With fall temperatures in the 70s and 80s, miles of pristine lowcountry beaches, and the utterly unique Gullah culture, Hilton Head is truly like no other beach town in America.
(Courtesy Lee Coursey/Flickr)
You can learn more about what makes Hilton Head special at the Coastal Discovery Museum, or just discover it for yourself on a quiet beach!
(Courtesy Lane 4 Imaging/flickr)
Saugatuck is one of the places savvy Chicagoans go to get away from the big city.
Saugatuck takes visitors back to the 19th century with picket fences, a hand-cranked ferry, and other charming throwbacks.
(Courtesy Parkerdr/Wikimedia Commons)
No, you don't have to surf just because you're on Laguna Beach, an iconic seven-mile stretch of Southern California sea and sand, but if you're so inclined, you can take a group surfing lesson for $75.
Laguna Beach's Pacific Edge Hotel is near Laguna Village, which offers excellent art galleries and shops, a nod to this gorgeous beach town's roots as an artists' colony.
(Courtesy Pacific Edge Hotel)
One of Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in America 2013, Bay St. Louis was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but has done more than recover since then.
(Courtesy Ellis Anderson)
In Bay St. Louis you can go fishing, take a walking tour of 19th-century homes, see Creole cottages, and visit galleries—or just take Main Street straight down to the beach.
(Courtesy Ellis Anderson)
Point Pleasant is, well, pleasant enough in summer if you like enjoy being part of a major scene, rubbing elbows with in-the-know New Yorkers, Philadelphians, and Jersey girls and boys who love Jenkinson's Boardwalk and the lovely stretch of beach here.
Come September, the rides on Point Pleasant's boardwalk stay open, the cotton candy is just as sweet, but rates for hotel rooms just a block from the beach can be literally a third of the summer price.
We love the harbor and the foodie scene in Port Townsend, a Victorian-era Olympic coast seaport, which was one of our Coolest Small Towns last year.
A sea kayaker's dream town, Port Townsend also boasts nearby mountains for hiking and biking, and is an especially great place to cast for fish.
Well-known as one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite locales—with a party reputation to match—Key West, at the bottom of the East Coast, boasts a much wider variety of activities, including tours of Victorian homes, nature kayaking, and unique art galleries.
Key West's beaches are perfect for doing nothing, or sticking around to watch the legendary sunsets.
With only 17 square miles bounded by water and 40 percent of the land devoted to state and county parkland, Montauk offers a blend of elegant and wild.
(Courtesy Rory Finneren/Flickr)
One day on a Montauk beach and its surfing scene will make you feel as if you've traveled back to the days when trekking the 100+ miles from NYC kept most folks away.
No list of beautiful beaches would be complete without Kaanapali, on Maui, near the thriving main street of Lahaina.
Nearby Kaanapali Beach, mountains you can almost reach out and touch, and a tranquil harbor make Lahaina a perfect town for kicking back.
(Courtesy Tony Faiola/Flickr)
Nantucket is a charmingly whale-shaped island off the coast of Cape Cod, but of course these days the whaling captains, sailors, and harpooners who made the island home two centuries ago have been replaced by captains of industry who can meet the sky-high summer rates.
Nantucket cools down literally and figuratively come September, when you can have perfect beaches, 18th-century cobblestone streets lined with contemporary galleries—and a table with a view—to yourself.
(Courtesy Edmund Prescottano/myBudgetTravel)