Skip to main content

6 Best U.S. Beaches for Families

With over 6,000 beaches in the United States it can be hard to pick the perfect one for your family vacation, so we did a little research of our own to compile a short list of these six great beaches for families in the US.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

With over 6,000 beaches in the United States it can be hard to pick the perfect one for your family vacation, so we did a little research of our own to compile a short list of these six great beaches for families in the US.

1. Coronado Central Beach, California

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach was named one of the top beaches for families in 2014 by Family Vacation Critic and the Travel Channel consistently ranks it as a top beach destination. Here are three reasons from Travel Mamas that Coronado beaches are perfect for families:

  • Hotel del Coronado: In the summers the hotel has a V.I.K. (Very Important Kid Program) for ages 5-12 along with a Teen Access Pass (ages 13-17) with their very own lounge.
  • Outdoor Activities: Coronado beaches include 21 beautiful parks, 24 miles of paves trails and 28 miles of beaches for swimming, surfing, sailing, kayaking, fishing or paddleboarding. The Silver Strand State Park’s Junior Rangers program also includes free outdoor activities on Saturdays from 3:30-4:30 p .m. for kids ages 7-12.
  • Coronado Island History: You can visit the Coronado Museum of History & Art for free to learn more about the U.S. Navy’s presence along with the history behind the Hotel del Coronado.

2. Cape May, New Jersey

Coming in fifth in Parents Magazine’s June 2013 edition of the 10 Best Beach TownsCape May is full of Victorian charm. Kids will love touring the town while riding the trolly, and a few well-kept secrets you don’t want to miss include:

  • Sunset Beach: A resident favorite for its “Cape May diamonds,” which are popular for kids and adults to collect.
  • Flag-lowering ceremony: Be sure to reserve a night to watch the flag-lowering ceremony at dusk. a 40 year tradition at Sunset Beach. If your kids are interested in taking part in the ceremony, fill out a Flag Ceremony Request Form and your kids may be able to lower the flag and learn how to properly fold it.
  • South Cape May Meadows Preserve: The Nature Conservancy's 218-acre South Cape May Meadows Preserve is teeming with wildlife nearly year round, but September and October you'll be in prime season to view migrating songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and monarch butterflies!
  • Nature center: Stop by the Nature Center of Cape May, which offers drop-off programs for kids along with family programs that take children out to explore.

3. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Canon Beach

Cannon Beach, ranked number eight on The 10 Best Beaches for Families: 2011 by and recommended for school-aged kids & tweens by Home Away’s Top 10 Beaches for Kids, is a state-protected marine garden with huge Haystack Rocks sticking out of the water surrounded by tidal pools filled with sea life. While you're there, don't miss:

  • Ecola State Park: Check out nearby Ecola State Park where your family can see the park’s wildlife, such as deer, elk, or eagles.
  • Tide pool exploration: As one of the rockier beaches on our list, visiting Cannon Beach provides a great opportunity for kids to check out the plants and animals found in the many tidal pools.
Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

4. Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina

Ranked number one by U.S. News Travel Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA, the Outer Banks includes various beach communities with their own distinct charm. OBX has something for everyone including: fishing, windsurfing, nature watching, jet ski and paddleboard rentals,The Lost Colony, mini-golf, aquariums, lighthouses and wild horse tours. Popular family-friendly activities in OBX neighborhoods include:

5. Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island was ranked number four by US News Travel's Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA, and it is a hit for families for a number of reasons. Bowman's Beach on Sanibel is known for its shallow waters, sandy beaches and as a top shelling spot. We liked this list from of 9 Fun Thing to Do on Sanibel & Captiva Islands with Kids and we picked our favorites to share:

  • Find the perfect shell: with over 250 kinds of shells kids are fascinated with the quest for natural treasure.
  • Enroll in sea school: Sanibel Sea School offers morning and full-day programs for kids ages 6-13, that teach marine conservation through hands-on experiences
  • Hop a ferry to Cayo Costa State Park: Cayo Costa State Park on Captiva Island features 9 miles of beautiful beaches and acres of pine forests and Mangrove swamps. There you can swim, snorkel, hike or take a ranger led kayak tour.
  • Experience wildlife: take a drive or a family bike ride on the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the island, and stop in to the refuge's visitor center which features interactive exhibits on refuge ecosystems and a hands-on area for children.

6. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Coligny Beach Park on Hilton Head Island was ranked second on The 10 Best Beaches for Families: 2011 by With its 12 miles of beaches and shallow, calm water it's a great place for kids, and your family can enjoy free entertainment four nights a week at Coligny Plaza. Some other great activities on the island include:

  • Family Bike Ride: the town of Hilton Head Island was officially named a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists due to its investment in pathways, safety initiatives and infrastructure to support biking on the island.
  • Looking for more ideas for Hilton Head? We were impressed by this helpful list of 10 places on Hilton Head to take your kids for free, which includes tips to (safely) spot an alligator, where to find a splash pad that younger kids will love, how to get to the Pikney Island Wildlife Refuge and more.

Do you have a favorite family-friendly beach spot that didn't make our list? 

More on

Outer Banks Vacation For the Family


Dana Point, California (Flickr: Neil Kremer)

Sea, Sand and Sun: Top Summer Escapes for Families

Endless days of sunshine, swimming in warmer waters and building sandcastles are the wonderful ingredients for a perfect family summer vacation.

South Seas Island Resort

5 Deals for a Florida Beach Getaway

If you’re hoping to score an affordable beach getaway before the kids head back to school, set your sights on the Sunshine State, where many hotels drop their prices as summer rolls toward August.

The Outer Banks

20 Things To Do With Your Kids In The Outer Banks

Ever thought of an Outer Banks Vacation for your family? Check out why this is one of the best vacations we've ever been on! (And why we keep going back)

Seychelles (Flickr: Jean-Marie Hullot)

Astounding African Beach Breaks for Families

Far from the chaos, you’ll find the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience for the family, with perfect beaches and most of all an unspoiled environment.


5 Best Halloween Celebrations in the U.S.

Neighborhood trick-or-treating is so old fashioned. This year, you can celebrate Halloween at museums, zoos, theme parks, even on cruise ships!

Image placeholder title

Florida’s Ten Best Beaches for Families

Florida’s Ten Best Beaches for Families

Gulf Islands National Seashore

9 Best Places to Camp in the U.S.

If you’re a regular camper, you probably have a few favorite spots your family returns to. But if you’re new to camping – or looking to point your compass in a different direction – you’re likely to find a few new family-friendly destinations in the list below.

Best Bike Trails for Families

7 Best Bike Trails for Families

Making destinations come alive for kids is where the rubber hits the road on a family vacation —sometimes, quite literally.