The Best Beach Destinations For a Staycation
Cape Coral, Florida
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With a five-star location just north of Naples and east of Sanibel and Captiva Islands (the shell capital of the world), this charming Gulf coast city has plenty to offer those looking for staycations filled with leisurely beach days—with a side of cruising for birds, dolphins, and manatees by boat or kayak. But Cape Coral isn’t all about the outdoors: According to the ranking, the Southwest Florida city scored impressively high--number 1, in fact--in the Rest and Relaxation category, which takes into account the amount of spas and wellness centers per capita and cost for services in addition to the quality of beaches.
Anyone who lives in Maine knows that summertime—when everyone else is flocking there for vacations—is the time to stick around. The trendy town, known for its lighthouses, fishing wharves, and craft brew pubs, scored especially well in Recreation, no doubt in large part for its “idealness of summer weather.”
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
This “Venice of America” has more than 160 miles of waterways—and no staycation here is complete without bar hopping (okay, and sightseeing) on the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi. But there’s much to do on land in this seaside city, too, with a growing food and craft beer scene, both factors that gave its ranking a significant boost.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
With the Outer Banks just a couple hours away, it’s tempting to hop in a car and head south—but stick around and you’ll be glad you did. This oceanfront city in Southeast Virginia offers plenty of recreation for the active-minded, including a 28-foot-wide boardwalk that stretches along 3 miles of oceanfront. The city scored high marks in Rest and Relaxation.
Charleston, South Carolina
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Newly crowned as America’s favorite city by Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards, this Southern charmer offers something for every type of traveler, from the history buffs to the foodies and beach devotees. There’s no shortage of swoon-worthy streets in this town; stroll down any and you’re bound to discover something new.
San Diego, California
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This SoCal city may be known for its laid-back surf culture, but there’s plenty here to do that goes beyond sand and surf. San Diego, which came in ninth place in the overall ranking, cracked the top three in Recreation alone, no doubt due to the miles of hiking and biking trails—and, yes, watersports.
San Francisco, California
Up north along Highway 1, the Golden Gate City is one of those spots that never runs out of things to do—from an urban hike to a stop in one of the city’s many hip coffee shops (San Francisco is second only to New York in the amount of coffee and tea shops per capita). The city soared in measures of both Recreation and Food, so you don’t ever have to worry about being starved for activity or a good meal.
Outside of the big city bustle, college town, and tourist-magnet attractions, Tampa is a mecca for those just looking for a little R&R. The city came in second in the Rest and Relaxation ranking exclusively, which takes into account beach quality, spa and wellness centers per capita, and the affordability of house cleaning services (because, clearly, no one wants to spend a staycation scrubbing floors).
Good news for the thousands of people setting up roots in this Pacific Northwest gem this year: Your new hometown happens to be the second best overall beach city to post up for a staycation. With tons of outdoor activities and options for food and entertainment (Seattle ranked fourth in number of coffee shops per capita, in case you’re wondering), the Emerald City is the perfect place to stay home and soak up the sunny summers.
Related: How to Do O'ahu Like a Local
It may not come as a surprise: When you live on an island where everyone dreams of vacationing, life is pretty sweet. The only city on the list to make it into the top 10 in measures of, well, everything, the Hawaiian capital thrives with enviable weather, stunning beaches, an international food scene, and even spas (third overall in the amount per capita). All in favor of staycationing in Hawaii?