Summer is starting to slip away, but there still time to sneak in a beach day or mini getaway. We scoured the country to compile a list of the best family-friendly beaches around, no matter what coast you call home. Check out our list and let us know if there’s a piece of paradise that we’re missing!
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Famous for its population of wild ponies, this small barrier island off the coast of Virginia features pristine beaches that are part of the protected 14,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge. There are no resorts or boardwalk attractions–just the beautifully preserved natural environment.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Considered to be one of the top family-friendly destinations along the Jersey Shore, Ocean City offers a fun and relaxing time for children of all ages. Enjoy boardwalk shops, restaurants, and rides, and check out the many free concerts and events they host throughout the year.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Discover untamed island living and relaxation at this popular Florida destination. Just a short drive from Fort Myers, visitors to Sanibel are able to experience life slightly more removed from civilization (there are no traffic lights on the island, and no buildings taller than the palm trees).
While you’re there, see what treasures you can find as you “Sanibel Stoop” along the beach, a phrase coined by locals to describe the tourists bent down scouring the sand for whelks, conchs, and sand dollars.
Lincoln City Beach, Lincoln City, Oregon
Known as Kite Capital of the World, Lincoln City Beach’s proximitiy to the coastal winds will be sure to guarantee you and your family plenty of time to enjoy wind-fueled fun, including surfing, windsurfing, and, of course, kite flying. Spend low tide sifting searching for starfish, sea urchins, and other interesting waterlife, or spend time crabbing, clamming, and beachcombing for the semi-precious gemstone, agate.
From Mid-October to Memorial day, keep your eyes open for the beautiful glass ornaments spread along the beach by the “Float Fairies” who disperse these treasures for vacationers to take home as a special souvenir (the project first launched in 1999 to welcome the new millennium and has now become a beloved tradition in this community).
Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
Providing reliable weather year round, the water at Coronado Beach is warm enough for summer swimming, while the waves are manageable for the younger kids, and still sufficient enough for boogie boarding.
And don’t forget to keep your eye open for seals along Coronado Island–Navy Seals, that is. They can often be spotted training along the beach!
Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
With Cape Cod already being a prime destination for beach goers, Coast Guard Beach is a quieter, less commercial alternative to some of the other beaches in the vicinity. Sunbathe on the beach, enjoy miles of bike trails along the shore, or visit the nearby town of Eastham where kids can their meal served on a frisbee at Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar.
West Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
Most people don’t think of beaches when they think of Indiana, but this oasis on the southern tip of Lake Michigan offers beautiful beaches and nature trails, fantastic dining and accommodations, and great views of the Chicago skyline.
Keep kids productively busy by enlisting them in the Junior Ranger program. They can earn a “beachcomber badge” by completing activity sheets provided by park rangers like finding different colored rocks along the shoreline or spotting the types of plants they observed along the dunes.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Located in the southernmost area of Alabama, Orange Beach features top beach destinations such as Gulf State Park Beach, Romar Beach, and Gulf Shores Public Beach. Families will love the dolphin watching cruises and exploring the many surrounding trails with several spots perfect for picnicking. And when you need a break from the sun and sand, check out The Wharf, 22-acres of fun, including shops, restaurants, amusement park rides, and an amphitheatre.
In the late 1800s Galveston was nicknamed the “Playground of the South.” More than a century later, this island oasis continues to live up to its reputation. Galveston is a 32-mile stretch of island off the coast of Texas offering vacationers the very best in beaches, family attractions, historical architecture, shopping, dining, and cruising. Although it feels a world away from the mainland, Galveston is only a 50-minute drive from Houston, the country’s fourth largest city