States You Never Realized Have Gorgeous Beaches

Most people assume that they have to go either to the East Coast or to the West Coast to get some beach time. That’s often not a big deal if you live in a coastal state. But for those of us in a landlocked state, a relaxing day with the sun, sand, and surf can seem a world away. However, you can actually kick back on plenty of gorgeous beaches, even if you’re nowhere near an ocean!

Read on to check out some of the most breathtaking beaches, located in states that most people don’t realize offer the perfect beach destination.

1. Arizona

The journey will be worth it. | Wikimedia Commons/Gonzo Fan2007

Arizona is typically the state you head to if you want to see the desert, not the beach. But Bravo notes that the state actually has a great inland beach at Havasupai Falls. Getting there is not a journey for the faint of heart, though. The falls are actually located inside the Grand Canyon, so you’ll need to make a 10-mile trek just to get there! And while Bravo notes that the beach at the falls is more rock than sand, its beautiful location and iconic blue waters make for a peaceful getaway. 

2. Colorado

Grand Lake is a peaceful retreat. | Wikimedia Commons/Hogs555

Most people head to Colorado to spend time in the mountains, not at the beach. However, you can enjoy both at the same time if you head to Grand Lake. As the state’s largest natural lake, Grand Lake has everything you’d want in a beach. That includes a historic boardwalk, plenty of vacation homes, a yacht club, and endless opportunities to go boating, sailing, or fishing. Or, you can just hang out on the beach with the mountains as a backdrop. Sounds like a pretty breathtaking getaway to us!

3. Illinois

Oak Street beach gives you relaxation in the middle of the city. | Wikimedia Commons/Steven Kevil

Think that if you want to vacation in a big city, you can’t have a beach day, too? Think again! Chicago actually has 26 miles of lakefront where you can go walking, swimming, sailing, and more. Midwest Weekends recommends checking out Oak Street Beach, in particular. This destination is just a few steps from Michigan Avenue, but “may as well be in another time zone, with its California vibe and easygoing beach culture.”

4. Iowa

There’s plenty to do in this resort town. | Vacation Okoboji via Facebook

Iowa, though beautiful, doesn’t necessarily top the list of traditional vacation destinations. However, OneTravel offers a pretty compelling reason for beach bums to place the state on their vacation shortlists: Okoboji. “Yes, Iowa has a resort town and yes, it’s beautiful,” the publication explains. Iowa’s “Great Lakes” offer gorgeous beaches, plenty of opportunities for sailing, and great fishing conditions. Plus, the town nearby has an old-fashioned amusement park and a movie theater that shows the classics. 

5. Michigan

South Haven, Michigan, is a dreamy lake town. | Pure Michigan/Alice Myers

Secretly hoping to discover a freshwater spot that looks just as expansive as the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean? Then you’ve come to the right place! Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, may be the perfect destination for you. Bravo notes that you have your pick of beaches all around the lake. (That includes not only Michigan, but also locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.)

If you’re sticking with Michigan, check out the Keweenaw Peninsula, specifically Bete Grise and the Great Sand Bay. And if it’s Lake Michigan, not Lake Superior, that you want to visit on your next beach day, check out Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan instead. 

6. Minnesota

There are plenty of lakes to choose from. | Sakakawea7/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re heading to Minnesota to relax on the shores of Lake Superior, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Park Point beach in Duluth. But that’s far from your only option. Midwest Weekends has plenty of recommendations, including Chain of Lakes Regional Park in Minneapolis, Pelican Lake near Nisswa, Square Lake Park near Stillwater, Father Hennepin State Park, Zippel Bay State Park, and Green Lake near Spicer. Each one offers beautiful sandy beaches and expansive views. You may even forget that you’re inland and not on a coast!

7. Nebraska

You wouldn’t expect to see beaches in Nebraska. | GeorgeBurba/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re in Nebraska and craving a beach day, you may want to make a trip to Lake McConaughy, the state’s largest lake. As OneTravel reports, the lake’s shores are naturally white and sandy. The lake’s 20-mile length makes it the perfect place for plenty of outdoor activities. You can always just hang out on the shore, especially if you need some good beach time. But you can also go fishing or boating. Or, take the opportunity to enjoy a gorgeous hike. 

