Last Updated on December 21, 2021
Looking for the best kid-friendly beach destinations in the US for your next family trip? Dreaming of crystal clear water and white sand, relaxing under the sun while the kids are having fun in the water?
From Hawaii to Florida, the United States is filled with beautiful beaches that are perfect for a family vacation. We have selected some of the best family beach vacation spots in the United States where kids and adults alike will have a blast!
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- Destin Beach, Florida
- Mission Beach, California
- Ruby Beach, Washington
- Saint Simons, Georgia
- Outer Banks, North Carolina
- Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Maui, Hawaii
- Newport, Rhode Island
- Culebra, Puerto Rico
- Siesta Key Beach, Florida
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Cayucos, California
- Orange Beach, Alabama
- Santa Barbara, California
- Pacific City Beach, Oregon
Destin Beach, Florida
By Alanna from The Great Ocean Road Collective
When it comes to beautiful beaches in the US, it doesn’t get much better than Destin Beach. Located in northwest Florida, its turquoise waters and sugary white sands are truly breathtaking. It is a great place to take the kids and one of the best family beach vacation spots in the United States.
Between March to October, 7 miles of the beach are patrolled by lifeguards so you and your little ones can take a dip with peace of mind.
Come equipped with a sandcastle building kit, beach games, and plenty of sunscreen for afternoons lounging on the sand.
However, if you would rather go for a cruise check out the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. This pirate-themed boat cruise will have your kids enraptured from start to finish with the crews’ games, singing, and dancing.
Plan your visit for the spring when the weather and water are warm. You’ll miss the crowds and steep prices which descend on the area in the height of summer.
Mission Beach, California
By Taylor from Nomads in Nature
San Diego is home to some of the best beaches in Southern California for surfers, but that doesn’t always mean it is kid-friendly as the tide can be a bit dangerous for children. For an awesome day out with the kiddos, I recommend going to Mission Beach in San Diego. It is a very central location where you won’t be far from many of the main attractions in San Diego and the beach itself is expansive with a mellow atmosphere, tide, and waves.
If you want to escape the crowds, visit San Diego during the early fall months (September and October) when it is still in the high 70-80s there and the beaches are mainly home to only locals.
There are a few parking lots as you travel South down Mission Blvd, but I recommend the free parking at the infamous Belmont Park where you can also enjoy family fun games, rides, and one iconic wooden roller-coaster.
To maximize the perfect SoCal weather, book a hotel or Airbnb on Mission Bay to enjoy the beach all day long!
Ruby Beach, Washington
By Nicoll from Living Tiny With A Wolf
Ruby Beach is a must-see for any visitor with kids to the Pacific Northwest. It has been called one of Washington State’s most beautiful beaches and is known as an iconic spot with its vast sandy beaches, huge driftwood structures, and active tide pools. It offers something new to see every time you visit!
The best time to visit Ruby Beach is from April through October, but it gets crowded on weekends.
Ruby Beach is a place for young, curious minds to explore in any weather. It’s also dog friendly so you’ll have the chance of running around with your furry friends while there!
Tip: If you want to camp or stay near Ruby Beach, make your reservations at least a month in advance. People enjoy visiting Olympic National Park and will plan their trips a year out! Many campgrounds have a small number of first-come-first-serve sites so don’t wait too long before making plans for that perfect weekend with family near this incredible ocean view spot!
Place to stay: Lake Crescent Lodge is a cozy lodge that was built right on the shores of Lake Crescent. There are hotel rooms and cabins to rent here, perfect for any size family getaway.
Saint Simons, Georgia
By Kelli from Speak Well Business English
Along the stretch of Georgia coastline between Savanah and Jacksonville is Saint Simons Island. This popular coastal holiday destination has become a favorite among families thanks to its calm waters, perfect for children to swim and paddle, and the variety of family-friendly activities nearby.
Due to the fierce Georgian summers when temperatures regularly range into the upper nineties, spring and late fall are the best times to visit especially with kids.
