We are right in the heat (literally) of summer these days. Are you looking to plan an end-of-summer beach trip? Or perhaps you’re waiting til the off-season to purchase that vacation home you’ve always wanted. If so you’ll want to keep reading. Our friends at Architectural Digest rated the top 50 beach towns in the United States and shared that information with us. They based their rankings on home value, weather data, dining, entertainment, and air pollution. And four of the top 10 beach towns, including the best one, are right here in North Carolina. Number two is in South Carolina and a few other North and South Carolina beaches were represented in the top 50. We know we’ve got some great beaches, but it’s always nice when other’s acknowledge it.

Some non-Carolina beach towns that I personally love also made this list. This includes Georgia’s Tybee Island which is a short drive from one of my favorite cities in the world Savannah. St. Petersburg Florida, where I actually spent last weekend, also made the list. Other’s I have visited and loved include Newport, RI (don’t sleep on the smallest state I was very impressed by Rhode Island), Long Beach, CA, and Key West, FL. All are wonderful places to visit and I’m sure would be fantastic places to own a home as well.

You can read the full study from Architectural Digest here. Each of the North and South Carolina beach towns on the list can be found below. Are any of these beach towns on your radar to purchase a home in North Carolina?

  • 36. Hilton Head Island, SC

    Coming in at number 36 on the top 50 beach towns is the island paradise of Hilton Head. I’ve never been, but I’ve been told it would be completely my vibe. Hilton Head has dubbed itself “America’s Favorite Island” even copywriting the phrase. This low country town features wide beaches, gorgeous live oaks draped in Spanish moss, luxurious resorts, golf, and restaurants.

    Visit Hilton Head

  • 16. Oak Island, NC

    Located on North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is Oak Island. It’s not far from the town of Southport and in the vicinity of Wilmington. The NC Brunswick Island website describes Oak Island as having an “air of nostalgia”. Everything you picture in a classic, small time beach vacation is what you’ll find here. An ocean pier, riding a bike to the ice cream after dinner, mini golf, the beach.

    Get More Info On Oak Island

  • 13. Charleston, SC

    This one at number thirteen is a little confusing to me. While an incredible southern city dripping in history, Charleston isn’t what I consider a beach town. Yes, there are numerous beaches within driving distance such as Folly Beach, Kiawah, and even Hilton Head. But with so much to do in Charleston unless you’re there for a week I’d say skip the beach and enjoy the cuisine, history, and shopping of the city.

    Visit Charleston

  • 7. Emerald Isle, NC

    Emerald Isle is a North Carolina beach town located on the Bouge Banks. This 5-square-mile town is home to emerald-colored waters that gave the town its name. There is no shortage of accommodations and restaurants to satisfy anyone! And of course, the beach which is spacious and not near as crowded as other spots. Want to visit? Get all the info here.

  • 6. Ocracoke, NC

    16 miles of undeveloped coastline is what you’ll find at Ocracoke Island. You’ll get away from the crowds and be immersed in nature in this quaint beach town, that ranks 6th on the top 50 beach towns list.

    Visit Ocracoke 

  • 3. Wilmington, NC

    Much like Charleston, I don’t think of Wilmington as a beach town as the city is on the river. But it’s close. Wrightsville Beach is considered Wilmington’s beach and is a great place to visit with famous restaurants, good surfing, and a small-town feel. Other nearby beaches include Topsail Island, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach.

    Visit Wilmington and The Area Beaches

  • 2. Myrtle Beach, SC

    Coming in at number two on this list is the ultimate tourist destination of Myrtle Beach, SC. If you think of it you can probably find it in Myrtle, from music festivals, to restaurants, tourist attractions, activities, and more. I prefer to stay slightly on the outskirts when I visit in the northern part of Myrtle Beach.

    Visit Myrtle Beach 

  • 1. Kitty Hawk, NC

    The first thing I think of when I think of Kitty Hawk, as you probably do too, is the Wright Brothers. And yes Kitty Hawk was the site of the first flight. You can tour the Wright Brothers Memorial on a trip to this Dare County beach town. But there is plenty more to do as well. This northern Outer Banks town is bordered to the north by Southern Shores and to the south by Kill Devil Hills. Visitors can stay in quaint vacation homes or a variety of hotels and campgrounds. There is plenty of public beach access, as well as a fishing pier and delicious restaurants. And according to this list it’s the top summer beach town in America.

    Get more info on visiting Kitty Hawk here.

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