Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Some of the best family beach vacations can be found in the U.S. From the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and all the way to the West Coast, the U.S. is home to some great beach towns. For me, the best family vacation beaches are those that include time to relax on the sand, enjoy the water, but also explore the city or the surrounding area. Here is a breakdown of some of the best U.S. family beaches and what to do besides enjoying the surf and sand.

Best Family beach vacations Outer Banks
One of our favorite family beach vacations is in the Outer Banks, NC

Best Family Vacation Beaches and More

The following is a list of some of the best East Coast beaches for families as well as some of the best West Coast beaches too. These places make for a great family beach vacation because, in addition to time spent enjoying the water and relaxing in the sand, there are nearby activities in town to keep everyone entertained.

Best East Coast Beaches for Families

Living on the East Coast all my life, our family often travelled locally to visit cities, small towns, beaches, historical sites, and outdoor destinations. While I do enjoy a beach getaway, I am partial to places where you can explore in addition to a family beach vacation. Here are some of the best East Coast beaches for families that can be combined with a visit to smaller towns or bigger cities.

Outer Banks, NC

The Outer Banks have some of the best family vacation beaches in the country; however, visiting the Outer Banks offers more than time on the beach. There are state parks, national park sites, museums, lighthouses, boardwalks, shops, restaurants, breweries, and so much more available in these barrier islands. If you are looking for a quieter area, then you may want to consider renting a vacation home in Corolla. Many homes are right on the beach or within a short walk, and you can also visit the famed wild horses as well.

For a more centralized location, then the Nags Head area is the place to be. While there are vacation rentals throughout the Outer Banks, here is where you will find the majority of hotels. We loved our stay at the TownePlace Suites with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean. Some of the other things to do in the Outer Banks besides the beach include visiting Jockey Ridge State Park, home to the Atlantic Coast’s largest sand dunes, seeing the lighthouse in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and walking around the Duck Boardwalk. Our family loved visiting the two national park sites in the area, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (the spot of the Lost Colony of Roanoke) and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. We used the 4th-grade national park pass and our kids became junior rangers all while learning some history.

Finally, some of the best seafood can be found here in the Outer Banks. A few of our favorites include Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar, The SaltBox Cafe, and Fish Heads Bar & Grill. Hopefully, you can experience the beauty, peace, and charm of the Outer Banks for your upcoming family beach vacation.

Florida Keys

While the Florida Keys are not primarily known to have the best family vacation beaches, there is much more to do than lay on a beach all day. The drive as you are entering this chain of islands is stunning and you are treated with views of the Atlantic and Gulf almost the entire time. The Upper Keys, which are Key Largo and Islamorada, are quite busy as that is where many Miami locals vacation. On the drive down, be sure to stop at some of my favorite Key Largo and Islamorada restaurants. The most well-known beach here is Anne’s Beach, which is small but a favorite of many tourists. Some fun family activities in this area include Theater of the Sea and feeding tarpon at Robbie’s. Many resorts in the Upper Keys also have small private beaches that would be great for families.

Marathon is in the Middle Keys and not far from two of my favorite resorts, Hawk’s Cay and Tranquility Bay. This area is the quieter section of the Florida Keys and could be used as a home base to take day trips up to Key Largo/Islamorada and down to Key West. Here, families will enjoy learning about rescued turtles at the Turtle Hospital or get up close with marine life at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.

