11 State Parks with Beautiful Beaches

(Last Updated On: January 2, 2023)

Whether you want to spend time by oceans or lakes, you can find a state park perfect for your needs. Find your adventure from the 11 most beautiful beaches from Hawaii to the Rockies, ready to help you get a much-needed break from the stress of life.

Take your camping gear or a boat and get ready for an adventure. Also, find tranquility in a few hidden gems ready to make you feel like the only person on a sandy white beach with crystal blue waters everywhere you look.

Mākena State Park, Hawaii

High Angle view of Makena State Park, Big Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Makena Beach State Park on Maui gained fame for its impressive beauty. Long stretches of white sand bring a new meaning to downtime on a seemingly deserted island. The park also provides trade winds and gorgeous views of Molokini and Kaho’olawe because of its location between two outcroppings of black lava.

You will find two distinct beaches, Big Beach and Little Beach. South of Wailea, you will find the 1.5-mile Big Beach, a quieter alternative to the tourist-heavy beaches of Kanapal and Lhain. On the other side of the Pu’u Olai Volcano Cinder Cone, Little Beach houses a stretch of beach about half a mile long. You may not want to take the kids to this beach as it’s a nude beach.

Both of these beaches are well-known for their sloping shorelines, which provides ideal swimming. Visitors often enjoy skimboarding, bodyboarding, and body surfing on the massive shore break. Also, try fishing, snorkeling, and surfing. People go to Hawaii for little slices of heaven, like Makena State Park.

Crystal Cove State Park, California

view of the beach from the cliff above Crystal Cove State Park

Find over three miles of coastline in Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, California. Located on both Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, this park offers easy access to a wide variety of shorelines perfect for strolling with paved walkways.

When the tide is out, you can find tide pools forming rocky peaks. Of course, this gorgeous beach offers amenities like restaurants and bars along with cottages for rent, perfect for enjoying the rocky terrain and white sands.

Moro beach within the park offers a plethora of activities, including swimmers, bodyboarders, divers, snorkelers, surf fishermen, and kayakers all go to Moro Beach.

Scotchman’s Cove, a famous swimming and sunning spot, can be reached by stairs, while Muddy Creek, a great place for body surfing, can be reached via a ramp to the south. Make sure to visit Pelican Point, reachable by car with a short walk to the water’s edge.

Overall, Crystal Cove State Park supplies a welcome respite from the bustle of the city with its sand dunes, beaches, tide pools, undulating hills, and densely forested canyons and slopes.

During the summer, the park has a Mediterranean climate with humid mornings, sunny days, and pleasant evenings. With over three miles of shoreline, it’s easy to find a spot to spend the day.

Assateague State Park, Maryland

horse grazing at Assateague State Park

Assateague is Maryland’s sole beachfront park, but it does not let that stop you from visiting as it offers more than meets the eye.

As a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay, its a unique location with perfect for those who wish to swim, surf, fish, and beach comb.

In addition, the bay side is a fantastic area to kayak or canoe in peaceful inlets, and the marshes are home to many wild animals.

This 37-mile-long barrier island has beautiful beaches, wild grazing horses, and abundant birdlife available to day visitors and campers alike. The winds change, often giving way to new views of the bays, maritime woodlands, salt marshes, and sandy beaches. What other location could offer such wonders during the warmer seasons!

Assateague’s wild horses are a breed of tame animals that have returned to the wild. Although, do not try to go too close to the horses as they are not tame enough for touch.

The park borders both Virginia and Maryland, each with separate horse herds with a border wall separating the two states. It’s rare to see horses in their natural habitat making this a one-of-a-kind experience but don’t forget to visit the water by land or boat either!

Mustang Island State Park, Texas

Beach canopies at Mustang Island State Park

Beach canopies at Mustang Island State Park. Photo: Park Facebook Page

Visitors to Mustang Island will enjoy a day at the beach in a state park without having to drive too far from the conveniences. Situated near Port Aransas, Mustang Island State Park stretches along the island’s coastline for five miles. People from far and wide can enjoy over 400 kinds of birds, camping, swimming, and fishing.

The park offers a tranquil getaway with 18 miles of coastline with respite from the worries of Corpus Christi along the Texas coast. Mustang Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles and dolphins.

In addition, the undeveloped island offers unspoiled shorelines for those looking for a fun outing in the great outdoors unfettered by city light and noise pollution.

