Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation

Best Family Beaches on the East Coast

Last Updated on December 11, 2023

Planning your next beach getaway but wondering where to go? If you are looking at the East Coast for your next family vacation, here are some of the best family beaches on the East Coast that are perfect for families with kids of all ages.

From the tropical beaches down Key West to the wild coast of Maine and everywhere in between, you will find the perfect beach destination that the whole family will enjoy.

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These kid-friendly beaches on the East Coast are perfect for little kids as the waters are calmer and the destination offers plenty of things to do apart from enjoying the beach.

Keep on reading to discover the best family beaches on the East Coast!

Related – Best destinations on the East Coast for Families


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation



Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on any links and make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission, at no cost to you.

Mayflower Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Mayflower Beach, Cape Cod, Maine

By Samantha from New England Wanderlust

Mayflower Beach on Cape Cod is a wonderful destination for families with kids of all ages. Located in the adorable town of Dennis, MA, and along the Cape Cod Bay, the water at this beach is very calm, shallow, and warm, compared to the rougher and colder waters along the Atlantic-side beaches in the region.

And with the sand being incredibly soft and pristine, it makes for an even more enjoyable experience. You’ll also find lifeguards on duty in-season, and restroom facilities at this beach.

One of the most unique qualities of Mayflower Beach is that at low tide, over a mile of the ocean floor is exposed, creating one of the largest tidal flats on the East Coast. Kids and parents will have a great time creating memories by walking along the ocean floor to hunt for marine life, collect shells and see how far out they can walk from the shore.

A short drive from Mayflower Beach will be tons of family-friendly attractions such as mini-golfing at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, bounce houses at the Cape Cod Inflatable Park, and arcade games at Ryan Family Amusements

A great hotel option nearby is The Ocean Club, which is an all-suite hotel that’s perfect for families. Each room includes efficiency kitchens, making it easy to keep kid-friendly snacks on hand and pack lunches for beach days. You can also book a vacation rental for added convenience.

The best time to visit Mayflower Beach, and all of the beaches on Cape Cod, is the summer in July and August, when the water is warm and the weather is typically the best with fewer chances of rain.

Daily parking fees for this beach are $20 on weekdays, $25 on weekends, or $75 weekly per car. 

Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head

By Wayne from Always on The Shore

Coligny Beach Park in Hilton Head is one of the best beaches on the island and one of the top family beaches on the East Coast!

There are lots of things to do in Hilton Head Island from water activities to bike rentals, and plenty of areas for walking and biking. The beach has many amenities including shaded pavilions, and beach chairs to rent, and for those that want to stay connected while they’re at the beach, there is free wi-fi.

Coligny Beach is in a perfect location on the island, right at the heart of the Lowcountry, with lots of parking, food, and fun within walking distance. While here, be sure to visit Coligny Plaza, with almost 60 shops, restaurants, and stores!  

For a great restaurant in the area, visit Kenny B’s French Quarter for southern cajun cooking. Come watch a live show at the Coligny Theatre or see many different events throughout the year.

The best time to visit the area is late spring or late summer/early fall when the temperatures are nice and you can avoid the early-mid summer crowds. 

You’ll find plenty of hotels and vacation rentals in the area. Holiday Inn Express is a nice hotel to stay, just a couple of blocks away from the beach and downtown area. This hotel also has reasonable rates and buffet breakfast included.

Jones Beach, Long Island, New York

Sunset at Jones Beach

By Kelly of Travel New York Now

Jones Beach is a stunning oasis of sand along the coast that is easily one of the best kid-friendly beaches on the East Coast.

Not only is it conveniently located on Long Island – about an hour and a half away from New York City – but it’s hidden away inside a stunning state park and stretches out for 6.5 miles along the coast.

And while you will have to pay a $10 day-use fee to enjoy this beach. lifeguards are regularly on duty and there are ample facilities for guests to enjoy, including restrooms, showers, restaurants, rental kiosks, etc.

And when you’re not relaxing on the beach, you can walk along the Boardwalk, play a round of mini-golf, enjoy a game of shuffleboard, attend a concert at Northwell Health outdoor arena, dine at various restaurants, and make use of one of the best hiking trails on Long Island.

However, this beach is exceptionally popular among locals and tourists alike. So, if you’d like to visit, try to arrive between 6:00 am and 8:00 am on busy summer weekends.

You could also visit on a weekday so that you can easily park at field 6. After all, this is the most popular parking lot in the park since it sits closest to the beach,

Alternatively, you could go a little further out on the island and enjoy the less crowded and more natural beach at Robert Moses State Park.

