16 Closest Beaches to Johnson City TN For an Unforgettable Vacation

Gather up the family and get ready to make awesome beach memories this year. The closest beach to Johnson City TN is less than 6 hours away and it’s begging you to visit.

On the list below you’ll find everything you need to pick the perfect location for your dream vacation including options throughout the south, even on the gulf.

Family Walking on one of the Closest beaches to Johnson City TN

For your convenience, this post may contain various affiliate links. As an affiliate, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. View the disclosure page for more information.

What is the Closest Beach to Johnson City TN?

You’ll be ecstatic to know that all of these beaches near Johnson City TN are within a half day’s drive. Each beach offers its own unique brand of fun, so be sure to read through the entire list to find the best beach for you.

The beaches are organized by driving distance. The list starts with the closest beach and ends with the beach that is furthest away. When you are choosing your destination, don’t forget to factor in time for gas and rest stops.

1. Folly Beach, Charleston South Carolina

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 5 hours, 9 minutes
Twilight on Folly Beach SC the closest beach to Johnson City TN

Things to Do

At Folly, you can hit the beach to collect some fancy shells or cool off in the fresh Atlantic surf. For even more water fun, try taking a local dolphin tour or renting kayaks with family and friends.

After your ocean adventures, you can head towards the land where you’ll find 2 state of the art playgrounds and a scenic nature preserve. The preserve is a great place to spot local and migrating wildlife. Here, you can also take a sandy beach hike to the gorgeous Morris Island Lighthouse.

The downtown area is also filled with quaint shops and restaurants just waiting to be explored. For more upscale adventures, you can head into historic Charleston, which is just 20 minutes away.

Folly Beach is the closest beach to Johnson City TN.

Tasty Eats

At Rita’s Seaside Grille, you’ll enjoy a mix of American and local favorites, including crab bisque, grouper, seafood platters, cheeseburgers, steaks, and pulled pork.

Where to Sleep

This stunning 3 bedroom villa has panoramic ocean views at an affordable price.

2. Edisto Island, South Carolina

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 5 hours, 18 minutes
Twilight on Edisto Beach SC

Things to Do

The Edisto Island Museum is a great place to explore the history and culture of the island. They hold a variety of educational events throughout the year.

For the younger crowd, the Serpentarium is the place to be. This reptile wonderland hosts kid-friendly educational programs each day, many of which may have you petting a snake or a lizard. Hooray!

Of course, you can also enjoy all your favorite beach activities like collecting shells, shopping, swimming, paddle boarding, and animal sighting tours.

Tasty Eats

Pressley’s at the Marina, a small waterfront eatery beloved by locals, has a casual atmosphere and casual food. The menu includes tasty choices like low country boils, and a wide variety of fried seafood. They also offer crab cakes, fish filets, shrimp and grits, chicken tenders, steak, and a full bar.

3. Hilton head

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 5 hours, 29 minutes
Sand Dunes at Hilton Head South Carolina

Things to Do

Although Hilton Head’s most popular attraction is golf, it also offers a wealth of outdoor recreation, including kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing, and more.

In addition to exploring on your own, you can tour the butterfly habitat or take a guided ecology tour at the Coastal Discovery Museum. They also offer a variety of hands-on classes for kids, some of which are indoors and perfect for avoiding bad weather.

There is also a stunning historic lighthouse that is perfect for practicing your photography skills.

Tasty Eats

The varied menu at Skull Creek Boathouse is sure to please your entire family. There offer low country boils, salads, sandwiches, steaks, burgers, pasta, and every version of fresh and fried seafood you can imagine. They also have a large menu of fresh-made sushi.

Where to Sleep

Find rest and relaxaton in this spacious 2 bedroom with gorgeous ocean views.

4. Myrtle beach

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 5 hours, 42 minutes
twilight on Myrtle Beach SC on of the best beaches near Johnson City TN

Things to Do

With all the fun and excitement of a coastal Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach has everything you need for an action-packed vacation. Here you’ll find amusement parks, mini-golf, museums, water parks, indoor fun zones, a Ripley’s Aquarium, and so much more.

When you need a little downtime, you can head to the beach for some rest and relaxation. Of course, there are tons of ocean attractions too including deep-sea fishing and dolphin tours. The fun just doesn’t end.

Tasty Eats

Cafe Old Vienna is a unique German-Austrian restaurant offering chicken cordon-blue, bratwurst, knackwurst, schnitzel, fish and chips, and so much more.

5. Pawleys Island, South Carolina

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 5 hours, 54 minutes
waves on the shore of Pawleys Island

Things to Do

Pawley’s Island is a quiet ocean town just outside of historic Georgetown. The island is perfect for peaceful strolls and viewing sunsets over the sea.