Find several trails ready to walk the coastline, including the Mustang Island Paddling Trail, along with miles of walkways such ask the North Trail, Shamrock Loop, and the Ashum Trail.

Mustang Island State Park welcomes tourists all through the year who are interested in sea turtle nesting, paddling tours, and shallow-water fishing.

For more information read our full article on Mustang Island State Park.

Caladesi Island State Park, Florida

an aerial photo of Caladesi Island State Park

Spend a day at one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, Caladesi Island State Park, just west of Tampa on the coast. It’s filled with amazing sights and a much-needed hiatus from work and responsibility, whether you want to take a leisurely walk along the island’s beautiful beaches or paddle through a mangrove forest. Within minutes you will see why writer Myrtle Scharrer Betz described this area as paradise.

Caladesi Island is one of Florida’s few remaining natural barrier islands, offering a haven of beauty and serenity on a four-mile stretch of shore. Often, you can find completely empty areas to keep to yourself or your family for the day. Rent a boat or a kayak to get to the barrier, or take the Honeymoon Island’s ferry ride to see wildlife on the way.

Also, the unique continental shelf off the coast of Florida is very flat, making it a lot easier for shells to remain intact when coming to shore. There is a ranger station, boat docks, beach chairs, umbrella rentals, kayak rentals, and mangrove kayak paths on the island. Swimmers, beach-combers, bird-watchers, and anglers love to come here to play. While it takes a little extra effort to get to the island, you will find the area rewarding to all of your senses, especially because the crowds are at other beaches with their cars.

For more information read our full article on Caladesi Island State Park.

False Cape State Park, Virginia

stormy skies and waves from the beach at false cape state park in virginia

One of the rare spots to camp on the beach without a dune in the way is at False Cape State Park in Virginia. Discover the park on a barrier island just south of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. While it’s one of the state’s most popular beach destinations, Virginia Beach, it feels like a world apart from daily life and stress. The mile-wide barrier separates Back Bay from the Atlantic Ocean with over four thousand acres and six miles of undeveloped coastlines at the North Carolina coastline.

The highlight, though, is camping is allowed on two miles of the most pristine beaches you will ever see, so you can go as far away from civilization as you like. The only other people you might see are a few other campers or rangers, leaving you and your family secluded from the world but also amenities, so pack well! Expect to find more than just a pristine beach as the park houses a wide range of ecosystems, from dune and woodland to salt marsh and maritime forest to swampy woods.

In order to reach the state park, visitors must enter via Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge on foot, by bike, by boat, or via a tramway. Spend your days beach-combing, swimming, fishing, and kayaking while exploring the different areas. Find your reward in the form of a breathtaking panorama of the ocean at the end of the day before catching a glimpse of the stars in the sky.

For more information read our full article on False Cape State Park.

Bear Lake State Park, Utah/Idaho

aerial view of Bear Lake State Park

Aerial view of Bear Lake State Park. Photo: Park Facebook Page.

Bear Lake State Park, located on the border of Utah and Idaho, remains a popular destination for various outdoor activities, including swimming, fishing, boating, and camping, thanks to its crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. The lake’s beautiful aqua hue is the result of minerals, including calcium carbonate, with swirls in the water for a unique lake. However, you will want to look up too for visions of the Cache Mountains and equally blue skies.

Bring your camping gear and enjoy the water for a few days. The recreational paradise allows you to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and other water-related activities. Bear Lake is visited by roughly 15,000 campers every year, making it a popular location for those who enjoy the water. Check out the 20-mile long and 8-mile broad body of water. It’s nicknamed the Caribbean of the Rockies because of its strikingly vibrant turquoise water.

In the summer, a large number of people enjoy the lake’s shallow depths and ample swimming space. Ice fishermen in search of the rare Bonneville Cisco can do so during the winter months. From public beaches and lakeside campgrounds, families can go swimming, water skiing, scuba diving, and sailing and get away from the worries of life for a few hours or a few days.

Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona

tree and park bench next to the water at lake havasu state park in arizona

Lake Havasu State Park, on the northern border between California and Arizona, offers a waterfall, beach, and a resort. Guests to Lake Havasu may enjoy camping, picnicking, and hiking at Lake Havasu State Park. It’s just three hours west of Phoenix and two and a half hours south of Las Vegas, making it a convenient place to relax in the hot desert. Many people visit every year because of the beautiful scenery of the 400 miles of coastline and the surrounding mountains.

