Living in the mountains is one of the best parts of living in East Tennessee. However if you are like us, sometimes the ocean is calling your name and you want to sink your toes in the sand!
We have gathered all the beaches within 8 hours of driving, and of course with Florida there is an option to fly direct from Knoxville.
Beaches Near Knoxville Tennessee
Hilton Head, SC (6.5 hours)
Hilton Head Island is known for its beauty, family friendly fun, and adventure! You can find a full list of family friendly activities here. Check out Pirates of Hilton Head for an unforgettable adventure aboard a pirate ship, and get some local cuisine while you’re there. Seafood is always my family’s favorite part of a coastal vacation!
Charleston, SC (6.5 hours)
Charleston is a beautiful city known for its horse-drawn carriages and rich history. We love the Charleston area because it’s always so quiet and clean with that perfect blend of Southern charm and fun beaches. Our favorite place to stay is on the Isle of Palms, but there are a ton of other beaches to choose from just 20-30 minutes outside the city. Kiawah Island, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and Seabrook Island are all gorgeous beaches with plenty of family activities.
Edisto Beach State Park, SC (6.5 hours)
Edisto Beach State Park is an absolute gem. You’ll find it tucked away on Edisto Island in South Carolina and it’s one of the cleanest, most family friendly campgrounds we’ve ever visited. Of course, we like to go camping on the coast, so CALLING ALL CAMPERS, this place needs to be on your destination list. The sand is soft, the beach is private, and this place is just perfect for families all around. This summer, when we visited, my kids rode bikes all around the campground and made friends everywhere. There was an ice cream truck that drove through the campground every evening even offering gluten free choices- wow!
Myrtle Beach, SC (7 hours)
Myrtle Beach is a popular tourist hot-spot. There’s always something to do here! During peak season, Myrtle Beach can get crowded, so our family got creative and decided to look into camping on the beach, and we’re so glad we did! Of course, you’ll have to check out Broadway at the Beach while you’re in town and don’t forget to stay for the fireworks!
Isle of Palms (6 hours)
Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway just 12 miles from historic Charleston, the Isle of Palms features a beautiful beach, championship golf & tennis, a marina, and endless recreational opportunities both on and off the water.
Kiawah Island (6.25 hours)
Kiawah Island is known for its golf and the Kiawah Island Resort. An oasis of untouched natural beauty and renowned hospitality for those seeking a retreat into adventure and luxury. Enjoy our perfectly preserved maritime forests, sand dunes, and marshes where turtles, whitetail deer, and seabirds abound.
Jekyll Island, GA (8 hours)
Jekyll Island is located just off the Georgia coast near the St. Simons Islands. Check out Jekyll Island’s Summer Waves Water Park, and visit this page to see a variety of delicious dining experiences. Heading to St. Simons Island instead? Visit the Lighthouse Museum and look into the BillyBee Charters – the fishing experience specifically geared towards kids!
Tybee Island (7 hours)
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. Facing due east, this Georgia barrier island has been a popular vacation spot since the late 1800s. Home to wide, clean beaches with warm and gentle waves, Tybee Island is the perfect escape for those who need a healthy dose of sand, sun and seaside bliss.
St. Simon’s Island (7.25 hours)
The largest barrier island in the Golden Isles, St. Simons Island lies across the immortalized Marshes of Glynn, made famous by poet Sidney Lanier. Moss-draped oaks line the winding island streets, creating a picture-perfect image worthy of a Faulkner tale.
Sunset Beach (6.75 hours)
Sunset Beach is a seaside town, bejeweled with pristine sandy beaches, islands, birds, stargazing and golf courses. Plenty of awesome attractions and activities await you at Sunset Beach, and amazing accommodation options are also available to you – from lovely hotels to the top Airbnb vacation rentals in Sunset Beach. Plan your next vacation to this town and immerse yourself in the uniqueness this town has to offer.
Wrightsville Beach (7.5 hours)
From active lifestyles with plenty of watersports and outdoor healthy and wellness activities, to friendly community gatherings, there’s never a shortage of something happening year-round in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina’s most accessible beach.
Kure Beach (7.5 hours)
Take a break from your deadlines to see why life’s a little less hectic at Kure Beach. Here you’ll find the kind of small-town beach you visited as a kid. Home to the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast, an oceanfront park, a nearby state aquarium and historic fort and beautiful seaside surroundings, Kure Beach provides the perfect setting for you and your family to explore and reconnect in this pure and natural playground.
Carolina Beach (7.5 hours)
Trade your ordinary beach vacation for an extraordinary one! Find your laid-back beach vibe at Carolina Beach, one of the most down-to- earth, good-time beaches on the Atlantic Coast. Fun-loving and free-spirited, Carolina Beach offers live music and events, a vintage boardwalk and colorful characters around every corner for a beach vacation that’s unmistakably Carolina Beach.
Hammocks Beach State Park (7.75 hours)
A crown jewel of the North Carolina coast and Hammocks Beach State Park is Bear Island—a 4-mile-long, undeveloped barrier island accessible by the park’s passenger ferry or private ferry, or by paddling a canoe or kayak. A wide beach between massive dunes and the ocean is interrupted only by primitive campsites and a modest concession/picnic complex. The park’s mainland gateway offers a full-service visitor center and is the launch site for ferry service, canoes or kayaks
Bald Head Island, NC (8 hours)
Bald Head Island is a two-mile journey across the Cape Fear River from Southport, North Carolina and the site of Old Baldy, the state’s oldest standing lighthouse, circa 1817. You can reach this subtropical island only by passenger ferry or private vessel. Amid the island’s 12,000 acres, you’ll find 10,000 untouched acres of beach, marsh and maritime forest preserves and charming neighborhoods perfect for a Bald Head Island vacation that respect the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Atlantic Beach, NC (8 hours)
Atlantic Beach is situated on a beautiful barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound. Known for our abundance of public beaches and friendly people, our town balances the needs of our citizens, visitors, businesses, and the delicate coastal environment. Welcome, enjoy your stay, and help us keep Atlantic Beach beautiful!
Amelia Island, FL (7.75 hours)
Amelia Island is pleasant, quiet, and quaint. Between the bicycles and ice cream shops, horse-drawn carriages, this place is family-friendly all around. Come to the island during Restaurant Week and indulge in some delicious cuisine from some of the best restaurants on Amelia Island!
Pensacola, FL (7.5 hours)
You simply can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing the perfect beach in the Pensacola Bay Area as your vacation destination. Our visitors find some of the most pristine beaches in the world along the barrier islands that are home to Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key.
Destin, FL (7.75 hours)
Home to stunning white sandy beaches, emerald green water and known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”, Destin Florida sits in the Florida Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico!
This small beach town is iconic for its plentiful fishing, challenging golf courses, mouth-watering seafood restaurants and some of the best Gulf views and sunsets one will ever experience.
Panama City, FL (8 hours)
No matter what kind of Panama City Beach vacation you’re dreaming about, we’ve got you covered. Panama City Beach, named the top three beaches in the United States by TripAdvisor, has 27-miles of beautiful beaches to choose from and you’ll find a different experience at each stop along the way. Explore as much of PCB as you can including our delicious food and stay updated on how Panama City Beach is keeping our visitors safe. If you love long walks along the beach, you won’t find a better beach for it!
Check out Autumn’s tips and suggestions for trips within a day’s drive with some from this list and our family-friendly day trip list!