The South's Best Beach Resorts For A Relaxing Getaway

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

Do you like to fill your vacation days with rounds of golf or maybe a tennis match every morning? Swimming, kayaking, biking? Or are you more of the sit-and-sip by the pool vacationer? If your idea of the ultimate vacation involves any of the above—but always includes sand in your toes and a constant ocean view—this is the list for you. Our list of the South's best beach resorts is waiting to be taken for a spin.

Yes, we love a boutique property where the rooms are individually decorated and the scale is intimate and cozy. But still. Sometimes you just want to check into a has-it-all resort and, for once, forget where you put the car keys on purpose. Want an upscale date night dinner? It's waiting downstairs—or maybe oceanside. A facial, massage, or manicure? Yep, yep, yep. Cultural attractions? Just ask the concierge. Total escape from all attractions? That can be arranged. Check in (to your room) and check out (of the ordinary). Forget about traffic, your to-do list, your daily planner, your grocery list...these resorts are ready to take care of YOU.

Gulf Coast Beach Resorts

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Florida
Courtesy of The Resort at Longboat Key Club

Longboat Key, Florida

Stay on a barrier island paradise that's within easy reach of Sarasota's city charms. The Resort at Longboat Key Club, complete with its own deep-water marina, has 222 plush rooms on 410 acres that include unspoiled Gulf beaches. Enjoy onsite food and drink, golf and tennis, a spa, and all kinds of fitness offerings. A 2021 renovation upgraded accommodations and amenities, making a beautiful resort even better.

Perdido Beach Resort

Perdido Beach Resort, Alabama
Courtesy of Perdido Beach Resort

Orange Beach, Alabama

Perched smack on the Gulf of Mexico—and all the sugary sand and salty surf it delivers—Perdido Beach Resort aims to be your no-need-to-leave-once-you-get-here stay. All your beach rentals—chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, jet skis—are right there. Gulf waters are steps away. Dining and sipping options abound. And we'd be willing to bet you'll hear a Jimmy Buffett tune or two while you're there. You'll be so content that you might even forget to go to the Flora-Bama. Until of course, you remember their legendary Bushwackers.

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
Courtesy The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa

Point Clear, Alabama

This 550-acre resort began life as a 40-room hotel in 1847. Now part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, The Grand underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation that brought in new restaurants and updated the historic property, which is known for its old school Southern charm and sunset views over Mobile Bay. Play golf and tennis, take a swim, or chill in the 20,000-square-foot spa. No matter what you do, The Grand will make you feel as if you're visiting genteel relations for the weekend.

Margaritaville Resort Biloxi

Margaritaville Biloxi water park

Margaritaville Resort

Biloxi, Mississippi

The ultimate family-friendly escape, this Gulf Coast favorite has everything you need for a fun-filled getaway. The oceanfront property features an onsite waterpark with a lazy river, game rooms, two restaurants, and easy access to the Biloxi Bay. The 23-story resort features 371 spacious rooms and suites, each with their own balcony so you can watch the sunset over the water from the comfort of your room. And of course, nothing says beach vacation like a little Jimmy Buffett, so an entire resort created by the guy is guaranteed to put you on island time in no time at all.

WaterColor Inn & Resort

WaterColor Inn & Resort

 WaterColor Inn & Resort

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Tucked into a private beach community on Florida's famous stretch of beaches known as 30A, the WaterColor Inn is far from the average mega beach resort. Instead the 60-room inn combines all the charm of a boutique hotel with all the convenience of a much larger resort. Guests have access to the community's multitude of pools (including one that looks directly out onto the water and is strictly for adults), poolside cabanas with TVs, a gym, kayak and paddle board rentals, bikes, beach bonfires, and more.

Hilton Sandestin Beach, Golf Resort & Spa

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa pool and beach view
Courtesy of Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Miramar Beach, Florida

Crystal blue waters and powdery white sand are the calling cards of this Panhandle town. The expansive resort feels like it's in a world of its own, but if you start to feel a little wanderlust, you can always venture out for the impressive outlets and eateries close by. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy the award-winning spa, AAA Four Diamond restaurant, and refreshing pools.

Atlantic Coast Beach Resorts

Sweetgrass Inn at Wild Dunes Resort

Sweetgrass Inn
Wild Dunes Resort

Isle of Palms, South Carolina

A new addition to Wild Dunes lodging, Sweetgrass opened in 2021, bringing next-generation appeal to the venerable 1,600-acre resort, just a half-hour from Charleston. Wild Dunes is a longtime favorite of golfers, with two Tom Fazio-designed courses: the Links Course fronting the Atlantic Ocean and Harbor Course along the Intracoastal Waterway. The addition of Sweetgrass brings a fresh, modern appeal to the resort yet remains anchored in the natural beauty and Lowcountry mystique of the Isle of Palms.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Just 20-ish miles from Charleston lies a stunning island getaway—the kind of place that makes you forget you ever had a care in the world. Or even a schedule. It's a splurge, but what a fine one—10 miles of Atlantic beaches, not to mention more watery adventure by river, marshland, and lagoon. An island-wide expansion and many renovations have been ongoing for several years. The Sanctuary Hotel, with its luxury-meets-tranquility vibe, opened in 2004 and remains a primary reason to head for this barrier island—along with golf, tennis, nature programs, and so much more.

