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Best Family Beach Vacations in the US: 18 States to Visit

Family Beach Vacation near me

There’s just something so idyllic about a family vacation on the beach. But where should you go? Which beach has the amenities, attractions, and characteristics that best suit your crew? Below, you will find US states offering the best family beach vacations.

Imagine mornings spent lathering everyone up with sunscreen, picnic beaches for lunch, and evenings enjoying quality time at your vacation rental. What’s not to love? I share a variety of amazing destinations, from remote barrier island beaches to top destinations in coastal cities. Keep reading while you dream up the perfect beach getaway for your family!

Best Summer Beach Vacations for Families - Kids Are A Trip

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Family Friendly Beaches in the US

Best Family Beach Vacations in Alabama

Gulf Shores

Alabama is home to some of the best beaches for families along the Gulf Coast. Among these, Gulf Shores stands out as a favorite spot for families.

Gulf Shores offers miles of white sand beaches. You can visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, enjoy a few local theme parks, or just head to a diner just off the boardwalk! 

You will also find plenty of opportunities for water sports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing. 

We recommend booking a vacation rental to make the most of your stay.

Orange Beach

In the town of Orange Beach, you can book dolphin cruises, or spend an afternoon at The Wharf, which has shopping, dining, and a Ferris wheel.

Orange Beach Alabama sunset best places to visit with teens

Nestled between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the Gulf State Park. Come here for remote beaches, paved walking trails, a fishing pier, and camping. 

We recommend booking a room at Turquoise Place, a beachfront resort with swimming pools, a playground, a restaurant, and condos that sleep up to 12!

Family Beach Vacations in California

Mission Bay

In southern California, San Diego is best known for its beautiful beaches and family-friendly attractions close to urban amenities. 

You could stay at a resort hotel in Mission Bay (we like Bahia Resort) and spend your days riding the riding rides at Belmont Park. Or rent a bicycle and cruise the boardwalk and the bay!

La Jolla

A little to the north of downtown San Diego, La Jolla is a fantastic spot for families who love the finer things, like luxury rentals and designer shopping. 

La Jolla Shores Beach and La Jolla Cove Beach are both perfect for kids, and you can often peep sea lions basking on the rocks at Children’s Pool Beach!

La Jolla Seals Sea Lions
One of our favorite things to see in La Jolla: the seals and sea lions!

If you want to get out on the water, we recommend kayaking in the sea caves with a local guide. It’s an unforgettable experience!

If you want to stay in La Jolla, we recommend La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, which sits right on the beach.

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is ideal for adventurous families. Here, you can go horseback riding along the beach and explore the nearby dunes.

The area entertains the whole family, with a dinosaur-themed park, playgrounds, nature trails, a golf course, and more!

Santa Monica Beach

Heading north, Santa Monica is a top choice with its iconic pier featuring amusement rides and an aquarium. Take the crew to ride the Ferris wheel and play classic carnival games while enjoying stunning ocean views!

Nearby, you could also rent bikes and ride along the gorgeous Venice Beach Boardwalk.

For an upscale stay, we recommend the Fairmont Miramar for families.

Carmel-By-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming coastal town known for its postcard scenery and artistic community.

If you have a family dog, Carmel Beach is a white sandy beach that allows dogs to be leash-free! The town itself boasts fairytale-esque cottages, art galleries, and boutique shops, making it a delightful destination for families.

Santa Cruz

Continuing norther, nestled along Monterrey Bay, Santa Cruz offers a classic beach town vibe with its famous boardwalk, iconic amusement park, and historic carousel. This location is perfect for families who enjoy a laid-back seaside atmosphere.

Santa Cruz Beach California with kids

Delaware

Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach is known for its serene and family-friendly environment. It’s ideal for families looking to escape the hustle and bustle.

The beach has soft sand and gentle waves, great for young kids. The small boardwalk is less crowded but still offers delightful shops, ice cream parlors, and family restaurants.

Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach is a casual beach town that’s the perfect size for families who don’t mind joining the crowds during the summer months. The ocean-facing beach is perfect for surfing. 

Along the boardwalk, families can enjoy everything from funnel cake stands to oceanfront dining, surf shops, the Funland Amusement Park, and even a classic bandstand that hosts summer concerts!

