; Skip to Content

Best Beach Towns for Families: Top 13 [Surprising] Beach Destinations For Family Vacation Fun

Key Takeaways‍

  • Cape May, New Jersey, and Tybee Island, Georgia are among the top 13 family-friendly beach towns.
  • Families should research local attractions to maximize enjoyment during their beach town visit.
  • Consider renting an apartment or condo for a comfortable and flexible beach vacation.
  • Each beach town offers unique cultural or historical attractions that families can explore.
  • Optimal visiting times vary by beach town, generally favoring good weather and fewer crowds.
  • Each beach town offers distinct local delicacies that families should try during their visit.

Family vacations in beach towns can be magical, and when they’re family-friendly, it just adds to the delight. The sun, the sand, and the sea are the perfect combination for unforgettable memories. From Cape May in New Jersey with its picturesque resort village to Tybee Island in Georgia, complete with a stunning boardwalk, these beach towns in the U.S. have a lot to offer. They have their own unique attractions, restaurants, and activities that cater to families. This makes me wonder: What are the best beach towns for families in the U.S. offering such things as a great view of the pier, the calming sound of waves, sunbathing opportunities, and sailing excursions?

Best Beach Towns for Families - Plus 13 Ways to Decide On The Right Town

What Are the Best Beach Towns for Families?

So, what are the top 13 beach towns for families in the U.S.? They are Cape May, New Jersey; Sanibel Island, Florida; La Jolla Shores, California; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Rockport, Massachusetts; Cannon Beach, Oregon; South Padre Island, Texas; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Gulf Shores, Alabama; Outer Banks, North Carolina; Anna Maria Island, Florida; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Tybee Island, Georgia. Each of these towns has a unique blend of fun and relaxation that makes it perfect for a family getaway.

As we explore these beach towns, I’ll delve into why these locations have been hailed as the best for families. We will talk about their unique characteristics, local attractions, their beautiful piers, breathtaking views, and why they stand out from the crowd.

Let’s quickly take a look at some surprising facts and statistics:

  • Visiting family and friends (62%) and beach vacations (61%) are the top two choices for types of trips respondents are planning to take. (Source)
  • Beach resorts are the top destination for 41% of millennial parents with children. (Source)
  • Nearly nine in 10 parents (88 percent) are likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months. (Source)

When deciding on family vacations, popular seaside towns such as Destin, Florida; Cape May, New Jersey; Outer Banks, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Block Island, Rhode Island often emerge as perfect choices. These towns, known for their affordability and family-friendly accommodation options, welcome vacationers with their local restaurants serving delectable seafood.

The historical landmarks adding educational elements to recreational activities in Destin and Cape May provide an attractive point of interest. Their beaches, with diligent lifeguard services, offer a safe and clean environment for fun family picnics and water-related activities.

Outer Banks stands distinct with its cultural richness, showcasing local festivals alongside a variety of child-friendly activities. Myrtle Beach, besides offering its natural laid back charm, has retail outlets and nature trails to cater for different family interests.

Block Island, Rhode Island, with its focus on safety and cleanliness, carves out spaces filled with tranquility, making it a much-loved vacation spot for families seeking peace amidst their diverse, activity-filled holidays.

I’ll also share some tips on how to make the most of your visit to these towns, such as exploring the local beaches, enjoying the sound of waves, soaking up the sun for sunbathing, and family-friendly activities that are not water-related. So if you’re looking to plan a beach vacation with your family, stick around. There’s a lot of sun-soaked, family-friendly information coming up. Let’s dive in and explore these towns together. You won’t be disappointed!

The Best Beach Towns for Families – A Top 13 List For Vacation Fun

Let’s dive into the list and explore each family-friendly beach town in detail. For those towns I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, I’ll share my insights and impressions, and you can also find my personal thoughts and experiences in the sections below.

#1. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey, is a gem of a spot for families seeking a shore-side escape that’ll create memories lasting a lifetime. This charming beach town is known for its historic lighthouse, stunning Victorian architecture, and plethora of activities that cater to all ages. The resort village offers a unique experience along its picturesque boardwalk.

You’ll find yourself captivated by the beauty and allure of this coastal paradise as you explore its picturesque streets, indulge in the local cuisine, and soak up the sun on its pristine beaches. Enjoy the breathtaking view of the pier as the waves crash nearby, while the kids enjoy sunbathing or sailing lessons.

