Best Memories From Our Favorite Beach Towns

Sunset at Panama City Beach in Florida.

Trips to the beach are some of my best summer memories. I don't know if it was the hours of undefined relaxation, where Mom was calmer, Dad was happy to do nothing but toss the frisbee with my brother, and I could just lay there and read. Or, if it was the excitement of seeing the water, feeling the sand beneath my feet, the cool ocean breeze, and getting a break from the hot city air. Our family trips to the beach defined summer. But the time spent at the beach with my friends were the best.

I grew up attending a YMCA Day Camp in Flushing, a city in the borough of Queens, New York. Every Wednesday for six weeks in the summer, we would take the bus less than an hour away to the beach. Our camp beach days would rotate between Jones Beach and Sunken Meadow on Long Island or Rye Beach in Westchester, NY. On the way there the whole bus would sing in unison, camp songs our counselors taught us. The bus would pull into the parking lot and all of us would pile out, our camp bags filled with a towel, suntan oil, lunch bag and maybe a change of underwear. My friends and I would put our towels together creating one huge blanketed hang out area.

On those Wednesdays with my best friends, because when you are this age everyone is your best friend, it really didn't matter which beach we were at as long as we were together. We would spend the day playing cards, jumping the spectacular waves as they came crashing to the shore, swapping snacks from our lunches and lathering up with tanning oil. It was the best times of my summer.

Now that the summer is in full swing. What's summer without a trip to the beach?

Our team of writers has fond memories of time spent vacationing at the seaside. So here are our favorite beach towns. Read on, we hope you enjoy it and maybe get inspired to make your own beach town memories at some of your favorites.

Cousins at the beach in Panama City, FL.

St. Augustine, Florida

As long as I am near sand and the ocean I am happy, but in particular our family has gone to St. Augustine since before I was born, so it holds a special place in my heart. We have found all the best places to go. I usually rent a bike from a surf shop for the week. The family all loves Mango Mangos for dinner, and there must always be a putt-putt tournament sometime during the week. What’s so great about the beach where we stay is that it does not get as crowded, and our family will happily spend as much time as is possible out on the beach, playing bocce ball, building sand castles, and swimming in the ocean.

~from Stokes O'Shields

Lily pond at Seaside on 30A in Florida

30A Beaches, FL

Moving to a city where the closest beach is over two hours away, you can begin to feel landlocked. So when our family was invited to rent the condo of our assistant pastor, we jumped at the offer to vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Thus, began our love for the charming, beautifully landscaped beach towns of 30A.

Sixteen seaside towns on 26-miles of white sand beach along the Emerald Coast makes it hard to choose a favorite. They each have main points of interest and a unique architectural feel. I am partial to them all, but the ones we spend the most time in are Gulf Place, Seaside, Santa Rosa Beach, Rosemary Beach, WaterColor, Alys Beach, and Grayton Beach.

Since that first visit we have been back many times including a pre-Christmas visit, when the towns were decked out in holiday spirit and each night was like a visit to the North Pole. One of my favorite trips to 30A was renting a tiny house in Seaside for the 4th of July. Watching the fireworks explode against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico, while sitting on the beach made that trip my best 4th of July to date.

A trip down to 30A must always include a visit to the Artist's at Gulfplace, a fun outdoor market filled with the art of local artists. You can find hand crafted jewelry, pottery, tie dye, glass sculptures, outdoor furniture and more. The artists also offer art classes for all ages.

After a day in the sun, our family loves to grab a pie at Pizza By the Sea, which now has three locations on 30A. We also love having a broad option of dining choices and enjoying the nightly entertainment at The Hub in Watersound Beach.

~from Gina Duncan

Panama City Beach, FL

My favorite Beach town would have to be Panama City Beach. My favorite things to do in PCB include naps on the beach, visiting cute coffee shops, and attending church on Sundays! My favorite place to eat at is Uncle Ernie's, but it's currently under construction from weather damage.

~from Abbi Stickels

Ocean City, Maryland 

My favorite beach is Ocean City, Maryland. Growing up, my family and I took trips to the beach for the boardwalk, fun in the sun, and the food! We frequently would order crab, turkey legs, and funnel cake as we walked along the boardwalk. The foodie in me always loved getting boardwalk fries! Ocean City is the go to beach for spring break for many schools in the surroundings states. I never got to do it, but if I were to do spring break at the beach in high school again, Ocean City would definitely be at the top of my list! 

~from Elon Graves

North Berwick, Scotland

On my last visit to the UK, I discovered one of Scotland's gems, the coastal East Lothian Town of North Berwick. Just 30 minutes by train from Edinburgh's Waverley Station. North Berwick is home to premiere golf courses, the Scottish SeaBird Centre, eclectic shops and tearooms. But its biggest attraction is Bass Rock and the world's largest gannet colony.

It is also home to my absolutely favorite cafe in the UK, Steampunk Coffee Roasters. Steampunk Coffee is a small independent roaster inside an old renovated warehouse in the heart of town. They specialize in sourcing single origin coffees that they roast on site. They offer delicious homemade baked goods, soups and a grilled cheese sandwich, oozing with cheesy deliciousness. On Friday nights, the Big Bus, pizza van pulls up outside on their terrace and from 5-7pm they serve the most savory wood-fired pizzas.

My next trip to the UK will definitely include a return to North Berwick.

~from Gina Duncan

We are always looking to add to our list of favorites and create new beach memories.

Take a moment to share your favorite beach town with us in the comments below.

Our student writer, Abbi Stickels at Panama City Beach,

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