The 35 Best Beaches in America for Fitness Lovers
35 Healthiest Beaches
From sea to shining sea, the United States offers an abundance of waterfront getaways fit for healthy travelers. But which are the healthiest? We worked with the folks at Foursquare, the personalized city guide app, to identify the most fitness-friendly beach towns in America. Foursquare’s unique algorithm uses the preferences of its 55 million users to identify the activities, sites, and scenes they love in cities around the globe. The Foursquare data scientists crunched the numbers to find the top-rated beaches in the U.S., then customized a search for Shape, pinpointing 150 beaches suited to fitness lovers, specifically those with the top surf and snorkel spots, running and biking trails, volleyball, yoga, and more.
But we didn't stop there: We cross-checked each of Foursquare’s 150 best beaches and 150 fittest beaches with two health and fitness indexes: the American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index, which rates the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. for factors like walkability, parkland, recreational facilities, healthy eating habits, physical fitness, and resident health scores for asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease; and Retale’s Sportiest States, which rates residents’ running and commuting habits, along with aerobic activity, obesity rates, high school sport participation, and more.
Finally, we dug into the specific local offerings of each town to find what exactly makes it a fab fitness destination. After sifting through hundreds of stretches of sand, we honed in on these top 35 beach burgs in every region around the U.S.—no matter where you live (or where you vacation!), there's a shore spot for you to get your fitness fix. (Or get out of the States and book a trip to the Happiest Places in the World.)
1. San Diego and Coronado, CA
With 26 miles of shoreline from Sunset Cliffs to La Jolla, San Diego has the most beaches ranking among Foursquare’s best and fittest. And next-door Coronado Beach is the highest rated stretch of sand on Foursquare. Coronado sits on a peninsula only a mile wide, stretching between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, connecting to San Diego. You can run a ring around the entire peninsula on paved paths and wide sidewalks in a six-mile loop.
With near perfect weather, San Diego is a year-round beach destination, teeming with biking and running paths in city parks, canyon trails, nature preserves, and waterfront boardwalks. And an astonishing 23.5 percent of San Diego County is parkland, with 340 parks spanning 40,000 acres, making it the second greenest city in America (New Orleans is first). Overall, San Diego ranks as the third healthiest metro area on the American Fitness Index and tops the list for personal health with the fittest citizens in America.
Travel Tip: Don't miss the stunning westerly sunset at Coronado Beach, and make time for a swim, surf, or scuba dive at La Jolla Shores Beach. (Want more? Check out our Healthy Travel Guide: San Diego.)
2. San Francisco, CA
As the gateway to the nearby 80,000 acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with its redwood forests and 59 miles of shoreline, San Francisco is one of America’s best cities for enjoying the great outdoors. The city's Ocean Beach and Fort Funston were among the top five in the Foursquare best beach rankings—Ocean Beach stretches 3.5 miles from Land’s End to Fort Funston and abuts Golden Gate Park, making it a beach lover’s paradise for running, biking, surfing, picnics, bonfires, and more.
And then there's the San Francisco Bay Trail, a 500-mile waterfront path-in-progress that circles the Bay. Over 340 miles are already finished, and the trail will eventually link 47 cities and cross four toll bridges, including the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Not to mention, the City of San Francisco proper has 220 parks with 30 miles of off-road hiking trails, in addition to more famous paved paths through Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, and the Marina District, making up 19 percent of the city’s land area. In fact, the San Francisco Bay area is the fourth fittest metro area on the American Fitness Index. It’s also the second most walkable city in the U.S., behind only New York.
Travel Tip: Run from Ocean Beach to Fort Funston. Just watch out for four-leggers: Fort Funston is known as San Francisco’s “Dog Heaven.” Want to go long? Tack on trails in the adjacent Land’s End or Golden Gate Park.
3. Honolulu, HI
Honolulu is home to 290 parks and Hawaii’s most beloved beach, Waikiki, plus four other world class stretches of sand, including the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, one of Hawaii’s best snorkel spots. Just 30 minutes outside the city in Kailua, you’ll find two more of Hawaii’s best beaches—Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach, which ranks in the top 25 of Foursquare’s best and fittest beaches.