We recommend finding a vacation rental for your family to have the perfect trip to the beach.

Lewes Beach

The historic beach town of Lewes faces the Delaware Bay. This means its beaches are protected, with shallow, calm waters that are perfect for young children.

The beach is clean and spacious, perfect for sandcastle building. Lewes has a historic downtown area with charming shops and eateries.

Best Family Beach Vacations in Florida

Amelia Island

With so many amazing beach destinations in Florida, Amelia Island is one of the best family beach vacations. The 13-mile-long island offers many quiet beaches and beachfront properties. There are also luxury resort hotels and 5 different golf courses.

The town of Fernandina Beach has fascinating historic sites and adorable shops you will want to peruse when you aren’t spending time at the beach.

Destin

Destin (and the surrounding area of 30A) is famous for its sugar-white sands and emerald waters, providing a picturesque setting for the entire family.

Henderson Beach State Park in Destin is perfect for a day of picnicking, swimming, and nature trails.

Beaches Destin Florida

Grayton Beach State Park in nearby Santa Rosa Beach is another great option for families. We recommend arriving early during peak season because they do close the gates when the beach is at capacity.

If you are looking for great vacation rentals in 30A, these are the ones we recommend.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key stands out because of its fine white sand made from powdered quartz, making it cool to the touch! Along with being a clean, manicured beach with amenities just off the sand, this makes it an ideal beach destination if you have young children.

Georgia

Tybee Island

Among Georgia’s barrier islands, one of my top picks for the best family-friendly beaches is Tybee Island. 

If you want to escape the buzz of other beachfront towns and just hang out on the beach, come here! You can take the kids to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center or climb the historic Tybee Island Lighthouse.

Jekyll Island

Located halfway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, Jekyll Island is the perfect destination for families seeking laid-back vibes and family-friendly things. 

Jekyll island beach

Visit the Summer Waves Water Park, bike, or walk miles of paved trails. Be sure to plan a visit to Driftwood Beach, with its unique driftwood formations.

Hawaii

Hapuna Beach

The Big Island is renowned for its white-sand beaches, with Hapuna Beach being one of the best for vacationing families. The gentle surf means you can sit back and watch the kids swim and play in the water or build sandcastles along the expansive shoreline. 

Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach on Oahu is another excellent choice for families, being the main beach in Kailua Town. 

Kailua beach hawaii

This area is popular for its family-friendly resorts and nearby golf courses. The curved beach is great for swimming and paddleboarding, while the surrounding area features beautiful parks and hiking trails.

Hanauma Bay

If you want to go snorkeling with kids on the Big Island, head to Hanauma Bay.  The shallow waters are great for kids and beginner snorkelers, and the coral reefs here are home to an amazing array of marine life.

I suggest booking a snorkeling tour like this one, which includes the admission fee, transportation both ways, and snorkeling equipment.

Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach in South Shore Kauai is a family favorite. The curved beach means calm waters that are perfect for swimming. There are picnic tables and a playground. Don’t miss a chance to watch the monk seals and sea turtles sunbathe on the sand!

Maryland

Ocean City

Looking for a classic beach town with great hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and beach fun all in one place?

Check out Ocean City, a barrier island with miles of wide, sandy beaches. The historic boardwalk features amusement park rides and games, family-friendly attractions, gift shops, and more.

Massachusetts Beaches for Families

Menemsha Beach

Menemsha Beach on Martha’s Vineyard is popular with families for its calm waters and rural surroundings.

One of the most popular things to do on Menemsha Beach? Grab some beach chairs and enjoy the picturesque sunsets here.

Menemsha is also known for its charming fishing village, where you can enjoy fresh seafood right off the boat at Larsen’s Fish Market!

Children’s Beach

Children’s Beach on Nantucket is a small beach located near the town center. The calm, shallow waters are perfect for little ones, and the beach offers amenities such as playgrounds, picnic areas, and restrooms.

In the summer, Children’s Beach hosts a variety of family-oriented activities, including concerts, yoga classes, and puppet shows.

Cape Cod

A wonderful beach destination for families is the iconic Cape Cod. Families can find a wide range of activities that cater to every interest. Explore the many beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which offers plenty of space for hiking, swimming, and beachcombing. Another idea is to go on one of the many whale boat tours.

