Best National Parks for Beach Lovers

01 of 07

Fun in the Sun

© Scarleth White via Flickr

If you want day so relaxing in the sand under the warm sun, there are a few national parks right up your ally. They each offer a unique way to enjoy the beauty, some who highlight water-friendly activities, while others focus on the R&R of a vacation. Be sure to pack your sunscreen and check out these parks for your next getaway.

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02 of 07

Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands
© Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

Virgin Islands National Park provides a picturesque beach vacation: white, sandy beaches surrounded by turquoise water. In fact, with more than 800 subtropical plants, coral reefs, and mangrove swamps, you will feel like you traveled outside the U.S. to a tropical getaway.

Be sure to visit Trunk Bay, which is considered to be one of the worlds most beautiful beaches. With a 225-yard long snorkeling trail, there is no shortage of unique marine life and underwater beauty to explore. Cinnamon Bay is also a prime spot for visitors looking for water sports like sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

There is one campground within the park, on Cinnamon Island, while other visitors may prefer the quaint Bed & Breakfasts or hotels located nearby. Whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed in your trip to the Virgin Islands; it’s got it all!

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03 of 07

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachussetts

Sunset on Cape Cod Bay
© Papa Dunes via Flickr

Cape Cod National Seashore is like the perfect postcard vacation. What I mean by that is no matter where you take a picture on this seashore, whether near a freshwater pond or an ocean beach, or even a marsh, it’s going to turn out as picture-perfect as a postcard. This national seashore is a beauty and offers a perfect getaway for families or the romantics.

The national seashore manages a total of six ocean beaches: Coast Guard; Nauset Light; Marconi; Head of the Meadow; Herring Cove; and Race Point. Two beaches,Coast Guard and Herring Cove, are handicapped accessible and have wheelchairs capable of traveling over sand. No matter where you go, there are ample opportunities to soak in the sun and enjoy the water. Other activities include fishing, bicycling, beach walking, and guided tours. And if you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, check out the canoe tours and shell fishing demos which are ranger-led.

Spend a day mulling around the woodlands and freshwater ponds, then hit the beaches for sun and swimming. Or paddle through the waters in a canoe, then take a bike trail to spor wildlife. No matter what you do, Cape Cod is an easy place to have fun./p>

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04 of 07

Biscayne National Park, Florida

© Flair Candy via Flickr

Water-lovers can rejoice at Biscayne National Park: It is made up of only 5 percent land. And that small percentage is mostly coral reefs and a mangrove shoreline that is full of some of the most extensive life-forms you may ever see. This is the perfect destination for two types of travelers: Outdoor enthusiasts looking aquatic adventures; and tourists looking to relax and simply look out over the bay.

Though the park is open year-round, plan your trip during Florida’s dry season, mid-December to mid-April. There is no shortage of things to do during this time. Whether you want to explore the park on a reef tour (on a glass bottom boat) or snorkel your way through manatees, angel fish, and bright coral.

Two boat-in campgrounds offer a unique way to stay though there are plenty of hotels within the area. With all the time you’ll want to spend in the water at this national park, you may not really care where you sleep!

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05 of 07

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore
© Maschinenraum via Flickr

From coastal wilderness areas to windswept beaches, Point Reyes National Seashore is a perfect getaway for those looking to unwind. Known as containing some of California’s cleanest beaches, Point Reyes boats over 80 miles of shoreline to explore.

For families with small children, check out Heart’s Desire Beach - a sheltered cove on Tomales Bay. And for those looking for a little excitement, visit The Great Beach for 10 miles of heavy surf. With your typical beach activities welcomed like swimming, surfing, and so on, Point Reyes also offers unique activities throughout the year like whale watching, bird migration, seal breeding, and even a strawberry festival.

If you get tired of relaxing in the sun, the area is full of guided activities like a lighthouse tour, classes in California Indian skills, and geological seminars. The area is also well-known for it’s hiking trails and ample opportunities to spot wildlife. No matter what you decide to do on your beach vacation, Point Reyes is an easy place to spend an afternoon, a weekend, or longer.

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06 of 07

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

© Scubabix via Flickr

If you are looking for a secluded getaway, Georgia's Cumberland Island National Seashore is the way to go. This area is also a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve and has been popular as a romantic destination and family getaway since the late 19th century.

The type of trip you take is up to you, but there’s lots to do for all levels of adventure. Beachcombers will enjoy the wild horses, armadillos, and sea turtles, while visitors looking for more activity can choose from camping, hiking, swimming, boating, bird watching, and fishing. Camping is a great way to enjoy the island, but if you are looking to make the getaway more romantic, consider staying at the Greyfield Inn - the island's only hotel which was built in 1900 by the Carnegies. Besides the perk of room service, you’ll get unlimited access to a 1,000-foot-wide stretch of beach that goes on for miles.

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07 of 07

Acadia National Park, Maine

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine
© Lee Coursey via Flickr

Besides being one of the most scenic and picturesque parks in the U.S., Acadia National Park also offers a fantastic beach getaway for families thanks to two stunning beaches: Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach.

Acadia's coast may be young, but Sand Beach is the park's largest sandy shore. It’s a great destination for those looking for an afternoon of R&R. You can soak in the sun, swim in the ocean, and let the kids explore the beach for bits of shells and the skeletons of crabs, mussels, sea urchins, and other marine life. While the water rarely exceeds 55 degrees, you can get in a warmer swim at Echo Lake Beach.

While couples can enjoy all there is to do in Acadia, this is an ideal beach getaway for families. The park is full of trails to hike, wild gardens to explore, and the quaint town of Bar Harbor for shopping and even a try some lobster ice cream. (Warning: It is about as tasty as it sounds.) It’s been a popular destinations for families since the 1980’s, and even a favorite destination for the Obamas. Acadia encompasses the perfect getaway, especially those looking for some beach-fun.

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