Honolulu is also home to the Honolulu Marathon, which is among the five largest 26.2-mile races in the U.S. (and averages 22,000 finishers each year), and the 10th largest marathon in the world. Hawaii (the fourth sportiest state in the U.S.) also has the second lowest obesity levels in the U.S., behind only Colorado, according to Retale.
Travel Tip: Take a surfing lesson at Waikiki Beach and snorkel among the plentiful reefs at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Then head to Kailua for windsurfing, body boarding, parasailing and kayaking to nearby small, off-shore islands. (Psst...check out these 10 Beautiful Beaches to Get Your Yoga Om.)
4. New York City, NY
We were as surprised as you to find New York City (aka the "Concrete Jungle") among the nation’s top beach towns. But the Big Apple owns 14 miles of sandy beach among 578 miles of coastline. The Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk in Brooklyn is Foursquare’s second most popular beach in the U.S. and in the top 10 for fitness buffs, with three miles of oceanfront sand, volleyball, basketball, and handball courts, plus its famous boardwalk. America’s largest half-marathon, the Airbnb Brooklyn Half (with 26,000 runners), finishes on the Coney Island Boardwalk, and many of New York City’s triathletes swim open-water workouts there.
The Bronx’s Orchard Beach on Long Island Sound, with 26 basketball, volleyball, and handballs courts, ranked in the top 25 among Foursquare’s fit beaches, while Rockaway Beach and Jacob Riis Park in Queens also found themselves in the Foursquare rankings.
The city itself is a fitness fiend’s paradise with 800 athletic fields, 550 tennis courts, and 66 public swimming pools among 29,000 acres of parkland, over 20 percent of the city’s coveted real estate. On this list, only San Diego tops that. NYC also has the highest WalkScore of any town in the U.S. (meaning it's easier to walk around there than pretty much any other city). And the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim around the city is widely considered America’s toughest open water race.
Travel Tip: Run the Coney Island Boardwalk, then take a dip in the ocean. Afterwards, you can ride the historic Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster and stick around for fireworks on the beach every summer Friday at 9:30 p.m.
5. Los Angeles and Santa Monica, CA
From Playa del Rey through Venice Beach to the Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles owns a huge chunk of the 22-mile beachfront bike and pedestrian path that lines the California coast. And the city encircles Santa Monica, which owns five miles of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, better known as The Strand.
Santa Monica is also home to the original Muscle Beach, where you’ll find gymnasts swinging on ropes, rings, and bars beachside. Muscle Beach Venice in LA is now more famous for its outdoor weight “room” where bodybuilders strut their stuff and a high-flying skate park attracts boarders. It nabbed the number two spot in Foursquare’s fittest beach rankings.
The City of Angels is also home to the rugged 4,310-acre Griffith Park, with tennis courts, golf courses, and miles of hiking and mountain bike trails. You can hike the celeb-studded Runyon Canyon, and even run to the famous Hollywood sign. All told, LA has 16,000 acres of parkland.
Travel Tip: The people watching at Venice Beach can’t be beat, whether you’re gawking at Muscle Beach, agape at Venice Skate Park, taking in tourists, or ogling other types that make up Venice’s eclectic beach scene. (Love SoCal? Bookmark our Healthy Travel Guide: Palm Springs.)
6. Seattle, WA
You may not think of Seattle as a beach town, but the city by the Puget Sound had five beaches in Foursquare’s top 150, and Discovery Park and Golden Gardens Park both made the top 15. Discovery Park’s 534 acres include two miles of beaches and nearly 12 miles of trails that offer spectacular views of the Sound as well as the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, while Golden Gardens Park is a popular spot for a beachfront bonfire at sunset.
Seattle ranks as the eighth healthiest city on the American Fitness Index, and fourth for community recreational facilities. With 120 miles of trails among its 465 parks, it’s no wonder—Seattle’s parks make up almost 11 percent of the city’s total land. The state of Washington ranks in the top 10 for miles run and CrossFit gyms per capita in Retale’s Sportiest States (the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, by the way, is home to one of the world’s best and most historic rowing programs).