Driving down through the famous 7 Mile Bridge is a must-do on any Florida road trip! One of the best beaches in all of the Keys can be found just after the bridge at Bahia Honda State Park. In Key West, there are tons of things to keep the entire family entertained. You can park near Duval Street or at any lot and just walk for the day. Some great family options include taking a picture at the Southernmost Point, renting kayaks, taking a snorkeling charter, touring the Hemingway House, and visiting the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. While many people say that Key West is more for couples, don’t let that stop you. There are still plenty of family-friendly things to do, yet just like visiting New Orleans with kids, I would avoid the high crowded areas at night.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a wonderful destination for a family beach vacation because you can mix relaxing near the ocean with visits to once-in-a-lifetime attractions. Virginia Beach is located just 3 hours south of DC and 1 hour east of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.  We loved our family trip to Virginia Beach last summer and were really impressed by the variety of family-friendly things to do. There are 28 miles of beaches in Virginia Beach with a lovely 3-mile-long boardwalk along the ocean. We loved renting surrey bikes to explore up and down the boardwalk. There are also tons of water sports, whale tours, and mini-golf nearby. In terms of where to stay, we really enjoyed our time at the Residence Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront because it is right on the boardwalk, included a kitchenette and all suites are ocean views! 

Just an hour west is Colonial Williamsburg which is a bucket list location for many families. Take a day and explore an entire town of buildings, parks, gardens, museums, and more from the 18th century. It is a living-history museum which means that there are many costumed employees working and speaking like they would in the colonial period. You can also explore the other parts of the “Historic Triangle” including Jamestown and Yorktown. For more on all of the things to do in the area, check out Williamsburg with kids.

Contributed by: Jennifer from Family Trip Guides

best family vacation beaches virginia
Virginia Beach is the perfect spot for a family beach vacation

Hilton Head, SC

Our family visited Disney’s Hilton Head Resort for an unforgettable family beach vacation. We enjoyed riding bikes to the beach, the waterslide and pool, and the subtle Disney elements around the resort. We are huge Disney fans and often do resort-only stays in Disney World, so this felt very similar. Families will enjoy the sports courts, Community Hall activities, campfire at night, Movies Under the Stars, and hammocks around the resort.

In addition to enjoying the on-property amenities, we loved taking day trips to various places in South Carolina to explore more of the state. Just two hours away is one of the most popular Southeast cities, Charleston. Some things to do in Charleston with kids include walking the waterfront Battery to see Fort Sumter, visiting the Charleston Public Market, and touring a World War II aircraft and submarine in nearby Patriots’ Point. Charleston has long been known as a foodie city and has numerous famous Southern restaurants like Husk and Hominy Grill. A visit to a Southern plantation is also a great idea to teach kids about the way of life in the 19th century and about the morality of slavery. We also drove 2 hours to visit Congaree National Park and enjoying walking the boardwalk trail to learn about the ecology of the area.

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St. Petersburg, FL

St. Pete Beach is a great family beach destination. Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida is has warmer and calmer waters compared to the Atlantic Coast of the Sunshine State. In addition to that, the beaches in St. Pete Beach are very wide so they never feel crowded. Add to that, the softest, whitest sand and you can see why it is considered one of the best family vacation beaches. 

However, St. Pete Beach is not just about the magnificent beaches. Its location in the greater Tampa Bay Area means that St. Pete Beach has lots of family friendly attractions in its backyard to satisfy any traveler. It has one of the best zoos in the country, two aquariums, three botanical gardens, and a huge amusement park in Tampa, namely Busch Gardens.  And of course, we should not forget various boat tours available in the area. The three not-to-miss ones: a Pirates-themed adventure with Captain Memo’s in Clearwater Beach, educational Eco Tours organized by Clearwater Aquarium, and a Shell Key trip from St. Pete Beach to gather the most beautiful seashells.

St. Pete Beach is also a great family beach vacation because it is typically cheaper than many other famous Floridian destinations such as Miami, Florida Keys, and Naples. If you’re looking to stay at the beach, here are some St. Pete’s Beach hotel options.

Contributed by: Tatiana Sorokina from Family Road Trip Guru

best family vacations beach St. Pete
Best US family beaches – St. Pete, FL

Marco Island, FL

Marco Island is a barrier island located in Southwest Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. It is our family’s go-to spot for a true family beach vacation. Marco Island is the smaller neighbor to the more popular Southwest Florida destination – Naples, which makes for a great day trip. Here you can take eco tours to see dolphins, visit the Naples Zoo and children’s museum, as well as check out the touristy Tin City. Another great day trip option is to visit the Miromar Outlets. We often buy our kids clothes and shoes here at quite a discount!