But, if you stick with Jones Beach. do be aware that swimming and other water sports are only allowed at designated locations and when lifeguards are on-duty.

Other than that, just enjoy a little bit of fun in the sun before attending special events like their July 4th fireworks display and the Blue Angels at the Bethpage Air Show over Memorial Day weekend.

A great place to stay would be Jones Beach Hotel. It’s a relaxing feeling 3-star hotel with clean rooms, great services, and a charming little restaurant on-site. You can also book an oceanfront vacation rental near the beach.

Lewes Beach, Delaware

Lewes Private Beach, Delaware

By Amanda, Hey! East Coast USA

Lewes Beach in Delaware is also known as the First Town in the First State and is a firm favorite with families looking for a beach vacation. It provides small-town charm with day trip opportunities, so it is impossible to get bored during your stay!

Things to do in Lewes include spending the day at the beach, which offers calmer waters than Rehoboth and Dewey, the neighboring beaches. This is because Lewes Beach is tucked into Delaware Bay. It also has lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day so that you can enjoy your beach days with peace of mind.

You can also rent bikes to try out the five-mile Junction and Breakwater Trail and then treat yourselves to ice cream from Hopkins Farm Creamery.

If the heavens open and it rains during your stay, you can catch a movie at Cinema Art Theatre or play games at Lefty’s Alley and Eats.

There’s some choice of food in Lewes, such as Chinese, Italian, and diner food, or you can go farther afield to Rehoboth for more options. You don’t have to walk far between bars if you need a medicinal beer or wine, and Irish Eyes pub features a kids’ menu as well as live music for entertainment.

Naturally, summer is the best time to visit weather-wise, but it is the busiest time. On July 4th, the Lewes community put on a parade and fireworks on the beach.

If you plan to stay in Lewes, you will need to book a condo. Alternatively, check out a hotel or B&B in the Rehoboth area, like the Avenue Inn & Spa featuring family rooms, an indoor pool, free breakfast, private parking, and is only a 1 minute walk from the beach.

Related – 20+ Best Family Vacation Spots to Visit with Teenagers

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

By Alanna from Periodic Adventures

Driftwood Beach is one of the absolute best things to do in Georgia and a top-tier beach for families. Known for its massive driftwood trees, Driftwood Beach is located on the northeast tip of the small barrier island. Kids will love climbing these bare trees as if they were a jungle gym and adults will love the stunning backdrop they supply.

To get there, park along the spots at the side of the road and take the path through the lush trees to arrive at the beach! It’s hidden from the road so follow others if you aren’t sure where to go.

The shore itself is shallow with mild waves so many kids will enjoy playing in the water and sand. Additionally, photographers love the area during sunrise and sunset because the driftwood pieces silhouette the sky beautifully.

On Jekyll Island, families will also enjoy riding bikes, visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and trying their hand at mini-golf.

Jekyll Island is best visited during the spring and fall, but even the winter is nice. During the summer months, it can get quite hot and full of bugs so avoid that time if you can.

One of the best hotels on the island is the Days Inn & Suites as they have two pools, direct beach access, and are right next to bike rentals. Alternatively, you can book a vacation rental near the beach.

Key West, Florida

Sunset, Key West, Florida

By Erin from Erin’s Travel Tips

Head to the Southernmost point for perfect sunsets and relaxing beach days. Key West is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of the US. 

The best time of the year to visit for ideal weather is between March and May.

For families, you will want to add Higgs Beach Park to your itinerary. It has gorgeous turquoise waters and white sandy beaches with pavilions available for family gatherings. This is the perfect place to laze on a Key West beach.

There is also an extensive list of small beach areas tucked away in Key West that are all within easy walking distance of one another.

Must-See Attractions:

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is one of Key West’s finest family-friendly attractions. This beautiful Spanish Colonial style home was built in 1853. The house displays inherited personal items, and unique European antiques collected during his numerous travels.

The property has an expansive tropical garden with a salty water pool which he claims destroyed him financially and contained his “last dollar” in the concrete. More than 50 descendants from the Hemingway cat family roam this property each with their 6-toes per paw.  Both children and adults love to pet and photograph them.

Enjoy a Sunset Celebration in Key West  

Key West is known for its sunsets. The best place on the island for them is at Mallory Square. Watch the street performers put on an entertaining show while you take in the celebration that begins two hours prior to sunset. It will be a sunset you won’t forget!

