When it comes to planning a memorable family vacation, nothing beats a beach getaway. The sun, sand, and surf provide the perfect backdrop for creating lifelong memories with your loved ones. If you’re searching for the best family beach vacations in the U.S., look no further. In this article, we’ll explore the top destinations across the country that offer incredible experiences for families of all ages. From thrilling water sports to relaxing beach strolls, these destinations have it all.

Key Points

  • Find the next beachfront hot spot where your family can make memories to last a lifetime
  • Learn about some of the best family beaches on either U.S. coast
  • Whether you’re looking for a tropical getaway, water sports, arts and culture, or easy access to amusement parks, there’s a destination on our list of top beach vacations for families for every interest

Best Beach Vacations in the U.S.

From thrilling water sports to relaxing beach strolls, these family-friendly beaches have it all. So pack your bags, slather on some sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

1. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Wooden boardwalk leading through the marsh to the Bodie Island Lighthouse on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The Outer Banks — commonly referred to as OBX — is a top beach destination for families. This chain of barrier islands offers something for everyone: a rich, storied history (Blackbeard fought his last battle in the area), plenty of outdoor activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, plus endless natural beauty. Be sure to check out the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Unleash your inner adventurers at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home to the largest sand dune system on the East Coast.
  • Step back in time and visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where the remarkable achievements of Orville and Wilbur Wright come to life.
  • Embark on a thrilling wild horse tour in Corolla, where families can witness majestic wild horses roaming freely along the beaches and dunes.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

This South Carolina tourist destination is primarily known for two things: its 60-mile-long shoreline, and its more than 90 world-class golf courses. You can hit the links in the morning, relax on the beach in the afternoon, and walk the Myrtle Beach boardwalk at night. Golf lovers will want to check out Dunes Golf & Beach Club and Barefoot Resort & Golf.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Embark on a swashbuckling adventure at the Pirates Voyage Dinner Show. Watch as acrobatic pirates perform daring stunts while enjoying a delicious meal fit for buccaneers of all ages.
  • Fuel your need for speed at Broadway Grand Prix, a thrilling go-kart racing complex. Challenge family members to a race, navigate challenging tracks, and revel in the adrenaline rush of friendly competition.
  • Soar above the cityscape on the iconic Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a towering Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking views of the ocean and coastline.

3. Nantucket, Massachusetts

The bay in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Nantucket, with its timeless beauty, welcoming community, and a myriad of family-oriented experiences, beckons families to create cherished memories amidst its coastal allure. Enjoy some fantastic fishing outings, amazing seafood — lobster rolls are a must — stroll the historic downtown, and visit the popular Whaling Museum. At just 14 miles long, it’s easy to explore this charming coastal island by walking or biking.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Embark on unforgettable whale watching excursions, where families can witness majestic whales frolicking in the Atlantic.
  • Immerse yourself in Nantucket’s rich maritime history at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Discover fascinating exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that bring the island’s whaling heritage to life.
  • Spend a day at family-friendly Jetties Beach, where kids can enjoy a playground, participate in beach games, and take a refreshing dip in the calm waters.

4. Clearwater Beach, Florida

Clearwater Beach, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is known for its pristine white sands and crystal clear turquoise waters. This family-friendly destination offers a wide range of activities, including dolphin-watching cruises, water sports, and beachside playgrounds. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the old home of Winter the dolphin, star of the movie “Dolphin Tale.”

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Join a guided tour to Caladesi Island State Park, a pristine barrier island accessible only by boat, and spend the day exploring its unspoiled beauty.
  • Attend one of the beachfront festivals and events that take place throughout the year, including the Clearwater Beach Taste Fest and the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival.
  • Visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and meet Winter’s best friend, Hope, the resident dolphin known for her remarkable story of survival.

5. Ocean City, New Jersey

Ferris wheel during the daytime at Ocean City, New Jersey.

This barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean packs plenty of family fun. In addition to its amazing beaches, check out Ocean City’s iconic attractions like the Ocean City Boardwalk, a 2.5-mile wooden boardwalk. And, of course, there’s Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, an amusement park established in 1929, and Playland’s Castaway Cove, which offers roller coasters and themed mini-golf.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Stroll along the iconic Ocean City Boardwalk, lined with shops, eateries, and amusement parks. Indulge in sweet treats like saltwater taffy, enjoy thrilling rides, and play classic arcade games.
  • Experience the excitement of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, a family-friendly amusement park featuring thrilling rides, games, and attractions for all ages.

6. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Situated on the picturesque coast of Massachusetts, Cape Cod is a quintessential New England destination known for its idyllic beaches, charming seaside towns, and rich maritime heritage. With its family-friendly atmosphere, captivating natural beauty, and a wide range of activities, Cape Cod rentals offer an ideal retreat for families seeking quality time together.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Discover the natural wonders of Cape Cod National Seashore, where families can hike scenic trails, observe wildlife, and enjoy picnics amidst dunes and coastal landscapes.
  • Embark on unforgettable whale watching excursions, where families can witness majestic whales breaching the surface of the ocean.
  • Step back in time at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater, a nostalgic experience for families. Enjoy a double feature under the stars, complete with popcorn and classic movie snacks.

7. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

A marina at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Nestled along the pristine shores of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is a captivating coastal destination renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere, stunning beaches, and an abundance of activities tailored to all ages. With its charming blend of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and welcoming community, Hilton Head Island offers the perfect setting for families to create lasting memories. The area also offers 12 miles of unspoiled beaches, where you and your loved ones can soak up the sun and surf.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Discover the charm of Lawton Stables, where families can enjoy horseback riding tours through picturesque trails.
  • Delight in family-friendly fun at Adventure Cove Family Fun Center. Race go-karts, play miniature golf, splash in the bumper boats, and enjoy arcade games.
  • Venture into the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, a 605-acre nature reserve offering hiking trails, wetlands, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

8. Ocean City, Maryland

Known for its family resorts and beachy fun, the kids will love playing along this 10-mile public beach, building sandcastles and enjoying the surf. The wooden Ocean City boardwalk boasts plenty of restaurants, shops, and attractions. Be sure to bring the family to Trimper’s Rides of Ocean City and the Jolly Roger Amusement Park, two historic amusement parks near the boardwalk.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Experience thrills and excitement at Jolly Roger Amusement Park. Enjoy roller coasters, water slides, go-karts, mini-golf, and arcade games, providing endless entertainment for the whole family.
  • Step back in time at Trimper’s Rides, a historic amusement park on the boardwalk. Ride vintage carousel horses, play classic arcade games, and enjoy nostalgic family fun.
  • Discover the natural beauty of Assateague Island National Seashore, known for its wild horses. Explore nature trails, go birdwatching, have a beach picnic, and spot wildlife.

9. Virginia Beach, Virginia

View of the beach at Virginia Beach, Virginia.

This oceanfront destination at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay is a vibrant coastal city with plenty of family-friendly beach activities. Relax on the area’s amazing beaches, go on a waterfront adventure, stroll the historic boardwalk, or explore the city. Your family will love the King Neptune statue — a giant, 34-foot-high bronze statue located right on the beach — the Cape Henry Lighthouse, and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Have a blast at Ocean Breeze Waterpark, featuring thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and splash zones designed for children of all ages.
  • Delve into the world of aviation at the Military Aviation Museum. Marvel at vintage aircraft, witness thrilling airshows, and learn about the history of flight.
  • Experience the exhilaration of skydiving without jumping out of a plane at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. Enjoy the thrill of floating in a vertical wind tunnel, suitable for all ages.

10. Montauk, New York

This easternmost point of Long Island really comes alive every summer between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Grab some ice cream and stroll through Montauk with your family. Soak in your natural surroundings by hiking, biking, camping, and horseback riding at Theodore Roosevelt County Park. And if you love fishing, this is the place to be!

There are many charter boats that will take you out for the day or anglers can simply surf cast from the beach. Don’t forget to make a trip to Montauk State Park to check out the famous Montauk Lighthouse. Also, the entire East End of Long Island has plenty to offer visitors — from some of the best wineries in the world to quaint villages teeming with local shops, art offerings, and amazing restaurants.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Visit Ditch Plains Beach, a popular spot for surfing and boogie boarding. Let the kids ride the waves, take a family surfing lesson, or simply enjoy watching the surfers in action.
  • Explore Montauk Point State Park, home to the iconic Montauk Lighthouse. Climb to the top for breathtaking views, embark on nature trails, and observe migrating birds.