Saint Simons is known for its still, flat waters which provide a safe environment for kids to play and swim. There are also a variety of things to do around Saint Simons particularly for kids and families, with lots of great attractions, cafes, and restaurants.
The pier is a popular place to visit in the afternoons, as is the nearby putt-putt course. Jekyll Island is another popular outing for its famous historic district, driftwood beach, and the local waterpark, perfect for an afternoon with the family.
When it comes to accommodation, the King and Prince Hotel is a favorite amongst holidaymakers in Saint Simons. The picturesque hotel right on the waterfront is great for families offering kid-friendly facilities and a relaxed atmosphere.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
By Ada from Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
North Carolina’s Outer Banks makes the perfect family-friendly beach getaway. These skinny barrier islands stretch across the Atlantic Ocean for 175 miles. That’s a lot of sand for beachcombing, beach games, and general lounging.
The Outer Banks are definitely designed with families of school-aged kids in mind. You’ll find several mini-golf courses and adventure parks like First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head which featured ziplines and climbing. Keep in mind that commercial development like this is concentrated on the northern end of the islands near these two mainland road access points at Nags Head via Roanoke Island and Duck.
It can be all fun and games at the Outer Banks, but you’ll also find plenty of educational opportunities. Hit up the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras to learn about the islands’ rich maritime history. Of course, a visit to the Outer Banks isn’t complete without swinging by the Wrights Brother National Monument in Kitty Hawk.
For many visitors, the Outer Banks are synonymous with lighthouses and wild horses. You can easily tour the five main Outer Banks lighthouses, including the famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse, in an all-day, multi-island road trip. If you’re hoping to see the wild horses in Corolla’s roadless area, be sure to book a few weeks in advance.
Most people choose a beach house for their Outer Banks’ accommodations. You’ll find amble options on VRBO or Airbnb. If you prefer a hotel, you’ll have the most options in that northern area, like Surf Side Hotel or Holiday Inn Express in Nags Head. If you ended up staying in Nags Head, don’t forget to hit up Booty Treats for some delicious Hawaiian shave ice.
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California
By Meg from Fox in the Forest
Without a doubt, Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe is easily one of the best kid-friendly beach destinations in the US. Located along the Southern part of the lake, this is one of the best Lake Tahoe beaches that sits in a quiet inlet with the awe-inspiring Sierra Nevadas in the background.
If you have older children, hike through Emerald Bay Park to Inspiration Point for awesome panoramas of the bay and Fannette Island.
Other fun lakeside activities include visiting nearby Vikingsholm Castle or kayaking through the bay. If you want, you can even explore the majestic island here which features a long-forgotten tea house that offers visitors breathtaking views of the area.
Just note that if you aren’t arriving at the beach by boat, you will have to do a 1.7-mile round trip hike to gain access to the water.
Also, if you can, book a room at the family-friendly Marriott Grand Residence Club Lake Tahoe any time between May and October since pleasant temperatures will enable you and your family to enjoy the water.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
By Marianne from The Journeying Giordanos
If you are looking for a sunny, family-friendly beach vacation in the US, then Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the perfect place to sink your toes! With over 60 miles of beach area, boardwalk, and plenty of attractions within walking distance of the ocean, your family vacation can be as leisurely or as active as you would like it to be.
When is the Best Time to Visit Myrtle Beach?
The best time to visit Myrtle Beach is during the summer. This is when both the weather and the ocean are at their warmest, and the attractions are all open for the season. Of course, this is also when Myrtle Beach is busiest.
Visiting during the shoulder seasons can also be fun, and definitely less crowded. September and October are festival season, with plenty of sun and summer-like temperatures, but with cooler evenings.
What is There to Do in Myrtle Beach with Kids?
And there are so many things to do in Myrtle Beach, no matter when you choose to visit! Head over to the Skywheel which offers both climate-controlled compartments, as well as some of the best views of the area. Or spend the day in the ocean, trying a multitude of watersports. Learn to surf on the gentle waves, take up paddleboarding, or search for marine life while snorkeling.
