The 5 Best Casino and Beach Vacation Destinations in the USA
The gulf between your typical beachside vacation and a session spent gambling in the casino couldn’t be wider.
Some places offer sunny skies, splashing water, and pure relaxation versus a smoky room, sounding sirens, and the pressure of trying to beat the house. To be sure, these popular vacation destinations usually represent polar opposites on the recreation spectrum.
I say “usually” because a few casino resorts out there manage to bring guests the best of both worlds. These casinos are situated on or near pristine beaches, offering direct access to the outdoor amenities and summertime fun. And when the sun has set, a stroll back through the doors offers an evening of entertainment on the gaming floor.
This sort of dual vacation experience isn’t for everybody, but if you’ve never enjoyed the unique of scuba diving by day and doubling down by night, I’d highly recommend giving it a shot.
Check out the list below for five of the best beach and casino vacations in the United States:
1 – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida
Miami Beach might just be the best of its kind in the continental United States, boasting pristine white sands, the brightest blue water, and perpetual sunshine.
The home of Spring Break revelry, surfing, and Tequila Sunrises, South Florida is truly a sight to behold. If you’re looking for an abundance of beautiful beaches for your next vacation, you simply can’t beat the nexus between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
And nestled right between both cities is Hollywood, Florida – sight of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. This AAA Four Diamond rated resort wouldn’t be out of place in The Bahamas, with its 469 suites towering above palm trees and the 4.5-acre tropical lagoon swimming area.
Owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, this venue opened in 2004 to rave reviews, and in over a decade since, it’s become the most popular gambling hotspot in the state. The massive, Las Vegas style gaming floor spans 145,000 square feet and offers 135 table games, covering everything from basic blackjack to baccarat, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, and Pai Gow Poker.
Slot and video poker enthusiasts will find 2,500 machines spread throughout the premises, with the latest games by Aristocrat, International Game Technology (IGT), and the rest of the industry’s big boys.
The Seminole Hard Rock Casino has also fashioned itself into a major player in the poker world, thanks to an expansive 40-table poker room. This place is also known for being one of the most well-run poker rooms anywhere outside of Sin City, offering a nonstop schedule of cash games and tournaments.
And if you visit during the summer months, you can take part in one of poker’s most popular tournament series, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO). Every year the SHRPO runs a full-fledged tournament schedule covering all the variants, from Texas hold’em to Omaha Hi Lo Eight or Better, and everything in between.
When the SHRPO Main Event arrives, players have a shot to win more than a million bucks in a few days’ work, so why not try a qualifier or two and see if Lady Luck is on your side?
Beachgoers are in luck no matter how the cards fall during any visit to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. Whether you head 30 minutes south to Miami Beach, 15 minutes north to Fort Lauderdale, or just a few minutes east to Hollywood Beach – you’re never far from the sand and sun.
I recommend the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, home to a thriving outdoor market with 30 shops, 50 restaurants spanning the culinary spectrum, and activities like rollerblading, biking, tanning, and swimming just steps away.
2 – Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, California
- Mission Beach
- La Jolla Cove
- Pacific Beach
These are just a few of the iconic beaches that make up the San Diego coastline. Blending rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, San Diego’s natural beauty attracts millions of visitors every year. Offering world class surfing and scuba diving opportunities over 300 days of sunshine, San Diego is a must-see city for every American.
But on the more expensive side, it doesn’t have to be a must-stay city, what with nearby El Cajon providing an affordable alternative. Starting at El Cajon’s signature Sycuan Casino, it’s a scenic 40-minute drive to San Diego’s pristine beaches.
The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has operated the gorgeous Sycuan Casino since 1983, but a recent $220 million renovation spruced the place up with modern resort amenities. Today, a 12-story tower houses 300 guest rooms and 50 suites, with further accommodations at the attached Sycuan Golf Resort.
Table games players will find blackjack, Three Card Poker, Four Card poker, Spanish 21, EZ Baccarat, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, and Double Hand Baccarat across 48 table placements.
If bingo is more your thing, you’re in luck, because Sycuan Casino began as a bingo hall over 30 years ago. This is a modern bingo establishment, complete with personal TV screens displaying the numbers called, five daily sessions, and Bingo After Dark.
Sycuan Casino runs 2,025 slot and video poker machines too, so you’ll never lack for progressive jackpots and hand pays.