11. St. Simons Island, Georgia

Six year old boy and seagulls, St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

Bring your family to the largest island in Georgia’s Golden Isles. For an excellent overview of the island, make sure you go on a lighthouse trolley tour. There are plenty of historic sites that will capture your kids’ imagination, including the ruins of Fort Frederica and the restored Harrington School House. Other must-sees include the St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum and the Neptune Park Fun Zone.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Hop on an island trolley tour to explore St. Simons Island’s landmarks, historic sites, and natural wonders while learning about its fascinating stories and legends.
  • Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where families can learn about sea turtle conservation efforts, view rehabilitated turtles, and participate in interactive exhibits.
  • Explore the island’s natural beauty by biking or walking along the scenic trails that wind through moss-draped oak trees, marshes, and coastal landscapes.

12. Old Orchard Beach, Maine

This classic New England getaway has one of the oldest oceanfront amusement parks in the country, making Old Orchard Beach one of the best Maine beaches for families. The popular Old Orchard Beach Pier is the centerpiece of this beach destination, boasting plenty of seafood restaurants. There’s also a number of fun beach activities. Equine lovers can go horseback riding along the beach, and some fun ways to explore the waters include a variety of charter tours — rafting, lobstering, fishing, and others.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Take a stroll along the iconic Old Orchard Beach Pier, which stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Experience the thrills and excitement of Palace Playland, a seaside amusement park located right on Old Orchard Beach. Enjoy classic rides, play carnival games, and savor cotton candy and other delicious treats.

13. Miami Beach, Florida

Colorful lifeguard tower in South Beach, Florida.

Miami Beach might be known for its bustling nightlife, but it’s also a family-friendly destination. Families can soak up the sun on the famous South Beach, known for its colorful lifeguard stands and bustling promenade. Explore the Art Deco architecture of the Historic District, enjoy water sports like jet skiing and paddleboarding, or simply relax on the sand while the kids build sandcastles.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Explore the tropical wonders of Jungle Island, an interactive zoological park that offers close encounters with exotic animals.
  • Immerse your family in a world of imagination and creativity at the Miami Children’s Museum. Engage in hands-on exhibits, learn about various cultures, and participate in educational workshops designed for kids of all ages.
  • Embark on a safari-style adventure at Zoo Miami, the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida.

14. South Padre Island, Texas

This year-round South Texas beachfront resort town is popular for families, as there’s plenty to do for everyone — beach activities, water sports, fishing, shopping, dining, live music, wildlife viewing, and fun attractions for all ages. South Padre Island is home to pods of dolphins that will amaze everyone in your family! Be sure to check out the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center, which offers a touch tank and aquariums, dolphin tours, and special events.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Make a splash at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, a thrilling aquatic playground for all ages. Enjoy water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and interactive water play areas.
  • Spend a day at Isla Blanca Park, a family-friendly recreational area with picnic spots, playgrounds, and beach access.
  • Unleash your creativity and learn the art of sandcastle building with professional sand sculptors. Take a sandcastle lesson and create intricate structures together as a family, leaving behind a unique masterpiece on the shore.

15. Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island sunrise.

This barrier island, offering five miles of public beaches, is a popular Georgia vacation spot. Bustling South Beach is the most lively part of the island, with an iconic pier and plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and attractions. If you’re looking for something a little different to do away from the beach, Tybee Island is also a quick 20-minute drive from historic downtown Savannah.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Climb to the top of the historic Tybee Island Light Station for panoramic views of the island and the surrounding coastline.
  • Step back in time at Fort Pulaski National Monument, a historic Civil War fort. Take a guided tour, witness cannon firings, and explore the fort’s ramparts, moats, and barracks.
  • Explore marine life at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. Engage in interactive exhibits, get up close with marine creatures in touch tanks, and learn about coastal ecosystems and conservation efforts.

