On the Outer Banks, you’ll find the perfect blend of southern charm and outdoor living. These barrier islands are home to many distinct communities, including Portsmouth Island, a fishing and shipping community on the core banks and the upscale Pine Knoll Shores on the Bogue Banks.
The Outer Banks are a beach resort destination that’s popular with tourist, but there are also many people that call these islands home. While the population fluctuates throughout the year, an estimated 35,000 live here year round. The area is home to top-rated schools and countless amenities.
There’s a spirit of adventure that courses through the Outer Banks. Of course, if you’d prefer to relax in the sun, this area is also home to many beautiful beaches. These 25 towns like Outer Banks, NC all offer the same appealing laid-back lifestyle, but also have plenty of opportunities for excitement.
1. Tybee Island, Georgia
This beautiful island town is just 30 minutes away from Savannah, making it a popular vacation destination for Georgia residents. Of course, there are also some people that call this barrier island home! It has a population of about 3,093.
Like the Outer Banks, Tybee Island has plenty of beaches, but it also has some attractions that are highly unique. For example, Battery Island is a museum located in a former gun battery! It’s also a surprisingly affordable place to stay, with an average hotel rate of around $125 per night.
2. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
When you visit this unusually-named town, you’ll find breathtaking white sand beaches and stunning waterfront views. You’ll also discover a charming downtown area that feels like it could be part of a fairy tale. This small town has a population of just 3,830 and has long been a favorite of tourists.
One of the things that makes Carmel-by-the-Sea stand out from the Outer Banks is its distinct architecture. Many of its buildings were constructed during the 1920s. Since Carmel-by-the Sea is a popular destination for celebrities, hotel rates can be expensive, with prices ranging from $150 to $370 a night.
3. Rehoboth, Delaware
This New England beach town can get much colder than the Outer Banks, especially during the winter, but it’s still a fantastic place for anyone that likes spending time on the water. It also has plenty of excitement and adventure, including a boardwalk amusement park that’s loved by tourists and locals alike.
Even when the weather gets chilly, there are always ways to stay active in Rehoboth. You’ll find places to go boating, long hiking trails, and more. Rehoboth can be an economic vacation destination, with hotel prices starting at $50 and an average price-per-night of about $150.
4. Sanibel Island, Florida
Located about 130 miles north of Key West, this beach-covered island is a wonderful place to connect with nature. The island is home to a wildlife refuge, and large swaths of the land here are protected. Around 6,382 people call Sanibel Island home.
If you’re craving adventure, you’ll find all kinds of exciting activities on this island, including kayaking and hiking. If you’d prefer to relax, you could also try birdwatching or go on a beach picnic! Hotel prices on the island range from $150 to $250 a night on average.
5. Port Aransas, Texas
This Texas city is a famous fishing spot, but it has a lot more to offer as well. You’ll find many of the same waterfront activities you can enjoy in the Outer Banks here, including kayaking and parasailing. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even go swimming with dolphins!
While you’re here, expect to spot plenty of pelicans; they’re the official animal of Port Aransas. You’ll also be able to enjoy very reasonable room rates, with average hotel prices starting at just $60 per night.
6. Ocean City, Maryland
Even though this is a beach town, it looks very different from the Outer Banks. This city has a retro aesthetic that will make you feel like you’ve traveled back from the 80s. If you’re willing to look past its unusual aesthetics, however, you’ll find plenty of the same beachy activities here that you can enjoy in Outer Banks, including kayaking and waterskiing.
If you’re looking to party while you’re here, you’ll want to make sure you check out Seacrets, Jamaica, USA. This sprawling beach bar can get crowded during tourism season, but it’s also beloved by the town’s 6,972 residents. Hotel rates here can vary wildly based on where you stay, with prices ranging from $45 to $300 a night.
7. Block Island, Rhode Island
Travel 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and you’ll find Block Island, a tiny island that’s bursting with activity. While there are only about 1,000 people that live on the island full-time, there’s plenty to see and do here, including fishing, water sports, and 17 miles of beaches to lounge on.
One of the things that makes Block Island stand out from the Outer Banks is how bike-friendly it is. Every part of the island is fully accessible by bike. If you’re interested in staying here, you’ll find room rates ranging from $140 to $475 a night.
8. Cannon Beach, Oregon
This beautiful northwestern beach town is best-known for Haystack Rock, a basalt tower on the beach that stands at an impressive 235 feet. While you’re here, you’ll also find 9 miles of beach and plenty of water sports and exciting outdoor activities.
