Best Family Beach Activities

Here are 5 fun ways to spend a summer day at the beach that the whole family will enjoy.

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Seaside, South Walton, FL

Seaside, South Walton, FL

With turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and 16 charming beach neighborhoods, it’s hard to pick just one best beach for kids in South Walton, but time and again, families flock to Seaside on Florida’s northwest coast. Enjoy biking and stand-up paddleboarding before heading to Airstream Row for food trucks serving up everything from grilled cheese to homemade custard.  960 1280

Shuvabrata Deb  

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

A favorite beach for many on Oahu, Kailua Beach Park boasts turquoise blue waters, plenty of free parking and lots of family-friendly water activities, like kayaking and boogie boarding. Kids will love watching the kite surfers, maybe even more than a trip to Island Snow for shave ice. Kalapawai Market is located at the park entrance, so pick up some deli sandwiches for an afternoon picnic on the beach. 

 

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Laszlo Podor Photography  

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Many of the beaches in Naxos boast warm waters that are gentle and shallow, particularly those on the southwest coast of the island, making them ideal for families with small children. One of the best is Agios Georgios Beach. Eat breakfast at one of the cafés on the beach for fantastic views of the bay. The beach is also an easy walk to Hora, the island’s colorful capital city.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

For white sandy beaches and calm, clear waters, St. Pete Beach is a must for families. Grab your fishing poles and sleeping bags for a camp-out right on the beach at Fort De Soto Park. Bike along a 7-mile paved trail, kayak or canoe through mangrove forests and take time to explore the historic fort. You can even take your furry pal to a dog park called Paw Playground.  960 1280

mariakraynova  

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Situated on the north shore of St. John, the calm waters make Maho Bay Beach the ideal spot for learning to stand-up paddleboard as a family. It’s also one of the best places on the island to see sea turtles, particularly on the west side of the bay where snorkelers can watch turtles and rays munching on the sea grasses. For hiking, try the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail.  960 1280

Christian Wheatley  

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

For wide beaches, a 4-acre beachfront park and plenty of space to play, even with your dog, head to St. Augustine Beach in St. Augustine. Walk along the shores where Spanish explorers landed so many years ago, then let the kids go wild at the splash park on the pier. Spend time at nearby Anastasia State Park where you can bike on the beach and paddle in a saltwater lagoon.    960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Kids can play on the white sandy beach by day and make s’mores around a bonfire by night at Carmel Beach. Pet lovers will love this dog-friendly (and leash-free) beach, so bring a tennis ball or two to make a few new furry friends. Take the free trolley into town for cheese blintzes at the Little Swiss Café or ride out to Monterey for an afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  960 1280

Elfi Kluck  

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Martha’s Vineyard is widely touted as one of the loveliest parts of New England, though kids may love the area more for its beaches than its beauty. Try Menemsha Beach, a popular pick for families in search of gentle surf, fantastic sunsets and one of the best clam shacks on the island. Crowds at The Bite line up early, so keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a beach picnic.  960 1280

Jihan Abdalla  

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

For families who want to be active from morning until night, head to Hilton Head for kayaking, tennis, crabbing, stand-up paddleboarding, and of course, splashing in the waves at Coligny Beach. Rent bikes at Hilton Head Outfitters in Palmetto Dunes. It’s the best way to explore the island. Go on a boat cruise with Pirates of Hilton Head or fly through the sky at Zipline Hilton Head.  960 1280

Pam McLean  

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

One of several popular beaches in York, Short Sands Beach has sand, surf, a playground, and even an arcade. Have a picnic at Ellis Park then spend the afternoon at York’s Wild Kingdom, the largest zoo and amusement park in Maine. Take the trolley to Long Sands Beach for views of the Cape Leddick Lighthouse before heading to the “Surfing Only” area to pick up pointers from the surfers. 960 1280

John Churchman  

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Just across the bridge from downtown San Diego you’ll find Coronado Central Beach. Kids will love building castles from sand that glistens year-round thanks to the glittery mineral, mica, which is mixed in with the sand. Walk along the beach to take in historic mansions, as well as the majestic Hotel del Coronado, the inspiration behind Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian.  960 1280

Chiara Salvadori  

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Consistently ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach has soft, white sand and gentle waters that are ideal for first-time snorkelers eager to see tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. Off the beach, kids can splash in the fountains at Camana Bay, pet stingrays at Stingray City and get up-close with green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm.  960 1280