Marriott Crystal Shores is my pick for the best family resort; however, accommodations are pricey as they have two and three-bedroom villas (all with balconies, a full kitchen, and washer/dryer) It is located oceanfront and has a boardwalk connecting to the sand where there are chairs and umbrellas for rent as well as watersport options (jet skis, kayaks, and SUP boards). The resort also has 3 pools on site (2 of them are zero entry) and one waterslide pool that includes a basketball hoop for family fun. In addition to the pools, our family loves to play their giant chess, foosball, ping pong, bocce ball, corn hole, ring toss, and shuffleboard. Check out their rates here.

The water in Marco Island Beach is usually warm, calm, and sea green. Sunsets on the West Coast of Florida are stunning. Taking a walk down the beach in Marco Island when the sun goes down is spectacular. You often witness sea turtles nesting on the beach in the summer. Overall, our family loves the beauty that Marco Island holds, which is why we visit this place year after year. The entire family looks forward to a week of fun, relaxation, activities, and day trips.

Wilmington/Carolina Beach, NC

If you’re looking for a family beach vacation on the east coast, consider Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is located in the southeastern corner of North Carolina along both the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. Between the city, beaches, history, shopping and more, you certainly will not be bored here. Choose to stay and play at either Wrightsville Beach or Carolina Beach for some fun in the sun for the whole family. From surfing, skimboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding, water activities are a way of life in Wilmington. Want to stay at the beach? We highly recommend the Blockade Runner or the Courtyard Carolina Beach Courtyard Oceanfront.

Once you’ve had your beach fix, check out the NC Battleship, learn about local marine life at the NC Aquarium, or spend an afternoon exploring the beautiful Airlie Gardens. Also, be sure to add a visit to Carolina Beach State Park to your vacation itinerary. One of North Carolina’s most unique state parks, here you can find venus flytraps growing in the wild (one of the only places in the country where they grow in the wild). The Wilmington Children’s Museum, Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, and the Carolina Beach Boardwalk are always favorite spots for the kids too! A true hidden gem along the east coast, your family will love visiting Wilmington, NC!

Contributed by: Julie from More than Main Street

Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod is among the best family vacation beaches in the country. There are so many great destinations lining this Massachusetts peninsula, so set aside enough time to see everything. A lot of parents usually settle in Provincetown, a seaside town known for its laidback atmosphere. Active families will find so much to do here, between relaxing on Race Point Beach and touring the nearby Provincetown Lighthouse. History buffs will appreciate Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument too, which will teach kids about the Mayflower’s landing. April through November is also a great time for whale watching at the MacMillan Wharf. You could also take a hike on the East coast and walk some of the trails in the Cape Cod National Seashore. If you want to explore Cape Cod outside of Provincetown, rent a bike and ride along the Rail Trail.

More activities await you elsewhere in Cape Cod. Catch a drive-in movie at Wellfleet Cinemas, mini-golf at Pirate’s Cove, or take a seal cruise on Monomoy Island. Remember to visit the JFK Museum in Hyannis and swing by Dennisport’s Sesuit Harbor Café for a lobster roll. Sundae School Ice Cream is a must for dessert! Families also love staying at the Chatham Bar and Inn for its luxurious, secluded setting. Plus, the Chatham Pier Fish Market is great for sampling fresh seafood and spotting seals. Or, grab a meal at Hangar B Eatery in the Chatham Airport. Kids adore watching the planes go by! The Wequassett Resort and Golf Club is another hotel option renowned for its unique oceanfront location and kids’ programming. Another idea to add to your family beach vacation is to hop on a ferry for a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

Contributed by: Gunjan Prakash from Familieslovetravel.com

Cape Cod best beach vacations family
Best family beach vacations USA – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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Amelia Island, FL