While Outer Banks can be swarming with people during the summer months, this is a quieter town that’s a little more under the radar. It’s the perfect place to enjoy water and sunshine while also getting away from the stresses of day-to-day life. You’ll find reasonable hotel rates here, with average prices ranging from $79 to $239.
9. Anna Maria Island, Florida
If you’re looking for a Florida beach town that doesn’t have the wild party atmosphere of Miami, Anna Maria Island is worth a visit. This barrier island, which is named after Anna Maria Ceravolo, is home to long beaches and plenty of interesting shops and restaurants.
Anna Maria Island is known for its beaches, but it’s also famous for its art scene. While you’re here, you’ll want to check out a few of the town’s many galleries. Hotels can be expensive here, with costs ranging from $200 to a whopping $920 per night.
10. Capitola, California
This lovely California town has a beautiful bay and plenty of beaches. While some of the more popular beaches can get crowded, there are also quieter places to relax in the sun. If you’re looking for excitement, you can also go kayaking, surfing, or waterskiing while you’re here.
Beaches aside, this town doesn’t look much like the Outer Banks. The buildings are painted in bright colors, giving the town the look of a seaside village in the Mediterranean. Hotel rates here range from $98 to $270 a night, but may climb higher during peak tourist season.
11. Montauk, New York
Even though this coastal town is in the Hamptons, it’s anything but pretentious. It’s a laid-back and friendly town filled with welcoming locals. Surfing culture is a big part of life on the Outer Banks, and the same is true here, with plenty of places to rent surfboards and other equipment.
Some of the beaches here are on the rocky side, but there are also some great beaches to lounge on. While you’re here, you may also want to admire the local wildlife at one of its state parks. There’s a big range when it comes to hotel costs, with prices anywhere from $119 to $445 a night.
12. Ogunquit, Maine
Most of the beaches in Maine are rocky, but in this town, you’ll find the same breathtaking white sand beaches that you can see in the Outer Banks. While you can naturally enjoy plenty of activities on the water here, you’ll also want to spend time on land. The town is home to plenty of antique shops and art galleries, as well as some spectacular restaurants.
If you’re looking for thrills and great views, try hiking the cliffside Marginal Way trail. It provides spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you want to stay in Ogunquit, expect hotel rates anywhere from $79 to $234, with rates climbing higher during the summer.
13. Asbury Park, New Jersey
The Outer Banks is home to some of the liveliest beaches in all of North Carolina, and you’ll find New Jersey’s most energetic beaches in Asbury Park. The town has a party vibe and offers plenty of things to do on and off the water, including arcades and beer gardens.
While you’re here, you’ll want to make sure you spend some time enjoying the many shops and restaurants along the bustling boardwalk. If the beaches are too busy, you can also visit Asbury Splash park. Hotel rates here can get very expensive during the peak tourist season in the summer, with average costs ranging from $200 to $335 a night.
14. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
The Carolinas are home to many small towns on islands, and Hilton Head Island is one of the most popular spots in South Carolina. In fact, this island has been described as the most popular island in America! It offers 12 miles of white sand beaches and a number of heritage buildings.
You’ll never run out of outdoor activities while you’re here, but if you want to stay inside, The Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum is a very popular attraction. When you venture back outdoors, you can see an array of wildlife at the National Wildlife Refuge. This busy island can be an expensive place to stay, with rates of $190 to $358 a night.
15. Gulf Shores, Alabama
If you’re looking for a lively beach town that’s a little more affordable than the Outer Banks, you’ll definitely want to take a closer look at Gulf Shores. This vibrant Alabama town is filled with white sand beaches and has no shortage of things to see and do.
You can definitely be a beach bum while you’re here, but you may be tempted to party, especially if you visit the beloved Flora-Bama bar. This bar is located just alongside the Florida border, allowing you to drink in two different states at the same time. Hotel prices here start at just $100 a night.
16. Saugatuck, Michigan
Even though Michigan has freezing cold winters, it’s still home to a few beach towns, including the upbeat and exciting Saugatuck. When you come in the summer, you won’t feel like you’re in the Midwest thanks to the sprawling white sand beaches and giant sand dunes.
Since this town isn’t on the ocean, you won’t be able to surf like you can in the Outer Banks, but you can still enjoy kayaking and other activities on the water. When you venture into town, you’ll also find lots of art galleries and antique shops. The tiny town also has reasonable hotel rates, with prices from $78 to $250 a night.