One of the highlights of your family vacation in Cape May will undoubtedly be the whale watching tours. Imagine the excitement on your kids’ faces as they spot majestic whales and playful dolphins in their natural habitat. You can also enroll your little ones in the children’s beach programs, where they can learn about marine life, participate in beach games, and make new friends.

YouTube video by Shore Me Some More which has incredible views of Sanibel Island and describes the activities you can do there. Also covers Captiva Island which is close by.

#2. Sanibel Island, Florida

You’ll absolutely adore the laid-back vibe and pristine shores of Sanibel Island, Florida, making it an ideal spot for your family to unwind and create lasting memories together. This charming island paradise is famous for its Sanibel seashells, which you’ll find in abundance while strolling along its beautiful beaches and vibrant boardwalk.

  • Explore the island and discover wildlife refuges teeming with native flora and fauna
  • Connect with nature in a truly unforgettable way with your family
  • Experience Sanibel Island by taking advantage of numerous family bike trails
  • Pedal through lush mangroves, past shimmering waters, and under towering palm trees
  • Bond with your loved ones while biking through picturesque landscapes

#3. La Jolla Shores, California

Imagine basking in the warm California sun as your family explores the picturesque coastline of La Jolla Shores, where sand, surf, and adventure await you all. This beautiful place offers thrilling parasailing experiences, stunning views from the dunes, and front-row seats to serene sunsets at the beach.

La Jolla Shores was my old stomping ground when I was growing up as a teenager and young adult. I have had the wonderful opportunity to show my own family around the beach, now that I’m older. They have all enjoyed the fun playgrounds and relaxing spa facilities available in the area!

This beautiful beach town is the perfect destination for families looking to experience the best of Southern California. With its stunning beaches, incredible La Jolla marine life, and countless opportunities for outdoor activities, your family will never run out of things to do and see.

From tide pool exploration to coastal hiking trails, La Jolla Shores offers a wealth of exciting experiences that will create lasting memories for your loved ones.

  • Visit La Jolla Shores for a close encounter with diverse marine life
  • Take children on guided snorkeling or kayaking tours at La Jolla Cove
  • Possible sightings include sea lions, dolphins, and leopard sharks

When the tide is low, don’t miss the chance to explore the fascinating tide pools that reveal colorful sea anemones, crabs, and other sea creatures.

#4. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

For a truly memorable East Coast getaway, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware offers a delightful blend of seaside charm and exciting activities that’ll keep the whole family entertained. This popular beach town is famous for its pristine shoreline and scenic Delaware boardwalks, which are lined with unique shops, Rehoboth restaurants, and amusement parks.

With plenty of family-friendly lodging options and a wide array of beach activities, your family will surely create lasting memories in this charming destination. Delaware boardwalks are a must-do for families visiting Rehoboth Beach. As you walk, you’ll discover a myriad of entertainment options, from lively arcades to delicious ice cream shops. Don’t forget to take a spin on the historic carousel at Funland, a family favorite for generations.

#5. Rockport, Massachusetts

Rockport, Massachusetts is a picturesque coastal gem, perfect for families seeking a relaxing and captivating seaside escape. This charming town will enchant you with its quaint streets, art galleries, and seafood delights.

Your Rockport explorations will have you and your family feeling a sense of freedom as you stroll along the scenic shoreline, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and discover the many hidden treasures this town has to offer.

One of the must-do family activities in Rockport is exploring the many art galleries that showcase the works of local artists, as well as the famous Motif No. 1, the most painted building in America.

#6. Cannon Beach, Oregon

After exploring the charming and picturesque town of Rockport, Massachusetts, let’s head over to the West Coast to discover another fantastic family beach destination.

  • Cannon Beach, Oregon offers rugged beauty and stunning coastlines
  • A variety of family activities are available for visitors
  • The coastal town provides a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for all ages

During low tide, take your family on a tidepool exploration and be amazed by the marine life that thrives in the area. Aside from beach fun, you can also explore nearby hiking trails, visit local art galleries, or take surf lessons with your kids.

#7. South Padre Island, Texas

You won’t believe the incredible adventures awaiting your family at South Padre Island, Texas – it’s truly a coastal paradise that’ll leave you speechless! This charming island is brimming with South Padre activities that cater to every age and interest.

