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Unveiling America's Hidden Gems: The Best Coastal Towns for a Weekend Getaway

In the midst of my quest for a tranquil escape from the bustling city life, I find myself pondering: What are the best American coastal towns to unwind for a weekend? America’s expansive shoreline, home to a myriad of hidden gems, provides a resounding answer. Unquestionably, coastal towns like the picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea and the historic St. Augustine are the perfect weekend getaway spots.

As we traverse America’s 95,000 miles of coastline, let’s set our sights on these enchanting coastal towns. Each one offers a unique blend of relaxation and adventure, promising an unforgettable weekend retreat.

As we continue our journey, we’ll delve into the captivating allure of these coastal towns. From vibrant local cultures to stunning natural landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine to thrilling adventures, these towns have it all. We’ll also explore the distinctive characteristics that make each town a standout.

So, grab your beach towel and come along as we uncover the hidden beauty that lies along America’s shores. Prepare yourself for a journey of discovery, and let’s start exploring!

Key Takeaways

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, St. Augustine, Cape May, and Kennebunkport are some of the best coastal towns for a weekend getaway.
  • These towns offer a range of attractions, including natural scenery, historical marvels, charming architecture, and unique boutiques and shops.
  • Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, waterfront dining options, and unique culinary experiences influenced by the coastal location.
  • Outdoor adventures such as coastal hiking, water sports, wildlife watching, and fishing charters are popular activities in these coastal towns.


If you’re looking for a picturesque coastal town to escape to for a weekend getaway, you should consider visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea. Tucked away on the central coast of California, this hidden gem is a haven for those seeking beauty, tranquility, and a vibrant artistic community.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its breathtaking natural scenery. As you stroll through the streets, you’ll be captivated by the charming cottages, lush gardens, and colorful blooms that line the pathways. The town’s pristine white-sand beaches offer a peaceful retreat, where you can unwind and soak up the sun, or take a leisurely walk along the shoreline.

But Carmel-by-the-Sea isn’t just a place of natural beauty; it also boasts a thriving artistic community. The town is home to numerous art galleries, showcasing works by both local and internationally renowned artists. You can explore the galleries at your own pace, admiring a diverse range of art styles and mediums.

In addition to its artistic offerings, Carmel-by-the-Sea is also famous for its hidden treasures. The town is dotted with unique boutiques, antique shops, and specialty stores, where you can find one-of-a-kind treasures to take home as souvenirs. From handmade jewelry to vintage collectibles, there’s something for everyone to discover in this charming coastal town.

Private Thoughts and Experiences About America’s Coastal Towns

These coastal towns evoke a sense of nostalgia for me, mirroring the allure of the small beach towns around California, Oregon, and even Mexico that I explored when I lived in San Diego. My love for quaint beach towns has only grown since then, with my travels taking me to over 50 such destinations worldwide.

America’s coastal towns, with their unique charm and variety, fit perfectly into my enduring passion for short beach getaways.

If given the chance, I’d be eager to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, drawn in by its charming streets and the promise of a peaceful retreat.

I’d also be inclined to explore the historical wonders of St. Augustine, immersing myself in its cultural richness.

In Kennebunkport, I’d love to savor a taste of New England charm, perhaps by taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront.

Lastly, Cannon Beach’s stunning scenery would be the perfect backdrop for some beach yoga or a quiet evening watching the sunset.

St. Augustine

Continue your coastal adventure to St. Augustine, where history comes alive in this charming coastal town. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and explore the fascinating attractions that make St. Augustine a must-visit destination.

Here are three reasons why St. Augustine should be at the top of your weekend getaway list:

  • Historical Marvels: Step back in time as you wander through the cobblestone streets of St. Augustine. Visit the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress, and marvel at its impressive architecture. Don’t miss the St. Augustine Lighthouse, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and a glimpse into the area’s maritime history. Explore the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, a preserved school dating back to the 18th century, which offers a fascinating insight into the education of yesteryears.
  • Cultural Delights: St. Augustine is a hub of unique cultural experiences. Take a stroll down St. George Street, lined with vibrant shops, art galleries, and charming cafes. Visit the Lightner Museum, housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, and admire its vast collection of art and artifacts. Immerse yourself in the local culture by catching a live performance at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre or attending one of the many festivals that celebrate the town’s heritage.
  • Coastal Charms: Nestled along Florida’s northeastern coast, St. Augustine boasts pristine beaches that are perfect for relaxing and basking in the sun. Take a leisurely stroll along Anastasia State Park’s sandy shores, where you can also enjoy activities like bird watching and kayaking. Explore the picturesque Vilano Beach and soak in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. And don’t forget to indulge in some fresh seafood from one of the many waterfront restaurants.

With its rich history, captivating attractions, and unique cultural experiences, St. Augustine offers the ideal coastal getaway for those seeking a taste of freedom and adventure.

Cape May

When you step foot in Cape May, you’ll be instantly captivated by its charming Victorian architecture. The town is a living museum, with beautifully preserved buildings that transport you back in time.