Travel Tip: Hike the beach and trails in Discovery Park for gorgeous views over Puget Sound and the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. Or spark up a bonfire in one of the fire pits at Golden Gardens Park and watch the sailboats float by.
7. Kohala Coast, HI
Rugged black lava fields give way to sunny, white sand beaches on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii, the Big Island. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, where boogie-boarders abound, draws rave reviews from beachgoers on Foursquare (it's the fifth fittest beach in the U.S.), while the crescent-shaped beach at Mauna Kea Beach at Kauna'oa Bay sits in the top 75. Both are sandy-bottom lagoons perfect for a swim. The soft, white sand and crystal clear water at Kauna'oa Bay might make Mauna Kea the most picturesque beach on the island.
Inland, Waimea is home to Hawaii’s tallest peak, the snowcapped Mauna Kea, which peaks 13,796 feet and has hiking and horseback trails galore. Where else can you go from tropical beach to snowcapped peaks in an hour?
And for the record, Hawaii’s residents are the second most prolific runners in the U.S., with only Massachusetts logging more miles per capita on RunKeeper.
Travel Tip: Take a dip in the calm waters of Mauna Kea Beach at Kauna'oa Bay. If you fancy a beachside cocktail, you can get it the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel bar—try the hotel’s signature Fredercio, a light rum and fruit juice concoction. (That counts as a healthy smoothie, right?)
8. West Maui, HI
The island of Maui has 30 miles of beaches along 120 miles of coastline. Sunny West Maui has it all, including seven beaches in Foursquare’s rankings: Kaanapali Beach is the best of the bunch—three miles long and perfect for fitting in a barefoot 10K; Napili Beach is a popular snorkel spot; Honolua Bay is the place for big waves in winter; and picturesque white sands line Kapalua Bay.
Once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina in West Maui is now the center of Maui’s foodie scene for Hawaiian regional cuisine, and it's also home to the famous Front Street Mile and 45-year-old Maui Marathon in September. The XTERRA World Championship Off-Road Triathlon takes place in nearby Kapalua.
Travel Tip: Snorkel off of Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach. That’s also where you’ll find a daily, can't-miss cliff-diving ceremony at sunset.
9. Chicago, IL
Winter may be brutal, but Chicago shines in the summer. Chi-town's North Avenue Beach in the Lincoln Park neighborhood tops Foursquare’s custom ranking for fit-friendly beaches, and Oak Street Beach further down the shore wasn’t far behind in the top 30. At North Avenue Beach, you’ll find volleyball courts and daily yoga sessions at sunrise, late morning or sunset, not to mention outdoor courts that do double-duty for roller hockey and dodgeball, watercraft rentals, and a beachfront bar and grill. Best of all, it’s all accessible from the Chicago Lakefront Trail, an 18-mile running and biking path along lake Michigan.
The Chicago Park District oversees 8,100 acres of green space, 77 pools, 26 miles of lakefront including 23 swimming beaches. And Chicago itself hosts America’s largest triathlon, the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon, and second largest marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Travel Tip: Start or finish your day with Sun and Moon Beach Yoga at sunrise and sunset on North Avenue Beach. Volleyball is also on tap with pick-up games, court and ball rental, along with leagues that compete all summer long.
10. Miami Beach, FL
More than nine miles of continuous beach line Miami Beach, with four miles of accompanying boardwalk, making it one of the best beach towns for a long run. The greater Miami area has an incredible 35 total miles of beaches. South Pointe Park earns raves as a quieter spot to walk the beach, bring your dog, watch the cruise ships cruise by, or take in views from the pier.
Miami has the fifth highest WalkScore in the U.S. The city's Parks & Recreation department is one of just 136 in the nation to receive accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies for excellence.
And to combat Miami Beach's overly bronzed rep, the city's new sun safe initiative has installed 50 free sunscreen dispensers at public pools, parks and beaches (sayonara, skin cancer). The city even has its own MB Miami Beach Suncare line.
