It’s still sunny and warm most places, but the number of beautiful summer days left (unless you live in southern California) is dwindling. There are plenty of great ways to make the most of the rest of the summer season, but heading to a beach is no doubt one of our favorites. There’s nothing quite like feeling the sand between your toes and touching the ocean water. We’ve narrowed down some of the best beaches in the country to help you decide where to spend your last few summer weekends. High-tail it to one of these if you can and enjoy fun in the sun, water activities, and breathtaking sunsets. 

Santa Monica – Los Angeles

For West Coasters, Santa Monica beach, just outside of the main city center of Los Angeles, is a great getaway that’s still close to entertainment, shopping, and attractions. The beautiful beach is known for the famous and picturesque Santa Monica Pier, which offers a classic ferris wheel and makes for a stunning evening landscape. With over 300 days of sunshine, Santa Monica beach is a good bet for a day escape almost any time of the year. The affluent beach town takes care to keep the beach clean and visitors can enjoy the soft sand, swim, or surf. 

 Kaanapali, Maui – Hawaii

There are plenty of great beaches in Hawaii, but Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches that will have a little something for everyone and make you feel like you landed in that classic Hawaii postcard. For the ultimate in luxury, head to Kaanapali Beach, where upscale resorts line a golden sandy beach that extends into clear blue waters. Visitors can indulge by renting a beachside cabana or heading to one of the exclusive resorts for spa services or a grandiose meal. Say you want a fruity cocktail delivered to you while you relax on the beach? Not a problem. It will come at a price, but Kaanapali Beach is the perfect place to splurge and get pampered while you enjoy the spectacular view. 

[Image credit: Shutterstock /Eva Browning]

Myrtle Beach – South Carolina

The expansive strip of white sandy beach is only part of the fun when you get to South Carolina’s popular Myrtle Beach. If you’re looking for a family beach destination that will offer activities for the whole crew, look no further. The actual beach is beautiful and safe for swimming, but endless opportunities for non-beach fun await you just beyond the shore. Myrtle Beach features golf courses, water parks, shopping, restaurants, live music, and museums within walking distance from the sand. The area is busy and tourist-filled, but still holds up as one of the best family vacation spots on the East Coast. 

Cape Florida State Park – Florida

Florida’s beaches are about as close to tropical as you can get in the continental U.S. and are perfect for people who love warm water and even warmer sun. If bustling Miami Beach isn’t quite your scene, head just a few minutes South to check out the quieter beaches in Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Florida. Two miles of sandy white beach and clear green waters make this area a beauty to behold, and a historic Lighthouse provides some old-world charm. A large bluff keeps large waves away, making this beach a perfect area for leisurely swims. Visitors can also picnic, bike, kayak, or try fishing from the sea wall. 

Coast Guard Beach – Massachusetts 

Further North, Coast Guard Beach near Eastham, Massachusetts provides a beautiful beach escape with sandy bluffs and cool refreshing water. Part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, this beach stretches for miles and has steep dunes and bluffs that lead to the water. Body surfing and boogie-boarding are popular and it’s a safe place for swimming, although the cooler water temperatures (60 to 70 degrees) usually mean quick refreshing dips as a break from the sun instead of long swims. Coast Guard Beach is also a great place to spot wildlife like shorebirds and even seals.