- Lesli Peterson for The AJC
Sure, Tybee Island, Hilton Head, St Simon's Island and Myrtle Beach are some of the closest beaches to Atlanta. They are popular choices, but you already know about them.
From the pristine sands of Ossabaw Island in Georgia to the historic draw of Wilmington, NC, discover new fun-in-the-sun locations that shouldn't be overlooked. Here are 10 additional beach options that don't often make the short-list for Atlanta's residents, but they are definitely worth a visit.
Less than 5 hours from Atlanta
Ossabaw Island, Ga. 248 miles. Ossabaw's unspoiled land claims title as Georgia's third largest barrier island. 13 miles of undeveloped seashore beckon visitors. This beauty is only accessible via a 20-minute boat ride from Savannah.
Edisto Island, SC. 287 miles. Touted as one of the few uncommercialized family beaches remaining, the dolphins and turtles realize this. Watch wildlife, ride your bike, enjoy a boat tour or take a swing at The Plantation Course at Edisto.
Charleston, SC. 308 miles. Five distinct beach towns comprise the city of Charleston. You'll find a barrier island at Kiawah Island and a family-friendly haven at Isle of Palms. Folly Beach calls to the eclectic crowd, with surfers and a laidback vibe. Seabrook is residential and Sullivan's Island sits on the mouth of the harbor.
Jacksonville, Fl. 346 miles. Take on 22 miles of white sandy beaches: Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach. Opportunities abound for relaxing, waterplay, nightlife and more. For families, try Shipwreck Island Waterpark; nature-lovers will appreciate the Intracoastal Eco-Tour.
Less than 6 hours from Atlanta
South Walton, Fl. 302 miles. 16 beaches dot this coastal area, with something for everyone. Take in the art festivals at Seaside or the unique dune lake ecosystem. Explore the "French Quarter" feel of Rosemary Beach or the hippie kitsch of Grayton Beach; the adventure is unending.
Perdido Key, Fl. 334 miles. Named one of the 10 most beautiful cities in the US by The Culture Trip and 2015's Best Beach in Florida by USA Today, this island offers white sandy seashore, state park and recreation areas, golf, family-friendly attractions and more.
Gulf Shores, Al. 354 miles. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach combine for 32 miles of white sandy shoreline. Quartz from the Appalachian Mountains collected along the coast, creating a sand soft to the touch. Choose between busy beaches near the town center, or quieter beaches to the west.
Less than 7 hours from Atlanta
Wilmington, NC. 416 miles. Three island-beaches call this historic southern city home. Carolina Beach calls to families, with events and a festive boardwalk. Kure Beach offers a relaxed pace with a fishing pier and aquarium. Watersports and an active social scene set the tone at Wrightsville Beach.
Daytona Beach, Fl. 433 miles. Called the Original American Beach, it's more than college kids on spring break. Try the roller coaster at the Boardwalk & Pier, or cool off while sauntering through the new $13 million art museum, the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. Find zip lining, golf, and Florida's tallest lighthouse. No wonder this city was chosen as Best Florida Attraction.
New Smyrna Beach, Fl. 450 miles. 13 miles of beach regularly attract surfers, offering some of the best wave action on the Eastern Seaboard. Just like Daytona, visitors can drive on the beach for a unique way to explore. No worries, there are traffic-free zones for families. Additional maritime fun includes kayaking, boating, river cruises and more.
More places to visit in and near Atlanta
- 7 rides you must try at Six Six Flags Over Georgia
- Inside Atlanta: Guide to visiting the Georgia Aquarium
- Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site tells MLK’s Atlanta story
- North Georgia mountain destinations within easy drive of Atlanta
- Best places to find live music performances in Atlanta