With miles of white sand beaches, barrier islands, and unspoiled natural beauty, there’s nowhere like the Carolina coast for an amazing beach vacation. Whether you prefer the popular spots like Myrtle Beach or the secluded getaways like the Outer Banks, you’re sure to find a spot for every beachgoer.
Our top picks for Carolina beaches are below, but we want to know your favorites as well. Tell us what we missed using #hiltonaththebeach on social media.
1. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
This lowcountry vacation spot is known for more than just its pristine beaches – its golf courses are equally famous. Whether you’re hitting the sand or hitting the links, a great place to stay at the end of the day is a must.
Just outside the city of Charleston you’ve got one of the nicest stretches of white sand anywhere on the East Coast. Pack a picnic lunch with foodie delights from the City, and you’ll be sure to have a great day.
Beach towels? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Flip flops? Check! Californians know how to do beach time better than almost anyone, and we’re letting you in on the best beach getaways in the Golden State.
Check out our picks for five of the best California beaches, and let us know your favorites on social media using #hiltonatthebeach.
1. Coronado Beach, San Diego
If you’re looking for a beach that makes you feel like a celebrity, then look no further: this hotel & beach were featured in 1950s classic film Some Like It Hot. Some folks even claim the beach glitters, as a result of special minerals found in the sand.
Dubbed “America’s Riviera” for the Mediterranean style architecture and red tiled roofs you’ll find surrounding this beach city, Santa Barbara offers a wealth of great beaches. And when you’re done with the sand and surf, you can also visit the numerous wineries located nearby.
Golf aficionados will recognize La Jolla’s rugged coast as the backdrop to some of Torrey Pines’ most famous holes. But even non-golfers can take in the magnificent view over La Jolla’s nearby Shell Beach.
Just South of Los Angeles in California’s famed Orange County, you’ll discover Huntington Beach, where an active lifestyle is par for the course. Enjoy beach volleyball or try your hand at surfing, then have a jog or bike-ride along the 3.5 mile Huntington Beach Bike Trail.
It is HOT out there, Texas. And with no sign of the triple-digit days letting up anytime soon, if you’re headed outside, we recommend you go South – way South, to the Texas coast, that is! Here are our picks for the five best beach getaways in Texas.
Tell us: did we include your favorites? Tag us using #hiltonatthebeach on social media to let us know if we got it right.
1. South Padre Island
Many a Texan grew up visiting South Padre as a kid, and there’s no doubt as to why — this barrier island is packed with both ocean & lagoon side activities, a bustling boardwalk, and all the great seafood you could want.
For a slightly quieter getaway, continue North from South Padre and you’ll reach Port Aransas, which was once home to pirates in the 19th century. Nowadays, it’s a great spot for a family-friendly beach getaway away from the big crowds.
Galveston’s just a quick hour drive outside of Houston, making it the beach destination of choice for Houstonians who need a break. When you’re done at the beach, check out the city’s historical Strand District for excellent shopping and art.
For those hoping for a chance to commune with nature, Mustang Island is home to the undeveloped Mustang Island State Park – an excellent spot for bird-watching, dune-climbing, and shell-collecting for families.
Where to Stay: Embassy Suites by Hilton Corpus Christi
While badly damaged after Hurricane Harvey, Rockport has re-built and looks better than ever. Recently named one of “America’s Best Places to Retire” Rockport is a good choice if you prefer leisurely strolls on the beach over a bustling nightlife scene.
Beach = life here in Florida, and if you’re looking for a new favorite stretch of sand to explore, we’ve got you covered. We’ve made a list of some of our favorite beaches across the state, and would love to see if you agree!
Tag us on social media using #hiltonatthebeach to let us know if we picked your favorite spot, or to share a new spot we may have missed.
1. Miami Beach
The most famous of Florida’s beach cities, Miami’s style has inspired musicians, artists, and foodies for decades. Take a stroll along Ocean Drive to see miles of white sand beaches on one side, and the art-deco inspired architecture the area is known for on the other.
As its name implies, Clearwater is a great spot to take in the shimmering gem-like turquoise waters on this stretch of the Gulf of Mexico. Perfect for people watching, the white-sand beach is lined with walk-and-bike paths that are popular with joggers, roller-bladers and cyclists alike.
If you prefer the finer things in life, plan to unwind in Boca, where the shopping, dining, and golf courses all have a decidedly upscale feel. This neighborhood is also a great one for re-connecting with nature, complete with a butterfly garden and sea turtle sanctuary.
