Great American Waterfronts

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    Baltimore, MD

    Baltimore's waterfront area, the Inner Harbor, is one of the most visited and most photographed parts of the city. Many of Baltimore's best attractions -- the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and World Trade Center to name a few -- sit along the waterfront, and when the weather's nice, you'll often see street performers entertaining guests on the sidewalks along the water.

    Photo courtesy of kymagirl

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    Sarasota, FL

    Sarasota might not garner as much attention as Miami or Orlando, but this culture-rich city enjoys close proximity to 40 miles of white sand beaches lining the barrier islands just off shore. In the city proper, Bayfront Park and Marina is a popular place for biking, walking, kayaking or canoeing with views of Sarasota Bay and the city's skyline.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Sarasota County

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    San Francisco, CA

    Each of San Francisco's waterfront neighborhoods has its own distinct flavor. The most famous, Fisherman's Wharf, is an industrial fishing port-turned tourist attraction where you can enjoy the fresh catch of the day with views over the bay. The carnival-like atmosphere and hordes of sea lions who make their home at Pier 39 are always a hit with kids, and you'll find pedestrian-friendly piers dotting the waterfront all the way to the Ferry Building.

    Photo courtesy of Cedward Brice

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    New York City, NY

    The New York Harbor, where the Hudson River empties into New York Bay, is one of the largest natural harbors in the world, and the city's 500 miles of coastline are undergoing a major revitalization. Battery Park, located on the southern tip of Manhattan, offers views across the harbor, and you'll find similar waterfront parks along the East and Hudson Rivers in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island to name a few.

    Photo courtesy of Malcolm Brown - nycgo.com

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    Charleston, SC

    Charleston's charming historic district occupies the southernmost part of the city, where the Cooper and Ashley Rivers come together. For the best Charleston waterfront experience, head for the seawall sidewalks along East Battery and Murray Boulevard, or spend an afternoon enjoying the outdoors at the award-winning Waterfront Park.

    Photo courtesy of ExploreCharleston.com

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    Vancouver

    Vancouver has been blessed with one of the most scenic waterfronts in North America, and there's no better place to enjoy it than along the Seawall, a 13.6-mile pedestrian path lining Vancouver's waterfront and passing through Stanley Park. Vancouver is a outdoor enthusiast's playground, and when the weather's nice, the city's waterfront is best enjoyed by kayak.

    Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

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    San Diego, CA

    Whether surfing in La Jolla, rollerblading along Mission Bay or touring a ship at Navy Pier, you'll find much of San Diego's action revolves around the water. If you're hungry for dinner with a view, snag a table at one of the many restaurants at Seaport Village. For a day of free fun in the sun, head to Embarcadero Marine Park.

    Photo courtesy of Suzi Duke

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    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Thanks to an extensive network of canals and waterways, nearly the entire city of Fort Lauderdale is one giant waterfront, but for visitors, the waterfront action centers around Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, a people watching paradise. For an overview of all the Fort Lauderdale waterfront has to offer, take a riverboat tour, or if you want to get out on the water, there's no place better than Fort Lauderdale Beach.

    Photo courtesy of sunny.org

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    Savannah, GA

    Savannah's waterfront is one of the most historic areas of the city and a hotspot for shopping, dining and nightlife. The restored warehouses along the water also house dozens of galleries and studios. After you've explored River Street on foot, see the city from the river aboard the River Queen, a refurbished paddleboat.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Savannah

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    Miami, FL

    Miami Beach tops the list when it comes to iconic American beaches, but that's not the only notable waterfront area. The downtown waterfront offers dining and shopping -- don't miss the busy Bayside Marketplace. For a look at the Miami of days gone by, check out the art deco facades of South Beach, a 10-mile stretch of Miami coast where an eclectic mix of characters come to see and be seen.

    Photo courtesy of Phillip Pessar

About Lydia Schrandt

Lydia, photo editor and Readers' Choice Production Manager for USA TODAY 10Best, has traveled to more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North and South America, and has lived in Albuquerque, Galveston, Austin, Thailand, Korea, China, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and now Spain. When she's not at her computer in a cafe, she's out photographing the city, writing fiction or cheering on Barça.

Read more about Lydia Schrandt here.

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