8. Nevada

Lake Tahoe is perfect for boating and beaches. | iStock/Getty Images

You can reach Lake Tahoe from California or Nevada, but it makes an especially great addition to the itinerary for any Nevada vacation. The lake straddles the border between the two states, and offers the perfect combination of mountains and beaches for travelers coming from either direction. USA Today also recommends checking out the beach near Reno at Pyramid Lake, the beaches at Walker Lake, plus the Lake Mead Recreation Area beaches. 

9. New York

Avoid the Atlantic, and hit the lakes. | Colin Archer/Getty Images

Most people think the only beaches in New York are on Coney Island. However, the state has plenty to offer beachgoers who want to escape the overcrowded coast. Bravo recommends a getaway to Hamlin Beach State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario. You can hang out on the beach, go biking or hiking, go camping, or even go fishing. Another fun destination to check out? Lake George, where you can enjoy both the lake and the Adirondack Mountains. 

10. North Dakota

East Arroda lake is a dream for fishing. | Sakakawea7/iStock/Getty Images

Most people wouldn’t think to look to North Dakota for a beach destination. However, you might want to check out the beach at Lake Sakakawea State Park. The lake, which measures 178 miles long, numbers among the largest manmade reservoirs in the nation. OneTravel reports that the state park “serves as the end of the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail that stretches from upstate New York all the way to North Dakota.” You can go hiking, swimming, camping, fishing, and boating on and around the lake — just as you might at a coastal beach!

11. Ohio

Lake Erie is big enough to almost look like the ocean. | Mshake/iStock/Getty Images

Another beautiful lake that beachgoers should check out? Lake Erie. Bravo recommends making a trip to Headlands Beach State Park. The mile-long natural sand beach in the park is the largest natural sand beach in the state. It also makes the perfect destination whether you want to go swimming, go sunbathing, or just take in the gorgeous views while spending time with family or friends. 

12. Oregon

When you don’t feel like the Pacific, check out the Columbia River Gorge. | DC_Colombia/iStock/Getty Images

Sure, Oregon has plenty of coastline. But did you know that you can plan a beach day in the state without making the trek all the way to the ocean? Bravo notes that anyone who doesn’t want to drive all the way to the Pacific can find plenty of things to see at the Columbia River Gorge. It’s is actually the largest National Scenic Area in the United States!

13. Pennsylvania

Enjoy the beautiful shores of Presque Isle State Park. | Zrfphoto/iStock/Getty Images

If you live in Pennsylvania, you may be used to driving to New Jersey to get some beach time. But the Keystone State actually has some beautiful beaches of its own. One great hotspot for those beaches? Lake Erie. A beachgoer favorite along the lake’s shores is Presque Isle State Park, which is situated on a peninsula that juts into the lake. The park has 13 beaches where you can go swimming or boating. But as Only In Your State notes, you can find plenty of other beautiful beaches in Pennsylvania, too.

14. South Dakota

Go camping or fishing on the beautiful shores of Sylvan Lake. | DC_Colombia/iStock/Getty Images

Midwesterners — or travelers vacationing in the area — can get a healthy dose of sand and sun at South Dakota’s Custer State Park. The mountainous lakes in the region include Center Lake, Legion Lake, Stockade Lake, and Sylvan Lake. Together, they offer about 182 acres of crystal blue water, perfect for relaxing on the shore, going fishing, or even making it a camping trip. You can also rent paddle boats, kayaks, and row boats to make the most of your lakeside getaway. 

15. Wisconsin

Enjoy the plethora of lakes, including Devils Lake State Park. | Wirepec/iStock/Getty Images

If you find yourself in Wisconsin, you can relax on the shores of Lake Superior by heading to Big Bay State Park. But you have plenty of other options to choose among! Midwest Weekends notes that Wisconsin boasts “spectacular” beaches on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and plenty of other lakes, too. A few gorgeous beaches that made the shortlist? Ridges Beach Park in Baileys Harbor, Point Beach State Forest, Big Bay on Madeline Island, Europe Bay in northern Door County, Rock Island, and Bradford Beach in Milwaukee.

Read More: These Are the Most Unique Camping Destinations in the United States

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