If you really want to get away from it all, then look no further than Marco Island, a barrier island off the coast of Naples, Florida. Explore the less developed North side of the island for unparalleled peace and solitude.
A long-time favorite of spring-breakers and family vacationers alike, the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches located in Florida’s panhandle region lures out-of-staters who can get to their beach vacation with less drive time than by visiting spots in the state’s southern half.
As the Southernmost point of the Continental US, Key West offers up excellent beaches, a literary heritage in the Hemingway House, and last but not least: really excellent key lime pie, which is said to have originated here.
Home to NASA’s Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach is the spot that gives Florida its nickname as the “Space Coast”. Even on days without a rocket launch, you can still relax on the white sandy beaches and dream of the heavens.
Key Largo is more than just a line in a Beach Boys song, and if you’re looking for a Florida Keys style getaway without the long drive all the way to Key West, take a rest in Key Largo for all the fun with half the car-time.
A city with a decidedly European feel, St. Augustine is a perfect getaway if you like to mix beach time with world history. Visit the Colonial District or the Castillo de San Marcos to experience the role St. Augustine has played over the years.
It’s no surprise that travel looks a bit different in 2020. If you’ve been dreaming of a magical European getaway, don’t give up hope just yet. America is full of charming cities and towns that harness the food, culture, history and architecture of a destination across the sea.
Oktoberfest in Munich might have to wait another year, but beer and bratwurst shouldn’t have to. Here’s our list of five great small-town getaways that will make you feel like you’ve touched down in a different country.
1. Solvang, California
Solvang is a popular destination for travelers looking for the classic feeling of being in Denmark. The Southern California town boasts gingerbread architecture, twirling windmills, authentic Danish bakeries and more one-of-a-kind experiences. Don’t miss the famous replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower, or Rundetårn, in the town center. The best part? Solvang is situated near 120 vineyards right in the Santa Ynez Valley, providing the perfect stop on a wine tour through Santa Barbara.
The small coastal town of St. Augustine is a history lover’s paradise. Full of Spanish heritage and centuries-old architecture, it is commonly called the “Nation’s Oldest City.” Step back in time during a visit to the city’s Colonial Quarter downtown, which offers a peak into the lives of 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century residents. No trip is complete without a visit to The Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet.
There’s no place quite like Fredericksburg, a German settlement situated in the epicenter of the Texas Hill Country. Fredericksburg was recently named “Best Small Town in Texas” by Southern Living for the third consecutive year, and it embodies the feeling of “German heritage with Texan hospitality.” German architecture, beerhalls and a rule that no chain stores are allowed in its Historic District keep the town’s historic roots alive. Make time for wine tasting, as Fredericksburg is also home to over 100 wineries and vineyards.
If you love the Swiss staples of chocolate and cheese, add “America’s Little Switzerland” to your travel bucket list. The town closely resembles Glarus, Switzerland through its geography and architecture, and the community keeps Swiss-German culture alive through annual festivals, music, tradition and more. Pay a visit to the town’s museums for a true dose of history and appreciation.
Referred to as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth has embodied a German feel for over 170 years, dating back to when it was a Bavarian mission colony for Lutherans in 1845. Locals are incredibly proud of the town’s heritage, and you will feel it through their food, festivals, European architecture and warm hospitality. If you’re looking for the ultimate holiday experience, pay a visit to Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store.
It’s summertime in Seattle, and that means a great time to leave the city and get outdoors. If you’re looking for an escape that doesn’t require long days of travel, look no further than our list of the top five small-town getaways from Seattle.
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Sitting amongst the Cascade range, Leavenworth is a great choice if you’re bummed about current travel restrictions to Europe. Here you’ll find the traditional architecture, boutique shopping experience and German cuisine of a Bavarian mountain town.
Start your trip with a scenic tour along Chuckanut Drive for breathtaking vistas of where sea meets mountain. After taking in the landscape, head to the Fairhaven Historic District for walkable shopping, fine dining, and art.
Grape lovers will celebrate this escape to the agricultural powerhouse of Washington, which just happens to be dotted with great wine tasting locales like the Portteus Vineyards and Bonair Winery. Afterwards, you can work off all those wine calories on the Cowiche Canyon Trail with some excellent hiking.
