Discover the best East Coast beaches for families, perfect for your next beach vacation with kids and pets 🌊🏖🌅
The east coast of the United States is lined with stunning beaches perfect for a family vacation. From the sunny shores of Florida to the scenic coasts of Maine, there are beach destinations to suit every family’s needs. Here are the best east coast beaches for an unforgettable family getaway.
Top Picks for Family Friendly Beaches in Virginia
Virginia offers some of the beaches on the east coast perfect for families seeking a vacation filled with sun, sand and fun.
Among the most sought after destinations on the east coast is Virginia Beach. Families can delight in three miles of oceanfront, where they can enjoy strolls along the vibrant boardwalk lined with charming shops, tempting restaurants and exciting amusements. Take a thrilling ride on the Ferris wheel at Atlantic Fun Park. Let the little ones expend their energy at the beachfront playgrounds.
The beach itself is wide, pristine and sandy – a spot for swimming or constructing sandcastles. Engage in water activities such as fishing charters, dolphin watching cruises and kayak rentals to make your experience more unforgettable. Don’t forget to visit the marine animal exhibits at the Virginia Aquarium.
With a selection of family hotels available – such as Holiday Inn & Suites Virginia Beach North Beach conveniently located right on the sandy shores – this beach stands out as one of the premier destinations for an extraordinary family vacation along the east coast.
For those seeking a relaxed beach getaway, Chincoteague Island is a choice. Families can revel in swimming. Exploring Assateague Island National Seashore across the bridge. This protected shoreline is renowned for its horses that freely roam its shores.
Back on Chincoteague Island itself kids will find joy, in golf courses go kart rides and delightful ice cream shops.
Embark, on a boat cruise to catch sight of dolphins, explore the fascinating Museum of Chincoteague or wander through the charming local shops. With crowds and a serene ambiance this destination offers one of the beach getaways on the east coast for families seeking a peaceful retreat.
Exciting Coastal Towns in Maryland
Maryland’s coastline is home to captivating beaches that provide families with all the elements of a beach vacation including lively boardwalks, thrilling amusement parks and expansive sandy shores.
When it comes to family vacations on the east coast Ocean City reigns supreme as one of the sought after destinations. Its vibrant and energetic atmosphere makes it an ideal choice for families. Numerous public access points allow you to find your spot on the beach, where you can spend your day swimming in the ocean or constructing sandcastles.
At the heart of all excitement stands the iconic 2.5 mile long boardwalk. Engage in arcade games experience exhilarating amusement park rides and savor boardwalk treats such as Thrashers fries, Fishers popcorn and Dumsers ice cream. Indulge in souvenir shopping. Engage in rounds of mini golf before taking an awe inspiring ride on Trimpers Rides 212 foot Ferris wheel for unparalleled views.
With family accommodations like Princess Royale and Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites conveniently situated near the boardwalk area Ocean City offers everything you need, for a family beach vacation that simply cannot be beaten.
beyond the bridge from Ocean City lies Assateague Island, a protected seashore. One of the attractions is the population of wild horses that call the island home. These horses are descendants of domesticated horses dating back to the 1600s.
Families have the opportunity to observe these creatures close through guided tours or by renting a 4×4 vehicle for independent exploration. Moreover there are more than 37 miles of beaches perfect for activities like swimming, kayaking, fishing and beachcombing. Camping facilities are available through the National Park Service. Assateague Island offers a getaway where visitors can experience unspoiled East Coast beaches from bustling crowds.
South Carolina’s Finest Family Friendly Beaches
From Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head Island South Carolina boasts some of the East Coast beaches that cater to families seeking sun soaked relaxation and thrilling adventures.
Extending along 60 miles of coastline Myrtle Beach is a destination for family fun. Apart from beaches and gentle waves there is an abundance of attractions to enjoy. Children can delight in exhilarating water slides at Myrtle Waves Water Park. Ride boogie boards on waves.
Once evening falls families can relish in carnival rides and games along the 1.2 mile boardwalk. Attend summer concerts at Myrtle Beach SkyWheel.
If you’re looking for a beach experience, for families why not try a thrilling zip line canopy tour over the beautiful marshes on one of the best beaches on the east coast? Myrtle Beach, with its location near the boardwalk and kid friendly resorts like Caribbean Resort & Villas offers entertainment for an unforgettable beach vacation.
Hilton Head Island
For those seeking a beach getaway that combines adventure, cultural experiences and southern charm, Hilton Head Island is a choice on the east coast. You can rent bikes. Explore 12 miles of beaches and over 100 miles of scenic trails that wind through lush forests and marshes. Take a kayak tour to spot dolphins or hop on a catamaran to search for sea life
Kids will have a blast with golf, playgrounds and shallow calm water beaches for swimming. They can also learn about ecology at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Delve into the island’s unique Gullah culture. With something to offer every family member, Hilton Head Island promises a beach getaway.
