The Best Places to Camp on the Beach in the U.S.Published on 05/09/2023 · 9 min readLooking for a unique summer getaway? Look no further! Camping and Hiking Expert Mary A. breaks down some of the top places in the U.S. to camp on the beach!
Point Abbaye Lakefront Camping. Photo by Mary A.
The United States is blessed with diverse natural landscapes. Among the many options available, beach camping spots are some of the most sought-after destinations for nature lovers. Whether you prefer the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest or the pristine white sand beaches of Florida, there is no shortage of options for beach camping across the country.
One of the most appealing aspects of beach camping is the abundance of activities available. There is something for everyone, from fishing in the surf to surfing the waves. Swimmers can take a refreshing dip in the ocean, while kayakers can explore nearby coves and inlets. And, of course, there are plenty of opportunities to simply unwind on the beach and take in the awe-inspiring scenery.
While beach camping is an option throughout the year, the best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny, allowing for a full range of activities. Then, with long days, you can enjoy the outdoors more. However, it's worth noting that campsites can fill up quickly during peak season, so planning is always advisable to avoid disappointment.
1. Assateague Island National Seashore, MD & VA: Best for Wild Horses
- Location: Maryland and Virginia
- Key info: Over 37 miles of beach, over 300 wild horses, and camping allowed in designated areas
- Distance & time to complete: 90 minutes to drive from each side of the park and the most popular trail takes 2-3 hours to complete
Assateague Island is a unique camping spot where visitors can see wild horses roaming free on the beach. The island is also known for its beautiful beaches, salt marshes, and coastal bays. It's a perfect destination for families, nature lovers, and beachgoers.
Assateague Island National Seashore offers a range of camping options, including drive-in and walk-in campsites suitable for tents and RV-friendly campsites with electrical hookups. Making reservations in advance is essential, especially during peak season, as the campgrounds can fill up quickly. Despite the crowds, visitors can still enjoy the beauty of the beach and the wild horses that roam freely around the island.
2. Padre Island National Seashore, TX: Best for Sea Turtles
- Location: Texas
- Key info: Over 70 miles of beach, home to five sea turtle species, primitive camping allowed on the beach
- Difficulty: The park has 60 miles of beach open to driving.
Padre Island National Seashore is a perfect destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Visitors can see sea turtles nesting on the beach, watch dolphins playing in the waves, and fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is also an ideal spot for surfing and windsurfing.
Padre Island National Seashore is a top destination for camping enthusiasts who appreciate wildlife and natural beauty. The seashore is home to several unique species, including sea turtles that nest on the beach during certain times of the year, which can be an unforgettable sight to behold.
Additionally, the beach is breathtaking and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. However, visitors should note that the primitive campsites may not be suitable for everyone and may require some extra preparation and equipment. Nonetheless, camping at Padre Island can be a memorable and rewarding experience for those who are up for the challenge.
3. Cape Lookout National Seashore, NC: Best for Shelling
- Location: North Carolina
- Key info: Over 50 miles of beach, home to more than 200 species of birds, primitive camping allowed on the beach
Cape Lookout National Seashore is a secluded and peaceful camping spot perfect for beachcombers and birdwatchers. Visitors can collect shells and watch flocks of pelicans and gulls flying overhead. The beach is also an excellent spot for fishing and swimming.
Cape Lookout National Seashore is a wonderful destination for those seeking a peaceful and tranquil camping experience away from the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist spots. The beach is stunning, and the seashells are plentiful, making it a great spot for shell collectors.
However, it's important to note that the campsites at Cape Lookout are primitive, which means that there are no showers, toilets, or other modern amenities available. This can make camping a bit more challenging, so be sure to pack accordingly and come prepared.
Additionally, the weather at Cape Lookout can be unpredictable, so it's a good idea to check the forecast and plan accordingly. Despite these challenges, many people find that the natural beauty and serenity of Cape Lookout make it a truly memorable and rewarding camping experience.
4. Gulf State Park, AL: Best for Family Camping
- Location: Alabama
- Key info: The park has over 400 campsites for visitors to choose from, ranging from primitive camping to RV sites with full hookups.