Amelia Island is a great place for a family beach vacation. It is a small island town with a feeling that the 70’s never left. Highway 200 takes you from Jacksonville onto the island and Amelia is the start of Florida’s famed coastal highway, A1A, which heads south out of town. Red neon signs cast a brilliant glow against the palm trees and the wind carried the scents of food up the beach. Amelia Island an awesome beach town that hasn’t yet been built into a tourist trap. There are only half a dozen hotels and the beach-front is lined with houses and small restaurants instead of mega-resorts. But don’t let that fool you, Amelia Island gives you the experience of Florida as it’s meant to be, as the locals experience it.

Just south of Amelia Island following the coastal highway, A1A leads you into the Timucuan Ecological reserve on Big Talbot Island. This place is a nature lover’s dream and offers some of the very best beaches and exploration off the beaten path in Florida. The reserve features what’s locally called the Boneyard Beach, a place where storms have sculpted the beach into a forest of driftwood. Our kids spent an entire day climbing the skeletal trees that make the Boneyard. Big Talbot Island is one of the best family vacation beaches and the area in North Florida adds to your list of things to do. For a short day trip, consider visiting St. Augustine with kids. It will add colonial history and unique activities to your family beach vacation.

Contributed by: David from David N Brace

Beach vacation family Boneyard
Family beach vacation near Amelia Island, FL

Cape San Blas, FL

Cape San Blas is located on a gorgeous peninsula and the area makes for the best family beach vacation. Past all of the beautiful beach homes at the end of the cape sits the wonderful Saint Joseph Peninsula State Park. Cape San Blas is located just past Port Saint Joe — hang a right off 30A onto 30E to hit this perfect escape. Cape San Blas is known for its wild, long beach, where you’re allowed to build a fire in the sand for s’mores at night. There’s plenty of room for volleyball, throwing a frisbee, flying a kite, and fishing from the shore. Spread out on the beach and claim a spot with your sun canopy. Maybe you’ll luck out witnessing bioluminescence at night while you’re dashing about catching crabs.

When you’re tired of the crashing waves, head to the Saint Joseph Peninsula State Park for catching critters, kayaking, and sailing on the bayside. You can camp in the state park if that’s your thing. Ride bikes on the Loggerhead Bike Path that runs the length of Cape San Blas from Salinas Park all the way to the state park. At 8.7 miles long, it’s the best place for walking, running, cycling, and skating.

Need a break from the cape? Check out the groovy historical town of Apalachicola, the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center, and drive across the bay to St. George Island. Don’t miss the Indian Pass Raw Bar for family-friendly karaoke and a finger-licking good dinner of raw or parmesan baked oysters. Aim to stay in one of the many beach homes on the Gulf side in Cape San Blas and you won’t be disappointed.

Contributed by: Tanya from Rad Family Travel

Miami, FL

Miami is one of the best Southeast vacation spots in the country and a popular destination for tourists. As my hometown for over 30 years, I can definitely say that Miami is one of the best family beach vacations in the country. South Beach is “the place to be”, although I would recommend that families stay past 41st street beachfront, as the crowds thin out the further north you go. Our family has done staycations at a few resorts in the area: the Alexander, Eden Roc, Grand Beach, and Confidante. While many resorts do cater to adults, we found that these worked well for our extended family trips.

In terms of other things to do in Miami with kids, I would suggest the Miami Seaquarium, Zoo Miami, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, the Miami Children’s Museum, and a walk through Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. If you are looking for other beach options besides touristy Miami Beach, you could check out Virginia Key, Mattheson Hammock, or Crandon Park. If you are here during the right time of year, Miami is home to football, baseball, basketball, and hockey teams. Catching a game is a great way to grasp the culture of the area. Miami is also one of the port cities used by Disney Cruise Lines, our favorite cruise line to travel. How great would it be to take a family beach vacation to Miami and then get on a Disney Cruise to Castaway Cay?