Travel Tip: After a stroll on the beach, walk the pier at South Pointe Park for panoramic views of Miami and Miami Beach. (PS: Take note of these 9 Healthy Vacation Hacks.)
11. Sarasota and Siesta Key, FL
Florida isn't just Spring Break central: Siesta Key offers 8 miles of sand, the most famous of which is Siesta Key Beach off the coast of Sarasota, which ranks in the top five on both Foursquare’s best beaches and fittest beaches lists. Siesta Key Beach's claim to fame is its 99 percent pure quartz sand that stays cool to the touch—perfect for running.
Sarasota’s Lido Beach also ranks in the top 25 best beaches, and the city is surrounded by six islands in the Gulf of Mexico, each circled by pristine white sand beaches.
Travel Tip: Run the cool and sugary soft sand at Siesta Key Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in America.
12. South Shore Kauai, HI
Kauai has more beaches per mile than any other Hawaiian island, with 50 miles of sand. The island’s sunny South Shore is where you’ll find it's most popular stretch of sand. The crystal waters of Poipu Beach offer something for everyone: snorkeling, safe swimming, boogie boarding, and surfing. Poipu also serves as the start and oceanfront finish of the Kauai Marathon & Half-Marathon each Labor Day Weekend. Year round, the 10-mile Koloa Heritage Trail offers walking and biking options through Poipu’s beaches, dunes, gardens and more. In fact, 90 percent of Kauai is inaccessible by car, so lace up your shoes or grab a bike.
The South Shore is the gateway to Kauai’s wild West Side, where you’ll find 45 miles of trails in Kokee State Park, offering views of the 14-mile long Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It’s also where you can hop aboard a sailboat or kayak to see the 3,000 feet cliffs of Kauai’s rugged Napali Coast. The 17 miles of beach at Polihale State Park is where you can really get away from it all.
Travel Tip: Poipu Beach, where you’ll find sandy-bottom lagoons for swimming, reefs for snorkeling, and breakers further from shore for surfing, should be your first (and maybe only) stop.
13. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis, the beach town? You betcha. The Minnesota city in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” has four beaches in the Foursquare rankings, including Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Nokomis. At Lake Calhoun you’ll find three separate beaches, archery, running and biking paths, soccer and softball fields, volleyball courts, and more.
Minneapolis is the second healthiest city in the U.S., behind only Washington D.C. on the American Fitness Index. And nearly 15 percent of Minneapolis-St. Paul is parkland, which includes 12 city beaches, while Minnesota as a state is the ninth sportiest, scoring second in the nation for high school sports participation.
Travel Tip: Try your hand at archery or run a 5K around Lake Calhoun’s three beaches. The trail around the lake is a perfect 3.1 miles.
14. Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, FL
Greater Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of beaches, including Hollywood's seven miles of beaches and a 2.5-mile beach boardwalk. Fort Lauderdale Beach ranked ninth in Foursquare’s list of best beaches, while Hollywood Beach ranked in the top among both the best and fittest beaches on Foursquare. You’ll find paddleball courts and ping-pong tables among the city’s three oceanfront parks.
The area's beaches are certified Blue Wave by the Clean Beaches Coalition, meeting seven ethical standards for clean, safe, and healthy beachgoing. Deerfield Beach and Hallandale Beach, two neighboring towns, also rank in Foursquare’s top 100 best beaches.
Travel Tip: Forget beach volleyball—grab a paddle for some ping-pong after biking the boardwalk at Hollywood Beach.
15. Huntington Beach, CA
Known as “Surf City,” Huntington Beach enjoys year-round rolling surf on its 9.5-mile long stretch of sand. Naturally, the town is home to the U.S. Open of Surfing in the World Surf League.
All of Huntington Beach’s waterfront ranked among Foursquare’s top beaches and fit beaches, including Huntington Beach City Beach, Huntington State Beach, and Bolsa Chica State Beach. The 12.8-mile Huntington Beach Bike Trail goes to Newport Beach to the south, and there are four miles of hiking trails in the city’s Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Newport Beach offers another 10 miles of coastline, and the 10.5-mile Back Bay Loop Trail is a favorite among runners and hikers—and the Newport Beach Triathlon is the longest running triathlon in the world, going back to 1978.
