Can't decide whether to head for the big city or the beach? Get the best of both worlds in Miami, Chicago, and other far-flung destinations where skyscrapers and hot pavement give way to patches of sand and beautiful people. These 10 great urban beaches range from the iconic to the up-and-coming. Read on to find out which two cities barged in heaps of sand this year to create new beaches in places you'd never imagined.
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Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA
If there's one shoreline that's used to getting upstaged by people watching, Venice Beach is it. At any given moment along the boardwalk you could see bikini-clad roller skaters, chainsaw jugglers, belly dancers, palm readers, drum circles, or bodybuilders in Speedos. It's a colorful cast joined by a host of souvenir vendors vying for attention. For those seeking out actual beach activities, there's volleyball and swimming, and the breakwater is a favorite among local surfers. How clean is the water? Heal the Bay's Beach Report Card, which rates hundreds of West Coast beaches, recently gave this shore an A+.
What to Do: Grab an outdoor patio table for brunch at The Rose Cafe, a quintessential bohemian Venice Beach mainstay, or sip a cocktail after a day in the sun at James' Beach restaurant. Cool boutiques and galleries line Abbot Kinney Boulevard.