Fall colors in Cape Cod Lighthouse

The entire region is dotted with cute towns with shops, top-notch seafood restaurants, and kid-friendly attractions.

Maine

Goose Rocks Beach

Head to Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport known for its soft, white sand, clear waters, and gentle surf. There aren’t a lot of amenities, and you have to pay for a parking pass during the peak season, but the beach is spacious and not crowded at all. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a relaxing beach day!

Mother’s Beach

Another family favorite in Kennebunkport is Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk. The beach has a large playground right next to the sand, so kids can easily switch between playing in the water and on the playground.

The area is equipped with restrooms and picnic tables. This beach also has a great combination of soft sand and rocky areas where you can find crabs and cool rocks and shells.

Short Sands Beach

For one of the best family beach vacations in Maine, consider Short Sands Beach in York. This golden-sand cove beach enjoys calm waters and is right next to Ellis Park, with its grassy lawn, picnic tables, and a playground.

Nearby, families can visit York’s Wild Kingdom, a nearby zoo and amusement park. We recommend setting aside time for sightseeing and visiting the iconic Nubble Lighthouse.

Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

If you and the kids are up for a hike, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan is worth it!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan

The towering dunes offer breathtaking views and exciting climbing adventures for kids and adults alike. After you summit the dunes, enjoy soft sand and blue waters that provide a perfect setting for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying a day by the lake.

We recommend a stay in Traverse City so you can easily access the dunes.

Holland State Park Beach

Holland State Park is perfect for a family camping trip with access to a wonderful beach! The park has picnic areas, volleyball courts, playgrounds, and hiking trails.

This beach is popular with families because of all the beach toys that tend to be left in the sand for the next family, and there’s an ice cream stand during the summer months! 

Silver Beach

For a different vibe, Lake Michigan’s Silver Beach in St. Joseph is popular for its clean sand and excellent amenities. This beach features a playground and a carousel, making it a hit with younger children. 

There’s also a children’s museum nearby, and when you get hungry, I suggest visiting Silver Beach Pizza.

New Jersey Beaches for Families

Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island, a barrier island on the New Jersey coast, is a perfect family destination with 18 miles of beautiful beaches. If you’re tired of packed Jersey beaches, this is the place for you. 

Spend your days relaxing on the beach, swimming, surfing, walking among the reeds, or exploring charming beach towns. The island is family-oriented with plenty of dining options, miniature golf courses, and ice cream parlors.

Ocean City

Ocean City has been dubbed “America’s greatest family resort,” and rightly so! The resort town is famous for its lively boardwalk and clean, sandy beach.

As a dry town, it offers a wholesome environment perfect for family vacations. The boardwalk features amusement rides, games, and delicious treats, offering a summer full of memory-making for kids and adults alike.

Wildwood Beach

A very popular destination for East Coast families is Wildwood. The beach town is known for its massive beach, classic boardwalk, and variety of tourist attractions.

It is a clean beach with plenty of space and there is a dog park just off the sand. The boardwalk is packed with amusement rides, water parks, and arcades.

Cape May

Further south, Cape May has a whole different feel. The town is renowned for its Victorian charm and family-friendly beaches. 

Cape May NJ

It’s also a great idea to visit Sunset Beach nearby! This Cape May Beach is a must-visit for its stunning sunsets and the chance to search for quartz pebbles (called Cape May diamonds!).

Just off the beach, is a unique historical attraction, the wreck of the concrete ship S.S. Atlantus.

North Carolina

Outer Banks

It’s no surprise that the Outer Banks of North Carolina are a popular family vacation destination. Kids will love the expansive white sand beaches.

When you’re ready to get out of the water, you can visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial or visit the North Carolina Aquarium. Jockey’s Ridge State Park features the tallest dunes on the East Coast, ideal for flying kites and sandboarding.

Oregon

Cannon Beach

Located on the stunning Oregon coast, Cannon Beach is a perfect family destination known for its iconic Haystack Rock. The beach’s windy conditions make it popular for kite flying, providing hours of fun for kids and adults alike. 

Cannon Beach Oregon

During the summer months, families can explore tide pools around Haystack Rock to find colorful sea stars and other marine life. If you have older kids, a popular activity is renting 3-wheelers to cruise along the sandy shores.