And for the poker players out there, a 17-table room spreading Texas hold’em, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha Hi/Lo in a smoke-free environment should have all the action you need.
You’ll have the nights for casino excursions, but when the sun comes up at Sycuan Casino, hit the road and head west to explore scenic San Diego. This city prides itself on its beachfront beauty, so try a “beach crawling” approach where you start in the south at Imperial Beach, before heading up the coastline to Silver Strand State Beach, North Beach, Coronado Beach, Ocean Beach, and La Jolla Cove.
Along the way you’ll enjoy everything from wakeboarding and wave runners to scuba diving and snorkeling. If you brought your canine companion along for the trip, try the Ocean Beach Dog Beach, where furry friends can enjoy digging sand and chasing seagulls in an off-leash setting.
The famous Children’s Pool at La Jolla isn’t a kiddy cove, but rather the home of a resident troop of sea lions. Visitors can get an up-close glimpse at these gentle giants, making the Children’s Pool one of the most popular places for beachgoers in San Diego.
3 – Ocean’s Eleven Casino in Oceanside, California
The city of Oceanside lives up to its name, with 3.5 miles of exquisite white sand beaches just a short walk away.
Harbor Beach is the area’s longest, but you’ll find as many as a dozen smaller beaches in Oceanside – from the secluded Cassidy Street Beach to Breakwater Bay and Pier View North. But no matter which of Oceanside’s beaches you decide on, expect to find activities like swimming, surfing, body boarding, sun tanning, volleyball, nightly bonfires, and everything else you’d expect from a classic California beachfront setting.
If hanging ten is your thing, check out the California Surf Museum, home to the state’s largest collection of surfing history and heritage. The Oceanside Harbor district combines the city’s marina with a quaint seaside locale, where lighthouses and sailing vessels lend the locale a historical vibe. And for shopping and dining options, the Oceanside Pier is the spot to be.
Oceanside is also home to Ocean’s Eleven Casino, a relatively small venue that admittedly lacks the resort stylings of some other properties on the list. The nondescript building may not look like much, but inside you’ll find one of Southern California’s most popular card rooms.
Traditional poker is the name of the game at Ocean’s Eleven Casino, and indeed, you won’t find any slot or video poker machines in the house. Instead, the bulk of the gaming floor is devoted to the Ocean’s Eleven poker room, which spreads every variant and limit across 38 tables. Tournaments and cash games make up the daily schedule, and at any given time, this place will be jam packed with poker players trying to grind out a winning session.
Ocean’s Eleven Casino also spreads 12 table games, including the unique California No Bust Blackjack variant – which lets the player tie if they go bust along with the dealer, rather than lose. Three Card Poker, Pai Gow Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em round out the table game menu.
I didn’t include Ocean’s Eleven Casino on this list for the gambling, however, as its Oceanside’s immaculate beachfront amenities – and year-round sunshine – that provide the real draw. But when you’re looking to get a little poker action in on your next beach vacation, look no further than Oceanside and its name sake casino to combine the best of both worlds.
4 – Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa in Stateline, Nevada (Lake Tahoe)
The beachside lifestyle doesn’t have to be limited to oceans, and once you experience the wonders of Lake Tahoe in the summer, you’ll see why.
Crystal clear waters await, and while those waters might be a bit cooler than the other entries on this list, visiting Lake Tahoe in July or August promises 80-degree weather and clear skies.
But people don’t typically come to Lake Tahoe’s beaches for the usual sun tanning escapades. No, this jewel nestled on the state line between California and Nevada offers an abundance of outdoor recreational activities – from canoeing and kayaking, to paddleboards and wave runners, and even hot air balloon rides that depart right from the beach.
And you’ll have more than one beach to choose from when you visit Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa, which, like all Lake Tahoe casinos, is found on the Nevada side of the waterway.
Among the many beaches located within a short drive of Montbleu Resort Casino are the Nevada Beach day use area, the Tahoe Beach Club, Lakeside Beach, Keys Beach, Pope Beach, and Zephyr Cove. Each of these beaches is cozy and secluded, and most include onsite picnic benches, gazebos, and other facilities to lend the area a few creature comforts.