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Best West Coast Beaches for Families

Oahu, HI

Oahu is an ideal family beach vacation for those who want to enjoy the sea, sand, and sun but also have alternative activities easily available. As Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu isn’t just a tourist destination; more than a half-million people call it home, so you’ll find plenty to do! Our favorite Oahu beaches for families are those on the Windward coast. They aren’t as busy as places like Waikīkī and Ko Olina, plus they offer a great variety of activities. Kailua Beach is a great all-around choice and includes some nice waves for kids learning to boogie board. Lanikai Beach next door has extremely flat water that’s equally great for both splashing toddlers and their snorkeling parents. 

When you’ve had enough beach time, Oahu has a huge range of kid-friendly offerings. A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center gives the whole family a hands-on opportunity to learn about cultures throughout Polynesia. Our kids’ favorite non-beach activity on Oahu is the Bishop Museum. It has an enormous hall showcasing Polynesian history, tools, language, and more along with a newer building focused on the geology and ecology of the islands. Don’t miss the planetarium presentation about wayfinding! Read more about how to plan your family’s Oahu itinerary.

There are so many places to stay on Oahu, suitable for every budget and style preference. The condos at Turtle Bay are very popular and in a nice, secluded area. We stayed at a wonderful Airbnb in Kaneohe, but be aware that many areas of the island restrict Airbnb to stays of at least 30 days and it’s very important to only choose a registered, legal Airbnb.

Contributed by: Melissa from The Family Voyage

best family vacation beaches Oahu
Oahu has some of the best family vacation beaches in the country

San Diego, CA

Without a doubt, Southern California offers the opportunity for some of the best family beach vacation spots. Nowhere is this combination of plenty of sun, surf, and sand more evident than in the city of San Diego. With almost year-round sunshine, families visiting San Diego can enjoy the beach virtually any time of year. Beaches like Mission Beach, La Jolla Cove, and Coronado Beach are popular among locals and tourists alike. But there are so many more activities to enjoy in San Diego than just beaches.

Attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the museums at Balboa Park bring excitement to any San Diego visit. And families can also enjoy more affordable San Diego kids activities at parks like Torrey Pines Natural Reserve, Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, and Cabrillo National Monument. Budding naturalists can even visit the tide pools at Point Loma and La Jolla to see amazing sea creatures.

San Diego’s Mexican-influenced culture and laid-back vibe make the city a relaxing and fun retreat. Families can stroll through the historic streets of Old Town. Or they can spend the day at Seaport Village, walking along the waterfront or taking a boat tour of San Diego Bay. History lovers can visit the nearby USS Midway Museum. A convenient place to stay while in San Diego is the Manchester Grand Hyatt, located in downtown San Diego. This hotel offers views of San Diego Bay and is close to the Gaslamp Quarter. There are so many options to choose from in San Diego!

Contributed by Astrid from The Wandering Daughter

Beach vacation family San Diego

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Newport, OR

The Oregon Coast is full of adorable beach towns, but Newport, OR is one of my family’s favorites. The beaches in Newport are wide and long: My kids (and dogs!) sprint up and down the stretches of sand until they collapse on our beach blanket. We typically play at the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site, just north of the bridge that crosses the bay. You’ll hike a short way down a well-worn trail through a forest of pine and spruce trees. Once you get to the beach, your kids can go straight to the ocean (fair warning: it’s cold!) or climb on the enormous driftwood that piles up near the jetty.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, drive just a few minutes to the Rogue Ales brewery. This brewpub is kid-friendly and offers a delicious kids’ menu (my older daughter measures every cheeseburger she eats against the burgers from Rogue). Next, drive just down the road to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Kids can get up close and personal with anemones and urchins at the touch pool, watch otters play, and walk through an underwater tunnel where rockfish, rays, and sharks swim overhead.

