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 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 Towns, Cape 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
Cannon Beach, ranked number eight on The 10 Best Beaches for Families: 2011 by Parents.com 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.
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:
- Nags Head Woods Preserve: The Nature Conservancy's Nags Head Woods Preserve is a gem of sand dunes, ponds, marshes and wetlands with miles of self-guided hikes with a diversity of plant and animal life unusual to a barrier island.
- Cape Hatteras: Cape Hatteras National Seashore boasts a little something for everyone to explore, including historic lighthouses and the chance to see sea turtles.
- Kitty Hawk: The town of Kitty Hawk on OBX ranked #7 on Parent’s Magazine’s June 2013 edition of 10 Best Beach Towns for Families for its three miles of uncrowded beaches,Outer Banks Children at Play Museum and Junior Ranger program at nearby Kill Devil Hills
5. 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 About.com 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 Parents.com. 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 TodaysMama.com:
- OUTER BANKS VACATION FOR THE FAMILY (a.k.a the best family vacation we have ever taken in our lives!)