“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings
eternal joy to the soul.”
Robert Wyland, an American artist and conservationist known for his more than 100 “Whaling Walls”
Rehoboth Beach — Delaware
Rehoboth Beach is Delaware’s premier destination for summer family vacations and the year-round seaside lifestyle. The famous Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk is located in the heart of a 30-mile stretch of unspoiled oceanfront with its lively arcades and fresh-seafood restaurants. Deep-sea fishing, sailing, paddle boarding, and ocean kayaking are among the most popular outdoor recreations. More leisurely activities include tax-free shopping at local boutiques and outlets, followed by an evening of musical entertainment at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand Concert Series. Just to the south are resort-style accommodations at Dewey Beach, gateway to the pristine nature trails and ocean walks at the Delaware Seashore State Park.
Beaufort — North Carolina
The historic town is located in the heart of the North Carolina Inner Banks region known as the Crystal Coast. Front Street is the perfect dockside stroll for bookstore browsing, antique shopping, and casual dining at unique local restaurants. Be sure to include a tour of Historic District homes and a visit to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, where traditional boatbuilding skills can be observed. Beaufort is also a nationally renowned destination for kayaking, sailing, and sport fishing, or you can take a ferry ride to enjoy the 56 miles of undeveloped oceanfront at the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the wildlife trails in the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve.
Southport — North Carolina
This seaside town was founded in 1792 at a strategic site where the Cape Fear River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Once the haunt of pirates and blockade runners, Southport today is a hometown for residents and a destination for visitors who appreciate its sunny and mild coastal climate. The downtown waterfront features shops, galleries, and cafes in a picture-perfect setting that has hosted several feature film and television show productions. Southport is also the launching point for ferry rides to Bald Head Island and its historic lighthouse, as well as short drives to the Brunswick Coast’s family-friendly barrier islands with big beach houses, long fishing piers, and top-flight golf courses.
Beaufort — South Carolina
A graceful mix of old and new, Beaufort is an inviting center of history and culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The 300-acre downtown is a National Historic Landmark and many restored buildings today are home to cozy inns, unique shops and galleries, and waterfront restaurants with live entertainment. Set on the largest of a dozen local barrier islands amid a network of tidal estuaries perfect for kayaking and fishing, Beaufort is the heart of a region that also includes seaside resorts, the oceanfront Hunting Island State Park, and a variety of active-lifestyle residential communities.
Cape Charles — Virginia
Set along the Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore, near the Delmarva Peninsula’s southern end, Cape Charles is Virginia’s most charming seaside town. On Mason Avenue in the central business district, you’ll find historic buildings that have been converted into coffee shops, wine bars, and brew pubs, plus local retailers and restaurants featuring the catch of the day. The beautifully restored Palace Theatre, the center of cultural activities in Cape Charles, features a year-round schedule of events that include symphony orchestras and jazz bands, ballets and theatrical performances, and classic movies on the big screen. Nearby resort golf courses, charter-boat marinas, and boardwalk trails in the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve offer refreshing outdoor activities.
St. Marys — Georgia
St. Marys is an engaging port town where you can catch a ferry to the Cumberland Island National Seashore with its historic sites and 17 miles of pristine beaches. And that’s just one of the outdoor adventures to enjoy in an area blessed with a mild coastal climate and numerous hiking, biking, and kayaking trails. Downtown St. Marys features a lively waterfront park, Historic District tours of homes, gardens, churches, bed-and-breakfast inns, and riverside cafes. You can also enjoy one-of-a-kind attractions like the St. Marys Submarine Museum and take a breezy ride on the St. Marys Express Train through the coastal Georgia countryside.
St. Augustine — Florida
Founded by Spanish explorers in 1565, St. Augustine is a North Florida coastal city that’s certainly a must-see destination for history lovers. Especially impressive are the star fort at Castillo de San Marcos and the sacred grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios, just two of the area’s historic sites. Downtown St. Augustine mixes those legendary places with modern-art galleries, antique shops, trendy wine bars, and traditional fine-dining restaurants. Visiting families can also enjoy morning strolls along the city’s signature Bayfront Walk, daytime activities that include water-fun parks and eco-tours, quiet oceanfront evenings at Anastasia State Park, and overnight accommodations at some of Florida’s finest golf-and-tennis resorts.
Sarasota — Florida
Sarasota is a hub of culture and commerce on the Florida Gulf Coast, a sunny destination for a growing number of retirees and working families. If you’re a first-time visitor to Sarasota, check out the unique Ringling Museum of Art, which displays historic circus memorabilia and the famous family’s extensive art collection. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens feature orchids and other tropical flowers beneath century-old banyan trees, or you can kayak through a mangrove forest at an area nature preserve. For the complete Sarasota experience, head over to Lido Key for upscale shopping and dining at Saint Armand’s Circle, then take a romantic sunset walk along the Gulf shorefront at Siesta Key or Sarasota Beach.
Panama City — Florida
For year-round outdoor recreational opportunities, few places compare with Panama City Beach. It’s located in the heart of a Florida Emerald Coast region that features 27 miles of sugar-sand beaches, including popular St. Andrews State Park and the undeveloped shoreline of Shell Island. For even more natural activities, you can take a dolphin tour, snorkel in a green lagoon, and take a boardwalk hike on Conservation Park’s loop trails. Additional family-fun activities include visits to the Shipwreck Island Waterpark, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, and Gulf World Marine Park. Casual dining and entertaining amusements are available all day at Pier Park. Or, you can take an evening stroll in historic downtown Panama City to catch dinner and a show at a lively nightlife venue.
Pensacola — Florida
Pensacola on the Florida Panhandle is a thriving regional commercial center that’s proud of its 450-year multicultural history. Among the most enjoyable activities are the self-guided walking tours highlighting the city’s colonial archeology, cultural heritage, and maritime history. Just as impressive is Pensacola’s commitment to the contemporary performing arts with its own professional ballet, opera, theater, and symphony orchestra companies. You can also enjoy fine wine and courtyard dining in the Seville Quarter or shop for local crafts and fresh produce in the downtown Palafox Market. The area’s best outdoor adventures are just across the bay at Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, and the three naturally historic parks at the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Reposted from an article in Ideal-LIVING Magazine, 2023 Summer Issue – Best Places to Live