Family Travel

Start Planning Your Next Trip: 17 of the Best Kid-Friendly Beach Vacations

written by LINDSAY COHN

The Everymom’s travel recommendations are curated by the editorial team. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. 

best family beach vacations"
best family beach vacations
Source: Amber Faust | Unsplash
Source: Amber Faust | Unsplash

From teething tots to active toddlers to growing-up-too-fast teens, everyone loves a beach vacation. It’s the perfect way to escape the rigid routine of school drop-offs, meetings, and extracurricular commitments.

Rather than focus on all the things you have to do on any given day, a trip to a sun-kissed seaside destination means getting to prioritize family fun first. Let the kids run free, build sand castles, and maybe even grab a snorkel for some underwater adventure. Instead of worrying about what everyone is going to eat for lunch, just grab some sandwiches and picnic on the sand or order off the kid’s menu at a resort.

Ready for some sun and vitamin sea with your whole family? Pack your baby beach tent and sunscreen, and prepare for a beach getaway sure to create lasting memories for years to come. Below, we’re sharing some of the best kid-friendly beach vacation destinations in the U.S. with a few international options to consider, too.

Best Kid-Friendly Beach Vacations in the U.S. 

1. Oahu, Hawaii

Famed for its lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, outdoor adventure, and vibrant cultural traditions, Oahu is one of the best places to plan a family vacation in the Aloha State. It’s chock-full of activities. So whether you’re game to try surfing, outrigger canoeing, or horseback riding, it’s all a sun-drenched possibility. Of course, the sandy shores are waiting for fans of more low-lift vacation endeavors. 

Where to Stay in Oahu

Families adore Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. When seven beaches, pools for adults and keiki, hiking trails, hula lessons, and lūʻaus are up for grabs, can you really blame them? The only problem: it might be hard to get the kiddos to leave the property. 

2. Holland, Michigan  

Just because Michigan isn’t on the ocean doesn’t mean the state lacks beachfront fun. The Great Lakes provide thousands of miles of freshwater coast. A favorite summer vacation destination that’s just less than three hours from Chicago, Holland wins the affection of families with its sandy beaches, paddleboarding, kayaking, ice cream parlors, fudge shops, mini golf, go-karts, batting cages, and big red lighthouse. Or come in May for their iconic Tulip Time Festival

Where to Stay in Holland

An affordable overnight option that doesn’t skimp on comforts or amenities, the seafoam-hued Holiday Inn Express Holland, an IHG Hotel begs the question: would kids rather scarf down a hearty breakfast or swim in an indoor heated pool before striking out for the day?

3. Santa Monica, California 

Looking for some sun, sand, and sea in the greater Los Angeles metro area? Set your sights on Santa Monica. It has miles of sandy beaches, multi-use walking and cycling paths, oceanside playgrounds, and many family-friendly restaurants. The Santa Monica Pier oozes nostalgic family fun with its amusement park, concession stands, and the Heal the Bay Aquarium. On the off chance that the weather doesn’t cooperate, head indoors to the Cayton Children’s Museum

Where to Stay in Santa Monica

Situated steps from the beach, Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is the ideal home base for families with spacious bungalows, a pool, movie nights in the summer, kid-friendly menu offerings at FIG, and complimentary cruiser bikes to explore miles of oceanfront pathways.

4. Marco Island, Florida 

Set off the southwest coast of Florida, Marco Island combines the best assets of a barrier island with easy access from the mainland thanks to a bridge that connects it to Naples. This beloved family vacation destination is well-known for having a long, sandy beach that runs almost the entirety of the west coast and covers tidal lagoons for swimming and kayaking. It’s also home to oceanfront resorts and golf courses. 

Where to Stay on Marco Island

Fronted by three miles of private beachfront, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort does a stellar job at blending sophistication and family friendliness. And the enormous, well-appointed suites are guaranteed to make going back to regular life an even less appealing prospect. 

5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

Cape Cod emanates old-school East Coast family vacation vibes. After all, the Kennedys have a compound in Hyannis Port. And that timeless aesthetic is still very much alive. Besides collecting shells along the beaches and chowing down on fresh-caught seafood, brings the kiddos to play mini golf, drive bumper cars, try out fishing, and go for a scenic bike ride to one of the lighthouses. 