Travel Tip: Rent a bike in Sunset Beach and pedal your way along the waterfront Huntington Beach Bike Trail to Newport Beach.
16. Malibu, CA
Malibu inspired the most famous beach-bound Barbie for good reason. The town has 21 miles of coastline with public and publicly accessible private beaches. Malibu’s Zuma Beach, El Matador State Beach, and Point Dume State Beach all ranked among Foursquare’s 150 best beaches, while Zuma Beach ranked among the fittest beaches too.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that encircles Malibu includes 500 miles of trails. Oh, and Malibu Lagoon State Beach, known as Surfrider Beach, was named the first World Surfing Reserve as part of the Save The Waves coastal preservation program.
Travel Tip: Spot dolphins, whales, or seals from Zuma Beach and rock climb at Point Dume State Beach. (See 12 Places to Go Rock Climbing Before You Die.)
17. Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg, FL
Clearwater Beach sits on 2.5 miles of white sand along the Gulf of Mexico. It ranked among Foursquare’s top 20 best beaches, while St. Petersburg’s Fort Desoto Beach ranked among Foursquare's top 20 for fitness buffs. Nearby Treasure Island, Dunedin, and Madeira Beach also ranked among Foursquare's top 50 beaches.
Known as the “Sunshine City,” St. Petersburg averages 360 days of sunshine a year (!). The city's downtown waterfront parks stretch for seven miles, with running and biking paths and spots for paddleboarding, kiteboarding, and kayaking. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve boasts another six miles of trails. And the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail extends 42.5 miles from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs through Clearwater. The former rail trail is popular with cyclists, runners, and walkers.
Travel Tip: Rent a kayak or SUP to explore the seven miles of waterfront among the five islands of Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg. If you prefer to stay on land, seven miles of paved paths connect three miles of beaches.
18. North Shore Kauai, HI
Hike to a secluded beach on Kauai’s North Shore. The 11-mile Kalalau Trail, which starts at the end of Ke'e Beach, is the only foot access to Kauai’s remote Napali Coast, leading to the hard-to-reach Kalalau Beach. The rugged trail is a favorite among off-road runners and hikers for its lush terrain, stunning views, and beachfront finish. Your only other options for seeing Napali are by boat or helicopter.
The more accessible crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay is over two miles long—perfect for a short run or long swim in the sandy bottom lagoon. Other area beaches like Tunnels Beach and Ke'e Beach in Ha'ena State Park are top spots for snorkeling. Look for the shark tooth-shaped Mt. Makana, the Bali Hai of "South Pacific" fame, towering nearby.
Hawaii ranks as the fourth sportiest state in the U.S. and second only to Massachusetts among beach states, according to Retale. The state ranks sixth in commuter biking and walking, and fourth nationally for percentage of residents meeting weekly recommended aerobic activity levels.
Travel Tip: Rent a stand-up paddleboard at Hanalei Bay, where the shore's natural crescent shape creates the perfect conditions for even the most inexperienced boarder.
19. Kona District, HI
Home of the famous Kona coffee, the Kona District is a 60-mile stretch on Hawaii Island’s west coast. Kailua-Kona is the food and nightlife capital of the area—the local Da Poke Shack fresh fish shop topped Yelp's list of best places to eat in the U.S. in 2014.
Kailua-Kona is also home to the Ironman World Championships each October. The Kailua Pier is the start and finish for the race, with triathletes running along the town's famous Ali'i Drive. Kahaluu Beach Park is also popular with beginner swimmers and snorkelers. Outside town, Laalao Beach, famous for its “magic” disappearing sands during tidal shifts, is one of the best body surfing and boogie boarding beaches on the islands. The boogie board was invented and tested in Kailua-Kona in 1971. Honaunau Bay, better known as Two Step, is another popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving with spot dolphins and turtles.
And here's a fun fact to drop next time you need to make small talk: Among U.S. beach states, Hawaii residents have earned the most Olympic medals per capita, with a total of 5 golds since 1924 for its 1.4 million population.