- Elevation and difficulty: minimal elevation & easy walking for all family members
The park is known for its beautiful beaches, which allow visitors to swim, sunbathe, and enjoy various water activities. In addition to the beach, Gulf State Park also offers visitors a variety of recreational activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking. The camping facilities at Gulf State Park are top-notch, with amenities such as clean restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and a camp store. The park also has several picnic areas and playgrounds for kids, making it an ideal location for families.Overall, Gulf State Park is a great destination for families looking for a camping trip that offers a mix of natural beauty and modern amenities.
Overall, Gulf State Park is a fantastic destination for families looking for a camping trip that combines natural beauty with modern amenities. With its stunning beaches, diverse recreational activities, and excellent camping facilities, Gulf State Park is a must-visit for anyone looking for a memorable camping experience.
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI: Best for Scenic Views
- Location: Michigan
- Key info: Over 65 miles of beach, towering sand dunes, and camping allowed in designated areas
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses over 71,000 acres of land and boasts miles of pristine shoreline along Lake Michigan. It is a stunning camping spot that's perfect for anyone who loves scenic views and outdoor adventure. Visitors can climb towering sand dunes, hike through lush forests, and swim in crystal-clear lakes. The beach is also an excellent spot for fishing and kayaking.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must-visit camping spot for anyone who loves the great outdoors. The sand dunes are incredible, and the views from the top are breathtaking. The only downside is that the campsites can fill up quickly during peak season, so it's best to book early.
6. Bahia Honda State Park, FL: Best for Snorkleing
- Location: Florida Keys
- Key info: The park is roughly 524 acres in size.
- Timing: Recommend to stay a full day or more to fully see the park.
Bahia Honda State Park is a beautiful park located in the Florida Keys, United States. The park covers an area of 524 acres and is home to a variety of natural landscapes, including beaches, mangroves, and tropical vegetation. The park's main attraction is its crystal-clear waters and stunning white sand beaches. Visitors can swim, snorkel, and sunbathe at the park's three beaches - Calusa, Sandspur, and Loggerhead. The park also offers various water activities, including kayaking, fishing, and boating. Apart from its beaches, Bahia Honda State Park also features several hiking trails that lead through its diverse ecosystems. The trails provide visitors with a chance to explore the park's unique flora and fauna, including mangroves, butterflies, and a variety of bird species. Additionally, the park offers several amenities, including picnic areas, campgrounds, and cabins for overnight stays. The park also has a gift shop, a snack bar, and a visitor center where visitors can learn about the park's history and natural features.
Bahia Honda State Park is a beautiful beach camping destination in the Florida Keys. The park offers stunning views of the ocean and is home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors can enjoy activities such as swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking. The park has campsites that are located just steps away from the beach, and there are options for both RV and tent camping. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season, and amenities include showers, restrooms, and a camp store.
Additional Beach Camping Locations
Apart from the beach camping spots mentioned earlier, there are many other notable beach camping areas in the United States.
- Huntington Beach State Park: Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina offers visitors the chance to camp among the salt marshes and wildlife. The beach is also a great spot for birdwatching.
- Silver Strand State Beach: On the West Coast, Silver Strand State Beach in California is a popular camping spot for families, with its calm waters and extensive bike paths. The beach also offers stunning views of the Coronado Bridge.
- Cape Henlopen State Park: Another great option is Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware, which offers visitors the chance to camp in tents, RVs, or cabins. The park boasts over five miles of beaches and a variety of recreational activities.
Keep in mind that many of these beach camping areas require reservations in advance, so be sure to plan accordingly.
In conclusion, beach camping can be a fantastic way to enjoy the natural beauty of the United States while experiencing the joy of camping. However, finding the perfect beach camping spot can be overwhelming, especially for those who are new to camping or unfamiliar with the area. That's why it's always a good idea to seek the guidance of a camping and hiking expert who can help you plan your trip and ensure that you have an unforgettable experience.
If you're interested in beach camping and want to learn more, we recommend reaching out to a camping and hiking expert who can provide you with tailored recommendations for the best beach camping spots in the United States. They can also offer advice on camping equipment, safety, and other essential aspects of camping.
Don't hesitate to seek the help of an expert to make your next beach camping trip an unforgettable adventure. Get in touch with a Camping & Hiking Expert today!