With nearby Myrtle Beach State Park, mini-golf, car museums, art installations, or Broadway at the Beach shopping center and entertainment complex to explore, you are sure to find activities to please everyone in your family.
Where to Stay in Myrtle Beach
You will also find many hotels and accommodation types to choose from in Myrtle Beach. Breakers Resort is centrally located and even has its own indoor waterpark! Stay near the beach, or choose a more quiet hotel that is away from the main strip, it all depends on what your preference is.
Our only suggestion is not to wait until the last minute to book your stay! The area is popular, and the best accommodations book up months in advance.
All in all, Myrtle Beach is a fantastic spot for a family getaway. With plenty of activities for all ages, gorgeous scenery, and easy accessibility, your family is sure to make memories that will last a lifetime!
By Sarah from Cosmopoliclan
Maui has a reputation for being the best Hawaiian island for families with kids. The child-friendly beachfront resorts that dot the western and southern coastline, such as the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali or the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, are perfect for building sandcastles and going boogie-boarding.
Aside from the palm-fringed beaches that make the Valley Isle so popular year-round, there’s plenty more to experience in and around the ocean.
Kapalua beach is perfect for a first snorkeling session thanks to the reef right off the beach. Then there’s Maluaka beach where the local honu or Hawaiian green sea turtles hang out. Rent a kayak and gently explore the waters to see these friendly residents up close.
In winter, you can join a marine biologist of the Pacific Whale Foundation on a whale-watching cruise. See the humpbacks that retreat to the calm and warm waters of Maui to breed and raise their young.
If your family is looking for a change of scenery, then Maui’s verdant heart offers exactly that. Admire Twin Falls, discover the mystic beauty of ‘Iao Valley State Park, marvel at the Lahaina banyan tree, or watch the sunset from Haleakala National Park.
Evenings are best spent taking a stroll along one of the stroller-friendly coastal trails or attending a colorful luau performance.
Newport, Rhode Island
By Brittany from Travel by Brit
Newport, Rhode Island, is one of the most popular beach destinations in New England. Plus, there is no shortage of fun, kid-friendly activities to do in Newport—making it an excellent destination for families!
Of course, you can’t visit Newport without paying a visit to the beach. Newport’s most famous beach, Easton Beach, also known as First Beach, offers tons for kids to do, including a carousel, surfing, bodyboarding, and a snack shop. If you have older kids, they may enjoy touring the Newport Mansions, like The Breakers, or taking a trolley tour around the city. Additionally, one of the best things to do in Newport, RI, is sailing—you can’t miss the chance to take a boat ride or cruise with your family during your time in the city.
If you’re planning to spend plenty of time at the beach, June – August is undoubtedly the best time to visit Newport. However, the fall foliage also makes the city lovely in the fall if you’re looking for a less touristy time to visit.
Book a stay at the Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina to enjoy the swimming pool and water sports amenities on-site, as well as close access to Thames Street, Bowen’s Wharf, and other famous places for shopping and dining in Newport.
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Candice from CS Ginger
Culebra is a small island off the western coast of Puerto Rico. Culebra is home to Flamenco Beach, a beach consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the world. The beaches on Culebra are especially kid-friendly because of the beautiful sandy beaches perfect for playing on and the calm beautiful water.
The best time to visit Culebra is during the winter months or from mid-April to June. The winter is busier but in general, it is a pretty quiet island. In early summer, you will miss the busy winter season but be ahead of the rainy season during late summer.
Along with spending time at the beach, Culebra is a perfect place to go snorkeling. The best places to snorkel are Flamenco Beach, Tamarindo Beach, and Carlos Rosario Beach. You can also enjoy other water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. If you’re looking for wildlife and hiking trails, be sure to visit the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.
The best way to get to Culebra is from the main island of Puerto Rico. You can either fly over or take the ferry. Taking the ferry is by far the most cost-effective way of getting there.
