Mountains vs. beach: Where is it better to vacation?


Fact Box

  • Research has found that mountain-goers tend to be more introverted, while those who frequent beaches are generally more extroverted. 
  • US News & World Report ranks Maui as the #1 'Best Beach in the US.'
  • Among national parks, The Great Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee/North Carolina border attracts the most 'recreational visitors.' 
  • An ABC News poll found that 72% of Americans prefer to vacation at the beach, while 66% prefer mountain trips.

Chad (Mountains)

While beaches are an excellent way to spend the day, mountains generally have much more to offer.

Going to the beach is usually better in theory than in practice. It seems idyllic, but it is hot and sandy when one gets there, it's generally very crowded, and the landscape doesn't change for miles. Not to mention the necessary slathering on of sunscreen to protect against the inevitable sunburn. Aside from sitting in the sun, one can jet ski, go boating, or parasailing, but these activities are costly and often contribute to spoiling nature.  

Mountains, on the other hand, provide a diversity of experiences. You can hike around a mountain park for days and never get bored with the ever-changing scenery from valleys and canyons, to forests, alpine tundra, and vistas from the summits of peaks. 

Further, mountains can be enjoyed for free, without any negative impact on nature (hiking, biking, camping, etc.), or can be geared towards more thrill-seeking activities such as skiing/snowboarding, rock/ice climbing, and more.

While beaches tend to be thin strips near the coast, mountains are vast three-dimensional ranges that cover hundreds of miles. As such, mountains tend to be less crowded than beaches, and you can easily escape into solitude. This is why so many of our country's best national parks are in the mountains. 

Lastly, while beaches in tropical and subtropical areas are more or less the same all year, mountains tend to be areas with highly variable weather and seasonality--making the experience of hiking amongst the peaks throughout the year as diverse as the views. This contrasts sharply with the one-note experience of what beachgoing has to offer, namely just sunbathing and swimming. 

Elisa (Beach)

The elements of the beach, including sand, water, and sunshine, are what make it best for vacation. Mountains, on the other hand, often lack these elements and do not promote as much relaxation as a day at a beach

The beach is shown to have scientific health benefits, such as lowering stress, reducing arthritis, and reducing depression. One of the most obvious health benefits is exposure to the sun, which is great for your immunity in moderation. In the mountains, you may get access to the sun but also may be exposed to altitude sickness, and mountain roads can induce nausea and dizziness. Even the sea air is good for you at the beach, but in the mountains, you may be exposed to forest fires or feel dizzy from the heights. 

If vacationing in the mountains, bodies of water may sometimes be inaccessible or hard to get to, while beaches provide the benefits of water right at your fingertips. In fact, if at the ocean, salt water is good for your body and can even help clear your skin

And sure, there may be rugged trails in the mountains, but if you're looking to rest, sand is best. Even walking on the beach has health benefits, where you can burn calories and stay active. Plus, there are more opportunities for social interaction on the beach, a variety of beach sports, which mountains simply lack, and closer access to restaurants and events.

If you're looking for a vacation, the beach beats mountains because it includes all elements (sun, water, air, and sand) while promoting relaxation. A trip to the mountains may leave you with windy roads, intense trails, and may even be dangerous.

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