It’s summertime! You know what that means? All responsibilities and inhibitions immediately go out the window of that rental car of yours—who needs them anyway? And summertime means hitting the beach. Whether it’s at a lake or one of the ocean coasts, the beach is earth’s version of heaven.
According to a recent CarRentals survey, 64 percent of respondents seek adventure when they road trip—and we have a feeling you might feel the same. As part of our adventure series, we’ve put together five beach towns across the country that are perfect for adventuring to, in, and around.
Traverse City, Michigan
Don’t believe anyone who tells you beach towns don’t exist on lakes because they obviously haven’t been to Traverse City, Michigan. This lively Great Lakes town on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan is perfect for a summertime adventure. You can boat around via wind or motor. Rent a jet ski for a solo party or a pontoon boat for an extravaganza. Sun bathe with coeds on West End Beach or have a picnic with takeout pizza at Clinch Park. And that’s just day one!
Must-Do: Traverse Bay Parasail – Never heard of parasailing? All it involves is hooking you up to a parachute that’s attached to the back of a speedboat and then flying you like a kite 100-feet in the air.
Radio Station: 94.3 FM WFCX – Classic Hits
Car Tip: Keep a jug of freshwater in the trunk to wash off all the extra sand.
Newport Beach, California
Is there anything that represents California summer better than a classic beach town? Not in this universe. Welcome to Newport Beach. This town in the thick of Orange County is so dreamy that when you plant your bottom in its blinding white sand, you may not want to leave. Like, ever. The answer to the question of what should you do is endless: piloting a duffy boat in Newport Bay. Riding a bike from one end of the Balboa Peninsula to the other. Bodysurfing the Wedge. That last one might re-align your spine.
Must-Do: Endless Sun Surf School – We know you’ve been dying to learn how to hang ten and now’s your chance.
Radio Station: 104.3 MYFM – More Music, More Variety
Car Tip: Bring a mesh bag for all your wet and dirty swimwear.
The Emerald Coast in Florida stretches its arms for 100 miles along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Five counties—Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay—are lucky enough to call this place home. However, only Okaloosa contains the city of Destin, your next destination for a beach adventure this summer. Your days will be spent flip-flopping between the pearly white sand and turquoise water. Beach volleyball and swimming—what could be better?
Must Do: Swoop Fishing Charters – This place calls itself “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” so it’d be silly to not cast out a line.
Radio Station: 102.1 The Wave – We Play Everything
Car Tip: Get a rental car that comes equipped with all-weather floor mats.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
When people think of New England beach towns, the ones that come to mind are usually anything clinging to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard. And that’s all fine and dandy, but they’ve obviously seen “Jaws” way too many times. But you know there’s more out there than the Kennedys’ playground, so you’re going to make your way to Narragansett. This town has everything you need to make a getaway to the beach the adventure of a lifetime. If you want to get familiar with the coastline, take Ocean Road south until it dead ends at Point Judith Lighthouse. Some of the most spectacular scenery in the state can be found along this stretch of asphalt. You’ll also be able to see Block Island 13 miles off shore. Ferries leave daily from nearby Point Judith and we highly recommend hopping on one.
Must-Do: Narrow River Kayaks – Kayaking or canoeing down the Narrow River is almost a right-of-passage for all visitors.
Radio Station: B101 – the 80s and More
Car Tip: Request a rental car that comes with seat covers to keep dirt and grime off the seats.
Howdy, partner, welcome to the beach! Bet you thought you’d never hear that phrase in your lifetime. But you probably never thought one of the best beach towns for an adventurous soul like yourself would be in the Lone Star State. Enter Galveston, a Texan coastal town that’s as beachy as anything you’d find anywhere else. Go for a bike ride up and down Seawall Boulevard, stopping at places like Benno’s on the Beach or The Spot. Or get your thrills at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. The Cyclone, Sea Dragon, Revolution, and Sky Shooter are just a few of the rides. Just make sure you don’t scarf down a massive hot dog before riding any of them. That could get messy.
Must-Do: SUP Gulf Coast – It’s like paddle boarding except you’re standing up while wielding a giant paddle to power you. Simple as that.
Radio Station: 100.3 The Bull – Country
Car Tip: Get a car cover to protect it from the saltwater in the air.
We’ve rambled on and on about this place and that place, but now we’re done. Now it’s your turn to take this information and leave immediately. That’s why we wrote out this epic list of beach towns to visit as soon as your summer vacation comes knockin’.