Robin Hill  

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

There’s no shortage of things to do both on and off the beach in Virginia Beach. Walk or ride a surrey bike along the 3-mile boardwalk before snapping a selfie with the 34-foot bronze statue of King Neptune. Go horseback riding or take surfing lessons at Resort Beach, then let the kids go wild at Grommet Island Beach Park, a 100% wheelchair accessible children’s park.  960 1280

Don Klumpp  

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Stretching nearly 40 miles between Makarska and Split is the Makarska Riviera, which boasts a number of beach towns with palm tree-lined promenades, ice cream shops and pedal boats to take out onto the delightfully blue water. Book a villa or stay in a family-run campsite along the pebble beach. Off the beach, kids will love hiking around nearby Biokovo Nature Park.   960 1280

Graham Monro/gm photographics  

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach is wide and flat, offering plenty of room for kids to walk, run, ride three-wheelers or go tide pooling in search of sea life and shells. Its postcard attraction is Haystack Rock, a 235-foot tall rock, which sits on the beach near the downtown area. Kite flying is perfect at Cannon Beach since the winds seem to blow at just the right speed. 960 1280

Stephen Curtin  

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Cape Cod is a favorite year after year and Coast Guard Beach is perfect for long walks and building sand castles as a family. At the Salt Pond Visitor Center, pick up the park newspaper for the scoop on ranger-led nature walks and Junior Ranger programs. Ride bikes along one of three paved bike trails or go kayaking through the famous salt marshes.  960 1280

John Greim  

Corolla, NC

Corolla, NC

The Outer Banks of North Carolina has long been a top pick for families. Book a vacation rental right on the soft, sandy beach or park near the southernmost beach access point in Corolla for restrooms and showers. Go biking, take the ferry to Knotts Island or get hip to all kinds of water sports at Kitty Hawk Kayaks & Surf School.  960 1280

Josh Rinehults  

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

In summer, families flock to incredible beach towns in Alabama, like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Kids will have a ball swimming, crabbing and kayaking along the two-mile stretch of beach at Gulf State Park. There are hiking and biking trails, as well as a nature center that hosts guided nature walks. Just off the beach, head to Waterville USA for water slides, a lazy river and mini golf.  960 1280

Kenneth Shelton / EyeEm  

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Families with kids of all ages will love Poipu Beach Park. Look for snorkeling and surfing for the big kids, as well as a playground and a shallow wading area for little ones. Enjoy a picnic under the shade of the palm trees or go for a coastal hike along the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. In the evening, book a relaxing sunset catamaran cruise to see more of the scenic south side of the island.  960 1280

Steven Greaves  

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

The beaches of the Exumas are among the best in the Bahamas, especially for those eager to return home with beautiful shells and sand dollars. Located on the north end of Grand Exuma, Coco Plum Beach is a quiet beach with plenty of shady palm trees. For lunch, head to Big D’s Conch Stop, which serves up tasty conch fritters and salads.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

One of the most famous city beaches in Europe, La Concha Beach, is also one of the best beaches for familes. Look for a carousel and multiple playgrounds that dot the beach and the town. Take the funicular railway to the top of Monte Igueldo for unmatched views of La Concha Bay. As a bonus, there’s an amusement park at the summit complete with bumper cars and pony rides.  960 1280

Alex Lapuerta  

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Just south of Charleston, explore nature, wildlife and beautiful South Carolina coastline on Kiawah Island. Kids can sing songs and take art lessons at Kamp Kiawah, as well as splash and play at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, a quiet beach that’s well-suited for small children. Rent bikes to explore the island or take classes to become a Junior Naturalist.  960 1280

Ash Lindsey Photography  

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

Dig for razor clams or take in the views of the Pacific from the half-mile wooden boardwalk located on the Long Beach Peninsula. Explore nearby lighthouses with the kids, hike along the Willapa Interpretive Art Trail or get your game on at the Funland Arcade. Work up an appetite paddling at Willapa Bay before indulging in a milkshake at Hungry Harbor Grille.  960 1280

photo by p.Folrev  

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

With more than 25 miles of paved trails, Sanibel Island is a fantastic place to explore by bike. Look for warm waters and gentle surf, as well as more than 300 kinds of seashells. Enroll the kids in Sanibel Sea School to learn about marine conservation before hopping a ferry to Cayo Costa State Park. Families will especially love Bowman’s Beach, which has a playground and magical sunsets.   960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Nearly 38 miles long, the Assateague Island National Seashore is a protected wildlife sanctuary. Stay in nearby Chincoteague or camp out on the beach of this barrier island. Kids will love hiking, clamming, crabbing and fishing on the beach, but the main attraction is the wild ponies, which have roamed the beaches and saltwater marshes since the 1600s.  960 1280

