Our little fam just got back from a month-long trip to get out of Austin and move our quarantine to the east coast. Both my husband and I are originally from northern Virginia and, due to coronavirus, we had not seen our families for four months, so we decided to take a very long road trip (24 hours) to see them. My family has a house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, so we were able to spend the majority of the month at the beach there, while still safely practicing social distancing.
On our way back to Austin, we decided that we might as well stop at a few different beaches along the way. We were able to check out two new east coast beaches that neither of us had ever been to before, and we ended up loving both of them! Those new places prompted this blog post, as I realized there are so many beautiful beaches on the east coast that are well worth visiting and each one offers something different and unique from the next.
Outer Banks of North Carolina
The Outer Banks will always be my #1 favorite beach in all of the U.S. for so many reasons. I might be biased because it’s been my family’s chosen vacation spot for the past 20+ years, but I think a lot of people would also agree! The Outer Banks stretches over 100 miles along the Atlantic Coast, which allows each family or group to have their own ‘section’ of the beach, as opposed to sitting a foot or two away from each other on one of those super crowded beaches. Not only does this make the beach seem more secluded, but it also leaves ample room for families to set up beach games (I’m talking you could have an entire kickball or beach volleyball game if you wanted) or other activities. Much of OBX allows dogs on the beaches, which is an automatic plus for my family since we love to bring our dogs with us! There are giant houses that families or large groups can rent that are steps away from the beach, or a few hotels available if you’re traveling with a few people. The weather is often perfect beach weather, there are great restaurants (especially seafood), and there are a variety of educational and entertaining attractions a short drive away (Wright Brothers Museum, mini golf, etc.).
Miramar Beach, Florida
Let me just start by saying WOW. Miramar Beach is breathtaking. The first day we were on the beach, I could not stop saying, “I can’t believe how white this sand is!” The sand is literally pure white, the water is a gorgeous clear green, and the overall beach is very clean for a popular vacation destination in Florida. Not only is the water beautiful, but it’s also incredibly warm. Leo was not a huge fan of the water in the Outer Banks because it’s often chilly, especially in May. But the water here was warm enough that he would happily go waist-deep (if one of us carried him in), and he enjoyed sitting on the edge of the water as the waves rolled over our toes. I think we lucked out with our AirBnb, because its location was in between two large hotels, but far enough away from each of them that our little section of the beach was fairly empty. Each day we went to the beach, we were able to snag a front-row spot in front of the ocean, and we had the same few neighbors next to us on the beach. If you looked in either direction about 100 yards down the beach, there were rows of chairs and umbrellas, clearly set up by the hotels, but our section was completely clear of that, which was perfect. We didn’t get to explore the town much (mainly because coronavirus is still a thing), but we loved the overall atmosphere and would 100% go back.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
I had never heard of Kiawah Island before Dominick booked our Airbnb a few days prior to traveling, so I was pleasantly surprised by the quaint private beach community. It’s not super crowded because you have to either be a resident or a renter to have access to the island, or be staying at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Dom was drooling over the golf courses on Kiawah Island – and I can’t blame him, because they were some of the most gorgeous golf courses I’ve ever seen. Palm trees scattered throughout the course, perfectly manicured lawns, and pure white sand pits. After doing some research, we discovered that their golf courses are actually some of the top-rated in the entire U.S., but it’s about $500 to book a tee time. In addition to the golf courses, this community is made up of bike trails that weave in and out of the woods, through different neighborhoods, and ultimately take you to the beach. This beach is one of the few that you are actually permitted to bike on, so we figured we had to rent some bikes (with a seat for Leo, of course!) and take to the trails, ending up biking right next to the ocean.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
I never appreciated Virginia Beach much until I started dating Dom. His aunt lives in Virginia Beach, so one of my first trips with his family was to VA Beach, and I quickly had an entirely new perspective than what I had previously experienced as a child with my family. Since she lives there full time, Dom’s aunt knows the best restaurants, bars and hangout spots along the boardwalk and elsewhere throughout the beach town. To us, Virginia Beach is more of a party beach because we always hit up the bars right along the ocean and end up going out at night, too. This is definitely a fun beach to go to for all ages, as there’s so much to do with the different attractions on the boardwalk, concerts that are not too far away from the city, and other attractions such as museums and an aquarium.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
Bethany Beach is great for all ages, as it includes an extensive boardwalk full of shops. restaurants, bars and games. There are several neighborhoods with houses for rent in walking or biking distance to the beach, which is definitely a plus. Back when I used to go to Bethany as a teenager, I loved that we could bike to and from the beach ourselves, or around the neighborhoods without it being too busy with cars. The beach itself is a bit more crowded (which is to be expected, since there’s a boardwalk), but there’s still plenty of space for each family to claim a spot. Boardwalk Fries and Candy Kitchen are boardwalk staples that definitely deserve a visit!
These are my top picks, but I would love to hear yours! I’ve only been to so many beaches on the east coast, so there are still plenty that I have no knowledge about and have never visited. If you have different favorites, feel free to list those in the comments – I’d love to check them out!