17. Wellfleet, Massachusetts
The Outer Banks is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, but this Massachusetts town gives it some serious competition. Marconi Beach, which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, is a pristine stretch of sand.
Like many New England beach towns, Wellfleet has a quirky atmosphere and plenty of shops to explore. Whether you spend your time waterskiing or shopping for antiques, there’s no reason to be bored while you’re staying here. It can also be a fairly economical destination, with hotel prices starting at $89 per night.
18. Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is known for being a popular destination for tourists, but this Oahu town is surprisingly quiet. Found on Oahu’s North Shore, Haleiwa has plenty of beautiful beaches and is an amazing spot to surf. If you need gear, you can find it at Surf N Sea, which is the oldest surf shop in all of Hawaii.
Haleiwa is a fantastic destination for people craving excitement, but it’s also a wonderful destination for families. Children will love seeing sea turtles at Laniakea. The average hotel rates here are about $200 a night, but there are some great deals, including hotels with rates starting at $98 per night.
19. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Much like the Outer Banks, this is a popular vacation spot that still has a laid-back vibe. It has everything you could want from a beach town, including kayaking, lively boardwalks, and of course, plenty of gorgeous beaches.
You can enjoy the water here even when the weather is poor thanks to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Here, you’ll find all kinds of marine life, including sharks and sea turtles. While this is a popular vacation spot, it’s also very affordable, with rates ranging from $95 to $235 a night.
20. Folly Beach, South Carolina
This South Carolina town is beloved by surfers thanks to the steep drop of its waves, but Folly Beach has a lot to offer even if you don’t plan on surfing. It’s home to multiple nature preserves, and there are a number of hiking trails here that are right along the water.
Folly Beach is a popular party spot as well, with more than two dozen restaurants and bars located along its mainstreet. Thankfully, if you need some relaxation, you can find quieter beaches here as well. Hotel rates here can be pricey, with an average weeknight price of $200 and an average weekend price of $350 a night.
21. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
There aren’t many beach towns in Mississippi, but Ocean Springs will definitely appeal to anyone that loves the Outer Banks. While it has calm and peaceful beaches, you can also find plenty of excitement if you venture out onto the water. Paddleboarding and kayaking are popular with both tourists and locals here.
With a population of 17,729, Ocean Springs is surprisingly large for a beach town. The locals here are very welcoming and will be happy to direct you to the best bars and art galleries in the area. You’re likely to appreciate the low hotel prices here, with rates starting at just $60 per night.
22. Narragansett, Rhode Island
Rhode Island isn’t known for its surfing, but that might change when you visit Narragansett. You’ll find great waves and sprawling beaches here, including the bustling Town Beach. While you’re here, you can enjoy views of Narragansett Pier Casino, an old building from the Victorian era.
The town has a full-time population of 14,532, but that virtually doubles in the summer. It can definitely be busy, but with so many beaches, there are always ways to avoid crowds. While hotel costs skyrocket in the summer, there are plenty of affordable places to stay here, with rooms priced around $88 to $139 a night.
23. Assateague Island, Maryland
This Maryland island is famous for something you won’t find in the Outer Banks: hundreds of wild horses that freely roam the island. Of course, you’ll see plenty of familiar sights here as well, like spacious white sand beaches and activities on the water.
One surprisingly popular waterside activity on the island is golfing. Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links is a large golf course with beautiful water views. The cost of a nightly stay can vary wildly based on where you stay and when you visit, with rates anywhere from $51 to $275 a night.
24. Kenai, Alaska
Alaska might be the last place you think of when you hear the word “beach,” but surprisingly, you can find beautiful beaches and plenty of adventure in Kenai. Temperatures here are quite a bit cooler than they are in the Outer Banks, even in the summer, but it’s still a spectacular spot for an outdoor getaway.
You’ll find lots of attractions in Kenai, like boat tours and hiking trails, but one of the town’s biggest draws are its picture-perfect sunsets. With hotel rates starting at just $90 a night, it’s worth it to splurge on a room with a view.
25. Mystic, Connecticut
This southern Connecticut town was once a busy seaport, but today, it’s a popular beach town that sees thousands of tourists each year. If you want to learn more about the history of Mystic, you should make sure you visit the Mystic Seaport Museum.
Just like in the Outer Banks, you’ll find no shortage of outdoor activities here, including kayaking, nature reserves, and hiking trails. You’ll also be able to enjoy plenty of delicious fresh seafood. There are plenty of affordable hotels here, with rates beginning at $68 a night.