A great choice for families, Bremerton is a vibrant community filled with spots for young ones to let loose. Explore the Bremerton Boardwalk for seaside shenanigans, or take the kids to the Harborside Fountain Park for some splash-filled memories.
With winter chills (and closed Mountain roads) fully in the rear-view mirror for the year, it’s a great time to get out and explore. Luckily, for folks based in Denver, a wealth of getaway-worth destinations exist just a few hours drive from the city. Here’s our list of five great small town getaways from Denver.
1. Cheyenne, Wyoming
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a true cowboy or cowgirl, there’s no better place than Cheyenne. Brush up on your Western trivia in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, before picking up some supplies to help you dress the part at the many boot, hat, and Western wear located in the Downtown Cheyenne shopping district.
While most folks likely think of Breckenridge as a winter sports destination, you’ll find the mountain is a great spot to visit in summer as well. Here you can find some of the country’s most exquisite hiking, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting destinations for the adventure seeker in all of us.
A change of scenery can be good for the soul, and you’ll find some of the most unusual and breathtaking scenery in Arches National Park, just a five hour drive West of Denver. Hikes to Delicate Arch and the Windows are some of the park’s most popular, or if sightseeing by car is more your thing, download the GyPSy Guide app for GPS-triggered audio navigation and commentary among the area’s highlights.
Located just a short drive from Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs is a great home base from which to start all kinds of mountain exploration. Start at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center to take in the area’s many unique rock formations and get a feel for the landscape. Next, head to the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park for ziplining, cave tours, and other family friendly activities.
Summer is upon us, and while locals love keep it weird in the Rose City, sometimes it’s also nice to getaway. And as any real Portlander will tell you, there are a wealth of great, driveable destinations just a few hours outside the city. Here are our picks for five of the best small-town getaways from Portland.
Outdoor enthusiasts will want to flock to this natural playground where hikers can seek out amazing scenery at spots like the Multnomah Falls and Oneonta Gorge. Between hikes, visit some of the area’s local farms and farmstands, where you can frequently pick your own apples, pears, and berries for a snack.
Enjoy the seaside beauty at the mouth of the Columbia River from the Astoria Riverwalk, a popular hike-and-bike trail next to the water. Astoria also marks one of the most popular “departure” points for an Oregon coastal roadtrip, or for the really serious road-trippers out there, an expedition down the entire Pacific Coast Highway.
For the Gen Xers and elder millennials out there — if you spent a good portion of your childhood attempting to virtually traverse the Oregon Trail without dying of dysentery, here’s your chance to experience the real thing. A 71-acre section of the historic route is now the Oregon Trail Reserve, a popular spot for hiking, picnics, and birdwatching, just 15 minutes outside of downtown Boise.
Considered by many to be one of the best sites for whitewater rafting in the country, you’ll find numerous skilled river guides available in the otherwise sleepy town of Grants Pass each summer, ready to transport you to an epic adventure. After a day on the river, you can unwind at some of the region’s wineries — Schmidt Family Vineyards and Troon Vineyard are two popular options.
It’s that time again when the airport tarmac starts melting the wheels of plane, and Phoenicians retreat to their air-conditioned hideaways. But if all that indoor-time has you getting a little stir crazy, we have just the antidote: there are several great getaways just a few hours drive from Phoenix. Check out our picks for the top five small-town getaways from Phoenix.
1. Palm Desert, California
There’s a reason this oasis has been drawing celebrities and mere mortals alike for decades — indulge yourself in splurge-worth treatments in one of the area’s spas, or hit the links at some of the top rated municipal golf courses in the country.
If a family vacation is at the top of your list, you’ll find activities at Lake Havasu that will satisfy everyone’s vacation-style. Rent a boat to sail along the Bridgewater Channel, or hit the Lake Havasu State Park to watch the nautical parade from the sandy shore.
No, we’re not talking about the Strip — roughly 30 minutes outside of Sin City proper, you’ll find a calmer, more relaxed choice for a getaway. Explore the giant inflatable aqua park for a day on the water, or tour the modern engineering marvel that makes the lake a possibility at the impressive Hoover Dam.
An artist’s refuge, no trip to Santa Fe is complete without a stop by the Georgia O’Keefe museum, where you can see several works that capture the surrounding desert landscape. Newer galleries ring the historic city plaza, making an easy path for a DIY art walk. Or for something complete different, plan a visit to Meow Wolf to take in the “immersive-art-gallery-meets-performance-art-meets-escape-room” experience dreamt up by Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin.