Travel Tip: Rent a body board at Magic Sands Beach or bring your snorkel and fins to Honaunau Bay. (Related: 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Vacation.)
20. Monmouth County, NJ
Yes, the Jersey Shore. And no, we're not talking about MTV's Jersey Shore. Monmouth County has 50 miles of beaches, and from West Long Branch through Asbury Park and Bradley Beach to Belmar, this stretch of the Jersey Shore had four beach hamlets in the Foursquare rankings.
The Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook has a seven-mile multi-use rec path, hiking trails, bird sanctuary, and historic Fort Hancock. With more water than land area, it's a boater’s paradise for canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and fishing. And the Iron Girl Sandy Hook Women's Triathlon & 5K takes place each September in the park. Agritourism is booming in Monmouth County with local farms offering petting zoos, corn mazes, pick your own fruit patches, fresh produce, baked goods, dairy products, and more.
Travel Tip: Amble along the Asbury Park Boardwalk or take one of the daily beachfront yoga classes at West End Beach in West Long Branch.
21. Virginia Beach, VA
The Virginia Beach area boasts 35 miles of coastline and a three-mile boardwalk connecting the city's three beaches. The adjacent False Cape State Park offers six miles of beaches and trails among its 3,800 acres. In fact, nearly 16 percent of the Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Newport News area is parkland.
Virginia resident are avid runners, ranking fourth in the U.S on mileage per capita. The annual Shamrock Marathon weekend in Virginia Beach draws nearly 25,000 runners.
Travel Tip: Comb the quiet 5-mile stretch of Sandbridge Beach for sand dollars and seashells. Looking for a livelier scene? Head to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk to bike or rollerblade in a dedicated bike lane.
22. Fire Island, NY
Roughly 40 miles east of New York City, Babylon feels a world away. With five miles of oceanfront beach, Robert Moses State Park on Fire Island is just one of the ranking beaches in Long Island's Babylon, along with Cedar Beach on Jones Beach Island nearby. The 32-mile long Fire Island is largely car-free—residents and vacationers simply walk, bike, or drive a golf-cart. The Fire Island National Seashore, part of the U.S. National Park Service, encompasses 26-miles of the island.
New York itself is the eighth sportiest state in the U.S., according to Retale, and has the ninth lowest obesity levels.
Travel Tip: Perfect your swing at the 18-hole oceanfront golf course at Robert Moses State Park, or hit the water for stand-up paddle boarding, wind surfing, and swimming.
23. Cape Cod, MA
The Cape Cod towns of Orleans, Chatham, Wellfleet, and Harwich all scored among Foursquare's fittest beaches. Naturally—the Cape Cod National Seashore covers nearly 45,000 acres of beaches, marshes, hiking and horseback riding trails, and running and biking trails, like the 26-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail.
It’s no surprise: Massachusetts is the second sportiest state in the U.S., behind only Vermont, and Massachusetts residents run more miles per capita on the RunKeeper app than any other state, according to Retale. The Bay State also ranks third among states with the lowest obesity levels, on Retale’s list, and tenth for adults who meet recommended aerobic activity minimums.
Travel Tip: Bike from the beach in Chatham through Orleans and Harwich to the beach in Wellfleet along the connecting Old Colony and Cape Cod Rail Trails.
24. Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach in Orange County found three of its stretches of sand in the Foursquare rankings—Main Beach, Crystal Cove State Park, and Thousand Steps Beach. The Orange County town, which gave us Lauren Conrad and Laguna Beach, has seven miles of beaches with 20 coves, beaches and parks.
At Main Beach, you’ll find volleyball, basketball, tide pools, and a boardwalk. At Thousand Steps Beach, you’ll encounter boarders of all sorts—body, surf, and skim. Crystal Cove State Park offers 3.2 miles of beaches and 17 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Diving underwater is popular in Laguna too. Laguna Beach's dolphin population is larger than Hawaii, Florida, and the Caribbean's combined, and the city's waters are a fully protected marine reserve.
Travel Tip: Take a skimboarding lesson at one of Laguna’s many beaches—the sport was actually born in LB in the 1920s.