16. Monterey, California

Monterey is famous for its beautiful coastlines, connection to Mexican culture, and abundant marine life off the coast. From its stunning coastline and abundant marine life to its educational museums and outdoor adventures, Monterey provides the perfect setting for a memorable family getaway. Many visitors are drawn to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, whale watching tours, and wine tasting tours throughout Monterey County.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Enjoy a feast for the eyes at the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Encounter playful sea otters, majestic sharks, and a kaleidoscope of colorful fish.
  • Explore the historic Cannery Row, once bustling with sardine canneries and now transformed into a lively waterfront district. Browse unique shops, dine at family-friendly restaurants, and soak up the coastal ambiance of this vibrant area.
  • Let the kids burn off some energy at Dennis the Menace Park, a whimsical playground filled with slides, climbing structures, and water features. Enjoy a picnic in the park’s shaded areas and take a ride on the miniature train.

17. Santa Cruz, California

Vibrantly colored homes in Santa Cruz.

Known for its great weather, Santa Cruz is located about 75 miles south of San Francisco. Visitors travel from around the country and world to experience the beaches of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and the awe-inspiring redwood tree forests just north of the city, among other great attractions. With its laid-back vibe and beautiful coastal setting, it’s a haven for families seeking a fun and relaxing getaway.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Experience the nostalgia and excitement of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a classic seaside amusement park.
  • Visit the Mystery Spot, a gravitational anomaly that has puzzled visitors for decades. Take a guided tour and witness mind-bending optical illusions, where balls roll uphill and people appear to shrink or grow.
  • Embark on a historic train ride through the redwood forest with Roaring Camp Railroads. Marvel at the towering trees, learn about the area’s logging history, and take a ride on an old-fashioned steam train.

18. Waikiki, Hawaii

Waikiki is a district within Honolulu and the island of Oahu’s primary beach resort area. Global travelers flock to the relaxed island lifestyle and easy access to surfing and other water activities. When you’re in Waikiki, the vibrant Kalakaua Avenue strip will play a large role in your trip. You won’t want to miss the Royal Hawaiian Center, the International Market Place, or the Waikiki Beach Walk.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Explore the wonders of marine life at the Waikiki Aquarium, located near Diamond Head. Discover colorful tropical fish, encounter Hawaiian sea turtles, and learn about the unique ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Visit the Honolulu Zoo, conveniently situated in Waikiki, and observe a diverse array of animals from around the world.
  • Waikiki’s gentle waves make it an ideal place for beginners to learn how to surf. Enroll in surf lessons offered by experienced instructors who will guide you through the basics and help you catch your first wave.

19. Maui, Hawaii

One of the top beaches in the world located in Maui, Hawaii.

Maui is the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, making it an ideal destination for families. Kaanapali Beach offers a picture-perfect setting for snorkeling, swimming, and building sandcastles. Take a drive along the scenic Road to Hana, explore the Haleakala National Park, or embark on a thrilling whale-watching excursion. With its lush landscapes and warm hospitality, Maui is a true tropical paradise.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Embark on a scenic journey along the famous Road to Hana, a winding coastal highway that leads to breathtaking waterfalls, lush rainforests, and hidden beaches.
  • Witness the awe-inspiring power of nature at the Nakalele Blowhole. As waves crash into the coastline, water shoots through a lava tube, creating a dramatic display of water spouts and mist.

20. Secret Beach, Oregon

Secret Beach, located on the southern Oregon coast, is a secluded coastal paradise that lives up to its name. Secret Beach can be found in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and accessed by a trail entrance about a third of a mile south of milepost 345 on U.S. 101. A three-quarter-mile trail leads down to the beach where you’ll be greeted by the Miller Creek waterfall falling away into the ocean, and sea stacks and sea walls along the shoreline.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • On clear nights, Secret Beach offers an ideal spot for stargazing. Away from city lights, the dark skies above reveal a magnificent tapestry of stars, providing a magical and awe-inspiring experience.
  • Explore Secret Beach’s rugged coastline, characterized by hidden coves, dramatic sea stacks, and towering cliffs. Wander along the sandy shores and marvel at the breathtaking rock formations jutting out of the ocean.

