It might seem unlikely to mention Pennsylvania and ocean beaches in the same breath, but residents of the eastern part of the state can reach the beach in an hour or two. When you're in the Keystone State wondering "Where is the closest beach to me?" rest assured that tiny Victorian towns, flashy boardwalks and serene state parks aren’t far away.
While Pennsylvania itself isn’t rich in ocean beaches, if you’re near the Pittsburgh area you can still enjoy a day trip or weekend getaway within the state to the public beaches, water parks, canoeing, and amusement parks on Lake Erie.
The Sandy Hook unit of Gateway National Recreation Area about 95 miles east of Bethlehem includes a historic fort, lighthouse and beaches on Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Asbury Park, 13 miles south of Sandy Hook, famous as Bruce Springsteen's stomping grounds, has a six-block-long boardwalk lined with amusement rides, arcades, eateries and bars, including the Stone Pony, made famous by Springsteen and other performers such as Bon Jovi. Avon-by-the-Sea, barely two miles south of Asbury Park, is a Victorian village with a quiet, non-commercial boardwalk and white sandy beaches perfect for a peaceful beach getaway.
Central Beaches near PA
The Barnegat Peninsula stretches from Point Pleasant, about 10 miles south of Asbury Park, through Island Beach State Park to the Barnegat Inlet. Point Pleasant Beach's boardwalk is home to an aquarium, arcades and restaurants. The village hosts an annual seafood festival in September. Eleven miles south, Seaside Beach has a mile-long boardwalk with amusements, ice cream, biking, boutiques and arcades. Island Beach State Park offers 10 miles of some of the Atlantic’s best beaches, a hiking-trail system and views of the Barnegat Light across Barnegat Inlet. One mile of nice beach is lifeguarded, and portions of the southernmost end of the park are reserved for surfers and sailboarders.
From Southern Pennsylvania
Cape May, at the southern tip of New Jersey, is an East Coast classic and sits about 80 miles from Pennsylvania's southern border with Delaware. The Jersey shore town, noted for its historic downtown filled with Victorian mansions, has numerous beaches, including the remote Higbee Wildlife Management Area and The Cove, a favorite spot with surfers. Family-friendly Ocean City is about 30 miles north of Cape May. Eight miles of beach, much of it lifeguarded, stretch along the Atlantic, and coves on the bay side provide anglers and Sunfish sailboat enthusiasts a protected area to enjoy their sport. Don’t overlook the white sand beaches of Avalon and Wildwood, or Delaware's Rehoboth Beach town a two hour drive from Philly..
Atlantic City Fun
Residents of Philadelphia need only to hop on the Atlantic City Expressway to make the 60-mile drive to Atlantic City. An amusement pier, arcades and high-rise hotels join Las Vegas-style casinos along the four-mile-long wooden boardwalk. Atlantic City beaches have no bathhouses, but there are restrooms at regular intervals and outdoor showers at lifeguard stations. Some hotels provide beach volleyball equipment, and grilling is allowed on the beach on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. The Jackson Avenue beach is restricted to kayakers and windsurfers.