Summer is fast approaching, and if you happen to be in the US at this time of the year, Philadelphia is one of the most fun and exciting stateside destinations to visit. However, the downside is that there are no beaches in or immediately outside the city. Fortunately, however, you can still enjoy beaches when travelling to Philadelphia; it is not that hard to find a strip of sand within reasonable distance from Philly. If you're wondering what's the closest beach to Philadelphia for a getaway, this article gives you not just one, but eight great options to consider!
If you are looking for the closest beach to Philadelphia, you should be prepared to drive. There is no beach in the city and you will need to head to New Jersey or Maryland to enjoy sandy beaches. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Philly is a great city to visit. And you can easily plan a day or overnight (or even longer) beach getaway within a couple hours' drive!
If you are planning a visit to the closest beach to Philadelphia, make your journey even more convenient by considering car hire Philadelphia services, allowing you to effortlessly explore and enjoy any of the 8 stunning beaches within reach.
Top tip: To save yourself time, worry, and potentially quite a few dollars, book your rental car in Philadelphia online ahead of your trip. Discover Cars is our go-to platform for car rentals worldwide. They offer a large range of options, an easy booking process, reliable 24/7 support, and often have great deals on early bookings. Conveniently, they provide three pick-up and drop-off locations in Philly, including downtown and at the airport.
Long Beach Island (62.3 miles)
Located in the off-central part of New Jersey, Long Beach Island is the closest beach to Philadelphia. About a one hour and a half's drive from the city, it features many different types of beach towns along its 18-mile length. Towns like Harvey Cedar and North Beach are known for luxury summer houses and harbors full of fancy yachts, while more central towns such as Beach Haven and Ship Bottom have little golf courses, amusement parks, and many places for you to eat and shop.
As the name suggests, a wide beach runs across the length of the island. It is pleasantly separated from homes and resorts by a high verdant line of dunes, preserving some of its wild character.
Where to stay on Long Beach Island
As both a family-friendly and couple-friendly destination, Long Beach Island offers a great range of accommodation, from modern beachfront hotels to affordable motels and beautiful private holiday homes.
Our top picks:
Windward at the Beach: This top-rated 3-star inn is located just steps from the beach. It offers comfy rooms, a large wrap-around terrace, as well as free beach passes. Beach Haven attractions such as the Bi-centennial Park and Surflight Theater are located directly behind the hotel.
Contemporary bay front holiday home in Ship Bottom: This 4-bedroom holiday home is our favorite for families and groups of friends. Perched right over the water, it affords gorgeous views from its living-room with tall glass windows and from your waterfront backyard. The perfect base to enjoy water sports, it also comes with a garden and barbecue facilities.
Browse more accommodation options on Long Beach Island at the best price guaranteed.
Asbury Park (75.8 miles)
If you are a fan of Bruce Springsteen, then a trip to Asbury Park will offer a good combination of a beach getaway with some musical history. Asbury Park is located in the coastal area of New Jersey, only about one and a half hour away from Philadelphia. There’s a sort of magnificent faded glory and nostalgic vibe to this coastal resort. However, it’s still very popular for its live music scene.
The beach is faced by a large, wooden walkway that’s lined with restaurants, cafes, shops, water parks, amusement parks, mini golf courses, as well as other entertainment options. There is a leash-optional dog beach located on 8th Avenue that is fun to experience whether you own a dog or not.
Where to stay in Asbury Park
Accommodation is limited and sells out fast in Asbury Park, so make sure to book your stay early!
Our top pick:
The Asbury: We're only recommending one property in Asbury Park, and that's because you simply can't beat this 4-star design hotel for quality and value! The great facilities include an outdoor pool, a rooftop bar with sea views, a cafe, a lobby bar, a bowling alley, a music venue that hosts live shows, game nights, and gatherings, and more. With rates starting around $122 for a queen room, you're getting the luxury treatment at a surprisingly affordable price.
Browse more accommodation options in Asbury Park at the best price guaranteed.
Sea Isle City (76.4 miles)
Located just next to Ocean City is Sea Isle City, our top pick as the closest beach to Philadelphia for water sports lovers. This beach town offers an appealing, small beach town experience. You can discover it by strolling down the beachfront walkway, which is lined with restaurants, cafes, shops, and miles of beautiful beaches. The coastal row of houses is cut off from the beach by an elevated, green line of dunes that also helps to protect the houses from flooding.
