a survey of travelers, including questions about travelers’ budgets, trip duration, and destination preferences. The company also analyzed user behavior on the Tripadvisor platform to provide insights into travel trends. Findings paint a picture of an enthusiastic American travel market prioritizing experiences over budgetary constraints. The top international travel destinations include Cancun, London, and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Vegas takes the top spot followed by six US beach towns, three of which are in Florida, as the most popular and fastest-growing domestic vacation spots.

If you’re still in the planning stage, you might want to book your accommodation now, as you’ll be in good company at these popular beaches across the US.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii

Photo: aines/Shutterstock

Home to some of the most iconic beaches in the world, Honolulu’s coast offers snorkeling, world-class surfing, family-friendly calm water, and little-known local favorites. From crescent-shaped Waikiki in the heart of Honolulu’s tourist scene and popular swimming spot Ala Moana Beach Park to the shallow waters of Kuhio Beach, there’s plenty of choice in Oahu. Most of Hawaii’s diverse population also lives in Honolulu, which has a direct influence on the food scene. Asian and South Pacific Island cultures influence many menus, with fresh seafood taking center stage.

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Crisp white stairs tumble down a dune on Santa Rosa Beach

Photo: Anita Barnes/Shutterstock

If you want somewhere to kick back and check out from daily life, consider Santa Rosa Beach, on Florida‘s panhandle in Walton County. It’s home to the largest community on Santa Rosa Island and is beloved for its relaxed atmosphere. Unlike its neighbor Destin, the beach here offers a more serene and uncrowded experience. The water is calm, and the sugar-white sand stretches for miles so you can enjoy long walks and beachcomb for seashells. If you need some action, you can rent paddleboards or kayaks to explore the calm bays, go deep-sea fishing, or tee off at one of the championship golf courses nearby.

San Diego, California

La Jolla Shores in La Jolla San Diego, Southern California Coast

Photo: Dancestrokes/Shutterstock

San Diego’s near-perfect weather, miles of pristine coastline, easy-going vibe, and world-class dining make it one of the most popular places in California for a beach getaway. Although you can kick back with your toes in the sand, there are many things to do for a jam-packed active vacation. Health and wellness culture is at the top of its game here. You can surf, do any and every yoga class or new fitness craze, go hiking, diving, or even sky diving. The SoCal city also has many parks which showcase the region’s natural beauty.

Key West, Florida

footbridge to the beach - Key West Florida

Photo: Stockdonkey/Shutterstock

Florida Keys is famed for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and laid-back island charm. The coral archipelago of numerous islands stretches southwards from mainland Florida and is not only one of the best places in the world for sport fishing; it has outstanding conditions for scuba diving and snorkeling. Key West sits closer to Cuba than Miami, and although the island is small, over the years, it’s attracted creatives such as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Jimmy Buffet. You can visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum or explore Duval Street, the main street in Key West, which is lined with pastel-colored conch houses, shops, restaurants, bars, and street performers. It’s also one of the most welcoming LGBTQ+ destinations in the US.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Girls walking on the beach on summer vacation. Beach chairs and parasols on beautiful white sand in the background. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Photo: Margaret.Wiktor/Shutterstock

Nicknamed “The Grand Sand,” Myrtle Beach stretches for 60 miles (and the better part of two counties) along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an excellent destination for a multi-generation group vacation as it has something for everyone, from late-night entertainment, watersports, and take-out food trucks to fine-dining seafood restaurants. If you’re looking for a classic resort experience, you’re spoilt for choice, with five-star Marriots and independent luxury hotels dotting the oceanfront. Or you can get away from the boardwalk scene and rent an Airbnb. There are some fantastic properties to choose from.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Drone photo of Fort Myers Beach

Photo: Earl Marshall Nicholson/Shutterstock

The gateway to the Gulf of Mexico also made the list. Fort Myers Beach’s seven miles of sugar-soft sand and its classic Florida beach townscape offer a laid-back vibe. Beyond the sand are some seriously great hiking and biking trails, boat tours, nearby nature reserves and state parks, and cultural attractions for those who get itchy feet after a couple of days sunbathing. There are also some incredible places to stay and eat.

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