With a shoreline roughly four times as long as the equator, America has more than its fair share of beautiful beaches. There are so many excellent seaside strands that standing out from the sandy crowd requires a degree of specialization. That's why our list of the best beaches in the U.S. is not all about towel lounging. These beauty queens offer adventure, wildlife, and great food – because it's not enough to be beautiful if you don't nail the talent portion.
Best for 4x4s
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas, and that goes double for Padre Island. With 90 miles of pristine beachfront, Padre is the planet's longest undeveloped barrier island – beloved by windsurfers and beachcombers alike. Past the cluster of resorts at either end, you'll find a paradise of sandy beaches, wind-carved dunes, and lonely grasslands. The best access requires four-wheel drive; tread carefully in July, when endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles lay their eggs.
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