The Outer Banks, North Carolina
Yeah, that’s right. The east coast has sweet beaches, too. The Outer Banks is a 200-mile-long stretch of barrier islands (islands parallel to the mainland, but not the mainland, therefore more tucked away) that reach from North Carolina to Virginia. And man, are they awesome. With a population of about 58,000, residents of these secluded communities (including Bodie, Roanoke, and Hatteras Islands among others) are living the beach life. Don’t let them have it all to themselves. Also living the beach life? Gorgeous wild horses.
Why it’s worth going out of your way: From Washington, DC or South Carolina, The Outer Banks are just six hours and 45 minutes by car; from New York or New Jersey, they’re about nine hours, AKA well worth it for a week of sun, sand, and downtime. While you’re there, check out Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head. This 426-acre park is home to the tallest natural sand dune (90 feet above sea level) this side of the US. Here you can hang-glide, fly kites, and see a sunset the likes of which you won’t believe. (It sets over the water and the view from that high up ain’t too shabby.)
Or just kick back with a great meal; locals thrive off the fresh seafood. Outer Banks Boil Company will bring the boil to you. Book 24 hours in advance and they’ll show up and cook you a traditional coastal shrimp boil and take the mess with them when they leave. Man, if that’s not the coolest thing we’ve ever heard…