There’s nothing quite like dipping your toes in the water while gazing up at the towering, snow-capped peaks that surround much of Lake Tahoe. And if the weather isn’t quite cooperating during the day, why not take the world-famous gondola ride from nearby Heavenly Resort?
And once back on flat ground, head back to the Montbleu Resort Casino to get your gamble on.
This facility is one of the largest and most modern casinos in the Lake Tahoe area, with 45,000 square feet of gaming floor housing a Las Vegas style casino.
With 28 table games on the premises, you can try your hand at blackjack, roulette, craps, or Three Card Poker. Machine players who prefer slots and video poker have 542 options to choose from, and you’ll find everything from the old three-reel slot games to high powered video slots.
If you prefer betting on the night’s sporting schedule, check out The Zone Sports Bar & Sportsbook and its attached Party Pit. Here you’ll find more than 40 high definition big screen TVs broadcasting all of the action, complete with table games right there in the sportsbook.
And on the weekends, the Party Pit lives up to its name, with go-go dancers doing their thing to the latest hits while gamblers enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Montbleu Resort Casino also has quite the history, opening back in 1978 as Park Tahoe, before becoming Caesars Tahoe between 1979 and 2006. It became the Montbleu after that, and in 2015 an ambitious $25 million renovation project created the luxurious 438 room casino resort of today.
Whether you’re out exploring the natural wonders of Lake Tahoe’s beachfront scenery, or scoring a natural blackjack at the tables, Montbleu Resort Casino has you covered.
5 – Golden Nugget Lake Charles in Louisiana
A relative newcomer to the casino scene, Golden Nugget Lake Charles opened to the public in December of 2014.
The venue is located on the banks of the Contraband Bayou, a snaking waterway which feeds into Lake Charles. The city of Lake Charles isn’t some bayou outpost though, as it’s the fifth largest city in Louisiana.
The circular Lake Charles is home to several beaches, but North Beach is the main attraction, as it’s the only white sand inland beach anywhere between Texas and Florida. Visitors from all over the Gulf Coast region call North Beach home for a few days every summer, as it offers boating, fishing, shelling and other outdoor recreation opportunities.
You can even spot alligators and more adventurous forms of local flora and fauna, but only in the nearby swamps and bayous, not within Lake Charles itself.
The area is actually home to two casino resorts, but I chose the Golden Nugget Lake Charles over nearby Isle of Capri Casino for one simple reason: size.
The Golden Nugget lives up to its Las Vegas and Atlantic City namesakes, packing 72 table games and 1,600 slot and video poker machines into 40,000 square feet of gaming floor. The result is an intimate experience that reminds me of the Downtown Vegas location that gave the Golden Nugget its name.
But this venue is only a few years old, after all, so expect to find modern amenities throughout.
The hotel tower houses 738 smoke free rooms, while eight restaurants and five bars await downstairs. You’ll also find a full-service spa, an outdoor swimming pool, an attached golf course, and the 18,000-square foot Grand Ballroom and Event Center – where headlining musical and comedy acts appear nightly. A video arcade, tennis court, and barber shop are also onsite, turning the Golden Nugget into an all-inclusive resort for all ages.
Head outside and you’ll enter the Golden Nugget Casino’s private marina and beach area. Here, you can rent a boat or yacht before heading out to explore Contraband Bayou, heading northbound to hit Lake Charles proper. If you’re not up for a trip, however, don’t worry at all, because the private beach is designed to offer everything you need without ever leaving the property.
Deck chairs and gazebos are set up for sun gazing, fire pits are at the ready for when the sunset starts, and a short walk in either direction opens the river ways up to perfect fishing holes. If you get hungry, Bill’s Bar & Burger of New York is conveniently located right there on the beachfront.
When you’ve caught your fill, hit the casino floor for a few rounds of baccarat, blackjack (6 deck shoe, double deck and 6:5 single deck games), roulette, craps and Crapless Craps with 20x odds, Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud, Pai Gow Poker, Let It Ride, or Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
The Golden Nugget Lake Charles also has a cozy little six-table poker room where the sharks swim.
Between the private beach area, North Beach and its undeniable beauty, and the world class gaming of the Golden Nugget Casino brand, this Lake Charles mainstay has it all.
Plan your next vacation to one of these great destinations. These 5 beach and casino vacations in the United States offer a combination of sun, sand, and casino gaming.