Where to Stay

Stay at the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa for the perfect family beach getaway. This lovely location is close to the action but sits on its own private oasis. It is an ideal location to explore Duval Street and all that Key West has to offer. They also have Aqua Yoga, boat rentals, and a spa and fitness center. You won’t want to leave once you stay here a night.

You’ll also find plenty of vacation rentals for all budget within walking distance of the beach.

Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks

By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

One of the best family beaches on the East Coast is the breathtaking Outer Banks in North Carolina. 

The barrier islands stretch for over 175 miles and are among the best destinations for beachgoers. There are plenty of beautiful beaches across the islands, so you can spread out and relax wherever you want. The sunrises at the beach are breathtaking and change every day! There are five lighthouses to see in the Outer Banks from the Hatteras Light­house at the southern tip to Corolla Light­house in the north.

Those who enjoy history should visit the Wright Brothers Memorial to learn all about how flying was invented and why they chose Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks to achieve their dream. Kill Devil Hills is in the center of the islands and easily accessible from most towns.

The town of Corolla, in the North, is a hidden gem often overlooked by visitors. There are plenty of things to do in Corolla for everyone. If you’re a nature lover, you might be able to spot some wild horses of the Outer Banks right along the beach! If you want to see the area on the water, Corolla Water Sports offers jet ski tours.

When you’re looking for a place to take a break from the beach, Historic Corolla Park is a good choice. The Corolla Lighthouse provides stunning views, while the Whalehead Club offers a look at the Outer Bank’s history through the years. The new Maritime Museum focuses on how the water is so important to life and culture on the barrier islands.

Located in Nags Head, the Surf Side Hotel is a great place to stay since it’s in the middle of the barrier islands. You’ll also find plenty of nice beach-front cottages available along the islands.

Popham Beach State Park, Maine

Popham Beach

By Heather from This Noshtalgic Life

Popham Beach State Park, located near Phippsburg, Maine, is a popular family-friendly beach getaway on the East Coast for both locals and tourists. Located on the southern edge of the Kennebec River, the beach is one of Maine’s rare geological formations featuring a long stretch of sandy beach. 

While sunbathing or walking on Popham beach the view is absolutely breathtaking. Visitors can see the nearby islands, both Fox and Wood, offshore. You can even walk to Fox Island at low tide

The beach is also a great place for exploring the beauty of tide pools. Other park activities include swimming, picnicking, birdwatching, kayaking, and wildlife viewing

From the shore, Pond Island and Seguin Island lighthouses can be seen clearly. Their distinct foghorns can be heard for miles around. 

Popham Beach State Park sits near Fort Popham State Historic Site and is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. The fort, which was built in the early 1860s, was used as a garrison during the Civil War. Hiking trails nearby are perfect for getting some fresh air and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

There are several shops and restaurants in the area as well as a playground and a pavilion. A popular dining option is Spinney’s Oceanfront Restaurant, offering something for everyone. 

Sebasco Harbor Resortnestled nearby on the rocky coast of Maine, is the perfect place to stay during your visit. The resort has its own private beach as well as an indoor pool and hot tub. You can also book a vacation rental, there’s plenty of gorgeous ocean-front cottages available along the coast.

Popham Beach State Park is open to the public from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Visiting this area is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and also experience a piece of American history firsthand.

Vero Beach, Florida

Vero Beach, FLorida

By Lisa from Planning Away

Vero Beach is one of the best beaches on the East Coast for families. Located in Florida, on the Atlantic Ocean side, it is a fantastic beach near Disney World.  In fact, Disney even owns a resort on this beach.  

One of the best things about Vero Beach is that it is on the Treasure Coast. During the early 16th century, there were many shipwrecks by Spanish explorers along this coast. It is not uncommon to find gold coins washing up on the beach. You will see many people searching for coins! 

The S.S. Breconshire was one of the ships to sink. It sank so close to the beach you can actually swim out to it and snorkel. Part of the mast still sticks up out of the water. You can also rent kayaks and explore the sunken ship. There are so many tropical fish that swim around this site.  

Most of the hotels and vacation rentals in this area have direct access to Vero Beach. Disney’s Vero Beach is one of the best family-friendly hotels along the coast. 

Another fun activity in Vero Beach is riding bikes around town. There are some fun shops and amazing restaurants your family will love. 