25. Erie, PA
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula on Lake Erie. It offers 11 miles of beaches, 14 miles of paved trails, and 11 miles of hiking trails, along with an environmental center. By the way, it’s Pennsylvania’s only sandy beach. Erie also has an extensive trail network—including the nine-mile Bayfront Bikeway multi-use path—in addition to three national bike routes running through it. The 270-mile Erie-to-Pittsburgh trail, a completely car-free, multi-use track, is two-thirds complete.
Travel Tip: Fly a kite at Sunset Point, better known as “Kite Beach,” in Presque Isle State Park. Comb the beaches for beach glass, tumbled from bottles thrown into Lake Erie over the years. Visiting in winter? Try your hand at wind skating—like kite surfing but on ice skates.
26. Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee may not be as big as Chicago, but it has even more parkland—15,000 acres among 140 parks, including prime real estate on Lake Michigan. You'll find CrossFit and yoga classes, volleyball and swimmers galore at Milwaukee's most popular stretch of sand, Bradford Beach, which nabbed the number four spot on Foursquare’s fit beaches list. The city's Oak Leaf Trail travels over hill and dale and through the heart of the Milwaukee—and a quarter of it runs along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking for beach volleyball, Bradford Beach is the spot. From there, you can hop on the Oak Leaf Trail, which circles Milwaukee in a 117-mile double loop.
27. Montauk, NY
Montauk, a hamlet in the town of East Hampton at the furthest end of Long Island, has six state parks and two beaches in the rankings—Ditch Plains and Montauk Beach. More remote than its tonier Hamptons siblings, the town is know for its more laidback surf vibe.
New York state residents rank third in running miles logged per capita on RunKeeper. And Montauk itself hosts numerous triathlons and open water swims throughout the year, including the season-opener RJA Memorial Mighty Montauk Triathlon in June and season-closer MightyMan Montauk in October with sprint, Olympic, and half-Ironman distances.
Travel Tip: Ride the long waves at Ditch Plains, the East Coast’s most famous surf beach, where you’ll find long boarders and SUP’ers in the break.
28. Lewes, Rehoboth, and Dewey Beaches, DE
The only thing separating the towns of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach is the 5,200-acre Cape Henlopen State Park, with six miles of sandy beaches, 20 miles of trails, and even an 18-hole disc golf course. A five-mile long former rail trail connects the two towns. Next door, Dewey Beach abuts the 2,800-acre Delaware Seashore State Park with six miles of shoreline, two ocean beaches, and 11 miles of trails.
Just two miles wide, Dewey Beach is a watersport hub straddling Rehoboth Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The town is home to the Amateur World Championships of Skimboarding. Though the sport originated in Laguna Beach, it’s taken hold in Delaware, where Skim USA is headquartered.
Travel Tip: Dewey Beach is the East’s top skimboarding spot. Take a lesson or watch the pros in the United Skim Tour or regulars at the Zap Amateur World Championship of Skimboarding.
29. Nags Head, NC
Eleven miles of oceanfront beach line the hamlet of Nags Head in the Outer Banks. Jockey's Ridge State Park in town has the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern U.S. Hang gliding, sandboarding, kayaking, and windsurfing are all permitted in the park.
The 105-mile long Outer Banks are cycling-friendly, with marked bike routes and "Share the Road" signs. The Outer Banks are also the land of wild horses, with a roaming population of about 100 wild mustangs. The Outer Banks Catch, a coalition of local fisheries, delivers fresh seafood to the area's 170 independent, local restaurants.
Travel Tip: Kiteboard or sandboard the 80- to 100-foot dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, or take a hang-gliding lesson on the ridge. (Add it to Your Summer Fitness Bucket List.)
30. Cannon Beach, OR
The town of Cannon Beach has a vibrant art scene, annual yoga festival and wine and culinary festival—not to mention, it's the beach of Goonies fame. Nearby Ecola State Park boasts nine miles of coastline and connects to the 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail. The Cannon Beach Surf Shop offers lessons year-round, and the Northwest Women’s Surf Camps teach lessons and host weeklong retreats up and down the Oregon coast.