Where to Stay in Cape Cod

Chatham Bars Inn dates back to 1914 and sits on the water. The New England-style cottages sleep up to four guests in comfort and have sweeping views. You’ll win the coolest parent of the summer if you ask the concierge to arrange a lobstering boat excursion for the whole family.

6. Kennebunkport, Maine 

A tourism darling with a small-town feel, Kennebunkport is quintessential Maine. It has sandy beaches, a well-known coastal walk, and a charming downtown with shops that sell souvenir t-shirts and casual eateries where you order lobster rolls and sit on picnic tables (so basically the ideal setup for a meal with kiddos). Kids who like things that go will love the Seashore Trolley Museum, which displays a huge collection of streetcars and other transit vehicles.

Where to Stay in Kennebunkport

For a family-friendly summertime stay in Kennebunkport, check into The Lodge on the Cove, a classic motor lodge turned hotel with colorful rooms (four of them allow pups), an outdoor pool, and a patio restaurant that serves casual fare. 

7. Cape May, New Jersey 

A laid-back shore town with heaps of heritage, Cape May is one those places where families bike to the beach, spend gleeful hours in the waves, maybe do a little shopping along the Washington Street Mall or head to the lighthouse in the afternoon, and then bring the kids to experience a true farm-to-table meal at Beach Plum Farm, before watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. 

Where to Stay in Cape May

If you’ve ever tried to get your kids to care about American history, a stay at Congress Hall—which Benjamin Harrison actually used as his summer White House—will do the trick. Of course, the hydrangea-framed pool and beach service are also selling points.

8. Carlsbad, California 

Finding kid-friendly beaches near San Diego isn’t particularly difficult. Though, Carlsbad sets itself apart from the pack with sandy shores, surf breaks, and restaurants feet from the water. Of course, the primary pull for children (and the young at heart), Legoland California has 60 rides—notably the dragon-themed roller coaster and kids driving school—as well as a waterpark and an aquarium. 

Where to Stay in Carlsbad

The recently revamped Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa makes a splash with families who enjoy snapping photos in the grand lobby, eating at the many restaurants, playing in the water playground, zipping down the two-story waterslides, and chilling in the shaded cabanas. 

9. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 

One of the most popular vacation spots in South Carolina, Hilton Head Island gives families a lot of ways to fill their days. Start with a morning stroll along the pristine beaches, check out the Coastal Discovery Museum, visit Harbour Town Lighthouse, peep birds at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and cap things off with a sunset bike ride. 

Where to Stay in Hilton Head

Families staying at the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island have a lot of reasons to smile. There’s a zero-entry lagoon swimming pool, kids club, daily activity calendar, tennis, kayaking, and nature trails. 

10. South Padre Island, Texas  

Nature lovers flock to South Padre Island, off the southern coast of Texas, to get closer to the natural world. The pristine, public beaches have calm water for swimming and recreational facilities. There’s a bird sanctuary with a boardwalk and a giant watchtower as well as a sea turtle rescue organization, fishing charters, and dolphin-watching excursions. 

Where to Stay on South Padre Island 

Many families return to the Best Western Beachside Inn because it’s clean, comfortable, and very well-priced with modern rooms and close proximity to the high-flying fun at South Padre Island’s famous Gravity Park. 

11. Outer Banks, North Carolina

For many families, the annual trip to the Outer Banks is a tradition that kids and parents look forward to all year long. Some groups block off basically the whole trip to hang on the beach, while others opt to pack in all the activities. Kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, and skimboarding dominate the water-based fun. Wildlife peeping in Pine Island Sanctuary and off-road tours to see wild horses are unique experiences. 

Where to Stay in Outer Banks

Sanderling Resort lays claim to one of the most privileged perches in the Outer Banks. Hugged by the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound, it’s a stellar base camp for families with three pools, private beach access, and an on-site adventure concierge to take the stress out of planning. 

12. Miami, Florida

If you look past the nightlife, Miami actually has a lot happening that’s very much geared toward parents traveling with LOs. Obviously, the famous beach that stretches from 1st and 25th Street ranks at the top of the list. Add to kid-friendly attractions such as the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and Puttshack, a high-tech mini-golf course—not to mention direct flights from virtually everywhere in the U.S.—and it’s easy to see why so many families favor this South Florida hotspot. 

