15 Beautiful Cities to Explore Along America’s Shores

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Few experiences can beat the tranquility of an authentic American lake vacation. Across the nation, there are plenty of picturesque waterholes, serene terrains, high-spirited culture, and delectable dining options. If you’re seeking an idyllic summer retreat in a lakefront rental or planning a laid-back, long weekend escape, check out these 15 top-notch lake towns.

Ketchikan, Alaska

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Hidden away in the southern reaches of Alaska lies Ketchikan, anchored by a quaint cluster of animated clapboard stilt houses overlooking Ketchikan Creek. This city is well-known for its rich indigenous heritage, which is predominantly rooted in the Tlingit and Haida cultures. Surrounding the town is a breathtaking terrain characterized by verdant forests, valleys, and magnificent mountains.

Huntington Beach, South California

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Dubbed Surf City USA, Huntington Beach offers an iconic coastal experience. Riders carving through ocean swells create a quintessential seaside scene. It’s in Southern California and conveniently proximate to attractive waterside destinations such as Santa Monica and Malibu.

Saugatuck, Michigan

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Saugatuck, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, exudes a relaxed charm and easygoing vibe that sets it apart. While it may not have the offshore allure of the Pacific, Atlantic, or Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes hold their unique appeal. Beyond the inviting foreshore ideal for leisurely days, the location offers many activities. 

Fairhope, Alabama

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In Fairhope’s quaint downtown, you’ll find brick-lined alleys, boutique shops, galleries, and ample opportunities for outdoor dining. Ideal for a stroll, you can witness the breathtaking sunset over the water from a fishing pier along the bay or try your hand at angling for the evening’s catch.

Greensboro, Georgia

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Lake Oconee stands out as one of the most enchanting lagoon getaways; Greensboro rests directly on the shores of the sprawling 19,000-acre reservoir. Whether scouting for a rental property to fulfill your Southern reservoir retreat fantasy or seeking waterfront luxury, Greensboro offers options to suit every preference.

Clearwater, Florida

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Clearwater is just a 30-minute drive from vibrant Tampa—a quintessential sunny, laid-back, and distinctly Floridian retreat. The marina hosts dolphin sightseeing and fishing charters daily, while the sandy shore offers parasailing and jet ski rentals.

Miami, Florida


Thanks to its year-round sunshine, bustling nightlife, and excellent lodging choices, Miami has long been a favorite tourist spot. The metropolis is also graced with stunning sands, providing scenic views where the Caribbean Sea converges with the Atlantic Ocean.

Tybee Island, Georgia

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This charming beach enclave on the easternmost tip of Georgia exudes a unique and inviting atmosphere. Lined with pastel-colored houses, eclectic dive bars, and renowned seafood eateries, Tybee Island offers a delightful escape. History enthusiasts will appreciate visiting nearby Fort Pulaski, where the tales of Georgia’s Civil War era come to life.

Wilmington, North Carolina


Experience the best of both worlds in Wilmington, a pleasant coastal haven between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, offering not just one but two distinct waterways to explore. In the municipality, marvel at boats docking along the scenic 1.75-mile River Walk while pondering which seafood restaurant on the boardwalk has the finest views.

Lakeway, Texas


While Lakeway may be small, its urban offerings often take the spotlight, and the area is a haven for outdoor lovers. The sparkling turquoise waters of Lake Travis draw visitors from across the nation seeking relaxation in this peaceful suburban oasis. Here, you’ll discover excellent barbecue joints and Tex-Mex eateries to satisfy your cravings. 

Cape May, New Jersey


When visiting this charming shoreside destination, make sure to visit the seafront. It is known for its immaculate dunes, and the waterfront is adorned with picturesque Victorian buildings, adding to the area’s allure. The preservation of these animated structures played a pivotal role in the city’s designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Honolulu, Hawaii


Its soft, golden sands and crystal-clear blue waters make it the perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing. Along the shoreline, you’ll find many cafes, restaurants, and bars, allowing you to savor a tropical cocktail or indulge in fresh seafood while soaking in the incomparable ocean views.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Among the top beachside spots in the country, it offers a perfect blend of laid-back summer vacation vibes and a vibrant art scene. Beyond its pristine coasts, the metropolis has lively boardwalks, upscale luxury hotels, and a bustling festival season. Additionally, Virginia Beach is making waves with its up-and-coming sustainable food scene.

Rockport, Texas


In Rockport, you have several alternatives for being on the water. The region’s coastlines stretch along the Aransas and Copano Bays. Make the most of your time by indulging in birdwatching and fishing at Rockport Beach or diving deeper into aquatic exploration at the Texas Maritime Museum.

Osage Beach, Missouri

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You’d be surprised that Osage Beach sits on the renowned human-made Lake of the Ozarks. Despite its modest population of around 5,000 residents, the town has several restaurants, bars, and parks that attract visitors every summer. Resorts feature family-friendly amenities, including an indoor water park, a kiddie pool, and an arcade.

Written by Johann H