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Best Beach Weekend Getaways

By Travel + Leisure Staff
May 24, 2014; 3:45 AM ET

There's a cape in Massachusetts with pristine beaches, gentle hiking trails, and seafood fresh from the docks. It's never crowded, prettiest in summer, and only 30 miles from Boston. Arrive at blissful Cape Ann, and the first word to escape your lips will be Ahhh.

Summer brings a craving for lazy, sunbaked days featuring ocean breezes and an inclined beach chair. Luckily, you don't need to travel far to stake out your place in the sand: we've collected 18 easy beach weekend getaways from major U.S. cities.

For a still-sleepy beach destination, set your GPS to Anna Maria Island, just down the Florida coast from Tampa, where the pace lends itself to long days spent sunbathing and nights spent tucking into just-caught seafood along the waterfront. If you prefer your sunshine with a side of fresh sushi, creative cocktails, and street artists, head for Santa Monica, CA.

Of course, Florida and California are hardly the only states that offer such escapes. This summer, you might explore the windswept beaches of Ocracoke Island, NC, or stroll among the boutiques, waterfront restaurants, and Victorian-era buildings that make up Port Townsend, WA.

Delaware serves up an old-fashioned romantic getaway at Rehoboth Beach, where couples take evening strolls along the boardwalk and compete at the kind of arcade games that will kick your nostalgia into high gear.

Your summer starts here.

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Matt Capriglione

Romantic Rehoboth Beach, DE

Getaway from: Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia

Rehoboth Beach is an old-fashioned beach resort town with a lively art gallery scene. Win a prize for your honey at one of the sweetly corny arcade games along the boardwalk and then celebrate with saltwater taffy and ice cream. The wide, sandy beach invites evening strolls. Back at the Victorian-era Boardwalk Plaza Hotel, leave your windows open, and let the sound of the surf lull you to sleep.

Laura Begley

Surfing on Long Island

Getaway from: New York City, Philadelphia

At the eastern tip of Long Island, the waves are surprisingly robust, but the living in Montauk and Amagansett is downright laid-back-even during summer months when New Yorkers flee to the closest coasts. Catch live bands on the patio of the Surf Lodge, and sign up for surfing lessons at the Sunset Surf Shack; ask for owner Craig Lieder, a quintessential hang-ten dude.

iStockphoto

Easy Living in La Jolla, CA

Getaway from: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas

This tony suburb north of San Diego offers both windswept nature and accessible luxury. It's got everything an urban nature lover could want. Here, the beach meets green hills, and modern shops, restaurants, and galleries line the streets of its village. Explore the area's gentle trails, have a cocktail overlooking the water, and head to La Jolla Cove for sunset over the clear water.

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