Golfing is one of the most popular activities on the island, and there are several courses to choose from. There is also a variety of quaint shops and historical landmarks peppered throughout the area.

In nearby Georgetown, you’ll find a wildlife refuge, museums, a lighthouse, and tons of historic plantation homes. Several touring companies offer guided excursions to help you explore the city.

Tasty Eats

Open for brunch, lunch, and supper, Rustic Table has many southern treats like shrimp and grits, po’boys, BBQ ribs, fried chicken, burgers, key lime pie, and more.

6. Tybee Island, GA

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 5 hours, 55 minutes
Tybee Island Beach Lighthouse at Dusk

Things to Do

Tybee Island is a relaxing beach oasis filled with history and nature adventures. Kayak along the coast or ride a bike down to the local shops and restaurants.

If you are an animal lover, you’ll want to explore the North Beach Birding Trail, which is the best place to spot local and migrating seabirds.

Just beyond the birding trail is a gorgeous historic lighthouse and historical society.

For even more fun, you can head into nearby Savanah, GA. This hip southern city offers a variety of museums, restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.

Tasty Eats

The most popular restaurant on the island, The (Orginal) Crab Shack, is locally famous for its low-country boils. It also offers a variety of fresh seafood and American favorites like burgers, BBQ pork, ribs, and more.

Where to sleep

You won’t believe the charm of this standalone beach cottage with stunning views.

7. Ocean Isle Beach, NC

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 6 hours, 8 minutes
The Waves at Ocean Isle Beach NC

Things to do

After the beach, one of Ocean Isle’s most popular attractions is The Museum of Coastal Carolina. This natural history museum features a variety of live aquarium exhibits, touch tanks, diorama exhibits, and more.

Just down the road from the museum, you’ll find the Ingram Planetarium which boasts educational astronomy programs and laser light shows set to music.

When it’s time for a little free fun, you can visit the playground, picnic area, and ball fields at Ocean Isle Beach Park.

Tasty Eats

The popular Ocean Isle Fish Company offers more than just seafood. The menu at this waterfront tiki bar and restaurant includes fresh-made sushi, fresh and fried seafood, low country boils, burgers, and more.

8. Wrightsville Beach, NC

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 6 hours, 16 minutes

Things to do

This Wrightsville area is filled with delightful coastal shops and a wealth of outdoor adventure. In addition to the ocean beach, the calmer waters of Banks Channel are a great place for paddleboarding and other water sports.

When you’ve had your fill of the surf, head on over to the Stanback Coastal Education Center. This small museum and learning hub offers a variety of interactive exhibits and activities for visitors of all ages. They also host many educational presentations that incorporate touch tanks and real animals.

Tasty Eats

Poe’s Tavern is the best spot to grab delicious American favorites with an upscale flair. The menu includes a wide variety of gourmet burgers, gourmet chicken sandwiches, cheese fries, and salads. As an added bonus, they also serve a variety of tacos and quesadillas. Yum!

9. Emerald Isle, NC

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 6 hours, 44 minutes
Sandy Seashore on Emerald Isle Beach NC

Things to do

Ocean activities take center stage at this picturesque southern island. Kitesurfing, fishing, and shelling are all popular choices. The Point, a pretty stretch of beach, is actually known as one of the top shelling spots on the east coast.

After collecting your shells, you can continue the fun at Emerald Path. This 11-mile bike trail offers relaxing scenic views for the perfect afternoon ride. Of course, there are plenty of bike rental locations to choose from.

For more fast-paced fun, you won’t want to miss the Salty Pirate Water Park. This small but adorable attraction features several different water slides, a lazy river, a swimming pool, and a kids’ zone. It has just the right amount of adventure for a day of low-key fun.

Tasty Eats

Snapperz is a locally owned gem with a varied menu including seafood steamer pots, quesadillas, sandwiches, burgers, a wide variety of fresh seafood platters, and more.

10. Virgina Beach, VA

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 6 hours, 56 minutes
Boardwalk and Beach at Virginia Beach VA

Things to do

From art museums and indoor skydiving to a stunning waterfront aquarium, Virginia Beach has everything you need to keep your family busy, even on rainy days. This is why it’s one of the most popular beaches near Johnson City TN.

When the weather is nice there are plenty of ocean adventures to explore, including banana boat rides, snorkeling, fishing tours, fat tire bike rentals, and much more.

Of course, the boardwalk is the hottest spot for shopping and dining with scenic ocean views. There are also plenty of amusement rides, a playground, street entertainers, and seasonal sand sculptures to enjoy.

Tasty Eats

Waterman’s Surfside Grille offers an eclectic menu including deliciously fresh seafood, burgers, sandwiches, ribs, steaks, pasta, and crisp salads. With so many choices, this place is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters!

