The best beach vacations you wouldn't expect

Jan 4, 2012, 6 a.m.

Ah, the beach. It's a great place to go to recharge and re-stimulate the senses. Your body and mind can enjoy the soothing sounds of rolling tides and cooing gulls; the glorious view of twilight on the horizon; the cool taste of a tropical libation; and the feeling of sun-kissed skin and silky sand between your toes...And let's not forget the expensive airfare, costly accommodations and hectic swarms of people. But don't despair! There are plenty of fabulous beach travel destinations where you'll be free to soak up the sun without the negative associations of some of the major coastal destinations. While these places might not immediately come to mind when seeking beach travel deals, they're sure to not disappoint.

Best Beach Vacations For the Earth Bound

Ok. You're not going to Titan. Here are some beach travel destinations that are better suited for the Earth-bound, east coast dweller.

Duck, NC

Nationally recognized as one of America's top 15 family-friendly beaches, Duck occupies a quiet, mellow strip along North Carolina's outer banks. A paved bike trail runs the full length of the town limits. Ocean water washes against both the east and the west banks. The beaches are a tad steep, but the atmosphere is perfect for people who like to slow down and enjoy a day. The town of Corolla, popular for wild horse tours, is on the north side. Kitty Hawk is on the south. Also, be sure that you do not miss the sand dunes at nearby Jockey's Ridge State Park.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is a diverse seaside tourist community, renown for an abundance of wildlife preserves and refuges. The beachfront is also home of Cape Henry Lighthouse and the Old Coast Guard Station. Family parks abound, from water fun lands to whale watching cruises. Hotels, camping, and hunting trips are priced to attract travelers.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach is named by MSNBC as one of America's three cleanest beaches. The water is nippy, but typically gentle. Sightseeing tours include whale watching and local lighthouse viewing. Free nightly concerts keep the summer excitement alive and rate Hampton Beach among the top available beach travel deals.

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