15 minutes north on Highway 101, check out the Yaquina Head Lighthouse (different from the much less impressive Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport). This picture-perfect lighthouse is the tallest in Oregon.  Make sure to walk down to Cobble Beach next to the lighthouse. You’ll hear it even before you see it, as the smooth rocks make a clack-clack noise as the waves go in and out. Finally, bring sturdy shoes and a sharp eye so you can explore the tidepools here at low tide. Curious about other family-friendly things to do near Newport? Check out my guide to the Oregon Coast.

Contributed by: Catherine Ryan Gregory of To & Fro Fam

best family vacation beaches Newport OR
Best family beach vacations – Newport, Oregon

Half Moon Bay, CA

Nestled about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is an eclectic town with everything from a super-luxe cliffside Ritz Carlton property to peaceful beaches tucked along California’s famous Highway 1. It makes for a great family beach vacation. When traveling with children, grab some takeout food from a spot on Main Street and then head over to a family-friendly beach like Francis Beach or Dunes Beach. Both have restrooms, dedicated parking lots, and a short walk (no stairs) to the actual sand.

Continue your adventures by heading south down the coast to the town of Pescadero which is home to Harley Farms Goat Dairy. Kids can get up close with the animals including adorable baby goats in springtime. Grab some provisions from the shop, including the most amazing scones from the owner’s family recipe, and sit by the pond to enjoy the tranquility of this spot.

You can easily stay in San Francisco and day trip down to this region; however, if you want to stay closer, check out Seal Cove Inn in Moss Beach. With easy beach access (via staircase) 500 feet from the property as well as premium amenities like gourmet breakfast, in-room gas fireplaces, and spa-inspired products. It is the perfect place to spend a few days and a great spot for a family beach vacation too.

Contributed by: Kristina from Million Miler Mom

Kauai, HI

One of the best beach destinations in the USA is the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It’s perfect for families who want a tropical vacation with lots of activities, but also an authentic, local experience. It’s a bit more laid back than the other islands and the beaches are usually less crowded. Salt Ponds and Poipu Beach are always a hit with kids because the water is calm. Besides the beach, there are so many fun things to do on Kauai with kids!

If you like adventure, try tubing down a sugar cane canal, hiking the Waimea Canyon, snorkeling at Tunnels Beach, or kayaking down the Wailua River. If you’re a foodie, do a Kauai food tour up on the North Shore or try some farm-to-table dining experiences. And shoppers will love the array of adorable boutiques all over the island (our favorite is Warehouse 3540.) There are tons of great places to stay on Kauai for all budget ranges. We love staying at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu because it’s close to some of our favorite beaches and restaurants. Plus, their pool area is amazing! If you’re looking for a family beach vacation that is sure to be memorable, head to Kauai!

Contributed by: Marcie from Hawaii Travel with Kids

Best us family beaches Kauai

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, OR is a cozy little beach town just 1.5 hours from Portland and it makes for one of the best family beach vacations. It is full of beautiful sights, great food, and it’s very family and dog-friendly. One of the main highlights of Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock, which is one of the largest sea stacks in the world. You might also recognize it as the “big rock” from The Goonies. When the tide is low, hundreds of tide pools pop up around the base of Haystack Rock for families to explore every day. 

If your family enjoys the outdoors, take a picnic lunch up to Ecola State Park to enjoy a spectacular view from the bluffs overlooking the beautiful coast. Or track low tide and spend the morning at Hug Point, exploring the sea caves carved into the rocky bluffs, climbing the beachside waterfall, and finding more tidepools. If you prefer something indoors, the Seaside Outlet Mall is just 15 minutes away. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is less than an hour’s drive south. It’s free to enter, and they have interactive and educational stations for the whole family, free samples, and a food court with their ice cream and other cheesy food items to enjoy.

The Surfsand Resort is a great hotel to stay at just steps from Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. They have an indoor pool, complimentary bikes to ride around the city, nightly beachside bonfires, and a highly rated restaurant on site called The Wayfarer. They also have complimentary events for the whole family, like ice cream socials for the kids or beer tastings for the adults.