The Cloister at Sea Island

Sea Island Company

Courtesy of Sea Island Company 

Sea Island, Georgia

There's truly no place on earth like this stunning resort that's located on its very own private island just off the southeastern coast of Georgia. The only resort in the world to achieve four Forbes Five Stars 15 years in a row, the experience you'll have at The Cloister will spoil you rotten from the minute you step onto the property's 50 wildly beautiful acres. Here, you'll have access to a five-mile private beach, so you can see as many or as few folks as you choose. When you're ready to dive into activities, you can do everything from bowl to learn about native flora and fauna at the nature center to take surf lessons.

Parrot Key Hotel & Villas

Woman walking at Parrot Key
Courtesy of Parrot Key

Key West, Florida

Guest rooms with simple, clean design put the focus on the blue ocean sparkling right outside the windows at Parrot Key. Featuring private guest balconies, hammocks, and lush foliage throughout the 5-acre property, this resort provides a restful escape from the Key West reverie. The on-site restaurant, The Grove Kitchen & Bar, offers happy hour, plus island cuisine such as ceviche, breakfast tacos, and mimosas. Free shuttles are available to Duval Street and Smathers Beach. You'll have your pick of four pools, including a family pool and one just for adults. There are also daily dolphin tours on a two-decker catamaran to experience a signature Florida Keys adventure.

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

Courtesy The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

Hilton Head, South Carolina

With a $10 million renovation unveiled in early 2023, The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa is looking better than ever. With 12 miles of pristine Hilton Head shore steps away, access to Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club, zumba and cardio classes and a Peloton studio in the state-of-the-art fitness facility, and access to Outside Hilton Head’s fresh-air excursions, including kayak and paddleboard tours, boat rentals, and family adventure packages, it’s nearly impossible to run out of things to do. When it’s time to recharge, book a beach or poolside cabana at one of three pools, or indulge in the Himalayan salt ritual treatment, featuring a salt scrub and salt stone massage, at the Heavenly Spa by Westin.

Sanderling Resort

Photo of Sanderling Resort in Duck NC
Photo: Courtesy of Sanderling Resort

Duck, North Carolina

Anchored between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound, unpretentiously elegant Sanderling Resort is positioned for 360-degrees of waterfront bliss. With uncrowded beaches and a convenient basecamp for exploring the bewitching Outer Banks in Duck, North Carolina, Sanderling Resort is a beach lover’s paradise. From Corolla’s wild horses and Bodie Island Lighthouse to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, outings from the resort stretch north and south along the island, but we wouldn’t blame you if you stay put on the stunning property. When the need for nourishment strikes, Kimball’s Kitchen prepares high-caliber, local catch with sunset views over the sound, while Spa at Sanderling’s menu offers classic and signature massage, body, and facial treatments.

Omni Amelia Island Resort

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

Fernandina Beach, Florida

One of our readers' all-time favorite resorts, the Omni Amelia Island is a treasured summer escape. The 1,350-acre resort offers all the amenities you could ask for including giant resort-style pools, championship golf, and a full-service spa. The resort's pristine beaches and preserved marshlands offer gorgeous views at every turn. The folks at Omni Amelia Island fully understand the direct correlation between great food and a great vacation, so there are 9 onsite restaurants to choose from—each more delicious than the last.

The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina

 The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina

 The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

With views of Charleston Harbor and the Holy City skyline across the sweeping Cooper River, The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina is worth a visit for the vista alone. The resort’s 92 guest rooms feature wrap-around porches and one- and two-bedroom layouts. Outside, a private beach and multiple pools wrapped in a 30,000 square foot deck–with a bocce court, private poolside cabanas, and a Tiki bar beckon. The Fish House serves modern, Southern fare, but when the foodie city of Charleston calls you to dine, it’s just a free, 15-minute trolley or water taxi ride away. For days when further unwinding is a must, book a treatment at Estuary Spa. During summer months, pint-sized guests aged 5 to 12 can partake in the resort’s Mini Mariners Children’s Program, with weekly themes like science adventure, weather watchers, and Lego land. 

The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island

The Cottages on Little St. Simons Island
Peter Frank Edwards

Little St. Simons Island, Georgia

The experience at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island is all about nature. Little has been touched on this 11,000-acre stunner in the Golden Isles, and the resort's focus is to help you enjoy every last square inch of the area's natural beauty. The intimate resort features 32 cozy cottages that serve as home base for outdoor enthusiasts hoping to explore the area. An all-inclusive stay includes three garden-fresh meals a day, naturalist-guided excursions, and access to everything from beach cruisers to kayaks to binoculars, and fishing poles.

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