21. Cannon Beach, Oregon

View of Cannon Beach and Indian Beach at Ecola State Park in Oregon.

About 90 minutes from Portland, Cannon Beach, located on the northern Oregon coast, is a coastal destination that perfectly showcases the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. With its pristine beaches, dramatic rock formations, and artsy vibe, Cannon attracts nature lovers, art enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers alike. From its iconic Haystack Rock to its charming downtown area, this beach offers a delightful blend of natural wonders and small-town charm.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Gaze in wonder at the majestic Haystack Rock, a monolithic sea stack rising from the ocean and one of the most iconic landmarks on the Oregon coast. Explore the tide pools surrounding the rock, home to fascinating marine life and colorful sea anemones.
  • Take a short drive south of Cannon Beach to Hug Point State Recreation Site, a hidden gem with tide pools, sea caves, and a breathtaking waterfall that cascades onto the beach.

22. Coronado, California

Situated just a bridge away from downtown San Diego, Coronado offers small-town charm and makes a great family beach destination. Relax on the island’s award-winning beaches or tour the local sights and sounds by Segway. Soak in some local history by checking out the Museum of History and Art and the Coronado Heritage Walk or grab a bite to eat and shop to your heart’s content at the Coronado Ferry Landing.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Hop on a ferry and enjoy a scenic ride across the bay to downtown San Diego. Marvel at the city skyline, explore popular attractions like the USS Midway Museum or the Maritime Museum, and indulge in the vibrant dining and entertainment options.
  • Experience the magical phenomenon of bioluminescence at certain times of the year. Take a nighttime stroll along the beach and witness the mesmerizing glow emitted by microscopic organisms in the water, creating a truly enchanting bucket-list worthy spectacle.

23. Redondo Beach, California

Redondo Beach, California, as seen from the Pacific Ocean.

Redondo Beach is another classic West Coast beach town that makes a great vacation destination for the family. This vibrant beach offers everything you’d expect including fun activities like fishing, swimming, biking, hiking, and water sports. On top of that, you’ll want to check out the Redondo Beach Pier with the kids and visit the Seaside Lagoon. It’s also less than an hour from Los Angeles, which will give your family the chance to explore the glitz and glam of Hollywood.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Hop on bikes and cruise along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as “The Strand.” This scenic coastal path stretches for 22 miles and connects Redondo Beach with neighboring beach cities, providing breathtaking ocean views along the way.
  • Take a leisurely walk together along the Redondo Beach Esplanade, a scenic pathway that offers panoramic views of the coastline.
  • Immerse yourselves in the fascinating world of marine life at the SEA Lab, a hands-on science center and aquarium.

24. Long Beach, Washington

The scenic Long Beach peninsula in the Pacific Northwest is another spot for an amazing family vacation. The area offers 28 miles of gorgeous beaches for you and your kids to relax, explore, and play. If you need a break from the beach, be sure to hike the art walk at the Willapa Bay Interpretive Center, check out the sideshow attractions of Marsh’s Free Museum, and bone up on history at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • If you’re visiting in August, don’t miss the annual Washington State International Kite Festival held in Long Beach. Watch as colorful kites take to the sky in an awe-inspiring display of art and skill.
  • Visit the iconic Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, perched on the cliffs overlooking the entrance to the Columbia River. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views and learn about the area’s maritime history.

25. Santa Monica Beach, California

The Santa Monica Pier during the day.

Santa Monica Beach is a classic California destination that offers something for everyone in the family. From the bustling Santa Monica Pier with its iconic Ferris wheel to the wide sandy beach perfect for playing volleyball or flying a kite, this beachfront paradise is sure to keep your family entertained. After a day of sun and sand, head to the Third Street Promenade for shopping and dining, or take a leisurely bike ride along the beach path.

Ways to Have Fun in the Sun

  • Ride the Ferris wheel and roller coasters at the Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Park.
  • Rent bikes and cruise along the beach path, enjoying the ocean breeze.
  • Visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and get up close with local marine species.

Find the Perfect Beachfront Rental

Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures, relaxation under the sun, or opportunities for cultural exploration, the best family beach vacations in the U.S. cater to every interest and age group. Start planning today!