The island of Culebra is pretty small with a very local vibe. There are not any large resorts on the island so you’ll be looking at staying at a small hotel or private rental. One of the best hotel options in the heart of downtown is El Navegante de Culebra. They offer a large variety of room floorplans and are close to lots of restaurants.
Siesta Key Beach, Florida
By Nicole from Early Traveler
Famous for its soft white sands and continually the number one beach in America, Siesta Key Beach is a perfect destination in Florida for families.
Experience everything the beach has to offer by exploring the eight-mile stretch. While Siesta Beach is the most well-known, the stretch includes Turtle Beach and Crescent Beach as well.
The white quartz sand is perfect for family activities such as building sandcastles, playing volleyball, running around on the playground, or having lunch at the picnic tables.
There are over 100 shops, cafes, and restaurants at the Siesta Key village where you can take a leisurely stroll or ride through on a bike feeling the sea breeze.
Siesta Key is located near Sarasota Florida which boasts the Ringling Museum and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens which has two major areas dedicated to kids including the Children’s Rainforest Garden.
After any activities about town, make sure to return to the Siesta Key beach for a beautiful sunset.
There are plenty of vacation rentals and hotels nearby including the Ringling Beach House which offers a one-of-a-kind stay that has lush tropical gardens with two private pools, turn-key accommodations ranging from 2–3-bedroom suites, and unlimited usage of chairs, towels, and umbrellas to use on Siesta Key beach.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
By Cortney Edwards from Tin Can Living
Virginia Beach is one of the best family beach vacation spots in the United States. This family-fun destination has everything from amusement rides to surf shops, so you can spend all day at the beach and not have to leave! With miles of sandy beaches, Virginia Beach is a perfect place for kids to play in the sand or build huge sandcastles.
The best things to do when visiting this fantastic beach boardwalk are to swim, sunbathe, surf, and play in the sand. You can also visit the small amusement park right off the beach or go fishing on the pier. There are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby if you need to take a break from the beach.
The sun and weather are the best during the months of May through September. However, the water is very cold during this time of year so you may want to consider getting a wetsuit if your child wants to go swimming. Always remember to bring sunscreen and a towel.
When you are worn out from playing in the waves, you will want to fuel up in one of the yummy nearby restaurants. The kids will love to eat at Dough Boys where they have a special menu just for kids.
At night you will have no problem entertaining the kids at your hotel when you bring them back to Holiday Inn and Suites on Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach. The hotel is perfect for families. They have a kids-only pool, water slides, and a restaurant. They even schedule events for the kids to participate in. The best part is that this hotel is right on the beach boardwalk allowing you and your kids to walk everywhere and enjoy all that Virginia Beach has to offer.
By Pafoua from Her Wanderful World
Cayucos is a small California coastal town located off Highway 101 and is 3.5 hours from Los Angeles and San Francisco. This seaside community has laid-back vibes with long stretches of beach for relaxing and other fun water activities at Cayucos State Beach.
Cayucos State Beach is a perfect family-friendly beach as there is a playground right on the sand for young kids. While visiting the beach, families can swim, surf, and make sandcastles.
The best part about Cayucos State Beach is the line of beachfront restaurants just yards away. Grab a pie at the Ocean Front Pizza and then head next door to the Hidden Kitchen for a fresh and delicious smoothie.
For accommodations in Cayucos, book a stay at the Shoreline Inn on the Beach so you and your kids will have direct access to the sand every day. You can also watch the beautiful sunset views right from your window.
There are so many amazing things to do in Cayucos including walking to all 9 murals in town, seeking treasure at the local antiques, and searching for the tidepools at Estero Bluffs.
Summertime is great to visit Cayucos, but it is also high season so the town may be more crowded than usual. The best time to visit Cayucos is in the fall, from October – November. Temperatures are a perfect, sunny 70°F with lows of 40°F. The water does get cold, so pack a wetsuit for longer swims in the ocean.
Another great time to visit Cayucos is December – February. Though the water might be too cold to swim in, families can walk on the Cayucos Pier and try to spot migrating whales and their calves.
