Summer is fast approaching, and though it doesn't officially kick off until June 21, most of us regard Memorial Day weekend as the onset of the season. What better way to make the most of your summer than by catching some rays on sugar white sands and swimming in brilliant blue ocean waters? With temperatures on the rise, now is as good a time as ever to hit the beaches for family barbecues, beach volleyball, picnics, diving, snorkeling - you name it. Best of all, going to the beach doesn't cost a penny, a welcome bonus for those traveling on a budget. Whether your idea of the perfect summer weekend involves a romantic walk on the sand, a fun day of hanging ten, or water skiing until the sun goes down, these must-see beaches ought to be somewhere on your summer travel to-do list.
1. Florida: Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale
The Sunshine State serves up a wide array of marvelous beach hot spots for sunbathing junkies. Among them are Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, both of which grace balmy South Florida. With exception to glitzy Las Vegas, you'd probably be hard-pressed to think of a place better known for its picturesque beaches, pulsing nightlife, fine dining and trendy shops than Miami. Lincoln Road is a pedestrian shopping district boasting a wealth of art galleries, theaters, and entertainment venues, while Ocean Drive is renowned for its outdoor cafes and Art Deco architecture. Included among some of Miami Beach's most distinguished Art Deco hotels are Nash Hotel South Beach, Hotel Victor, South Beach Hotel and Chesterfield Hotel and Suites. Nicknamed the "Venice of America" for its gorgeous inland waterways, Fort Lauderdale will easily turn into a home-away-from-home for those craving fun in the sun. Hotels like the oceanfront Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel and Red Carpet Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport are on or near the beach and minutes away from fashionable Las Olas Boulevard, Galleria Mall, and entertainment and shopping galore at The Gallery at Beach Place and Las Olas Riverfront.
2. California: Los Angeles and San Diego
Nothing spells sizzling fun on the west coast like a weekend spent taking in the sun at one of SoCal's famed beaches. Travelers planning to visit Los Angeles can check out the shops on Rodeo Drive, dine in one of Beverly Hills' celebrity-frequented restaurants, or while the afternoon away with a drink on Venice Beach (a short drive from the Custom Hotel). Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach make up LA's principal beach cities, each popular destinations year-round for beach volleyball, surfing, biking and other activities. San Diego, roughly a two hour drive from Los Angeles, is yet another mecca for beach goers. Spend a lazy day in the sun or jump on a surfboard and head out into the shimmering blue waters of Mission Beach, just one mile from The Dana on Mission Bay. Alternatively, travelers can bask in sunshine at Del Mar Beach in San Diego, on which you'll find Del Mar Motel on the Beach.
3. South Carolina: Myrtle Beach
If Myrtle Beach is on your summer travel itinerary, it's a safe bet you'll be visiting the world-famous Grand Strand, which sees more than 14 million visitors each year thanks to its wide array of beaches, restaurants, shopping complexes and nightclubs. Set on 350 acres near the Ocean Park Resort, Broadway at the Beach has grown into one of South Carolina's premier destinations for shopping and leisure. Moreover, the oceanfront Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort by Westgate Resorts is conveniently located to Grand Strand attractions including Ripley's Aquarium, Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Myrtle Waves Water Park.
Whether you're a sunbathing enthusiast, a long-time admirer of the ocean, or a travel maven yearning to get away from it all, why not head to the beach for some serious fun in the sun this summer?