From exhilarating water sports options like kiteboarding and jet skiing to the more serene pursuits of beachcombing and birdwatching, there’s something for everyone in your family to enjoy. So, savor the flavors of Texas beach cuisine, including mouth-watering seafood dishes, barbecued delights, and delicious Tex-Mex options at the numerous family-friendly restaurants dotting the island.

Enjoy the beach access and choose from various adults-only and family beaches, where you’ll find locals and visitors playing in the sand, sunbathing, and participating in water sports.

So, savor the flavors of Texas beach cuisine, including mouth-watering seafood dishes, barbecued delights, and delicious Tex-Mex options at the numerous family-friendly restaurants dotting the island.

#8. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Discover the enchanting beauty of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where you’ll find an array of exciting activities and breathtaking scenery that’ll captivate your entire family. With beautiful spots for beach access, you can relax on the sand, watch boats passing by, or venture downtown for shopping and dining experiences.

  • Hilton Head Island features miles of pristine beaches
  • The island is home to lush maritime forests
  • A welcoming local community adds to the island’s charm
  • The island offers thrilling activities for families
  • Local cuisine can be indulged on the island
  • Hilton Head Island caters to sun-soaking enthusiasts

Your family vacation won’t be complete without exploring the many family resorts available on the island, each offering unique amenities and activities catered to all ages. Atlanta has plenty of hotels nearby for families looking for a fun destination with convenient access to the sandy beaches.

Dive into water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, or even take a dolphin-watching tour. Embrace the island’s natural beauty through nature exploration, like guided bike tours, hiking trails, or bird-watching excursions. The sand beaches are perfect for both kids and adults to enjoy the sun and sea.

#9. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Immerse yourselves in the captivating allure of Gulf Shores, Alabama, where both relaxation and adventure await, providing an unforgettable family experience.

This charming beach town offers a plethora of Gulf wildlife encounters, from spotting dolphins to observing sea turtles. Feast on mouth-watering Alabama seafood cuisine at one of the many family-friendly restaurants where you can savor some of the freshest seafood in the country. Boats can often be seen offshore, adding to the atmosphere and excitement.

So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and get ready to create cherished memories in this surprising beach destination that’s sure to leave you longing for your next visit.

#10. Outer Banks, North Carolina

There’s no doubt that the Outer Banks, North Carolina, will captivate your family’s hearts with its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and endless activities for all ages.

This barrier island beauty is a treasured vacation destination for families looking to escape the ordinary. With miles of pristine shoreline, wildlife adventures at every turn, and historic lighthouses waiting to be explored, the Outer Banks promises an unforgettable experience for everyone in your family.

Your family’s days will be filled with adventure as you explore the coastal wildlife, hike through protected nature reserves, or embark on a pirate history tour. The adults in your group can also enjoy the unique, bustling downtown scene, sampling local delicacies and shopping at charming boutiques.

#11. Anna Maria Island, Florida

As you continue your search for the perfect beach destination, don’t forget to consider the beautiful Anna Maria Island in Florida. This hidden gem on the Gulf Coast offers a laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and charming small-town vibe, Anna Maria Island is a paradise waiting to be discovered. The sandy coastline boasts breathtaking beach access points where families and adults alike can enjoy a day in the sun.

During your stay, you’ll never run out of exciting island activities to enjoy with your family. Experience thrilling wildlife encounters by taking a guided kayak tour through the mangroves, where you might spot dolphins, manatees, and a variety of coastal birds.

Rent bikes and explore the island’s seven miles of scenic trails, stopping at local shops and cafes along the way. Don’t forget to indulge in the local dining scene, where fresh seafood and other delicious treats await.

#12. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a treasure trove of coastal charm, where you’ll find the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for your family’s next unforgettable escape. This enchanting peninsula offers a wide range of activities that cater to both young and old, ensuring that everyone in your family will have a fantastic time. From picturesque spots on the sand to leisurely boat rides, Cape Cod’s beauty won’t disappoint.

Embark on thrilling whale watching excursions and marvel at the majestic creatures up close. Explore the area’s rich maritime history by visiting its historic lighthouses that have been guiding sailors for centuries. And what better way to start the day than with a delicious breakfast at a charming local cafe?

