If there was a beach that ever defined the term 'eclectic', it would be Venice Beach, CA. There you will find all sorts of characters along the boardwalk: painters, jewelry makers, performers, and all manner of wonderfully strange people.
But what I like best is the drum circle that you can find just about any weekend. All kinds of people bring just about every kind of drum imagineable. People dance ecstatically to the the cacaphony of rythms. For hours on end, everyone is connected by the experience, until the sun goes down. As the sun dips into the ocean, the drums reach a crescendo; as if to give thanks to the sun for it's blessing of the day.
My favorite beach in the U.S. is definitely "Glass Beach" in Fort Bragg, CA. I remember visiting my aunt's house and walking to the beach while walking on all the big beautiful smooth pieces of glass and porceline. It's not what is generally a "vacation" beach because of the northern California coastline weather but the cool summer weather is a well wanted break from the heat in the inland states. Definitely worth a visit!
My favorite beach in the United States is Destin, Florida. The sugar white sand set against the emerald green water is one of the most breathtaking natural scenes in the country. I invite anyone who has never been to Destin to spend a week - or more - to experience this gorgeous part of our homeland.
I really love Virginia Beach because the area had an overhaul to clean house. Great safe family beach offering free public entertainment acts throughout the summer. Plus there's Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens nearby.
Our favorite beach is on a little known Gulf barrier island in Florida name Don Pedro/Palm Island. There are only a couple paved roads. The rest are sand roads. Few cars are driven on the island. Most use golf carts. The island has very lush and natural vegetation. And the wildlife is amazing. Access to the island is by boat or a car ferry that costs $50 to cross. This keeps the island very quiet and private. There are no hotels and only one EXCELLENT restaurant on the island. What a peaceful tropical paradise.
I'm still a fan of Destin, FL. I know it's full of out-of-towners but seeing as I'm one of them, I look for my Ohio friends on the beach. Good times guaranteed.
My favorite beach is Fire Island, NY. Fire Island is a barrier island off the south shore of Long Island. There are no cars- only your feet or your bicycle to get around, and there are several vibrant beach communities- each with their own personality, dotted along the 32 mile island. Some beaches are geared towards day trippers, while others have a more summer community feel with families who spend their whole summer on the island. Lots of the beach towns have great restaurants and bars, but the main focus is definitely the beach itself.
If you live in New York City, the best way to get there is the LIRR to Bayshore, Sayville or Patchogue and then take a ferry over. It's a true escape, and worth the trip every time.