As you stroll along the beachfront, you’ll be treated to picture-perfect views of the ocean, creating the perfect backdrop for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Charming Victorian Architecture

Explore Cape May’s charming Victorian architecture and immerse yourself in the rich history of this coastal town. With its vibrant cultural scene and plethora of historical landmarks, Cape May is a true gem for architecture enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Here are three reasons why you should visit Cape May for its charming Victorian architecture:

  • Architectural Delights: Cape May boasts a stunning collection of well-preserved Victorian buildings, showcasing intricate details, vibrant colors, and ornate designs. From the iconic Emlen Physick Estate to the picturesque Congress Hall, each building tells a unique story and offers a glimpse into the past.
  • Historical Significance: As one of the oldest seaside resorts in the country, Cape May is steeped in history. Explore the Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, and discover the stories behind the Victorian mansions, charming bed and breakfasts, and quaint shops that line the streets.
  • Photography Paradise: With its picturesque streetscapes, Cape May provides the perfect backdrop for capturing stunning photographs. Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply enjoy snapping pictures, the town’s charming Victorian architecture is sure to inspire creativity and leave you with unforgettable memories.

Visit Cape May and experience the allure of its charming Victorian architecture.

Picture-Perfect Beachfront Views

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Cape May’s charming Victorian architecture as you take in the picture-perfect beachfront views. Cape May isn’t only known for its stunning architecture but also for its breathtaking coastline.

With its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder that Cape May is a popular destination for beach lovers. The town offers a variety of beachfront resorts where you can relax and soak up the sun while enjoying the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

If you’re in the mood for some adventure, Cape May also has coastal hiking trails that offer scenic views of the coastline and allow you to explore the natural beauty of the area.

Whether you’re looking for relaxation or outdoor activities, Cape May’s beachfront views won’t disappoint.


You’ll fall in love with Kennebunkport’s charming coastal atmosphere and picturesque scenery. This hidden gem is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Here’s why:

  • Kayaking Adventures: Explore the stunning coastline of Kennebunkport by embarking on a thrilling kayaking adventure. Paddle through crystal-clear waters, marvel at the rugged cliffs, and discover hidden coves and secluded beaches. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, there are plenty of guided tours and rental options available to suit your skill level.
  • Lobster Shacks: Indulge in the ultimate seafood experience at one of Kennebunkport’s famous lobster shacks. Feast on freshly caught lobster, steamed to perfection and served with melted butter. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere as you savor every delicious bite. Don’t forget to try other local delicacies like clam chowder or lobster rolls for a truly authentic taste of Maine.
  • Scenic Beauty: Kennebunkport boasts breathtaking scenery that will leave you in awe. Take a leisurely stroll along the pristine sandy beaches, with waves crashing gently against the shore. Admire the charming coastal homes and picturesque lighthouses that dot the landscape. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant hues.

In Kennebunkport, you’ll find the perfect blend of adventure, mouthwatering cuisine, and natural beauty. It’s the ideal coastal town to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in a world of freedom and relaxation.


As you continue your coastal journey, venture to Provincetown, where vibrant culture and stunning natural beauty await. Provincetown, located on the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, is a hidden gem that embraces diversity and creativity. Known for its LGBTQ+ friendly atmosphere and vibrant art scene, this coastal town offers a unique and liberating experience for all who visit.

Provincetown has a rich history of being a haven for the LGBTQ+ community. It was here that the Mayflower Compact, a document that established self-governance and democracy, was signed by the Pilgrims in 1620. Today, Provincetown continues to be a place where people can freely express their true selves and celebrate love and acceptance.

The town’s vibrant art scene is another draw for visitors. Stroll down Commercial Street, the main thoroughfare, and you’ll be greeted by a plethora of art galleries showcasing a wide range of styles and mediums. From paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media, there’s something to inspire every art enthusiast.

To give you a taste of what Provincetown has to offer, here’s a table showcasing some of the town’s highlights:

LGBTQ+ FriendlyVibrant Art Scene
Pride ParadesArt Festivals
LGBTQ+ EventsGallery Walks
Drag ShowsStreet Performances

In Provincetown, freedom is not just a concept, but a way of life. Whether you’re exploring the dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore or immersing yourself in the local art scene, this coastal town welcomes you with open arms and encourages you to embrace your true self. So pack your bags, and let Provincetown be your weekend getaway filled with love, art, and freedom.

Cannon Beach

Continuing your coastal journey, let’s now explore Cannon Beach, a captivating destination that offers breathtaking scenery and a tranquil seaside experience. As you step onto the sandy shores, you’ll be enchanted by the quaint coastal charm that surrounds you. Here are a few reasons why Cannon Beach should be on your weekend getaway list:

  • Stunning Coastal Views: Get ready to be amazed by the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The rugged coastline, framed by towering cliffs, creates a dramatic backdrop that will leave you in awe.
  • Haystack Rock: One of the most iconic landmarks in Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock stands tall at 235 feet. Explore the tide pools surrounding the rock and discover a world of fascinating marine life.
  • Sandy Beach Treasures: Cannon Beach is a treasure trove for beachcombers. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline and you’ll find an abundance of seashells, polished stones, and even the occasional colorful sea glass.

