Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida
Says Dr. Beach, “Sugar sand with a beach that is hundreds of yards wide; you’ve gotta love this place.” We do.
Stay: Sara Sea Beach Resort (800/235-3493 or sarasearesort.com) has 21 beachy rooms, each with a kitchen and, on your arrival, a complimentary bottle of wine. Boutique rooms start at $237. For vacation rentals, visit siesta4rent.com.
Shop: Hip fashions—shoes, clothing, swimwear—await at Foxy Lady (941/349-6644 or foxyladysarasota.com), in a cottage just across from the beach.
Local secret: The Siesta Key Drum Circle (siestadrumcircle.com) draws hundreds to the beach for music and dancing every Sunday before sundown.
More Beaches With Beautiful Sand
■ Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Cushy mounds—slightly coarse, but very clean—pile up against the cliff (508/771-2144 or nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/coast-guard-beach-eastham.htm).
■ Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: Twelve miles of fluffy beaches embrace this high-end resort island (800/523-3373 or hiltonheadisland.org).
■ Shoal Bay (East), Anguilla: Sleepy Anguilla wakes up—a little—at this two-mile expanse of feathery white sand that glitters in the sun. The quiet Shoal Bay Villas (562/366-4813 or sbvillas.ai) puts you just a few steps from the water.
■ Torrance, California: A little-known but wonderful mile and a half of soft sand framed by hills (310/316-3636 or visittorrance.com)
Huntington Beach, California
Huntington fought a legal battle with Santa Cruz for the right to crown itself “Surf City, U.S.A.”—and won. It really does have a mellow surfer vibe; Dr. Beach calls it the “No. 1 family surf beach in the United States.”
Stay: The Shorebreak Hotel (877/744-1117 or shorebreakhotel.com) overlooks the ocean and features surfer-chic design. Waterfront rooms start at $259. For charming rental cottages, visit vrbo.com.
Eat: Join the locals for breakfast at the comfy Sugar Shack (714/536-0355 or hbsugarshack.com). Then join the tourists at Duke’s (714/374-6446 or dukeshuntington.com). You’ll pay for the ocean view, but it’s worth it.
Shop: Walk past the giant Huntington Surf & Sport (714/374-6266 or hsssurf.com) at the pier and down the block to the Billabong surf fashions at its sister store.
Local secret: Ocean vistas along the 11⁄2-mile nature trail at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (714/846-1114 or bolsachica.org) can soothe away your stress.
More Beaches To Hang Ten
■ Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina: “The best board surfing on the East Coast,” says Dr. Beach; paddle out near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (877/629-4386 or outerbanks.org/activities).
■ Northside Beach, Sheboygan, Wisconsin: This surfing beach, surprisingly on Lake Michigan, is the site of the Dairyland Surf Classic (visitsheboygan.com/dairyland).
■ Santa Cruz, California: The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum (831/ 420-6289 or santacruzsurfingmuseum.org) at Lighthouse Point overlooks the famous Steamer Lane surf break.
■ Sebastian Inlet State Park, near Sebastian, Florida: Three miles of tranquil Atlantic beach beloved by surfers and fishermen (321/984-4852 or floridastateparks.org/sebastianinlet)