Outdoor adventurers will want to flock to Sedona, where nearly the entire local area is bordered by state parks or national forests. Hiking trails abound like the popular trail to the base of Cathedral Rock, and offroading Jeep tours are also popular.
With beaches re-opened, the tourist crowd has descended, so what’s a Miami local to do? Follow our picks for the five best small-town getaways from the city, of course. You’ll be away from the crowds and ready to enjoy the sun and solitude in no time.
Yes, you really can skip the country without ever getting on a plane: hop on the daily 2.5 hour “Fast Ferry” ride from Miami to Grand Bahama Island, and then a second (much quicker) inter-island ferry from Grand Bahama to the island of your choice. You’ll be enjoying frozen cocktails by the turquoise waters in no time!
Explore the historic Cocoa Beach Pier for that authentic boardwalk vibe before taking in the surf and sand of Florida’s “Space Coast”. When you’ve tired of the ocean, make a trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to see how the region got its nickname and learn the history of the many space launches that have originated in nearby Cape Canaveral.
Head east on US Route 41 through the Everglades to Marco Island if you’re looking for a foodie adventure. This beachy locale routinely serves up some of the best seafood statewide, with local favorites including The Oyster Society, Dolphin Tiki Bar & Grill, and Fin Bistro.
If the City of Brotherly Love has started to feel more to you like the City of Annoying Little Brothers, then it might be time to pack up your go-bag and take a weekend away. And with so many excellent destinations just a short drive from the Philadelphia area, a no-stress vacation is never more than a few hours away. Here are our picks for the top five small-town getaways from Philadelphia.
A quintessential East Coast beach town, Ocean City gives you plenty of options to play in the surf and sand, or soak in the sun along the miles of shop-lined wooden boardwalks. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, indulge in local seafood with a water view at restaurants like Hooked, On The Bay, or Longboard Café.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you won’t be able to resist this family-friendly vacation destination. Aside from the eponymous amusement park, visitors can also peruse the well-manicured Hershey Gardens or learn about the history of the chocolate making process at the Hershey Story Museum.
When you tire of the expansive sandy beaches (is that even possible?!), head slightly inland for unbeatable bird watching along the trails at Gordons Pond, then retire to the Revelation Craft Brewing Company for beer samplers on the patio.
For a little retail therapy, stroll along the Historic District where you’ll find a wealth of old row houses that have been converted into shops, boutiques, and galleries. Of, for a less commercial endeavor, spend an afternoon exploring the gardens, ponds and natural landscapes at the 300+ acre Quiet Waters Park.
The sun is scorching, humidity blazing, and the traffic is as bad as ever. So what’s an Atlantan to do? Hit the road, of course. And with so many great locales just a half-day’s drive or less from Atlanta proper, there’s a whole summer of adventure waiting for you. Here are our picks for the top five small-town getaways from Atlanta.
1. Savannah, Georgia
Take in the many competing architectural styles to be found along the Spanish moss covered streets in Savannah’s Historic District, or hop on a riverboat to see the city from a waterfront perspective. If exploring gets you hungry, you won’t want to miss a meal at Elizabeth on 37th for an authentic Southern Coastal dining experience.
Golf fans know that the Augusta is synonymous with the Masters Tournament, and while average Joe’s aren’t likely to snag a tee time at the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club, visitors can still hit the links at the highly rated Augusta Municipal Golf Course, also known as “The Patch”
Don’t let the gentle nature of the rolling hills surrounding this Southern gem fool you — they’re jam-packed with adventure! Start your trek at Rock City Gardens to see natural formations with funny names like Fat Man’s Squeeze and Mother Goose Village. Continue the action at Ruby Falls to experience a 145-foot underground waterfall and impressive natural cavern.
If no place but the beach will do, then look no further than charming Jekyll Island which is often less crowded than its more Northern Golden Isles cousins. This barrier island is also the place to go if aquatic wildlife sparks your interest; book a dolphin tour to wave hi to Flipper, or stop by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to learn about our hard-shelled friends.
Make it a foodie weekend in Greenville, where you’ll find a slew of high end restaurants ready to show you their take on high end, reimagined Southern cuisine. Start you day with a cuppa from Due South Coffee Roasters, then head to for a brunch bagel at Sully’s Steamers. By the afternoon, find yourself a platter of oysters at the raw bar at Jianna before ultimately settling in for dinner at James Beard Award Winner Sean Brock’s Husk.