Where to Stay in Miami

Loews Miami Beach Hotel boasts one of the best kids’ clubs around. We’re talking about an enormous indoor lifeguard hut playscape, crafts, scavenger hunts, and pizza-making classes. It also supplies direct beach access, swimming pools, and connecting rooms.

Best International Kid-Friendly Beach Destinations

Editor’s Note: When researching or booking international family travel, it’s important to be cognizant of the latest travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State. Click here to view all current travel advisories.

13. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Consistently voted the most beautiful beach in the world, Grace Bay shines bright with its sugar-white sands and calm, turquoise tides. Snorkeling is a big draw in Providenciales. You can also book boat trips to some of the more secluded cays and swim with colorful fish. It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are family-friendly resorts right on the sand and affordable, direct flights from most major East Coast airports.

Where to Stay in Turks and Caicos

Beaches Turks and Caicos pulls out all the stops for families with a massive waterpark, 21 restaurants, a beach, 10 pools, and age-appropriate fun for everyone from tots to teens. Since everything is included in the all-inclusive package, it’s a completely stress-free escape. 

14. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Sometimes a beach vacation means rise-at-dawn activities. Other times it’s about plopping down on the most picture-perfect stretch of sand and just relaxing at a resort. A holiday in Punta Cana looks like a lot of catching rays, splashing in the water—for kids that’s probably a lot of running back and forth between the pool and the ocean—building sandcastles, collecting shells, and leisurely seaside strolls. 

Where to Stay in Punta Cana

You can’t toss a seashell without hitting an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. But Club Med Punta Cana is one of the absolute best for parents traveling with children thanks to three outdoor pools, high-flying fun at the circus school, a kids club, family rooms, and babysitting services.

15. Anguilla

Honeymooners and couples on romantic escapes jet off to Anguilla. But this Caribbean island is also a dream for families with kids. The long sandy beaches with placid waters are picturesque and safe places for kids to frolic and parents to relax. Restaurants right on the sand treat diners to fresh-caught seafood, live music, and low-key island energy. There’s a clutch of luxury family-friendly resorts. 

Where to Stay in Anguilla

It’s worth splurging on the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla for the private beach club with shaded umbrellas, complimentary non-motorized water sports, and snorkeling gear, plus spacious villas, a sports pavilion, and a pampering spa for parents.

16. Sagres, Portugal

family beach vacations
Source: Ioana Mohanu | Unsplash

Perched at the western tip of southern Portugal’s Algarve region, Sagres exudes an end-of-the-earth beauty with dramatic coastal cliffs and big waves that all but guarantees the kids will put down their iPads. The long golden sand beaches aren’t nearly as crowded as more holiday-heavy destinations in the area, so families have room to roam, catch rays, and go horseback riding. 

Where to Stay in Sagres

Martinhal Sagres is a stylish family resort with an all-star kids program that caters to younger guests of every age group. Whether your crew would rather kick back on the beach, work on your football (soccer) skills, hit the tennis courts, or try windsurfing, it’s just a matter of choosing. 

17. Fiji

Yes, it’s a long-haul journey to get to Fiji (although, there are direct flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco, so something to keep in mind) but once you land down in this island paradise, it’s all blue skies, sandy beaches, and tropical cocktails (or mocktails for youngsters). Snorkeling through protected coral reefs reflects the eco-conscious ethos of this South Pacific nation. While immersive experiences bring the beauty of Fijian culture to life for kiddos and parents. 

Where to Stay in Fiji 

VOMO Island Fiji is a luxury all-inclusive resort, which gives guests maximum bang for their buck with accommodations, meals, drinks, and edu-travel activities all covered in the rate. Families can also take advantage of complimentary babysitting services. And little ones will have an absolute blast at the kids club.

best of family travel
Lindsay cohn

Lindsay Cohn, Contributing Writer

Lindsay is a freelance writer and avid traveler who has visited 46 countries across six continents—and counting. She writes articles for The Everymom about all things travel, from the best family-friendly destinations to tips for traveling with kids and beyond.  When she’s not writing, you can find her doing yoga, spending time with her son, and planning the next trip on her bucket list.