It's never too early to decide on your next summer vacation destination! Whether you're escaping for a long weekend or taking the kids on a trip they'll never forget, you can't go wrong with these beach vacation ideas. Some of our national parks have the best ocean views and sandiest shores!
Cumberland Island National Seashore
This place is wild. Located on Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island, Cumberland Island National Seashore includes 9,800 acres of protected wilderness and some of America's most pristine national park beaches. Wild horses roam the shore, and the waves roll in unencumbered by man-made structures of any kind. Camping is permitted on the island, though no developed facilities are available. There are also no roads or motor vehicles on Cumberland Island, so the city of St. Marys on the Georgia mainland is your gateway to the seashore. From here, it's just a short ferry or kayak trip across the Cumberland Sound.
Point Reyes National Seashore
California's Point Reyes National Seashore is home to 1,500 species of plants and animals, including gray whales that migrate along the coast every winter. Tide pools teem with life, and seals and sea birds are abundant along the shore. The beaches themselves — about 80 miles of them — are often rocky and harsh, with sneaker waves and rip currents that make entering the water a dangerous proposition. Point Reyes might not be the summer destination for you if you want to go swimming, but for a wild coastal adventure, there's no place better. Be sure to explore some of the inland hiking trails and stop at the Point Reyes Lighthouse, the best whale watching spot in the park!
Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island stretches 37 miles along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, yet it is never more than a mile wide. About 12 miles of Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia is open to over-sand vehicles, but for the most part, the best way to get around is by bicycle! A bike bridge connects to the island on the Maryland side, and there are miles of roads and paths suitable for cycling. This long, narrow island also offers mile after mile of untouched sand, with amazing opportunities for surf fishing, beach camping, swimming, and surfing.
Fire Island National Seashore
Separated from Long Island by the vast Great South Bay, Fire Island National Seashore is a far more nature-filled place than its proximity to New York City might suggest. The white sand beaches, lush salt marshes, and dense maritime forests of Fire Island offer ample opportunities for swimming, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, and more. Ferries regularly make the trip to and from the island in the summer, and water taxis are available throughout the year.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore encompasses several distinct areas along the Florida and Mississippi coasts, with perfect white sand and shimmering Gulf waters. The Florida areas are easily accessible by car and include beautiful beaches and historic coastal forts, while the Mississippi areas are a little more remote, including a handful of islands that are accessible only by boat. The islands include rustic backcountry campsites, undeveloped beaches, and some of the best fishing in the world for tarpon, drum, blue fish, speckled trout, pompano, and flounder. You'll also find an abundance of wildlife above and below the surface, and there are great opportunities for snorkeling and bird watching.
If you're looking for some exciting new beach vacation ideas, sun and sand are never far away at our national parks! Have fun this summer, and be sure to share your beach adventures at FindYourPark.com!