This little city just restored its bay front and harbor areas; besides the new boardwalk, there is a pedestrian path that connects the bay to the beach. If you are looking for serious outdoor activities, you can enjoy kiteboarding, kayaking, surf fishing, and rafting.
Avalon (81.8 miles)
Probably the richest of New Jersey beach cities, Avalon is popular for its huge sand dunes and pristine beaches, as well as the large mansions that line them. The place has a more chilled, ritzy feel, with high-end shops and highly rated restaurants. If you are looking for clean beaches, Avalon will not disappoint. Beautiful grassy dunes separate the beaches from the houses. The city prides itself on being "cooler by a mile," due to the land that protrudes out into the ocean a little farther than in other beach towns in New Jersey. Avalon is mostly a residential town, and there is also a business area called the Stone Harbor.
A seven-mile-long beach runs across the whole island. You cannot find boardwalks here. Most beaches retain a beautiful, natural vibe, mostly because the dunes hide the houses behind. To be able to access Avalon and Stone Harbor, you will need beach tags. These cost $6 a day, $12 a week, or $28 for the entire season. You will be able to enjoy the designated rafting and surfing areas. Conveniently, there are basic facilities along the beach such as toilets and shops that you can use when you need them.
Where to stay near Sea Isle City and Avalon
Sea Isle City and Avalon border each other, and therefore share common lodging options. While accommodation in Sea Isle City itself is scarce, drive a few minutes out and you'll find beautiful seaside resorts offering relaxing retreats in Avalon and further down the Jersey Shore.
Our top pick:
ICONA Avalon: Our favorite in the area, the 4-star ICONA Avalon boutique resort is located along the shoreline. A short walk from the beach, it's the complete package for your beach break, with roomy bedrooms, a sun terrace, an outdoor pool, a spa center, a restaurant, a bar, and a hot tub. 11 km from Sea Isle City and right in-between the center of Avalon and Stone Harbor, its setting is perfect to explore both beach towns.
Wildwood (91.0 miles)
Similar to the Jersey Shore’s Coney Island, Wildwood has earned a reputation as a destination for party-goers looking to make the most of their summer vacation. It is probably the closest beach to Philadelphia to unleash your inner party animal! However, Wildwood is also more than that. The city boasts a long, big wooden boardwalk and has numerous piers designed for entertainment, with little amusement parks on these jetties protruding into the ocean.
You can enjoy the 5 miles of wide, beautiful beaches for free, making it a perfect choice for those who want to save money when travelling. The beach is extremely flat and wide, and during low tide, it may take you 10 minutes to walk from the boardwalk straight to the waterline. Just like in most of the beach cities in New Jersey, you will love the white and soft sand of this beach.
Where to stay in Wildwood
Less swanky than some of the other options on this list, Wildwood offers more budget and mid-range accommodation as a popular destination mostly prized by a younger crowd.
Our top picks:
Sea Gull Motel: This bestselling motel goes the extra mile, with an ocean view deck, BBQ facilities, and an outdoor swimming pool. With great rates on both couple and family rooms, it's also perfectly located a mere 2 minutes' walk from the Wildwood Boardwalk.
The Waves Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection is another solid, comfortable option in Wildwood. Well-appointed next to the town's top attractions, it also comes with a pool and a sun terrace. As an extra perk, the reasonable rates include breakfast.
Browse more accommodation options in Wildwood at the best price guaranteed.
Cape May (93.7 miles)
Located at the southern edge of New Jersey, Cape May has been known as a popular summer destination ever since the Victorian period. As such, it preserves a lot of its Victorian mansions. This heritage creates a special environment and means that Cape May has more history to offer than other beach cities in New Jersey.
The beaches in Cape May are beautiful and clean. You will find several beachfront boardwalks, as well as a pedestrian mall along Washington Street. This is also the closest beach to Philadelphia from which you can spot sea mammals.
Insider's tip: Take to the water in Cape May! The area offers some fantastic cruise options that allow you to admire Cape May's famous Victorian buildings and learn about the peninsula's history while relaxing at sea, and even exciting whale and dolphin watching opportunities!
This 3-hour Jersey Shore Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise is our absolute favorite to find out everything about the area's rich history from an expert guide and see many fascinating marine creatures in their natural habitat.
Keen to combine your dolphin-watching with sunset views and photo ops? Opt for this 2-hour Cape May Island Sunset Cruise & Dolphin Watching boat trip, which even includes snacks to keep both your eyes AND your stomach happy!
