As a mom, you know planning a vacation with your kids is no slice of cake—but planning a family beach vacation? Now, that’s probably one of the least stressful destination vacays you can plan.
Beachfront hotels and rentals aren’t cheap, but you can cut costs in other areas. For starters, most kid activities are free and since you’ll be spending most of your day on the sand, you can pack your own lunches to help limit eating out. Most beach towns have everything you need all within walking vicinity, from hotels to restaurants to excursions, so transportation typically isn’t too much of an issue either.
Research suggests that vacations make kids happier and help build familial bonds and memories, but we understand that the mental planning checklist never stops. Thus, we found the best family beach vacation spots to help get you started. Located all over the US, these family beaches offer white sandy beaches with crystal clear waters and plenty of land and sea activities for kids. Kick off your flip flops and load up the sand toys, it’s time to plan your next family beach vacation.
You can never go wrong with a family beach vacation in Hawaii, and there are several amazing islands to choose from. You’ll want to refine your search based on interests (are your family sand dwellers? Or do you want to play in the water?), budget, and the age of your kids. Honolulu, Oahu, is great for bigger families and younger kids because there’s tons of lodging and water and land activities, and is more reasonably priced than other islands.
If you have older children, who are self-entertainers with books or games, look into Maui. The island is known for snorkeling and is generally less crowded (aka there are less paid attractions) than Honolulu.
Over the last decade, Huntington Beach has undergone an extreme makeover. What was once a five block radius of tourist shops and hole-in-the-wall pubs, is now one of the most sought after vacation spots in Southern California lined with hotels, indoor-outdoor dining options and shopping. Sandwiched between Sunset and Newport Beach (other great spots you can explore), Huntington Beach offers public parks, a recreational pier, a wildlife preserve, oceanfront biking and walking trails, and is home to the best waves. And if you need a break from the beach, Disneyland and California Adventure are only a 30-minute drive away!
Located on the Florida Panhandle, Panama City Beach is 27 miles of white sand and clear blue Gulf Coast waters. PCB is known as one of the more family-friendly beaches in Florida. Stay at one of the city’s many beachfront hotels for walking access to the beach, City Pier and Pier Park, which has an amazing food scene. SkyWheel, Gulf World Marine Park, Shipwreck Island Park and Coconut Creek Family Fun Park are all within close proximity if the kids need a break from the sand.
If your little ones are thrill seekers (or easily get antsy), look into booking your next family beach vacation at Old Orchard Beach. Nestled along the New England coast, this beach has an amusement park (complete with a carousel, tilt-a-whirl, drop zone and so much more) located literally on the sand. You can also rent paddle boats, kayaks, surf boards, sandcastle-building tools and more.
Avoid crowded beaches and long wait lines at Long Beach, a sandy paradise that stretches 28 miles along the coast of Washington. The beach city offers both water and land activities, including horseback riding, a fun center, a free museum, beach rentals, and sandcastle building classes.
You won’t have to worry about transportation at Bald Head Island, a car-free tropical oasis that’s only accessible via a ferry. Families are encouraged to visit South Beach, where the waves are tame and shallow. (East Beach is recommended for surfers and seasoned swimmers.) Check out the marshes, Old Baldy Lighthouse and book a turtle sightseeing trip with the Bald Head Island Conservancy.