Trina Dopp Photography  

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Known for soft, white sands and gentle waters, Wingaersheek Beach is the place to take the kids at low tide where you’ll find loads of clams, shells, even sand dollars, all over the beach. Pack a picnic lunch or grab a bite at one of several snack shops that that dot the beach. Parking isn’t cheap and you’ll need to get there early but you will be rewarded with kids who can’t wait to go back.  960 1280

Garry Black  

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Kids and families love Eagle Beach in Aruba. It’s a beach where you can easily spend the entire day relaxing in a beach chair and splashing in the turquoise waters. Walk along the beach in search of the island’s famous Divi Divi trees. Water sports are popular, so rent a jet ski, a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard, or get set up to go snorkeling or parasailing.  960 1280

Holger Leue  

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach is one of a handful of spots on the east coast where you can see the sunset from the beach. Come for the Victorian homes, the free parking and the crab cake sandwiches at the Sunset Beach Grill. Kids will love splashing in the surf and hunting for Cape May diamonds (quartz pebbles). Bring a camera to snap photos of the S.S. Atlantus, which sits just offshore.  960 1280

chrisstadlerphotography  

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Located in one of the most scenic parts of the Scottish Highlands, you won’t go wrong camping near Camusdarach Beach and taking sea kayaks out into the water to explore the coves. Children will love playing in the sand and the calm, clear waters on the beach. Collect shells and enjoy the views of the Isle of Skye before settling in for the evening sunset.  960 1280

Peter Lewis  

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Pier 60 is the place to be in Clearwater Beach for spectacular sunsets and a nightly sunset festival that includes live music, magicians, stilt walkers and local artisans. The crystal clear, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes this a great choice for families. Book a dolphin cruise or take to the sky for parasailing. Look to nearby Caladesi Island State Park for great shelling.  960 1280

Image Source  

548942607 - Leland, Michigan
Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan

New summertime visitors to the beaches of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, particularly the counties that surround the increasingly hip town of Traverse City, are often heard saying two things: “I can’t believe I’m in Michigan,” and “I can’t believe this is a lake.” Just a two-hour plane jaunt from NYC, this idyllic little corner of the state is another planet from Detroit. Here you’ll find teal blue waters expanding out from unpopulated white beaches, charming villages like Northport and Leland, and welcoming locals who seem happy to let you in on their little secret. 960 1280

Stephen Saks  

Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan

With a growing farm to market foodie scene, even Mario Batali is happy to call this northernmost part of the Lower Peninsula home. Climb the staggering sand dunes of Sleeping Bear National Seashore, pick cherries, sip tasty local Rieslings and Cabernets, sail, swim, paddleboard, and know you are in on something good. 960 1280

Stephen Saks  

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

While the turned-up-collar set hop the ferry over to Nantucket, the artsy crowd heads up Cape Cod’s Route 6 to the beaches and pine forests of the Outer Cape, the northernmost part of the peninsula. Wellfleet, with endless shores on both the Atlantic and the bayside, a thriving summer cultural scene and woodland ponds that would make Thoreau feel at home, is an ideal escape for the barefoot beach lover with a paperback in her pocket. 960 1280

MyLoupe  

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

Stop by the buzzing Wellfleet Public Library to get the scoop on where and when the local concerts, art shows and poetry readings are happening. Ride bikes along Route 6’s railway trail, watch the waves roll in from the Beachcomber Bar – a seaside hangout with a wicked lobster roll – or attend world-class plays at the Harbor Stage Company Theater. And don’t leave the Cape without sampling the famous Wellfleet oysters. 960 1280

Boston Globe  

Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard

Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard

If you are drawn to New England’s islands, but don’t want to hustle amid the throng, ferry out to the 300-year-old fishing village of Menemsha on the western point of Martha’s Vineyard. You will not find the lively tourist action of nearby Edgartown, but you will find quiet beaches begging for evening bonfires, fish shacks serving up the fresh catch of local fishermen – many of whose families have been trolling these waters for five generations – and what many argue is the best sunset in the Northeast. 960 1280

