10 Cottage-Style Coastal Destinations You’ll Write Home About

Photography by Jim Bathie

Text by Bethany Adams

As we venture back out into the world, there’s never been a better time to enjoy shimmering ocean views and sunny stretches of sand. Ready to expand your experience and find a brand-new destination to explore? These 10 coastal communities offer an abundance of cottage-style charm that will make your summer unforgettable.

South Walton, Florida

Photography by Jarrod Carley and Bridey Meinecke

This community located on Highway 30A offers no shortage of picturesque ocean views—but that’s far from all it offers. There are plenty of opportunities for enjoying the white sand beaches or taking to the water with activities like paddle boarding and charter fishing, but a more laid-back experience can be had among its bustling shopping scene.

Annapolis, Maryland

Photography courtesy of Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County

Like a side of history with your coastal getaway? Consider a visit to Annapolis, Maryland, where remnants of the city’s history can still be seen in its 18th-century architecture. Enjoy Chesapeake Bay from the comfort of a bed-and-breakfast and spend your vacation browsing independent shops filled with antiques and locally made art.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Photography by Mac Jamieson

Slightly lesser-known than other Maine destinations, Boothbay Harbor has more than its fair share of charms, from a unique hilltop inn to wildlife-spotting boat tours. It’s the perfect spot for a cozy seaside experience, but if you feel like exploring further, you’re just a short drive away from Kennebunkport, Portland, and other destinations filled with plenty of stunning vistas.

The Crystal Coast, North Carolina

Photography courtesy of The Crystal Coast

This 85-mile stretch of North Carolina coastline is packed with experiences that will make your vacation one to remember. Cape Lookout National Seashore is a national park that offers 56 miles of undeveloped beach only accessible by boat, but if you’re feeling less adventurous, you can explore a unique food scene and relax in a picturesque rental cottage.

Bluffton, South Carolina

Photography courtesy of Montage Palmetto Bluff

Live oaks dripping with Spanish moss are some of the more iconic sights you’ll encounter in the Lowcountry, but they’re far from the only thing worth noticing. For a quaint, history-rich experience, spend some time exploring the streets of Bluffton, South Carolina. Schedule your trip around the Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival, or head to the Montage Palmetto Bluff resort and community any time for a personalized adventure.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Photography by Jim Bathie

If you’ve never made this iconic island part of your vacation plans, it’s time to add it to the list! Where else can you find postcard-worthy rose-covered cottages with white picket fences surrounded by breathtaking views? Visit one or all of the island’s three lighthouses and take your pick of festivals to celebrate during your visit.

Block Island, Rhode Island

Photography by Block Island Tourism Council

Want something a bit more off the beaten path? Make your way to Block Island, where conservation efforts have preserved nearly half of the land, along with its rare foliage and wildlife. Named one of 12 “Last Great Places” in the western hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy in 1991, this seaside destination off the coast of Rhode Island is a truly unique experience.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Photography by William Harrell

Twenty minutes from Savannah, Tybee Island has a long history of providing relaxing getaways. Find a spot to settle among the island’s various beaches, visit Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse, or taste ice cream that’s been enjoyed by visitors for over 30 years.

St. Augustine, Florida

Photography by St. Augustine Social

Visit the nation’s oldest city for a waterside experience soaked in history. Centuries-old architecture sets a unique backdrop for a varied culinary scene and plenty of cultural draws—from art galleries to live music—that you can enjoy while strolling cobblestone streets.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Photography by Jan Oliver Koch

Whether your dream getaway looks more like spa days, art festivals, and wine tastings or taking in the view from a surfboard, this California community has you covered. Explore swaths of dog-friendly beaches and dive into history that stretches back centuries.

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