Tigertail Beach, Marco Island, Florida

Tigertail Beach, Florida

By Lori from Naples Florida Travel Guide

When it comes to family-friendly East Coast beaches, it’s hard to beat Tigertail Beach on Marco Island in southwest Florida.

And while there are few beaches on Marco Island, Tigertail more than makes up for the lack of public access, with its enviable location and completely unique topography which gives it its name.

There are actually two very different beaches at Tigertail Beach; the inner lagoon beach and the outer beach on the white sand of the Gulf of Mexico. Both beaches at Tigertail offer something unique. The inner tidal lagoon is where you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, beach buggies, beach chairs, and umbrellas. This sandy beach also has a tall covered bird-watching tower with a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico beyond.

The outer beach, called Sand Dollar Spit, is where the sand meets the Gulf, and the gentle waters deliver up beautiful tiny shells by the boatload every minute. This beach is the prime spot for watching the fiery sunsets.

To get to the outer beach from the lagoon, you’ll have to wade a short distance through the shallow sandy part of the lagoon, carting your beach chair overhead and floating your cooler with you through the water. It’s all part of the fun of Tigertail Beach.

Any time of year is a good time to visit Marco Island, though most prefer the moderate temperatures of winter. There is plenty of parking at Tigertail ($8 per day or $1.50 per hour), plus a very good snack bar, public restrooms, picnic tables, and outdoor showers.

At the end of the day, there’s no better place to lay your head than the J.W. Marriott Beach Resort, one of the best family resorts on the island. You’ll also find plenty of great vacation rentals near the beach.

Related – Top Kid-Friendly Beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

By Kriszti from She Wanders Abroad

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park is one of the best family beaches on the East Coast. The beach is located on Mount Desert Island, just off the coast of Maine.

The beach is known for its beautiful scenery, clean water, and white sand. There are also many activities to keep the kids entertained, such as swimming and kayaking.

Sand Beach is located on Park Loop Road, just a short drive from the main entrance to Acadia National Park. There is a large parking lot at the beach, as well as bathrooms and showers.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting without a car, you can take advantage of the free shuttle bus in the park or hike along the Ocean Path which goes right by the beach.

Since Sand Beach is only one of the many gorgeous spots in the park, it’s worth spending at least 2 days in Acadia National Park to be able to explore the park thoroughly.

The best time to visit Acadia NP highly depends on your personal interests. In case you want to swim at Sand Beach, it’s best to visit in the summer months when the weather is the warmest. However, if you want to avoid the biggest crowds, you’re better off visiting in the shoulder seasons.

Another great time to visit the national park is October when the fall colors are at their peak. Keep in mind though that it’s one of the most popular times to visit Acadia National Park so make sure to book accommodation way in advance.

Bar Harbor Inn and Spa is a great choice but if you’re traveling on a budget, you can find many other inns, B&Bs, and vacation rentals around the park.

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park

By Candice from CS Ginger

One of the best kid-friendly beaches on the East Coast to visit is Hunting Island State Park. It is a beautiful state park just outside Beaufort, South Carolina. It has even been voted as one of the top beaches in the country and is one of the most popular state parks on the East Coast.

One of the best things to do at Hunting Island State Park is to enjoy the beach. There are lots of fun things to do on the beach like looking for shells and playing in the water. Make sure you bring your sand toys.

Another fun thing to do is visit the Hunting Island lighthouse. The lighthouse here is the only lighthouse in South Carolina that is open to the public. You can climb the 167 steps to the top for a $2 charge. The lighthouse is so pretty and the views from the top are amazing.

The state park is also filled with fun marshes and trails to explore as well. You can easily spend a weekend exploring all the fun things to do on Hunting Island.

The state park has one cabin that rents out to the public. This rents out months in advance. The closest hotels or vacation rentals to Hunting Island State Park are on Fripp Island and Harbor Island. There is also a fantastic campground on the island if you have the gear to camp.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Florida

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach

By Cami from Travel Cami

The beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is one of the best beaches on the East Coast for families!

The park has a rich history, beautiful scenery, and plenty of amenities to keep visitors of all ages happy, but the beach by itself is enough reason to visit Key West.

Fort Zachary Taylor was used as a military base during the Civil War and later as a prison for war criminals. Today, the fort is open to the public and is a popular spot for picnicking, hiking, camping, and biking.

Also, the water is warm and clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. And there are plenty of shady areas if you need to take a break from the sun!

In addition, the beach is located near many restaurants and shops, making it easy to grab a bite to eat or pick up souvenirs.