Julian Castle/LOOP IMAGES  

Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard

Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard

Settle in for a lobster dinner at the mainstay Home Port restaurant, get back to nature at the clothing optional Lucy Vincent beach or throw your own fishing line in at the Menemsha jetty, a favorite spot for a sunset-drenched end to a perfect summer day. 960 1280

Walter Bibikow  

Casco Bay Islands, Maine

Casco Bay Islands, Maine

While the presidential types may be savoring their summers in nearby Kennebunkport, you, too, can find blissful seclusion in Maine by retreating to one of the Casco Bay Islands. An archipelago that spreads out from the bay surrounding Portland, the largest of these islands are accessible within an hour’s ferry ride from the city; but with bald eagles swooping overhead and air filled with salty sea spray, you feel like you’ve journeyed much further. 960 1280

Portland Press Herald  

Casco Bay Islands, Maine

Casco Bay Islands, Maine

On Bailey’s Island, eat lobster plucked fresh from the bay at landmark seafood joint Cook’s Lobster and Ale House. Or let your kids roam freely at Great Diamond Island where golf carts and bicycles are the only vehicles allowed. Long Island, a wee three-mile stretch of land populated by about 200 people year round, is a favorite thanks to its ample beaches with sands so pristine they are said to whistle as your feet shuffle through them. 960 1280

Visions of America  

The Rhode Island Coast

The Rhode Island Coast

No matter where you are in Rhode Island, you are not too far from the ocean. The smallest state in the union (only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long) has so many inlets and coves, that its total coastline adds up to a whopping 400 miles. So while it is worthwhile to stroll amid the Gatsby-esque “summer cottages” of Rhode Island’s most celebrated summer town, Newport, there are seaside gems spanning the entire state. Just hit Highway One and explore.  960 1280

GrandviewGraphics  

The Rhode Island Coast

The Rhode Island Coast

In Westerly, play croquet on the green lawns of the Ocean House, a Grande Dame of a seaside resort that dates back to 1868. A visit to the luxurious Stone House, a hotel and restaurant in the sleepy beach town of Little Compton, will let you decompress while keeping a low profile. Sample some of the seafood shacks in the funky little village of Galilee on Point Judith, and take pleasure in knowing that no matter where you are, it won’t take you long to get to the beach.   960 1280

Richard Cummins  

Photos

Seaside, South Walton, FL

Seaside, South Walton, FL

With turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and 16 charming beach neighborhoods, it’s hard to pick just one best beach for kids in South Walton, but time and again, families flock to Seaside on Florida’s northwest coast. Enjoy biking and stand-up paddleboarding before heading to Airstream Row for food trucks serving up everything from grilled cheese to homemade custard.  960 1280

Shuvabrata Deb  

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

A favorite beach for many on Oahu, Kailua Beach Park boasts turquoise blue waters, plenty of free parking and lots of family-friendly water activities, like kayaking and boogie boarding. Kids will love watching the kite surfers, maybe even more than a trip to Island Snow for shave ice. Kalapawai Market is located at the park entrance, so pick up some deli sandwiches for an afternoon picnic on the beach. 

 

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Laszlo Podor Photography  

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Many of the beaches in Naxos boast warm waters that are gentle and shallow, particularly those on the southwest coast of the island, making them ideal for families with small children. One of the best is Agios Georgios Beach. Eat breakfast at one of the cafés on the beach for fantastic views of the bay. The beach is also an easy walk to Hora, the island’s colorful capital city.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

For white sandy beaches and calm, clear waters, St. Pete Beach is a must for families. Grab your fishing poles and sleeping bags for a camp-out right on the beach at Fort De Soto Park. Bike along a 7-mile paved trail, kayak or canoe through mangrove forests and take time to explore the historic fort. You can even take your furry pal to a dog park called Paw Playground.  960 1280

mariakraynova  

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Situated on the north shore of St. John, the calm waters make Maho Bay Beach the ideal spot for learning to stand-up paddleboard as a family. It’s also one of the best places on the island to see sea turtles, particularly on the west side of the bay where snorkelers can watch turtles and rays munching on the sea grasses. For hiking, try the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail.  960 1280