Relaxing Beach Towns in North Carolina
North Carolina boasts an array of relaxing beach towns and action packed resorts along its 300 mile coastline. Whether you prefer laid back vibes or energetic activities there’s something in North Carolina to suit every family’s beach vacation.
The Outer Banks
These barrier islands are known for having some of the beaches on the east coast perfect for families. You can build sandcastles on the Corolla Beaches. Take surfing lessons in the waves of Kill Devil Hills. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even ride Spanish Mustangs on the beaches or climb the impressive sand dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park. Kids will have a time exploring the Wright Brothers National Memorial or going on a 4×4 tour to see horses.
With towns like Duck and Southern Shores waterfront vacation rentals and family friendly resorts the Outer Banks has everything you need for a beach vacation.
Situated between Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks Wilmington offers families a beach experience in a city setting. Kids will love splashing in the waves at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. Take a stroll along Carolina Beaches mile boardwalk or hop on a ferry to Southport for more fun.
In Wilmington itself there’s plenty to do. From sliding down a 30 foot slide at the Children’s Museum to taking a riverboat ride. With its downtown area, battleship and beautiful nearby beaches Wilmington is an ideal destination for families looking for an enjoyable getaway.
New Jerseys Top Family Friendly Shore Towns
New Jersey is renowned for its shore culture and picturesque coastline.
These beautiful beaches on the east coast provide families with a beach vacation experience.
Ocean City (NJ)
Ocean City offers more than eight miles of beachfront where you can find a variety of beach resorts and restaurants that offer breathtaking views of the ocean. Children will enjoy the thrill of amusement park rides such as the Ferris wheel and carousel on the boardwalk. Additional attractions like mini golf, arcades and shops add to the excitement.
You can relax on the shores, try your luck fishing from the pier or even rent a surfboard to ride the waves. For those interested in life and sailing adventures, Historic Gardner’s Basin is worth exploring. Ocean City provides all the elements for a Jersey Shore family vacation filled with sunshine, sand and fun.
Located at the tip of New Jersey Cape May is a Victorian beach town that offers a peaceful alternative to other bustling beaches in New Jersey. Families will fall in love with its beaches, delightful shops and restaurants and abundant natural beauty. Don’t miss out on climbing to the top of Cape May Lighthouse built in 1859 for breathtaking views or exploring nature trails through wetlands at Cape May Point State Park.
Take bike rides along tree lined streets or embark on an exciting dolphin watching cruise in the Atlantic Ocean. With beaches compared to other destinations along Jersey Shore Cape May promises a relaxing yet captivating family friendly beach getaway.
Best Beaches for Families in New England
The beautiful rocky shores and peaceful beaches of New England provide families with an opportunity to immerse themselves in culture, natural beauty and delicious seafood.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Let’s start with Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. This iconic peninsula is adorned with beaches surrounded by sand dunes, lighthouses and charming seaside resort towns. Children will have a blast riding the carousel at Heritage Museums & Gardens or visiting the Shark Education and Research Center to see some sharks. You can also enjoy a bike ride along the Rail Trail, play a round of golf or join a shellfishing tour to dig for clams.
Don’t miss the chance to witness fishing boats unloading their catch at Chatham Fish Pier before indulging in mouth watering fried clams and lobster rolls by the dockside. With miles of beaches for swimming like Sea Street Beach in Hyannis Cape Cod offers families an unforgettable New England beach vacation experience.
Newport, Rhode Island
Now let’s move on to Newport in Rhode Island. Apart from its Gilded Age mansions, breathtaking cliffs and vibrant yacht culture this coastal gem also boasts family beaches. Take your kids to Third Beach for waters where they can wade around safely or explore Mackerel Cove for hunting. Googins Beach is another option as it features a playground area with delightful views of the Newport Bridge. If you’re into surfing head over to Easton’s Beach which is also home to the Newport Cliff Walk, along the awe inspiring Atlantic coastline.
In addition, to the beaches families can explore The Breakers mansion, visit the Audubon Society Nature Center and Aquarium to discover sea life or enjoy a boat tour of Newport Harbor. Newport offers a family beach vacation with all the comforts and charm of living.
Moving on to Kennebunkport, a New England seaside village embraced by Maines rugged beauty. Children can have fun playing in the waves at Goose Rocks Beach. Exploring the sand flats and tidal pools at serene Arundel Beach. Building sandcastles near the lighthouses and rocky coastline of Gooch’s Beach is another activity.