The best time to visit Key West is from mid-December to April when the weather is cooler and drier. However, the beach is open year-round.

If you are looking to spend the night in Key West, the Doubletree Resort and the Ocean Key Resort and Spa make for excellent choices. Also, you can easily walk to Fort Zachary from them. You’ll find plenty of nice vacation rentals near the beach as well.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island Beach and Pier, East Coast

By Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

Tybee Island is a barrier island just off the coast of Georgia and about ½ hour from historic Savannah. It makes a great family-friendly beach destination in and of itself, or a fun day trip if you are spending a few days in Savannah.

You drive through a lot of marshland going from Savannah to Tybee Island, but once you’re on Tybee, the vibe becomes distinctly beachy – with candy-colored houses lining the streets and palm trees. 

The main beaches face east on the Atlantic Ocean, which include North Beach, Mid Beach, and South Beach. All of these beaches are along the same stretch of sand, which is accessible off Highway 80/Butler Ave, the main thoroughfare through town. You’ll find all sorts of cute restaurants and cafes and shops on this street!

The Tybee Island Lighthouse is by North Beach, and you can admire this black and white color block lighthouse for free from the ground, or $12 per adult from the top. 

Mid Beach is the least crowded beach. South Beach has the Tybee Beach pier, which is free to walk on, and has free public bathrooms. 

Nearby is the Fort Pulaski National Monument, a historic fort with self-guided tours. There are also several nature trails you can take on the island. 

The best time to visit Tybee is mid-May through October, when the water temperatures are at least in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (though the water temps will get into the 80s by mid-summer). 

If you’re spending a weekend in Savannah and day-tripping to Tybee, I would recommend staying in the charming Foley House Inn in historic Savannah, but if you are spending all your time on Tybee Island, the beachfront DeSoto Beach Hotel is a great option, or check out the vacation rentals there.

Nags Head Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Nags Head

By Cynthia from Sharing the Wonder

Nags Head Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a fantastic beach destination for families! There is a wide, clean stretch of sand, and a gentle slope to the water. 

Kids will love playing in the sand, collecting shells, and splashing in the gentle surf. Stretching over 12 miles, there’s always room to lay out your beach blanket. Saunter down Jeanette’s Pier which extends 1000 feet out into the ocean, or check out their educational exhibits.

Across the street from Jeanette’s Pier, you’ll find the Sea Horse Inn & Cottages. These simple, clean rooms are in a perfect location, across from beach access, as well as an easy walk to Fatboyz Ice Cream! With a small market in front of the pier, you have everything you need without stepping into your car. 

Summer is the most popular time to visit Nags Head, though the water stays chilly well into August. 

Need a break from the beach? There are several mini-golf courses, or get your adrenaline going at First Flight Adventure Park. This aerial adventure park has ropes courses with obstacles and zip lines rated from easy to advanced. The minimum age is 6 years old.   

Just a ten-minute drive down the beach is Bodie Lighthouse. Climb over 200 steps to the top of this 1872 lighthouse for wonderful views all around.

Head to Kill Devil Hills to add some history to your vacation- here you’ll find the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This Memorial is a great place for families to learn about the history and physics of flight.

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Edisto Island. beach destination for families

By Natalie from Cosmos Mariners

Families will love tiny Edisto Island off the coast of South Carolina about an hour south of Charleston. This laidback beach town has no stoplights, 1 grocery store, and no hotels, which means the beach, and family fun, are the real focus. Head to the sand to read or watch your kids splash in the waves.

If you’re ready to get out of the sun for a bit, Edisto Island also offers self-driving maritime forest ecotour and some delicious restaurants. To see the island from a different point of view, rent a bike and trailer from one of Edisto’s rental places to take your family around via the miles of bike paths.

Thanks to South Carolina’s mild temperatures, this is a year round destination for water activities like kayaking, and boating, but May-August is the best time if you’d like to spend most of your visit at the beach. Avoid September as this is statistically when most hurricanes disrupt plans. 

Edisto Island doesn’t have any hotels, so you’ll need to locate a beach rental. These are widely available in all different parts of the island, but book ahead if you plan to visit during the summer months (July 4th week is a particularly tough time to get a last minute house rental). 

The best thing about Edisto Island is that, even when it is busy, it doesn’t feel busy, and you won’t ever have to wake up at 7 AM to get the best spot on the beach. Everyone is able to spread out along the beach for plenty of relaxation, fun, and family memories. 

Check out some of my others family travel guides:

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Best Family beach vacation spots on the East Coast