Contributed by: Kirsten from Simply Otte, a PNW Family Adventure Blog

Looking for more stops along the Oregon Coast?

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Seabrook, WA

Located on the Pacific coast in Washington state, Seabrook is a bustling tiny town that was built for one purpose: to give families the perfect beach town experience. Seabrook is a completely walkable town built around a central small business corridor and littered with parks, playgrounds, and green spaces on every block. While there are certainly some year-round residents in the charming (and thoughtfully planned) neighborhoods, the vast majority of the homes in Seabrook are vacation rentals.

The homes range in size from tiny cottages to massive houses designed for several families to vacation together. And many of the homes are pet-friendly! Rentals can be booked directly through Seabrook’s website for a streamlined and simple process. Some of the many family-friendly amenities you’ll find in Seabrook are pools, bike trails, kite rentals, kid-friendly hikes (including one through a fairy forest), pickleball and other sports courts, community fire pits, zip lines, and surf and skimboarding supply shops. There are also regular community events, like outdoor movies. Whether you are traveling with a baby or with older children, there are endless adventures to explore in this small town!

Of course, the biggest attraction in Seabrook is the ocean itself. The town is situated just on the hills above the shoreline, so it is a short walk down to the water to play. Designed as a family destination and built intentionally around the needs of vacationing families, Seabrook is a super easy and fun place to travel with kids and the perfect place for a family beach vacation in the Pacific Northwest.

Contributed by: Dani from Diapers in Paradise

Newport Beach, CA

If you are looking for a beach town that has something for everybody in your family, look no further than Newport Beach, California. Newport Beach makes for a great family beach vacation because of the range of activities in addition to the beach – you can hike, bike, kayak, shop, and dine. Our favorite beach to visit is Crystal Cove State Park because in addition to having easy beach access (there is a shuttle from the parking lot or you can walk on a trail) and bathrooms it also has tide pools you can explore and two oceanside restaurants, The Beachcomber and Ruby’s Shake Shack. 

When we aren’t at the beach we take the ferry to Balboa Island and visit the Balboa Fun Zone, a fun boardwalk area with a Ferris wheel and amusement rides (definitely stop and get a Balboa Bar or an original frozen banana while you are there!) You can also rent kayaks and explore Newport’s Back Bay or rent bikes and ride the three-mile Newport Balboa Bike trail along the water. You can also find excellent dining in Newport Beach and shopping at Fashion Island

When we visit Newport Beach our favorite places to stay are the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach or the Marriott Newport Coast Villas. The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach is rated excellent for families, has large rooms and offers connecting rooms, and has three outdoor pools, including a children’s pool and a pool with a waterslide. We also love the Marriott Newport Coast Villas for their two-bedroom villas with washer/dryers, multiple pools, a children’s club with free activities, and tennis and basketball courts. You can also find great oceanfront vacation homes to rent on VRBO and Airbnb in Newport if you are looking for more space than these hotels offer. 

Contributed by: Elise from @3KidsTravel 

best family vacation beaches Newport

Monterey, CA

Monterey is a magical place where natural beauty abounds, the arts are alive and there is so much family fun around every corner. Each and every area provides a picturesque scene it feels as though you might have entered a movie scene or seaside portrait. With its iconic landscape destinations, perfect beach scenes, and award-winning restaurants Monterey is a destination everyone should visit and a great spot for a family beach vacation.

Monterey has some of the best Pacific Ocean scenery in all of California. At the base of Ocean Avenue in Carmel, you will find the iconic Carmel Beach. Carmel has been voted “One of America’s Top Beach Towns”. This dog-friendly white sand beach is surrounded by the cliffs of Point Lobos Reserve and the many amazing trails there, as well as a scenic path that leads under cypress trees to the majestic Carmel Point. It is truly heaven on earth. Monterey is also home to Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and many other amazing and family-friendly beachside restaurants. You can spend hours, even days in the area, and not run out of things to do. I highly recommend visiting Phil’s Fish Market and try the dish that “Beat Bobby Flay”.

