The choice of summer beach vacations in the US and Mexico are as diverse as they are memorable, with world-famous coastal resorts all at their sparkling best under the summer sun. To help you plan your next escape, we’ve included savvy summer getaways that cater to families, couples, and budget travelers.

    Temperatures rise across the US and Mexico in July and August, which makes beach trips enduringly popular, and we have several interesting options listed below. If you’re in the mood for action, try your hand at a new water sport like surfing or fishing, while inquisitive types can fuel their curiosity on hikes or deep-sea diving adventures. 

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    San Diego, California

    Beach culture twinned with big city convenience in Southern California

    San Diego in the summer gets hot so it’s best to spend your time chilling along the Pacific coast. La Jolla Cove epitomizes Californian beach culture, attracting crowds of sun worshipers. It’s home to La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, which has 2 artificial reefs teeming with colorful marine life.

    Save some time to explore San Diego’s history and culture. The Gaslamp Quarter features a vibrant mix of Victorian architecture, museums, art galleries, and theaters, as well as a trendy dining and nightlife scene. The Old Town has a vibrant Spanish community and historical buildings dating back to the 1800s. A must-visit is the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, where you can learn about the city's colonial lifestyle. Read more…

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    2

    Miami, Florida

    Experience chic surroundings along Miami’s South Beach

    Miami is one of the most vibrant coastal resorts along the Atlantic coast. Lummus Park on Ocean Drive can give you the first taste of Miami Beach’s summer vibes. Its Copacabana-inspired promenade leads you down a boardwalk lined with tall palms and sea grape trees. South Beach’s South Pointe offers a good mix between oceanfront scenery and recreational activities. It has a fishing pier and decent swells for surfers.

    For a change of scene, head to Little Havana, just west of Downtown Miami. This neighborhood is home to the famous Calle Ocho strip. Come here to find Miami’s best Cuban restaurants and exciting nightlife. If you want to get away from the crowds, Oleta River State Park is Florida’s largest urban park where you can enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, and canoeing. Read more…

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    3

    Oahu, Hawaii

    Hawaii’s popular vacation island has action and romance in equal measure

    Oahu is one of the world’s most famous surf destinations, with Waikiki Beach, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay all popular names in the sport. What’s more, it’s well known as a romantic honeymooner’s hideaway, so you really can tailor a trip to suit in Oahu. You can lounge on the beach with the sounds of gentle waves or explore jungles and ridges inland.

    Your summer vacation in Oahu often starts in Honolulu, which has an enviable combination of beauty and convenience. But to enjoy Oahu at dramatic best, check out Hanauma Bay. This rugged stretch of coast is on the innermost edge of a cove that is the remnant of a volcano. If you want to get active, Kuliouou Ridge is a popular hiking trail in Oahu that rewards you with lush mountain scenery. Read more…

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    4

    Riviera Maya, Mexico

    Mayan culture and golden-sand beaches along Mexico’s Caribbean coast

    Riviera Maya is a long stretch of stunning beaches along the northeastern shore of the Yucatan Peninsula, between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. A series of small towns dot the coastal highway, each gathered around little sandy coves – stunning oases of peace and paradise.

    The main cities along this shoreline could not be more different. Playa del Carmen is known for its shops, restaurants, and nightlife, especially along Quinta Avenida – the pedestrianized street that runs parallel to the beach. The smaller town of Tulum, by contrast, is famous for its Mayan ruins, beautiful limestone pool.  Its laidback, spiritual atmosphere is typified by dozens of yoga schools and art studios. Read more…

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    5

    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    An affordable summer break along Mexico’s Pacific coast

    Puerto Vallarta has transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a prominent beach destination in a few short decades. The town’s main beach, Playa Los Muertos, is hugely popular with lots of places to eat and drink and a variety of water sports on offer.

    For snorkeling and scuba diving, Los Arcos Marine Park is a protected area in Banderas Bay with a rich marine ecosystem to explore. If you’re looking to surf, Playa Olas Altas is the best beach in Puerto Vallarta, especially in the midsummer period between May and September when the Pacific Ocean provides regular swells. Read more…

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    6

    Key West, Florida

    A palm-lined island with early 20th-century charm

    Key West offers postcard-pretty beaches and an incredible range of water-based activities throughout summer. Some of the best things to do include snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, game fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and enjoying an adrenaline-inducing parasailing ride.

    Away from the water, Mallory Square is the central hub for Key West’s main restaurants, shops, museums, and theaters. Balmy evenings in Key West are best spent along Duval Street. You’ll find dozens of venues dotting this vibrant street coming alive at night and lasting into the early morning. Read more…

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    7

    Oregon Coast, Oregon

    Take it easy on a summer road trip through charming coastal towns

    Oregon is a beautiful region along America’s Pacific Northwest, attracting summer crowds to its string of golden beaches, protected dunes, majestic sea stacks, and interesting tourist towns. With an average temperature of 65°F along the coast, this is a popular spot for those who want to avoid searing heat.

    Lincoln City boasts a 7-mile-long beach that’s great for sunbathing, surfing, and swimming, while Astoria has a charming historic district with Victorian homes and heritage museums. Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations on Oregon’s northwest coastline. The beach has a wide stretch of golden sand, with spectacular coastal rock formations dotting the shoreline. Read more…

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    8

    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    South Carolina’s premier beach resort offers endless summer fun

    Myrtle Beach is a coveted holiday destination on the Atlantic coast with an epic amount of family attractions and a lively nightlife scene. The beach along this part of South Carolina stretches for 60 miles, and you can enjoy wide stretches of it to yourself.

    In addition to its beautiful beach, Myrtle Beach has an amazing range of amusement parks, games arcades, shopping malls, and markets. Highlights include Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Ripley's Haunted Adventure, and Fun Plaza Arcade. This popular beach resort in South Carolina is pretty much guarantees a fun vacation in the sun, thanks to an epic amount of attractions. Read more…

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    9

    Orange County, California

    Road-tripping through LA’s finest beach towns

    Orange County, just south of Los Angeles, is home to a collection of luxurious beach towns that provide a welcome respite from the city’s urban sprawl. One of the highlights of “OC” is Disneyland Resort in Anaheim – not to mention several other theme parks – making it a popular destination for families with young children.

    When you’ve had enough of the rides and shows, hop in the car to enjoy a road trip along the coast. Stop along the way at stunning beach towns like the surfing hot spot of Huntington Beach, swanky Newport Beach with its yacht-filled harbor, and the picturesque coastal town of Laguna. Along the way, you’ll be treated to fabulous Pacific views and almost guaranteed sunshine throughout the summer. Read more…

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    10

    Ocean City, Maryland

    A family-friendly beach resort on the Atlantic coast

    Ocean City is a seaside resort town with a superb stretch of sand and friendly, resort-town vibes on the Maryland coast. The Atlantic shoreline has many water sports on offer, with surfing, fishing, and kayaking among the top activities.

    It’s the kind of place where people get out and about to enjoy the summer sun. The boardwalk is lined with seafood restaurants, boutique shops, and bars. A host of family-friendly attractions can be found in Ocean City, including Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, the Jolly Roger amusement park and Wild West at Frontier Town. Read more…

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveler

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