Oregon is the fifth sportiest state in the U.S., according to Retale, ranking second in percentage of adults meeting weekly aerobic activity requirement and sixth in miles run per capita. Oregon is fourth nationally for commuter biking and walking and number of CrossFit gyms per capita.
Travel Tip: Horseback ride along Cannon Beach past the famous Haystack Rock. Or try your hand at surfing on Cannon Beach or in nearby Seaside, just past Ecola State Park.
31. Ogunquit, ME
Three and a half miles of soft white sand line Ogunquit in southern Maine. The Marginal Way 1.5-mile paved footpath sweeps the town's cliffs with panoramic views along the coast. And the nearby Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region has 40 miles of trails among its 10,000 acres inside 30,000 acres of conservation land.
Maine is ranked ninth nationally for adults who meet recommended aerobic activity minimums and fourth for high school sports participation.
Travel Tip: Take a stroll or run along a sandbar during low tide at Ogunquit Beach. During high tide, whole stretches of beach disappear. (And see 7 Trails to Run Before You Die.)
32. Newport, RI
It might be the smallest state in the U.S, but what Little Rhody lacks in size (it's smaller than Los Angeles County), it makes up for in fit-friendly might. The Ocean State has 400 miles of coastline and beaches aplenty. Fort Adams State Park earns the top spot in the state. Sail Newport, New England’s largest public and non-profit sailing center, is based near the beach in the park. Fort Adams also hosts the famous Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, as well as qualifying rounds for America’s Cup (Newport bills itself at the "Sailing Capital of the World," having hosted the America’s Cup for 53 years). Second Beach earns second place honors in the state as a quiet spot to escape Newport’s hubbub.
Adjacent to Second Beach, the Norman Bird Sanctuary and Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge offer 10 miles of trails. The Sakonnet Greenway Trail has another 10 miles of trails through woods, wetlands, and farms. Providence, at the top of Narragansett Bay, is home to Run Providence, a training group of world-class runners, plus a 14-mile bike path that runs to the 460-acre waterfront Colt State Park in Bristol.
Travel Tip: Slurp a Del’s Frozen Lemonade, a Rhode Island staple, at Second Beach; take a sailing lesson at Sail Newport in Fort Adams State Park; or watch one of the weekly polo matches at the Newport International Polo Series.
33. Gulf Shores, AL
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach stretch for 32 miles along the Alabama coastline, with plenty of white sand beaches and turquoise waters. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail offers 14 miles of multi-use rec path along the Alabama coast, touring travelers through six ecosystems. And Gulf State Park has two miles of beach, tennis courts, a golf course, zipline, and hiking trails.
Travel Tip: Ride a mile-long zipline above the beach and blue waters, or get wet with a stand-up paddleboard or kayak, all at the Gulf Adventure Center in Gulf State Park.
34. Galveston, TX
Galveston Island on the Gulf of Mexico has 32 miles of beach. Kayakers and SUPers can follow a variety of 2.5 to five-mile water trails through Galveston Island State Park. You'll also find hiking trails among the park's 2,000 acres. The 10.4-mile long seawall provides a contiguous sidewalk for runners and walkers.
Travel Tip: Jog the Seawall to Stewart Beach Park at the end of Galveston Island for a post-run dip in the Gulf.
35. Hilton Head Island, SC
On Hilton Head Island, you'll find 12 miles of beaches, tennis courts, biking trails, and golf courses galore. You can even play pickleball and FootGolf. (Don't know what they are? Make time to learn on your next vacay.)
Hilton Head Island has 60 miles of multi-use trails and 15,000 bicycles to rent. The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuse has 14 miles of trails and you'll find another 600 acres of nature preserves with trails on the island. The Hilton Head Island Marathon debuted in 2014 as one of the country's newest 26.2-miles races. The island also hosts numerous triathlons throughout the year.
Travel Tip: Coligny Beach Park is the most popular patch of sand on the island, but consider biking to Burkes Beach. The adjacent Chaplin Community Park has basketball courts, tennis courts, playing fields, and a dog park.