Miami Beach, Florida
Miami Beach, Florida

10 Best Beach Towns

From Maine to Spain.

1. Laguna Beach, CaliforniaScenically spectacular and blessed with flower-covered clifftops, serpentine canyons, dramatic rock arches, and hidden coves, this laidback Orange County surfer town has lured artists and beachcombers for more than a century.

2. Miami Beach, Florida. Set on a skinny barrier island across Biscayne Bay from Miami proper, Miami Beach enjoys the world’s richest trove of art deco and midcentury resort architecture, all convenient to one of the planet’s finest white-sand urban beaches.

3. Positano, Italy. At once a chic global resort town and a charming fishing village, Positano is a jewel of the Amalfi Coast, rising steeply from the popular, pebbly beach like a bowl of splendidly colored hotels and villas. 

4. Sitges, Spain. This coastal town southwest of Barcelona appeared on the global tourism map 50 years ago as a creative, countercultural hotspot and today draws crowds to its annual film festival, boutique-lined lanes, and beachfront dining terraces. 

5. Villefrance-sur-Mer, France. Set along a stretch of the Cote d’Azur that can seem overbuilt in places, this compact, pastel fishing village—with its line of cafes on the seafront and kids jumping from rocks—oozes character, like a scene from an earthy postwar film.

6. La Jolla, CaliforniaArguably the most European-like Southern California beach town, this ritzy San Diego enclave is noted for its glass-fronted restaurants that overlook a stunning coastline of coves, caves, kayakers, and seals sunning themselves on the sand.

7. Carmel, CaliforniaHeavily wooded residential streets rise and fall in this arty, community- minded city where Ocean Avenue, the gallery- and eatery-lined “Main Street,” terminates in a glorious, dune-laden beach with startling views of Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula.

8. Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Water jetpackers and waterskiers enliven the protected and picturesque bay that pulls in and out of Zihua’s hotel-lined crescent beach and the edge of its rustic colonial square—a cute, casual spot for authentic guacamole, tacos, and beer.

9. Provincetown, MassachusettsNo other town in the U.S. can lay claim to the special alchemy of Cape Cod’s eccentric P-town, where pedestrians, cars, and bikes throng Commercial Street in a colorful parade of diverse humanity that lasts all day and into the music-filled night.

10. Bar Harbor, MaineMt. Desert Island’s immaculate seaside town, which boasts the best of New England and the best of Americana, offers fantastic local lobster, just-picked blueberries, and handmade confections—plus an old-timey view of tall-mast ships.