Whenever you plan to visit Cayucos, you’ll be sure to have a great family bonding time.
Orange Beach, Alabama
By Nikki from She Saves She Travels
If you’re looking for the best family-friendly beach destination, then Orange Beach, Alabama absolutely must be on your list! The Gulf Coast is home to beautiful beaches, and Orange Beach is one of the best!
With lush, white sand and beautiful water, the whole family will love this beachy spot. There’s a ton of things to do in Orange Beach Alabama, too. Visit The Wharf at Orange Beach for Ferris wheel rides, games, waterfront dining, and shopping. Take older kids and teens on a jet ski ride on the Intercoastal Waterway.
Romar Beach and Cotton Bayou Beach are family-friendly with amenities and restaurants nearby. A fun, unique idea specific to Orange Beach (and its neighbor, Gulf Shores) is to take a sandcastle building class. Perfect for kids older than toddlers, your instructor will help you learn to create the perfect sandcastle.
While you’re in Orange Beach, be sure to check out the many restaurants with kid-friendly adventures like pirate ships, obstacle courses. and sandpits, all while you wait for your table! GT’s on the Bay and Lulu’s really know how to entertain a family.
The best time of year to visit Gulf Shores is April-October if you want to get in the water, but there are activities all year long. You’ll find the biggest crowds during summer and the peak of winter, and best rates on accommodations during spring and fall.
For beachfront accommodations, try the Hampton Inn & Suites Orange Beach or the Hilton Garden Inn Orange Beach. You’ll also find plenty of vacation rentals on and off the beach, a nice alternative for growing families.
Santa Barbara, California
By Daria from The Discovery Nut
Located along Central California’s Coast Santa Barbara is an excellent destination for young travelers thanks to a combination of outdoor activities, museums, and gourmet restaurants.
MOXI Museum is one of the most popular places among families in Santa Barbara thanks to its interactive exhibits. And Santa Barbara Mediterranean-like climate offers year-round opportunities for active sports like surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
There are several surfing schools in Santa Barbara including A Frame Surf Shop in the nearby town called Carpintería that offers surfing lessons for all ages.
And, if you are just looking for a day at the beach, Santa Barbara has plenty of them. Butterfly Beach and East Beach are particularly popular with families as they offer plenty of space for picnicking and playing games.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is another popular venue for families that offers free guided walks in the area with different species of plants and flowers. Guided tours are offered on weekends on Mondays.
Summer if the busiest time in the area when prices tend to be more expensive and fall and winter is the downtime perfect for families on a budget when things tend to be quieter.
If you want to stay in downtown Santa Barbara close to most activities and restaurants, book your stay at Hotel Californian.
Pacific City Beach, Oregon
By Jennifer from Dinkum Tribe
The Oregon Coast is well-known for its stunning, epic beauty. Pacific City Beach is right next to the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, which features sandstone bluffs and a giant sand dune, as well as a natural arch. You won’t run out of things to do here!
Tide pools at the base of the cliff offer a host of marine life for the savvy seeker. Sea anemones, crabs, and starfish are just a few of the creatures that make their home among the pools.
On the large haystack rock out in the water, you can see seabirds and seals playing and sometimes the seals swim up almost to the beach!
Hike to the top of the sand dune for unparalleled views of the surrounding area and ocean, then walk along the fenced bluffs and watch ocean waves crash against the sandstone cliffs. After running or sliding down the dune, walk along the miles of beautiful beach.
Kids can build sandcastles, and dig moats, or just splash in the chilly Pacific Ocean (somehow kids don’t seem to mind the cold!).
Watch the dory fishing boats— the boats have to gather enough speed to propel them out of the water and up past the surf so a truck can load them up!
June through early October is almost always good weather, although occasional rain does happen.
My favorite places to stay with kids are local AirBnB rental houses, because they are usually within walking distance from the beach and there are lots to choose from. Another option is the Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa, a luxurious hotel built right on the clifftop. As for food, many local eateries offer vegetarian or vegan options, so just ask if you don’t see it on the menu.
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