South Carolina

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is a top choice for families, known for its wide, sandy beaches and endless entertainment options. The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is packed with attractions such as the SkyWheel and amusement parks.

Nearby, you can enjoy mini golf and the Myrtle Waves Water Park. The beach itself is wide and easily accessible from beachfront hotels.

Folly Beach

For a change of pace, head to Folly Beach. This is a laid-back, family-friendly beach near Charleston. Known for its relaxed atmosphere, Folly Beach offers wide, sandy shores, and the Folly Beach Pier is a popular spot for fishing and enjoying scenic views.

Folly Beach SC

The nearby downtown area features charming shops, casual eateries, and dessert shops, making it ideal for a fun family outing.

Kiawah Island

For the perfect blend of luxury stays and nature, plan a family beach vacation to Kiawah Island. Near high-end resorts and golf clubs, you can enjoy isolated beaches full of natural beauty and quiet. 

Plus, the island’s family-friendly resorts often feature kids’ clubs, nature programs, and various recreational activities. Check out The Sanctuary at Kiawah for an epic getaway.

Hilton Head Island

Another super popular South Carolina beach destination is Hilton Head Island. It promises a more relaxed atmosphere plus plenty of activities for families.

Coligny Beach Park is a favorite spot, featuring clean, soft sand, shallow waters, and convenient amenities like restrooms, changing rooms, and a splash pad for kids. Hilton Head is also known for its extensive bike trails, making it easy to explore the island.

Best Family Beach Vacations in Texas

Galveston

The island town of Galveston is ideal for family beach getaways on the Gulf Coast!  The family-friendly beaches are backed by the Historic Pleasure Pier, where there are rides, kid-friendly attractions, restaurants, and more.

Landscape image of the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier in Texas on the beach with roller coasters.

Galveston Beach also boasts a soft sandy bottom and shallow waters, which is perfect for little feet.

Rockport Beach

Not far from Corpus Christi, Rockport Beach is a much less crowded alternative known for its well-maintained public beach. It’s a perfect spot for families looking for a quiet beach day.

There are picnic tables with grills and covered pavilions, showers, restrooms, a playground, and cheap parking, all of which make this beach an easy choice!

South Padre Island

A visit to South Padre Island near the Texas/Mexico border can be as adventurous or laid back as you want it to be! Book a stay at one of the beachfront resorts and spend days on pristine beaches playing beach volleyball or chasing waves. 

There’s a water park, an old-school amusement park, and dolphin-watching tours. The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is a must-visit for nature lovers.

Beaches in Virginia Families Will Love

Virginia Beach

This is a fantastic destination for families, with an iconic 3-mile-long boardwalk. Virginia Beach is the perfect spot for a family stroll or bike ride, featuring oceanfront views, restaurants, and shops. 

Virginia Beach Pier

Kids will love the playgrounds and live entertainment along the way. The beach itself is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and various water activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding.

Best Family Beach Vacations in Washington

Seabrook

Hands down, Seabrook, Washington is one of the top beach vacation destinations for families in the USA. It’s an idyllic beach resort community known for its pretty coastal cottages and tons of family-friendly amenities.

During the summer months, the wide beachfront is great for swimming, clamming, or sunset walks, while the town offers activities like bike rentals, hiking trails, horseback rides, and a community pool.

Wisconsin

Schoolhouse Beach

Located on Washington Island in the waters of Lake Michigan, Schoolhouse Beach is unique for its smooth limestone pebbles and crystal-clear water. Unlike typical sandy beaches, Schoolhouse Beach is covered with perfectly rounded limestone rocks. 

Schoolhouse Beach Door County with Kids

Consider booking a stay at the Washington Island Campground and heading to this quiet beach for a swim. Kids will enjoy skipping stones and exploring the unique cedar forest that borders the beachfront.

Another option is to visit Washington Island as a day trip from Door County.

Bradford Beach

Bradford Beach in Milwaukee is a popular beach on Lake Michigan that attracts all kinds of beachgoers. Known for its wide, sandy shores, Bradford Beach is a great spot for sunbathing, swimming, and beach sports.

You can enjoy volleyball courts, tiki bars, concession stands, picnic areas, and more. In the summer, Bradford Beach also hosts a wide range of events and activities, making it a lively destination for a day at the beach.