Most Popular Beaches in the U.S.

The Daily Beast figures out which sand-and-surf destinations are America’s favorites.

For those seeking convenient, salty solace during sweltering August, nothing beats a fast trip to the shore. It’s primetime season for regional hotspots along all the U.S. coasts, whether it’s Florida’s South Beach, Maryland’s Ocean City, or California’s Laguna Beach.

Given the national August dash to the shore, The Daily Beast sought to answer the most basic question of summer vacations: Which beach is the country’s most popular? Which beaches attract the daily residents, weekend-cabana commuters, and weekly-house-rental vacationers? While some winners are expected, others are clearly local favorites that don’t get enough national fanfare (Belmar, N.J., anyone?).

To compile the list we turned to the United States Lifesaving Association, which maintains statistics for more than 200 beaches as reported by local lifeguard agencies. We considered the 2010 total beach-attendance figures from the USLA as well as the total resident population of each beach town, according to the census, to determine which beaches had the most visitors overall, as well as those that lure the most guests compared with residents. Total visitors and a metric of visitors divided by residents were weighted equally to determine the overall rank.