Christian Wheatley  

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

For wide beaches, a 4-acre beachfront park and plenty of space to play, even with your dog, head to St. Augustine Beach in St. Augustine. Walk along the shores where Spanish explorers landed so many years ago, then let the kids go wild at the splash park on the pier. Spend time at nearby Anastasia State Park where you can bike on the beach and paddle in a saltwater lagoon.    960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Kids can play on the white sandy beach by day and make s’mores around a bonfire by night at Carmel Beach. Pet lovers will love this dog-friendly (and leash-free) beach, so bring a tennis ball or two to make a few new furry friends. Take the free trolley into town for cheese blintzes at the Little Swiss Café or ride out to Monterey for an afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  960 1280

Elfi Kluck  

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Martha’s Vineyard is widely touted as one of the loveliest parts of New England, though kids may love the area more for its beaches than its beauty. Try Menemsha Beach, a popular pick for families in search of gentle surf, fantastic sunsets and one of the best clam shacks on the island. Crowds at The Bite line up early, so keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a beach picnic.  960 1280

Jihan Abdalla  

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

For families who want to be active from morning until night, head to Hilton Head for kayaking, tennis, crabbing, stand-up paddleboarding, and of course, splashing in the waves at Coligny Beach. Rent bikes at Hilton Head Outfitters in Palmetto Dunes. It’s the best way to explore the island. Go on a boat cruise with Pirates of Hilton Head or fly through the sky at Zipline Hilton Head.  960 1280

Pam McLean  

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

One of several popular beaches in York, Short Sands Beach has sand, surf, a playground, and even an arcade. Have a picnic at Ellis Park then spend the afternoon at York’s Wild Kingdom, the largest zoo and amusement park in Maine. Take the trolley to Long Sands Beach for views of the Cape Leddick Lighthouse before heading to the “Surfing Only” area to pick up pointers from the surfers. 960 1280

John Churchman  

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Just across the bridge from downtown San Diego you’ll find Coronado Central Beach. Kids will love building castles from sand that glistens year-round thanks to the glittery mineral, mica, which is mixed in with the sand. Walk along the beach to take in historic mansions, as well as the majestic Hotel del Coronado, the inspiration behind Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian.  960 1280

Chiara Salvadori  

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Consistently ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach has soft, white sand and gentle waters that are ideal for first-time snorkelers eager to see tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. Off the beach, kids can splash in the fountains at Camana Bay, pet stingrays at Stingray City and get up-close with green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm.  960 1280

Robin Hill  

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

There’s no shortage of things to do both on and off the beach in Virginia Beach. Walk or ride a surrey bike along the 3-mile boardwalk before snapping a selfie with the 34-foot bronze statue of King Neptune. Go horseback riding or take surfing lessons at Resort Beach, then let the kids go wild at Grommet Island Beach Park, a 100% wheelchair accessible children’s park.  960 1280

Don Klumpp  

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Stretching nearly 40 miles between Makarska and Split is the Makarska Riviera, which boasts a number of beach towns with palm tree-lined promenades, ice cream shops and pedal boats to take out onto the delightfully blue water. Book a villa or stay in a family-run campsite along the pebble beach. Off the beach, kids will love hiking around nearby Biokovo Nature Park.   960 1280

Graham Monro/gm photographics  

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach is wide and flat, offering plenty of room for kids to walk, run, ride three-wheelers or go tide pooling in search of sea life and shells. Its postcard attraction is Haystack Rock, a 235-foot tall rock, which sits on the beach near the downtown area. Kite flying is perfect at Cannon Beach since the winds seem to blow at just the right speed. 960 1280

Stephen Curtin  

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Cape Cod is a favorite year after year and Coast Guard Beach is perfect for long walks and building sand castles as a family. At the Salt Pond Visitor Center, pick up the park newspaper for the scoop on ranger-led nature walks and Junior Ranger programs. Ride bikes along one of three paved bike trails or go kayaking through the famous salt marshes.  960 1280

John Greim  

Corolla, NC

Corolla, NC

The Outer Banks of North Carolina has long been a top pick for families. Book a vacation rental right on the soft, sandy beach or park near the southernmost beach access point in Corolla for restrooms and showers. Go biking, take the ferry to Knotts Island or get hip to all kinds of water sports at Kitty Hawk Kayaks & Surf School.  960 1280

Josh Rinehults  

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

In summer, families flock to incredible beach towns in Alabama, like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Kids will have a ball swimming, crabbing and kayaking along the two-mile stretch of beach at Gulf State Park. There are hiking and biking trails, as well as a nature center that hosts guided nature walks. Just off the beach, head to Waterville USA for water slides, a lazy river and mini golf.  960 1280