While you’re in Cape Cod, don’t forget to indulge in the scrumptious seafood cuisine that the region is famous for. From clam chowder to lobster rolls, your taste buds will be in heaven as you savor the fresh flavors of the sea. During your stay, consider renting a beach tent or explore beach rentals in nearby Charleston to fully enjoy the coastal experience.

#13. Tybee Island, Georgia

Travelers seeking family fun should discover the enchanting allure of Tybee Island, Georgia, where you’ll uncover an idyllic haven of Southern charm and coastal beauty that’s perfect for your family’s next unforgettable getaway.

Discover the enchanting allure of Tybee Island, Georgia, where you’ll uncover an idyllic haven of Southern charm and coastal beauty that’s perfect for your family’s next unforgettable getaway.

  • This quaint island is just a short drive from Savannah
  • The island offers an abundance of family activities for all ages and interests
  • Visitors can explore the historic lighthouse and Fort Screven
  • Kayaking through peaceful marshes is a popular activity
  • There are five miles of pristine sandy beaches for beach fun and relaxation
beach towns for families in california michigan and florida and bahamas

My Personal Thoughts and Experiences About Best Beach Towns for Families

Growing up in San Diego, my younger years were filled with memorable moments exploring charming small beach towns across California, Oregon, and Mexico. Now that I have visited over 50 beach towns worldwide, including La Jolla Shores, I’m confident that destinations like these are the perfect places for short beach getaways. The allure of quaint beach towns continues to captivate me and fuels my passion for experiencing even more warm sands and seaside adventures around the globe.

Given the chance, I would absolutely choose to visit Sanibel Island, Florida. Its reputation for extraordinary shell-covered beaches stirs up my passion for nature and the thrill of collecting unique shells.

Additionally, I’d be keen to explore the local historical attractions, including the Sanibel Lighthouse, offering a glimpse into the area’s past. It’s funny, even though I love the West Coast and California beaches, I want to explore new places with my family, and Florida always comes to mind!

I imagine spending sunny afternoons beachcombing, followed by delightful evenings at local kid-friendly restaurants, trying some Floridian delicacies. This island seems to perfectly blend relaxation and adventure, making it a dream destination.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Visit to A Beach Town on Vacation with Kids

Research the Local Attractions

Researching local attractions can greatly enhance a family vacation to a beach town. Popular attractions in beach towns include amusement parks, museums, and nature hikes.

For example, families with young children may enjoy visiting an amusement park or candy shop, while older children may prefer activities like surfing lessons or beach volleyball.

Museums and educational centers can appeal to all ages, providing opportunities to learn about local marine life or history. Nature hikes can also be a great way for families to explore the natural beauty of the area. By researching and planning ahead, families can ensure they make the most of their beach vacation and create lasting memories for all ages.

Consider Renting an Apartment or Condo

Renting an apartment or condo can be a great option for families visiting a beach town on vacation. Unlike hotels, apartments or condos typically offer more space, privacy, and the ability to cook your own meals.

This is especially beneficial for families with children who may need more room to spread out and play. Additionally, renting an apartment or condo can be more cost-effective than staying in a hotel, allowing families to save money on accommodations and spend more on activities and experiences.

Explore the Local Beaches

Exploring the local beaches is essential to any beach vacation with kids. Not only is it a great way to spend quality time together, but it also offers endless opportunities for fun and adventure.

When looking for the best beaches for families, be sure to check for lifeguards, calm waters, and kid-friendly amenities such as restrooms and showers.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy, such as building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, and searching for seashells. To stay safe and comfortable while at the beach, remember to apply sunscreen frequently, stay hydrated, and bring shade structures such as umbrellas or tents.

With these tips in mind, you can create unforgettable memories with your family while soaking up the sun and enjoying the beauty of the local beaches.

Look Into Local Family Activities

When planning a beach vacation with kids, it’s important to research local family activities to make the trip more engaging and memorable for everyone.

Beach towns offer a variety of activities for families, such as hiking along the coast, trying new foods at local restaurants, and taking family surf lessons.

Other activities could include visiting museums or education centers, participating in scuba diving lessons, or going on a boat tour to see marine life. By exploring local family activities, families can make the most out of their beach vacation and create lasting memories together.

Check out Nearby State Parks

When vacationing in a beach town with kids, a nearby state park can offer a fun and educational day trip. Many state parks offer hiking trails, picnic areas, and nature programs that can help kids learn about local flora and fauna.