Enjoy a huge, huge swimming area at the day-use beach at Lake Havasu State Park, complete with gorgeous white sand along the shoreline. In the park, you may unwind on one of the several beaches that make Lake Havasu City so appealing. However, there are no available lifeguards. The beautiful sandy beaches of Lake Havasu are perfect for lounging with friends, playing a round of your favorite beach game, or just people-watching.

Most guests enjoy the water for recreational purposes, such as boating, fishing, and swimming; however, jet skiing and water skiing are also popular. In addition, Lake Havasu is a great spot for those interested in scuba diving and fishing. Finally, keep an eye out for the lake’s lighthouses when traveling by land or sea. These 26 structures are all miniature versions of well-known lighthouses around the United States. Also, it’s home to the London Bridge, making it a unique destination!

For more information read our full article on Lake Havasu State Park

Sand Harbor State Park, Nevada

Lake Tahoe Nevada Sunset at Sand Harbor Beach

Take some time to enjoy North America’s largest alpine lake at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Sand Harbor State Park. The eastern side of Sand Harbor works perfectly for swimming, kayaking, and scuba diving due to its gentle slopes, pure water, and unique rock formations. The park’s boaters, water skiers, and fishermen may access the lake through two ramps before taking a break to picnic under cedars and jeffery pin trees along the beachfront.

Sand Harbor is one of Tahoe’s most popular and beautiful parks, with a 2,500-foot Main Beach ideal for swimming, tanning, and more. At the southernmost tip, there is a tiny launch channel for boats without motors, perfect for fishers. Also, the park stays open every day until midnight, although the park may close at
5 p.m. when the parking lot is filled.

Next, enjoy the water as a scuba diver or recreational beachgoer at Divers Cove, a smaller, protected location below the Visitor Center and near to the Group Area. Keep in mind cold water, sudden storms, and surprise waves all deserve respect year-round. It’s worth a visit, though, for the extremely blue water and
car-sized granite stones, not to mention stunning views of the lake and mountains.

Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware

Sunrise at Cape Henlopen State Park beach

Thousands of people go to Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware every year to sunbathe and swim in the water. The park comes replete with a contemporary bathhouse with showers, locker rooms, and a snack bar near the swimming area. It’s a great choice for those with disabilities, as you can rent Mobi-Mat equipment to get wheelchairs onto the beach. All this will enjoy the Atlantic coastline from two beaches.

Photographers love the beach, especially Herring Point, for its stunning rock outcroppings at sunrise; the sun will rise right over the sea. Additionally, visitors can get some exercise on the Walking Dunes Trail. Taking this lesser-known path across the park’s vast sand dunes will make you feel like you have been transported to the desert.

Enjoy the blue waters from the beach or even from a surfboard but get there early as the park fills in quickly. You can get there from the town of Lewes in the southeast portion of the state by Rehoboth Beach near the bay of the same name. Enjoy views of New Jersey’s Cape May and a Lighthouse in a rock outcrop.

Next, the pier makes for a nice area to enjoy the water or fish. Take a stroll around the pier’s quarter-mile length and check out the catch of the day. In the summertime, you could even see an osprey. Dog owners can bring their pets to Herring Point as long as they keep them on a leash. It’s common to see many marine birds and dolphins!

For more information read our full article on Cape Henlopen State Park

Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana

Beachfront along Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes State Park

The Indiana Dunes State Park houses 2,182 acres of pristine, picturesque, historic terrain. Located in northern Porter County, this stunning stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline spans over three miles and large sand dunes as high as 200 feet. The park is home to several ecosystems and plant species, with the latter helping to keep the sand in place. Additionally, many aquatic species call the lake home, causing the lake’s fish population to be ever-evolving.

Explore a large selection of fun things to do on the 15 miles of sandy beach year-round. Start by taking in the promenade at sunset in the summer or admire the icy beauty of Lake Michigan’s shelf ice in the winter. Parking is easy to find with accessibility, bathrooms, and showers. From there, search for rocks, shells, and fossils along the beach or camp to find more every day.

Located southeast of Chicago, the parks are a perfect break from city life in the summer, with just a small fee for entry. The Riverwalk is an easy stroll of 0.9 miles of beach, mostly flat and paved, with only one set of steps. Take your boat or fishing gear to enjoy the water properly unless you prefer to lounge on the beach.