Ring in spring at America’s best offbeat beaches
Monday, January 23, 2017
As winter's chill begins to fade, there's no better way to ring in spring than with a trip to the beach. But rather than settling for just any beach in 2017, let's expand our spring beach bucket list to some lesser-known strands around the country.
To that end, we've zeroed in on 10 brag-worthy but off-the-beaten-path beaches where you'll find yourself well out ahead of the summer crowds — and with nary a spring break reveler in sight.
1. Crescent Beach, Rhode Island
Rhode Island is often called the "Bermuda of the North," in reference to its many beautiful beaches. A getaway to one of the finest of them, Crescent Beach, begins with a short ferry ride from the mainland port of Galilee to Old Harbor on Block Island. Hang a left at the end of the dock and you'll enter Crescent Beach, a tawny 2.5-mile stretch of sand that becomes less crowded the farther you walk.
2. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
It comes as a surprise to many visitors that Delaware is home to some of America’s top beaches — and its offshore Atlantic waters have been named the cleanest in the nation. Our favorite is Rehoboth Beach, a pristine mile-long strand flanked by an old-fashioned boardwalk lined with colorful beach cottages, artsy boutiques and funky bars and restaurants. There's a friendly small-town charm to the place that you just won't find at Atlantic City or Coney Island.
Rehoboth Beach is a pristine mile-long strand flanked by an old-fashioned boardwalk lined with colorful beach cottages, artsy boutiques and funky bars and restaurants.
3. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
Nestled on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, this combination national lakeshore and state park offers more than 15 miles of golden beaches backed by towering sand dunes. TripAdvisor.com has ranked these beaches among the top six family beaches in the nation. With its huge swath of sand, West Beach, near Gary, is a good choice. It features a bathhouse, lifeguard station and a boardwalk with 250 stairs leading to Dune Succession Trail, from which there are spectacular views of the lake.
4. Cape Lookout, North Carolina
One of a pair of North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands to be designated national seashores, Cape Lookout National Seashore (CLNS) is not nearly as well known or frequently visited as its neighbor, Cape Hatteras National Seashore. A slender sliver of land facing the Atlantic Ocean and backed on the mainland side by shallow sounds, CLNS is largely undeveloped. Its three barrier islands — North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shakleford — offer 56 miles of white-sand beach, accessible only by ferry and ideal for fishing, surfing and sunbathing.
5. Tybee Island, Georgia
Another of the Atlantic seacoast's beautiful barrier islands, Tybee offers more than five miles of powdery sand that just begs for strolling, cycling and sunning. Known by locals as "Savannah's Beach," it has long served as a quiet getaway for that city's residents. Tybee Island Light Station, the base of which dates to 1773, is a popular visitor attraction, and sea turtles favor the island as well, returning to lay their eggs from May through October each year.
Tybee Island Light Station, the base of which dates to 1773, is a popular visitor attraction.
6. Cayo Costa State Park, Florida
With nine miles of soft sand beaches and acres of pine forests, oak hammocks and mangrove swamps, this 2,500-acre barrier island park is a Gulf Coast paradise. Accessible only by private boat or ferry, visitors enjoy spotting manatees and pods of dolphins in waters surrounding the park. On the island, there are a variety of activities to be enjoyed, including sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, off-road bicycling, picnicking and camping. An amphitheater hosts educational programs about Cayo Costa's ecology and history.
7. Bahia Honda State Park, Florida
This 500-acre park features the largest and finest natural sand beach in the Florida Keys. Florida's network of 123 state parks consistently ranks among the best in the nation, and Bahia Honda is good example why. Among its many features are three campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, a snack bar and a marina offering kayak rentals and daily snorkeling trips to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.
Bahia Honda State Park features the largest and finest natural sand beach in the Florida Keys.
8. Holly Beach, Louisiana
Here's an offbeat Gulf of Mexico beach — situated on the Creole Nature Trail just south of Lake Charles, Louisiana — that's perfect for swimming, shelling, surf fishing and picnicking. Replenished by the Corps of Engineers in the wake of recent hurricanes, the beach is sufficiently hard-packed to allow you to drive on it. You can camp here as well, providing your rig is self-contained. Drive about 12 miles west on the nature trail (a National Scenic Byway), and you'll encounter Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary, open year-round for self-guided excursions.
9. Bullards Beach, Oregon
Oregon boasts a string of magnificent beaches that stretches 363 miles from the Columbia River in the north to the California border. It's not easy picking a favorite, but we'll go with the beaches that surround the small town of Bandon, a few miles south of Coos Bay. The sand here is as good as it gets, but it's the stunning array of sea stacks and tide pools just offshore that makes this section of the coast so appealing. Among the six named beaches in and around Bandon, our choice is Bullards Beach State Park, 2.3 miles north of town.
10. Pfeiffer Beach, California
With its succession of wave-wracked headlands and rock-crusted coves, California's Big Sur coastline is legendary for its beauty. It also hides a few marvelous little beaches. One of the best is Pfeiffer Beach. This cliff-lined cove beach is accessed on Sycamore Canyon Road, quarter-mile south of the Big Sur Ranger Station. Bisected by a meandering brook and embraced by giant boulders and sea stacks, Pfeiffer was one of the settings for the 1965 movie "Sandpiper," starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Pfeiffer Beach is bisected by a meandering brook and embraced by giant boulders and sea stacks.
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