If food trucks, lobster rolls, and late-night ice cream cones are your benchmark for a great beach getaway with the family, we’re all on the same page, and fortunately, we’re all in luck. The Pacific and Atlantic coastlines offer more than a few amazing destinations for food lovers searching for great beaches and eats (emphasis on the eats part).
With summer seafood and refreshing snacks in mind, we’ve rounded up some fantastic spots that boast gorgeous beaches, but gain true cred from their food scenes. Naturally, we discovered a lot of joints with high levels of seafood swag, but that doesn’t begin to cover all the crispy tacos and juicy BBQ around. Here are six of the destinations that made it to the top of our list; pack your swimsuit and arrive hungry.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Cape Elizabeth is as picturesque as the coast of Maine gets—rocky shorelines dotted with lighthouses meet sandy cove beaches perfect for watching the sun set. It’s all very romantic.
Wake up early and head to Scratch Baking Company, where you’ll mingle with locals while you wait in line for bagels; or, pick up a box of donuts from The Cookie Jar Pastry Shop. You really can’t go wrong with savory or sweet carbs for breakfast.
Later, check out Fort Williams Park where you can grab a picnic bench and a nosh at the Bite into Maine food truck; or, head to the Lobster Shack at Two Lights, another great outdoor spot perched above the shores, serving up the stunning views, local seafood fare and of course, lobster rolls. Cape Elizabeth borders SoPo (South Portland) where you can try some finger-licking-good ribs at Elsmere BBQ or enjoy the creative menu at David’s 388 Restaurant. Hit Willard Scoops for sundaes, frappes or a cone straight up.
Stone Harbor, New Jersey
Sandy white beaches are a hallmark of the Jersey Shore, and Stone Harbor won’t disappoint. About an hour’s drive north of Cape May, the town is bustling but never feels too crowded.
The food scene features some oldies-but-goodies along with a fair number of new up-and-comers. Uncle Bill’s Pancake House is a must, even if pancakes aren’t really your thing. If you prefer to start the day with a coffee and nosh, check out the laid back Coffee Talk. Dine at Quahog’s Seafood Shack for some inventive takes on fish, or Back Bay Seafood for a seriously delicious lobster roll. No day is complete without Springer’s homemade ice cream, though. It’s a Stone Harbor institution. Wait in line. It’s worth it.
Avila Beach, California
Located on the central coast of California, Avila Beach offers a relaxed, low-key atmosphere for enjoying big ocean waves. If you need a break from being sandy, check out The Central Coast Aquarium. You’re never too old to be amped for the touch tank.
Restaurants boast fresh produce from local farms and seafood coming directly from nearby ports. Choose from places like Fish and Farmers Market, or for dinner, try Ocean Grill where you can order a solid pizza alongside your seafood.
At the end of the day (or anytime you want, really) head to Avila Valley Barn for homemade sweets and treats.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach itself is wide and flat, a great spot for kite flying, collecting shells and partaking in a competitive sandcastle contest with the neighboring beach blanket. You’ll be right next to Ecola State Park as well, where you can test your stamina with over 7 miles of hiking trails.
About the food scene… right on the beach is Mo’s, known for their famous clam chowder. Also worth visiting is Ecola Seafood, serving up (take a guess) really fresh seafood. Pig ‘N Pancake (amazing name) is a classic diner that’s equally good for breakfast or lunch. To satisfy that forever pizza craving, head to Pizza a’fetta. Finally, for coffee, pastries, and dessert, Cannon Beach Bakery is your spot.
Chincoteague & Assateague Island, Virginia
For curious beach-lovers and budding naturalists, Chincoteague and Assateague Island are worth checking out. Located along the Virginia coast and accessible by boat or car, explore the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, try crabbing, dig for clams, fish, or head to the 142-foot-tall Assateague Lighthouse for some views.
You’re probably hungry just reading that paragraph, so head to Right Up Your Alley, a food truck serving authentic Mexican cuisine. If you’re in the mood for a fresh catch, hit Captain Zack’s Seafood. And then—maybe you’ve been noticing a theme—grab a cone at Island Creamery, serving up all the homemade ice cream you can handle.
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Nestled along the South Carolina coastline, Isle of Palms is home to a seven-mile long white sand beach. Take advantage of some organized outdoor activities like fishing, nature tours, sailing, and windsurfing. If golf is in your wheelhouse, fit in a round at the Wild Dunes public course.
For the eats, check out Acme Low Country Kitchen, a neighborhood joint serves three meals a day, or The Boat House, which serves up local seafood. If you’re up for a short trip to the neighboring Sullivan’s Island, it’s worth it just for Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ.