iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
GET UPDATES FROM Travel + Leisure

America's Most Crowded Beaches (PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/05/2012 7:00 am

The fourth of July brings to mind fireworks, barbecue and, if you live in Ocean City, crowds. More than 300,000 sun-seekers flood this small Maryland town each July 4th, packing restaurants, boardwalk attractions, and, of course, the beach.

When the summer holiday strikes, fleeing to the beach seems like a no-brainer. After all, what could be better than a sea breeze to cool you off? You and those hundreds of thousands of fellow beachgoers, that is. That's the kind of maritime mosh pit you're likely to encounter at America's popular beaches. And Ocean City, with 4.5 million annual visitors, is hardly the worst offender.

The state of Florida has the greatest number of congested beaches on our list; its two coastlines offer seemingly endless stretches of sand, from Miami's party scene to secluded Caladesi Island. But it's California, famous for surfing culture, that claims the questionable honor of America's No. 1 most crowded beach: Venice Beach, to be precise, which swarms with 16 million sunbathers, fortune-tellers, street performers, and people-watchers.

If you do follow the wisdom of crowds, try to time it right by skipping the weekends or going early in the morning--so that you can appreciate the combination of natural beauty and boardwalk amusements that made these beaches popular in the first place. And if you just can't take the crowds, seek out one of the world's secret beaches instead. --Everett Potter

See More of America's Most Crowded Beaches Here

More on Travel + Leisure:
World's Strangest Beaches
Best Affordable Beach Resorts
Best Hotels for July 4th Fireworks

Loading Slideshow...
  • No. 1 Venice Beach, CA

    <strong>Annual Visitors:</strong> 16,000,000<br><br> It can be hard to tell the sunbathers from the fortune-tellers, artists, vendors, and assorted street life that populates America’s most crowded beach. Whether you’ve come to surf the Venice Breakwater, play a little basketball, or people-watch while strolling the boardwalk, it helps if you’re not claustrophobic.<br><br> <a href="" target="_hplink">See More Crowded Beaches Here</a><br><br> <em>Source: L.A. Beaches & Harbors</em><br><br> <em>Photo: EuroStyle Graphics / Alamy</em>

  • No. 2 Miami Beach, FL

    <strong>Annual Visitors:</strong> 13,268,841<br><br> If you hope to make the scene this summer in Miami, get in line because so do millions of other visitors. The preening and posing might be most competitive at South Beach, but there are 15 other beaches, such as Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles, where visitors and residents of South Florida negotiate for a little R&R space. <br><br><a href="" target="_hplink">See More Crowded Beaches Here</a><br><br> <em>Source: U.S. Lifesaving Association</em><br><br> <em>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Edward DeGuzman<a> </em>

  • No. 3 Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

    <strong>Annual Visitors:</strong> 11,164,975<br><br> Coney Island began attracting the masses in the 1830s and shows no sign of losing its singular appeal nearly two centuries later. Amusement rides both new (Luna Park’s Scream Zone) and old (Cyclone roller coaster), Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and Cyclones baseball games are persuasive reasons to brave those crowds. <br><br><a href="" target="_hplink">See More Crowded Beaches Here</a><br><br><em>Source: U.S. Lifesaving Association</em><br><br> <em>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Photograph by Jon Gilbert Leavitt 2010</a></em>

  • No. 4 Newport Beach, CA

    <strong>Annual Visitors:</strong> 9,446,850<br><br> Back in 1905, the Pacific Electric Railway started bringing beachgoers to this stretch of Orange County. Now they arrive by different means, but in far greater numbers, crowding the strands of Corona del Mar State Beach and Crystal Cove State Park, while surfers stake out the area between Newport Pier and the Santa Ana River. But whether you’re trying to jog on the boardwalk or jockey for space at The Wedge for a little bodysurfing, show up early to avoid the masses. <br><br> <a href="" target="_hplink">See More Crowded Beaches Here</a><br><br> <em>Source: U.S. Lifesaving Association</em><br><br> <em>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Roshan Vyas</a></em>

  • No. 5 Daytona Beach, FL

    <strong>Annual Visitors:</strong> 8,000,000<br><br> Not everyone is a NASCAR fan in Daytona, the headquarters for the sport. It just seems that way on this famed beach with hard-packed sand that permits cars and has been the epicenter of motor sports for decades. Keep your eyes peeled for cars as well as 8 million fellow humans, especially during events like the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 race each July. <br><br> <a href="" target="_hplink">See More Crowded Beaches Here</a><br><br> <em>Source: Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau</em><br><br> <em>Photo: Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy</em>


Follow Travel + Leisure on Twitter: