When you think of vacations do you want sandy beaches, palm trees and warm breezes? No matter your preference we found a beach for you, and the best part is you don’t need a passport to visit.
While there are many beaches in the continental U.S., these are our top eight choices for family vacations.
Top 9 Family Beaches in the United States
#9 Sanibel Island Florida
Your seashell collector will go on a crazy hunt, on any of the beaches in this town. There are more than 300 different kinds of shells to find. You can pick up a laminated shell guide in local gift shops to help ID the most common shells.
The seashell selection is even better following a summer storm, because the surf brings them ashore after stirring up the bottom of the Gulf. After a day combing the beach, wind down with a stop at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and see hundreds of beautiful shells from around the world.
#8 Corolla, NC Outer Banks
Corolla is an 11-mile stretch of sand at the tip of the barrier island, known as the Currituck Outer Banks, and it is wild horse territory.
Around 100 wild ponies, descendants of Spanish mustangs brought there in the 1500’s, roam on 7,000-plus acres—only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle. You can choose from over 500 vacation rentals on Corolla, and have a true front row seat to beauty. Our friends have had horses in their backyard, on some vacations.
If you don’t have a four wheel drive vehicle you can take a guided tour with Corolla Jeep Adventures. This ATV tour is sure to bring you up close with the ponies and other beautiful OBX wildlife.
#7 Santa Barbara, California
This quiet seaside town is less than 100 miles from Los Angeles and is the gateway to Channel Islands National Park, one of the best places to explore sea caves and wildlife.
Your can hop on the Island Packers Ferry to Santa Cruz Island, where Santa Barbara Adventures offer 90-minute or 21/2-hour guided family kayak tours (kids must be 5 and up and share a double kayak with an adult). Your mini adventurers will think it’s cool to be inside a dark cave, listening to the barking of seals and sea lions. There is so much wildlife all around; the Channel Islands, dubbed the “Galápagos of North America,” are home to 145 animal and plant species found nowhere else in the world.
When you are ready to grab a bite to eat head to Stearns Wharf. You can watch fishing boats unload the day’s catch, enjoy spectacular sunsets, and sample fares at California’s oldest working wharf.
#6 Islamorada Key, Florida
At the tip of Florida in the Florida Keys sits Islamorada. One of our favorite parks called Founder’s Park sits in Islamorada. This park has beautiful sandy beaches and palm trees that just float in the wind. You can snorkel or swim in the water. However, the highlight of Islamorada is the spectacular sunsets!
#5 Cape May, New Jersey
On the southern tip of the Jersey shore, Cape May’s Sunset Beach is sparkling. Quartz crystals, known as “Cape May Diamonds,” wash up on the shore daily. Most appear frosted; the rarer ones are as clear as crystal or teardrop-shaped.
Due to the rough current swimming isn’t advised at Sunset Beach. For a day of play visit Cove Beach, which overlooks Cape May Lighthouse and the town’s historic Victorian mansions.
Looking for atlantic dolphins and whales? Take a trip with Cape May Whale Watchers. Your tour will include history of Cape May, NJ and of course a few wildlife sightings.
#4 La, Jolla, California
Just a stones throw from San Diego is La, Jolla. The town constructed a cove on the beach to protect kids from the waves. But the area, known as the “Children’s Pool,” is often filled with seals.
When you are ready to swim,drive to the mile-long La Jolla Shores beach, which offers gentle waves, lifeguards, a playground, and grassy picnic areas.
If you want to spot more wildlife in it’s own habitat, take a day out with La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak Tours. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery as you spot abundant marine life during this 2-hour trip kayaking in the sea caves and through the ecological reserve. Paddle along with your expert naturalist guide as you observe the numerous species of birds, dolphins, sea lions and even orcas that inhabit the area.
#3 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
I have been going to Myrtle Beach since I was a kid and now I take my kids. It is timeless and fun. As the largest resort along South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is the East Coast’s ultimate vacation spot.
The town is filled to the brim with endless summer fun: beaches, amusement and water parks, restaurants and live entertainment. Broadway at the Beach comes alive at night with shopping and dining.
Myrtle Beach’s actual beach is an extensive stretch of silky white sand, offering fishing, swimming, sunbathing, sailing and surfing.
Looking for something different to do? Head to Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage Dinner and Show. Yes it’s campy but the food is fantastic and the experience makes for great vacation memories.
#2 Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC
Yes, I am back to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It truly is that wonderful, especially for families.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a skinny strip of barrier islands from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island. The beach’s hallmark high, sandy dunes front frothy surf perfect for swimming, beachcombing and body-surfing.
You can purchase a four wheel drive permit to drive on the beaches and have endless beach to yourselves in the off season and plenty of room in the busy season. You are permitted to bring your dogs out on the beach year round and beach fires are allowed with a permit.
Visitors can climb up 248 steps to the top of the nation’s tallest lighthouse — towering at an impressive 196 feet — for a spectacular view of the seashore.
#1 Kiawah Island, SC
This 10,000-acre barrier island has 10 miles of pristine beaches to explore and 30 miles of marshland. Just 21 miles outside of downtown Charleston, Kiawah Island offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here you will enjoy sunshine among wildlife like turtles, white deer and seabirds that inhabit the area.
Pack your golf clubs, Kiawah is home to four world class golf courses. Watch out for alligators that may try to play thru.
What is your favorite beach to enjoy with your family? Leave a comment and share your favorite!
Guest Author: Jennifer Greene