On the hunt for great value family vacations, we fell in love with the idea of affordable beach towns. And if you think affordability and beaches don’t go together, we have seven places right here to prove you wrong.
1/7 Wildwoods, New Jersey: Well kept secret of affordable beach towns
This charming little beach community on the southern Jersey Coast is a well-kept secret. So much so it might just be the best family vacation spot you’ve never heard of.
The main town is Wildwood, but the whole area is also referred to as the Wildwoods. In fact it’s actually made up of a cluster of beach towns with the word “Wildwood” in their name. Think Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood and you get the idea.
You’ll find Wildwood on the southern end of the Cape May Peninsula, and it’s easily one of our most affordable beach towns. You can pay under $150 a night for hotels here and the food is inexpensive. Plus, there’s fun all along the boardwalk and wristbands which give kids access to most of the rides at local waterparks are a steal.
2/7 Yachats: The gem of the Oregon coast
Nicknamed “the gem of the Oregon coast”, Yachats is one of the more unusual affordable beach towns. Why? The beach here is dominated by black basalt rock rather than sand: caused by lava flows over 50 million years ago.
As a result, the shore is rough and rugged, waves crash unpredictably and odd rock formations have been created over time. Kids will be fascinated by nearby Thor’s Well and Devil’s Churn. And you should embrace the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest on hiking trails, like 804 Trail, Ya’Xaik Trail and the Amanda Trail.
3/7 Long Beach, Washington: Affordable beach towns with big, big beaches
Long Beach is known for its 28 miles of sandy shores and boardwalk on Long Beach Peninsula, the southwest Washington coast.
Check out colorful kites on show at the World Kite Museum. Or visit the third week in August for the annual International Kite Festival.
Don’t miss the Discovery Trail, which traces a coastal route taken by explorers Lewis and Clark. Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is the place to birdwatch. And at the mouth of the Columbia River, Cape Disappointment and North Head lighthouses overlook the Pacific Ocean.
4/7 Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida
The affordable beach towns of Fort Myers and Sanibel are filled with little-known experiences. You’ll also find secluded accommodations here. And it’s the ideal destination for a Florida vacation without crowded beaches and theme-park lines.
Spend days island-hopping between over 100 barrier islands. Or stop at remote Cayo Costa island where a dedicated state park and lack of development gifts you white-sand beaches and rustic cabin accommodations for overnight camping.
5/7 Truro: One of the most affordable beach towns in Massachusetts
Cape Cod certainly isn’t undiscovered. But Truro is the hidden town nestled along the coast that’s still affordable and less crowded than Chatham and Provincetown.
Enjoy a good old-fashioned family beach vacation here with trips to lighthouses and days on the secluded beaches. Try bike rides along the Cape Cod National Seashore. Then head to Truro Vineyards where kids can play and parents can taste the wine.
You can rent beach cottages here at prices that won’t break the bank and still give the whole family plenty of room. Plus, if you’re itching for more action, the busier Cape Cod towns are just a drive away.
6/7 Mackinac Island, Michigan: Four square miles of prettiness
Mackinac Island is only four square miles, but every inch is perfectly picturesque. It’s a place seemingly caught in time, so it’s great for biking, shopping, eating, horseback riding, carriage tours and gawking at historic Victorian homes.
It’s known for being a friendly town with endearing quirks. So if you want to see the world’s longest front porch or the country’s oldest grocery store, this is the place. Good news for Midwesterners on the hunt for affordable beach towns: Mackinac Island is surprisingly easy to access from Detroit and Chicago.
7/7 Sunset Beach, North Carolina
On a remote beach on the coast of North Carolina stands a solitary mailbox. A young couple placed the original “Kindred Spirit” mailbox in a faraway location almost 40 years ago. They left a notebook inside, hoping people would leave messages. And over the years thousands have done just that on Sunset Beach. Shared their innermost thoughts, and read about the lives of others.
Visitors today still enjoy the coastal pilgrimage to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. And the peace and solitude around it is irresistible.
The best way to get to Bird Island on Sunset Beach is to start at the Public Beach on West 40th Street. Then head Southwest away from the pier. You can either walk or ride a bike. It’s about 1.5 miles from the 40th Street to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.
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