Add some wine and cheese! Enough said: the 2-Hour Sunset Cruise with Optional Wine Tasting is for you if you feel that the experience can be best enjoyed with 3 glasses of wine and a cheese board (and if so, we totally agree!).
Book one of our recommended cruise tours in Cape May:
Where to stay in Cape May
If you like your accommodation full of character, a visit to Cape May is your chance to step back in time and stay in a grand Victorian mansion!
Our top picks:
Inn at the Park - The Cottage: For a quintessential British colonial experience, go all-in and book the queen room with spa bath at this charming property. Rock on the front porch, enjoy the exceptional breakfast and evening baked goods, and make the most of the beach passes and other extra services kindly provided by the friendly hosts.
The Queen Victoria is another truly delightful Victorian villa that will whisk you away to another world. Experience colonial luxury in this enchanting property. What could be more inspiring than sleeping in your four-poster bed or lounging in antique furniture by the fireplace in your "Charles Dickens," "Prince Arthur," or "Windsor" room? Enjoy, your majesty!
Browse more fantastic accommodation options in Cape May at the best price guaranteed.
Ocean City (150.6 miles)
The best part of Ocean City is its extensive, large, planked boardwalk. This kind of boardwalk is found in most beach towns on the east coast. Ocean City is located on an island with different bridges connecting it to the mainland, so is easily accessible by car. Just like many beachfront towns in the area, it also has a harbor.
The center of the activities in the area is found on 8th Street, where the city's municipal music pier is located. There you will find an auditorium where you can catch concerts, festivals, and other fun events. You can swim safely in the wide public beach area, which is watched over by lifeguards posted every couple of hundred yards.
Where to stay in Ocean City
Ocean City offers a good mix of historical and modern places for your stay - perfect to suit any taste!
Our top picks:
The Ocean City Mansion is a lovely property with period features and tasteful decoration. It may be worth upgrading to one of the rooms fitted with a hydromassage tub and a fireplace. Despite the luxury touches, there's something about the atmosphere of this place that keeps it unpretentious and inviting, and makes you feel at home.
Harris House by the Beach is a great alternative for a more modern option. Set only 60 m from the Ocean City beach and boardwalk, this nicely designed motel offers bright, spacious rooms an an outdoor swimming-pool.
Browse more accommodation options in Ocean City at the best price guaranteed.
Rehoboth Beach (124.2 miles)
If you are looking for the closest beach to Philadelphia that is perfect for families, Rehoboth Beach is a great destination to consider. It has a long, large stretch of traversed beach, a quaint wooden boardwalk, and long lines of small cafes and local shops. One of the highlights of your visit may be attending a concert on the outdoor platform set on the boardwalk.
The beach in Rehoboth Beach is particularly clean; in fact, the National Resources Defense Council found it to have the best water quality in US coastal areas and rated it 5 stars, the highest possible score. If you are into shopping, then make sure to check out the big Tanger Outlet Mall, which is located just outside the town. This beach is approximately a 2-hour drive from Philadelphia.
Where to stay in Rehoboth Beach
Of all the beach towns on this list, Rehoboth Beach has perhaps the largest and most diverse range of accommodation. Whether you're travelling with your children or on a romantic getaway, you shouldn't have trouble finding the ideal place to stay.
Our top picks:
Boardwalk Plaza Hotel: Located - as the name suggests - right on the Rehoboth boardwalk and beach, The Boardwalk Plaza Hotel offers a lot of amenities and services to please every member of the family. With beautiful decor and rooms of different sizes, including some with ocean views, it comes with a restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, a sun terrace, a garden, and more. The cherry on the cake is the giant indoor hot tub open 24/7 in the lobby area!
Bellmoor Inn and Spa: Everything at The Bellmoor Inn and Spa oozes simple elegance with a touch of European flair. With its two outdoor pools, lush garden, hot tub, and lovely lounges with log fireplaces, it's a gorgeous and relaxing space, both indoor and outdoor. Rates also include a raved-about breakfast.
Browse more accommodation options in Rehoboth Beach at the best price guaranteed.
We hope this article has been useful in helping you find the closest beach to Philadelphia.
Looking for unique things to do in Philadelphia? Check out our favorite tours and activities handpicked by our team:
If you have other questions regarding this topic or even suggestions to make this article more helpful for others, please let us know in a comment below!