11. Amelia Island, FL

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 7 hours, 11 minutes
Pink Sunset Sky on Amelia Island FL

Things to do

Start with a scenic trolley tour of historic Amelia Island, where you’ll see several different districts on the island. The same company also offers nighttime ghost tours.

At the beach you can rent mini 2-person catamarans, take a fising or dolphin tour, or just enjoy a relaxing walk to collect shells.

For the kiddos (and kids at heart), there is a great pinball museum where you can play tons of vintage games. There are also mini-golf courses and a couple of waterfront playgrounds.

Tasty Eats

The Salt Life Food Shack is a quirky seaside eatery with an extensive menu. They offer a raw bar, poke bowls, street tacos, burgers, chicken tenders, handmade sushi, and so much more.

12. Outer banks, North Carolina

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Cars Driving on the Beach in Outer Banks NC

Things to do

The Outer Banks is comprised of a string of wonderful beaches, all with something unique to offer. For families that like to keep busy with activities and shopping, you may want to try Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, or Nags Head. If you prefer more seclusion, you may prefer Southern Shores.

Of course, nature lovers flock to Carolloa Beach with it’s famous and gorgeous population of wild horses.

Tasty Eats

The Black Pellican Oceanfront Restaurant is a picturesque place to enjoy fresh seafood platters, ribs, chicken, steaks, and more.

Gulf Beaches Near Johnson City Tennessee

As if the views aren’t enough these stunning beaches offer warm waters and calm seas that the Atlantic beaches can’t come close to. A visit to one of the Gulf beaches below is like visiting a tropical paradise.

13. Panama City Beach, FL

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 9 hours, 12 minutes
Panama City Beach Fl, Blue Gulf Beaches Near Johnson City TN

Things to do

Panama City is the closest Gulf beach to Johnson City TN. This action-packed beauty boasts a wealth of fun activities in addition to the sand and surf.

Start by getting wet and wild at Shipwreck Island Waterpark. With a dedicated kids’ area, a rapids ride, water slides, and a lazy river, it’s fun for all ages!

The fun doesn’t stop there. You can also feed a variety of animals at the local zoo, swim with the dolphins at the aquarium, or ride a roller coaster with a sweeping ocean view. Yay!

Tasty Eats

Get yummy southern favorites like po’boys, gator bites, and all the fried (and grilled) seafood you can imagine at Pineapple Willy’s. For seafood haters, this seaside restaurant also has several delicious chicken dishes.

14. Pensacola, FL

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 9 hours, 17 minutes
Pensacola Beach FL

Things to do

Take in the sweeping ocean views while you tour stunning Fort Pickens, which was used extensively during the civil war. In addition to touring the fort, there is also a nice museum on-site with a variety of hands-on exhibits.

Pensacola also offers tons of activities your kids will go gaga over, including a children’s museum, arcades, amusement parks, waterfront playgrounds, and much more!

Tasty Eats

Peg Leg Pete’s has a rustic flair and a large menu to satisfy everyone in your party. The offerings at this popular waterfront restaurant include tons of delicious seafood, salads, gumbo, chicken, sandwiches, burgers, and a nice selection of signature island drinks.

15. Dauphin Island, AL

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 9 hours, 24 minutes

Things to do

One of the most popular Dauphin Island attractions is the Estuarium Sea lab. At this research and learning center, you can see a variety of sea creatures up close. There are also hands-on educational programs for kids and adults.

Equally popular is the Fort Gains Historic Site. This gorgeous 19th-century fort hosts a variety of living history demonstrations throughout the year.

The educational theme continues with the fabulous Audubon Bird Sanctuary, which focuses on migrating birds. You can spot a wide variety of different species as you meander through the winding seaside trails.

Tasty Eats

The most popular restaurant on the island is Pirate’s Bar and Grille. This casual restaurant with sweeping bay views offers a large selection of American cuisine and seafood.

16. Orange Beach, AL

  • Distance from Johnson City, TN: 9 hours, 24 minutes
Orange Beach Alabama

Things to do

Shop, dine, and play your way to an awesome vacation at The Warf. This lively entertainment district in Orange Beach offers a variety of rides, attractions, and entertainment options.

The area also boasts a wonderful biking and hiking trail system that contects to other nearby beaches for double the fun!

Tasty Eats

Luna’s Eat and Drink, named for man’s best friend, offers a little bit of everything to please even the pickiest eaters. Menu items include entre salads, po’boys, fried fish sandwiches, shrimp and grits, fried chicken, burgers, and more.

Map of Beaches Near Johnson City

More East TN Family Fun

Photo of author
Written By
Erica Cardinal
Erica is a long-time resident of East TN and the founder of East TN Family Fun. She's also a sucker for a good adventure. Together with her hubs and kiddos, she spends her time exploring, homeschooling, and making memories.

Leave a Comment