And make sure to save time to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One of the best aquariums not only in California but the world! The whole family will love it! Definitely take a drive on the 17-mile drive: This drive will take you by thrilling coastal sea views, amazing golf courses like Pebble Beach, groves of trees you can’t see anywhere else, including the famous Lone Pine and Pescadero Point’s ghost trees’. So, while it is a mere 17 miles you will want to give yourself 2-3 hours to enjoy the whole experience!

Monterey is a world class beach side destination filled with fun and beauty for every member of the family!

Contributed by: April Aleman from So Cal Fun Family

Final Thoughts on the Best Family Vacation Beaches

When planning a family beach vacation, there are so many things to consider. Do you want a beach-only experience or would you like to travel somewhere that allows for opportunities to explore other places? I am of the opinion that the best family beach vacations have a mix of both sun/sand and activities for everyone. From the best East Coast beaches for families to some great options on the West Coast and Hawaii, hopefully, you were inspired to plan your next family beach vacation soon.

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17 thoughts on “Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.”

  1. Love this compilation. I’m not a big fan of beaches — the longest I can spend on a beach is two days before I get restless. But most of my friends and family are beach bums, so when we plan beach vacations together, I try to find a place where I wouldn’t get bored out of my mind. This list is very helpful.

  2. I’ve actually played a tennis tournament at Hilton Head before – such a pretty area! I’m loving all of the other beaches you’ve listed as well.

  3. Great list. I live on the east coast and have done a lot of these trips here but outdoors love to explore more of the west coast and see Oahu and San Diego. Thanks for a great post.

  4. I’m always so amazed at the beauty and diversity of the beaches in the US. We used to go on road trips as a family and visited so many of these West Coast beaches, like Cannon Beach and Half Moon Bay, they are certainly wonderful places for family beach vacations. The ones on the East Coast look so lovely though and I love the lighthouses and hope I can visit in the near future with the family.

  5. Paula Martinelli

    Great post and tips! I have been to a couple of places, and actually, I live in St Pete FL and I agree with you that this is a great family destination.

  6. This is such a great list! I only learned about the Outer Banks recently but it looks like such a beautiful place! Florida Keys is up there on my bucket list too, it looks like such a fun vacation spot! Thanks for sharing these great recommendations!

  7. There are so many beautiful beach towns in this country! I haven’t been to some of these but they are definitely on my list!

  8. Sophia Bawany

    Such a GREAT and comprehensive list for beach lovers and vacation planners. I love that there are soo many options to choose from! Saving for later

  9. So many lovely beaches, it’s so good to see so many options and so many beautiful places. Although I definitely haven’t spent as much time at US beaches as I would like, I have to say I’m most excited about being able to return to Hawaii again as they had some of the truly best beaches I’ve ever seen.

  10. Jamie Sharpe

    This is really helpful right now with international travel shut down. And I love the Outer Banks!

  11. Sara Elizabeth

    Good stuff here! I’m in NC and enjoyed reading more stuff to do in FL. We typically stick to Siesta Keys, but looking to broaden our experiences. Thank you for sharing this and know I will use this as a resource for the summer time!!

  12. Rhonda Albom

    Pleased to say I have been to over half of these and even lived in one of them for a while (Half Moon Bay Ca). But you are missing the one we got married on – Sanibel Island, Fl

  13. My favorite vacation is always on a beach! I love this list, and I’ll save it as a reference for planning my future beach vacations for sure!

  14. Wonderful post! I have such fond memories of my family’s vacations to Myrtle Beach and Virigina Beach

  15. Ashlee Fechino

    Wonderful list – we are super interested in exploring more of the Carolinas and Florida! Thanks for the great recommendations.

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