Some state parks also offer opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing. For example, visitors to Seabrook, WA can take a day trip to Olympic National Park to explore the mountains, coast, and rainforests.

Families visiting Kure Beach, NC can visit Fort Fisher Recreation Area to find starfish and other ocean critters and enjoy hands-on animal encounters at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. State parks offer a great way for families to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and create lasting memories.

Look Into Nearby Kid-Friendly Restaurants

When planning a beach vacation with your family, it’s important to research and find nearby kid-friendly restaurants. This will make meal times stress-free and enjoyable for everyone.

Many beach towns have a variety of restaurants that cater to families, offering kid’s menus, high chairs, and a casual atmosphere. Some popular family-friendly restaurants in beach towns include Crabby Bill’s in Clearwater Beach, FL, which serves fresh seafood and has a playground for kids, and The Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria Island, FL, which offers beachfront dining and a children’s play area.

To find the best places to eat with kids, do some research online and read reviews from other families. Look for restaurants that offer a variety of options for picky eaters, and check if they have any special promotions or discounts for families.

Another tip is to ask locals for recommendations, as they often know the best places to eat in town. With a little bit of planning and research, you can ensure that meal times are a fun and stress-free part of your beach vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Imagine the laughter and excitement as your family embarks on a thrilling adventure in a charming beach town, where the fun doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.

Challenge each other to mini golf tournaments that bring out the competitive spirit in everyone, while creating unforgettable memories.

As the sun sets, gather under a starry sky for outdoor movie nights, where you can snuggle up with your loved ones and enjoy a cinematic experience like no other.

Engage your children’s curiosity with beach scavenger hunts, sparking their imaginations as they search for hidden treasures.

Feel the camaraderie as you work together in sandcastle competitions, sculpting masterpieces that showcase your family’s creativity.

Are There Any Unique Cultural or Historical Attractions in These Beach Towns that Families Can Explore Together?

Dive into the rich history and vibrant culture of these beach towns by exploring unique attractions that the whole family can enjoy together.

Discover the stories behind historic lighthouses that have guided sailors for centuries, or immerse yourselves in maritime museums that showcase the seafaring heritage of these coastal gems.

What Are the Best Times of The Year to Visit These Beach Towns for Optimal Weather and Fewer Crowds?

Did you know that nearly 80% of Americans prefer to take their vacations during the summer months? However, optimal seasons for visiting beach towns can often be found during spring and fall, giving you the perfect opportunity for crowd avoidance and enjoying milder temperatures.

To make the most of your trip, consider planning your family vacation during the best travel months of April, May, September, or October. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful scenery, but you’ll also have more room to stretch out on the sand and breathe in that salty sea air.

What transportation options are available for families to get around and explore these beach towns?

Exploring beach town transport options is a breeze. It offers you and your family the freedom to discover every hidden gem along the coast. Bike rentals are a fun, eco-friendly way to get around. They allow you to soak up the sun and feel the ocean breeze as you pedal through picturesque streets. Public shuttles provide a convenient and cost-effective means of transportation, whisking you from one adventure to the next. As you wander, you’ll likely encounter car-free zones, perfect for leisurely strolls and impromptu games of frisbee.

Embrace these eco-friendly options and let the laid-back vibes of your beach town vacation transport you to a world of relaxation and fun.

Are There Any Local Delicacies or Food Specialties that Families Should Try While Visiting These Beach Destinations?

You’ll feel like you’ve hit the culinary jackpot when you experience the local treats and food specialties these beach destinations have to offer! From food festivals that’ll have your taste buds dancing the cha-cha to culinary classes where you’ll learn the secrets behind the most mouthwatering traditional dishes, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Don’t worry about the little ones, as there are plenty of kid-friendly restaurants serving up delicious dishes that’ll have even the pickiest eaters asking for seconds. So go ahead, let your taste buds set sail on a flavorful adventure as you explore the scrumptious side of these beach towns.


So, there you have it – 13 surprisingly perfect beach towns for your next family vacation.

Did you know that over 100 million Americans plan on taking a family vacation each year? You could be one of them, enjoying the sun, sand, and surf while creating unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

Don’t wait any longer! Pick one of these fantastic beach destinations and start planning your family’s next unforgettable adventure. You won’t regret it, and neither will your family.