Looking to soak up sun and sea breezes this summer but eager to skip crowded hot spots like Myrtle Beach or Cape Cod? We’ve uncovered some of the most picturesque yet underrated small beach towns across North America perfect for a peaceful vacation oasis. Offering fewer tourists, lower prices, stunning scenery from charming main streets to postcard-worthy shores, these beach hideaways deserve a spot at the top of your summer travel bucket list!
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Located just an hour outside New Orleans, Bay St. Louis boasts powdery white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico that rival even the Caribbean. Originally founded as a French colony in 1699, hints of European architecture remain pastel-painted cottages in the walkable Old Town historic district. Don’t miss trying local seafood dishes with some Louisiana spice influence at restaurants likeCypress Cafe. The most popular Beach Blvd hosts festivals and markets in a laidback atmosphere.
Who said Arizona was only deserts? Tucked into the southern mountains, this historic mining town transports visitors to the wild west through its Victorian-era neighborhoods brimming with saloons, gastropubs, and bed and breakfasts. Base yourself steps from the vibrant town center with a rental nearby. Then make the quick drive to nestle into the crescent curve of Nacoochee Cove Beach for swimming spots along the desert coastline.
Sauble Beach, Ontario
Two hours north of Toronto unfolds 11 miles of tranquil shoreline and sand dunes that feel worlds away at Sauble Beach along the freshwaters of Lake Huron. Families flock here during summer to enjoy the calmer waves from June through August. Beachfront Airbnb rentals line the quieter south end while cute boutiques like The Sandbox fill in when the sunny weather drives you towards civilization.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Moss-draped oaks form canopies over boutique storefronts in this charming low country isle just 85 miles south of Savannah. The pet-friendly beach welcomes vacationers to let loose and enjoy island vibes. East Beach offers a lively oceanfront strip with vintage shops and eateries while secluded North Beach delights beachcombers. End perfect days kayaking coastal marshes as the sun sinks behind St. Simon’s iconic red-capped lighthouse.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Skip rainier Oregon summers in favor of the dry, mild northern coast stretched between Pacific emerald forests and misty sea stacks dotting Cannon Beach. Families flock to this laidback surf town with sweet cottages hiding under flowering vines. Let kids scour tidepools lining Haystack Rock while parents gallery-hop for local art. With fresh seafood shacks rounding out quintessential coastal village vibes, Cannon Beach delivers easygoing Pacific Northwest charm.
Grand Haven, Michigan
Scenic Lake Michigan steals the scene at this western Michigan beach town whose tourist influx still bows to just 5,000 friendly locals in the off-season. Grab locally-roasted morning brews to walk three sublime miles of sandy shore skirting the famed “singing sands” of Grand Haven State Park. After sunset beach bonfires, check downtown’s converted factory spaces now housing carnivalesque pizza joints and indie cider houses dancing to the nostalgic light of carnival marquees and strings of glowing bulbs.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Escape farther down the winding Georgia coast to discover nostalgic beach town vibes waiting on Tybee Island, just 20 minutes from Savannah. Beachfront vacation rentals pepper the sandy south beaches near landmarks like the working Tybee Lighthouse open for tours. North Beach delights beachcombers exploring wilder shores, including Jaycee Park’s scenic bike trails woven through maritime forest. Sea kayaking Pierhead Creek reveals remote isles and divers can tackle WWII shipwrecks offshore!
History buffs flock 90 minutes north of bustling Portland to uncover one of Midcoast Maine’s original colonies, now an LGBTQ-friendly hub offering pristine panoramas for all. Cozy up in a boutique Atlantic inn before following the scenic Marginal Way path revealing birds-eye views of the rocky coastline. Beachgoers sunbathe beside the 50-foot high dunes buffering Ogunquit Beach. And don’t miss lobster rolls at the Beach Plum Lobster House!
This artsy Lake Michigan resort community pairs rich creative culture with small town charm just minutes from iconic sand dunes and golden shorelines. Galleries, lively craft cocktail bars, and farm-to-table dining spots fill out a hip but cozy downtown. Nearby state parks boast some of Michigan’s most dramatic natural panoramas. Tour the campy dunes via chain-driven dune buggies or paddle the Kalamazoo River as it winds towards the big lake.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Last on our underrated beach towns list sits surf culture hub Cannon Beach, tucked into Oregon’s rugged Pacific coast two hours west of Portland. Iconic attractions like Haystack Rock and the Lord of Storms sea cave mingle with laidback surf vibes across this quintessential PNW beach community. An explosion of coastal cuisine complements the region’s stormwatching allure. Just don’t forget to peek the colorful galleries dotting Hemlock Street on your way to the sand!
Now that you’ve uncovered some charming lesser-known beach havens, start planning the perfect customize escape mixing culture, adventure, and sun-soaked relaxation away from peak season crowds. We can’t wait to return to these hidden gems year after year! Let us know in the comments if your favorite underrated beach town didn’t make the list. Happy travels!