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Cannon Beach and let the coastal breeze rejuvenate your spirit. Whether you’re seeking solitude or adventure, this coastal gem has something for everyone.


Next on our coastal journey, let’s explore Apalachicola, a hidden gem that promises a unique and unforgettable weekend getaway. Known as the Oyster Capital, this charming coastal town is a haven for seafood lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

Apalachicola is renowned for its fresh and delicious oysters, harvested from the pristine waters of the Apalachicola Bay. Indulge in the local delicacy at one of the many waterfront restaurants, where you can savor the briny goodness of these delectable bivalves.

Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history by strolling through its historic downtown area. Admire the beautifully preserved Victorian-era buildings that line the streets, housing quaint shops, art galleries, and charming bed and breakfasts.

For nature lovers, Apalachicola offers a wealth of outdoor activities. Explore the nearby Apalachicola National Forest, a vast expanse of protected wilderness that’s home to diverse wildlife and offers miles of trails for hiking, biking, and birdwatching. Take a leisurely boat tour along the Apalachicola River and discover the unique ecosystem of the Apalachicola River Basin.

With its oyster heritage, historic downtown charm, and natural beauty, Apalachicola is a coastal town that promises a weekend getaway filled with culinary delights, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures. Don’t miss out on this hidden gem on your next coastal escape.


As you wander through the charming streets of Newport, you’ll be captivated by the seaside architecture that exudes a sense of timeless beauty.

The colorful buildings and quaint cottages create a picturesque backdrop for your weekend getaway.

When hunger strikes, you’ll have an array of waterfront dining options to choose from, where you can indulge in delicious seafood while enjoying stunning views of the ocean.

Charming Seaside Architecture

When you visit Newport, you’ll be captivated by its charming seaside architecture. This coastal town is known for its picturesque cottages that line the streets, each one more enchanting than the last.

Here are three reasons why Newport’s seaside architecture is a must-see:

  • Seaside Cottage Rentals: Immerse yourself in the charm of Newport by staying in one of the many seaside cottages available for rent. Wake up to the sound of waves crashing and enjoy breathtaking views right from your window.
  • Coastal Town Walking Tours: Take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Newport and admire the unique architectural styles that make this town so special. Learn about the history behind each building and discover hidden gems along the way.
  • Architectural Details: From colorful Victorian houses to elegant colonial mansions, Newport’s architecture is a feast for the eyes. Admire the intricate details, vibrant colors, and classic designs that give each building its own personality.

Experience the freedom of exploring Newport’s charming seaside architecture and let yourself be transported to a world of beauty and tranquility.

Picturesque Waterfront Dining Options

Indulge in the ultimate dining experience as you savor delectable cuisine against the backdrop of Newport’s picturesque waterfront.

Newport is renowned for its waterfront dining options, offering a variety of restaurants that cater to all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two or a casual meal with friends, Newport has it all.

As you dine along the waterfront, make sure to observe the proper waterfront dining etiquette. Enjoy the breathtaking views while sipping on a glass of wine and indulging in the town’s seafood specialties.

From fresh lobster to succulent oysters, the seafood options in Newport are second to none. Soak in the freedom of the ocean breeze as you embark on a culinary journey like no other.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Get to Carmel-By-The-Sea, St. Augustine, Cape May, Kennebunkport, Provincetown, Cannon Beach, Apalachicola, and Newport?

To get to Carmel-by-the-Sea, St. Augustine, Cape May, Kennebunkport, Provincetown, Cannon Beach, Apalachicola, and Newport, you can fly into nearby airports or take a road trip. Explore the culinary scene in Carmel and Kennebunkport, and check out the art galleries in Provincetown and Cape May. Enjoy your coastal weekend getaway!

What Are the Best Accommodations Options in These Coastal Towns?

Looking for the best accommodations options in these coastal towns? From budget-friendly stays to luxurious resorts and hotels, you’ll find the perfect place to relax and unwind during your weekend getaway.

Are There Any Specific Attractions or Landmarks That I Should Visit in These Towns?

You’ll love exploring the hidden gems and must-see landmarks in these coastal towns. From historic lighthouses to charming local markets, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to try the delicious local cuisine too!

Are There Any Local Festivals or Events That I Should Know About Before Planning a Visit to These Coastal Towns?

You’ll be thrilled to know about the local festivals and events in these coastal towns. It’s the best way to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and have an unforgettable time.

What Are Some Popular Outdoor Activities Available in These Coastal Towns?

Looking for popular outdoor activities in these coastal towns? Get ready for some beach volleyball and surfing! There’s nothing like the thrill of riding the waves or spiking a ball in the sand.