Kenneth Shelton / EyeEm  

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Families with kids of all ages will love Poipu Beach Park. Look for snorkeling and surfing for the big kids, as well as a playground and a shallow wading area for little ones. Enjoy a picnic under the shade of the palm trees or go for a coastal hike along the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. In the evening, book a relaxing sunset catamaran cruise to see more of the scenic south side of the island.  960 1280

Steven Greaves  

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

The beaches of the Exumas are among the best in the Bahamas, especially for those eager to return home with beautiful shells and sand dollars. Located on the north end of Grand Exuma, Coco Plum Beach is a quiet beach with plenty of shady palm trees. For lunch, head to Big D’s Conch Stop, which serves up tasty conch fritters and salads.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

One of the most famous city beaches in Europe, La Concha Beach, is also one of the best beaches for familes. Look for a carousel and multiple playgrounds that dot the beach and the town. Take the funicular railway to the top of Monte Igueldo for unmatched views of La Concha Bay. As a bonus, there’s an amusement park at the summit complete with bumper cars and pony rides.  960 1280

Alex Lapuerta  

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Just south of Charleston, explore nature, wildlife and beautiful South Carolina coastline on Kiawah Island. Kids can sing songs and take art lessons at Kamp Kiawah, as well as splash and play at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, a quiet beach that’s well-suited for small children. Rent bikes to explore the island or take classes to become a Junior Naturalist.  960 1280

Ash Lindsey Photography  

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

Dig for razor clams or take in the views of the Pacific from the half-mile wooden boardwalk located on the Long Beach Peninsula. Explore nearby lighthouses with the kids, hike along the Willapa Interpretive Art Trail or get your game on at the Funland Arcade. Work up an appetite paddling at Willapa Bay before indulging in a milkshake at Hungry Harbor Grille.  960 1280

photo by p.Folrev  

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

With more than 25 miles of paved trails, Sanibel Island is a fantastic place to explore by bike. Look for warm waters and gentle surf, as well as more than 300 kinds of seashells. Enroll the kids in Sanibel Sea School to learn about marine conservation before hopping a ferry to Cayo Costa State Park. Families will especially love Bowman’s Beach, which has a playground and magical sunsets.   960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Nearly 38 miles long, the Assateague Island National Seashore is a protected wildlife sanctuary. Stay in nearby Chincoteague or camp out on the beach of this barrier island. Kids will love hiking, clamming, crabbing and fishing on the beach, but the main attraction is the wild ponies, which have roamed the beaches and saltwater marshes since the 1600s.  960 1280

Trina Dopp Photography  

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Known for soft, white sands and gentle waters, Wingaersheek Beach is the place to take the kids at low tide where you’ll find loads of clams, shells, even sand dollars, all over the beach. Pack a picnic lunch or grab a bite at one of several snack shops that that dot the beach. Parking isn’t cheap and you’ll need to get there early but you will be rewarded with kids who can’t wait to go back.  960 1280

Garry Black  

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Kids and families love Eagle Beach in Aruba. It’s a beach where you can easily spend the entire day relaxing in a beach chair and splashing in the turquoise waters. Walk along the beach in search of the island’s famous Divi Divi trees. Water sports are popular, so rent a jet ski, a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard, or get set up to go snorkeling or parasailing.  960 1280

Holger Leue  

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach is one of a handful of spots on the east coast where you can see the sunset from the beach. Come for the Victorian homes, the free parking and the crab cake sandwiches at the Sunset Beach Grill. Kids will love splashing in the surf and hunting for Cape May diamonds (quartz pebbles). Bring a camera to snap photos of the S.S. Atlantus, which sits just offshore.  960 1280

chrisstadlerphotography  

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Located in one of the most scenic parts of the Scottish Highlands, you won’t go wrong camping near Camusdarach Beach and taking sea kayaks out into the water to explore the coves. Children will love playing in the sand and the calm, clear waters on the beach. Collect shells and enjoy the views of the Isle of Skye before settling in for the evening sunset.  960 1280

Peter Lewis  

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Pier 60 is the place to be in Clearwater Beach for spectacular sunsets and a nightly sunset festival that includes live music, magicians, stilt walkers and local artisans. The crystal clear, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes this a great choice for families. Book a dolphin cruise or take to the sky for parasailing. Look to nearby Caladesi Island State Park for great shelling.  960 1280

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