Top 5 Beaches: Travel Edition

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Sometimes all you need is a beach. Here are five of our favorite sunny hideaways.

1. Siesta Key, Florida

This is a beach town where the actual beach takes center stage thanks to its pristine, “powdered sugar” Gulf Coast sand. Scan the horizon for dolphins or check the grassy marshes for West Indian Manatees. visitsarasota.org/siesta-key/

2. Holden Beach, North Carolina

This long, skinny island, created by an intercostal waterway, is calm, homey, and relatively undeveloped. Visit Capt’n Pete’s Seafood Market, a Holden Beach institution, for fresh shrimp and scallops pulled from the sea by the Capt’n himself. 101 South Shore Dr., (910) 842-6675

3. Sanibel Island, Florida

Kayak through a crazy-beautiful mangrove forest (and look for large wetland birds and jumping fish). Then scope out the lighthouse, fish from the t-dock pier, and hunt for souvenirs on one of the world’s best shelling coastlines. sanibel-captiva.org; Tarpon Bay Explorers, 900 Tarpon Bay Rd., (239) 472-8900, tarponbayexplorers.com

4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is upper crust America’s original beachy escape. Take on a pile of steamed clams at the 56-year-old Baxter’s in Hyannis. Then drive up the Mid-Cape Highway to its terminus in teeny, idyllic Provincetown. capecodchamber.org; Baxter’s, 177 Pleasant St., (508) 775-4490, baxterscapecod.com; provincetowntourismoffice.org

5. Tybee Island, Georgia

This genteel island is the resort analog to urban Savannah. Just 20 miles southeast from its big sister city, Tybee has Old Southern-type B&Bs (think weepy trees and big porches), the Tybee pier, and a 1730s-era lighthouse. tybeeisland.com

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