To experience Kennebunkports scenery, history and popular attractions take a ride on the Intown Trolley. Kids will be thrilled to see fishing boats and breathtaking views along the way. You can also visit the Seashore Trolley Museum. Explore the charming shops and art galleries downtown. With its lighthouses, lobster bakes, whale watching opportunities and more Kennebunkport is a destination for families seeking a beach getaway.
Classic Beach Destination – Florida
Florida offers beaches perfect for memorable family vacations under the warm sun. From the Gulf Coast to the coastlines there is an abundance of beaches to choose from.
One such example is Clearwater Beach which consistently earns rankings as one of America’s beaches due to its soft white sands and calm Gulf waters.
Families absolutely adore building sandcastles, taking a dip in the bath water and keeping an eye out for dolphins. As the sun sets Pier 60 becomes the go to spot for enjoying street performers and browsing through craft vendors.
Don’t forget to treat yourself with some ice cream along the promenade or let the little ones burn off their energy at the playground in Sand Key Park. For a beach experience hop on a ferry to Caladesi Island State Park and immerse yourself in one of Florida’s most untouched natural wonders. Clearwater Beach is truly a must visit destination for families seeking a Florida beach vacation.
If you’re looking to escape areas, Amelia Island, located north of Jacksonville offers 13 miles of peaceful and uncrowded beaches that are perfect for families. Let your kids have a blast swimming, searching for seashells and exploring pools along Seaside Park’s nature trail. To delve into American history and culture as a family make sure to visit the American Beach Museum.
For an adventure amidst nature consider taking a kayaking eco tour through salt marshes and waterways where you can spot wildlife while learning about this unique ecosystem. With numerous kid friendly resorts available along with nature experiences and historical attractions Amelia Island offers families a combination of coastal bliss and cultural enrichment.
Best East Coast Beaches Friendly for Kids
When planning your family beach vacation, on the East Coast it’s crucial to find a shore that caters to your children’s ages and interests. Here are some of the east coast beaches renowned for their kid atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a beach where young kids can splash around in calm water Flagler Beach. It has waves that are safe for them. Myrtle Beach and Daytona Beach in South Carolina and Florida also offer stretches of packed sand, which is great for building sandcastles.
Virginia Beach is an option if you want cooler waters for kids. It has public playgrounds right on the sandy shore. Sandy Hook in New Jersey is another choice as it has a fort and lower risk of rip currents making it safer for young ones.
For kids and teens who want to try beach activities like surfing, Ocean City in Maryland has options for watersports rentals and surf camps. The Outer Banks in North Carolina also boasts waves for surfing or bodyboarding. Cape Cods coastline provides miles of space where active kids can engage in activities like bike riding, fishing, walking trails and more.
When deciding on the East Coast beach for your family vacation take into account your kids ages and interests. Look for beaches with amenities and conditions that will ensure a fun comfortable experience that everyone will enjoy.
The Clearest Beach Waters on the East Coast
If swimming, snorkeling and paddling are activities your family enjoys together; finding an East Coast beach, with crystal clear waters should be a priority.
Here are some of the beach destinations, along the east coast;
The beaches of the Florida Panhandle, such as Santa Rosa Beach are known for their shorelines and stunning emerald green waters that beautifully contrast with sugar sand. Bahia Honda State Parks Sandspur Beach in the Keys is also renowned for its crystal conditions making it a perfect spot for snorkeling.
The Outer Banks in North Carolina are also famous for their waters in coral reef protected areas like those around Cape Hatteras National Seashore. If you’re looking for beach water closer to cities consider heading to any New Jersey beach north of Atlantic City to avoid sediment stirred up by resort areas. Sandy Hook, Island Beach State Park and Long Beach Island provide clarity for swimming and water sports.
Most Secluded East Coast Beaches for Families
For families seeking a peaceful and private east coast beach vacation experience the secluded shores can be found at Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia. With over 17 miles of undeveloped beaches where wild horses roam freely this paradise can only be accessed by boat.
If you’re seeking a more authentic beach experience, on the East Coast there are several options worth considering. Cape Lookout National Seashore, located in North Carolina’s Outer Banks boasts 55 miles of secluded beaches and campgrounds. To reach this hidden gem you’ll need to take a ferry.
For those craving seclusion, Assateague Island in Maryland and Virginia offers 37 miles of protected shoreline. Accessible by boat or by crossing the bridge from Ocean City this remote destination promises a tranquil escape from the crowds.
Heading up to New England Cuttyhunk Island is an island of Martha’s Vineyard that sees visitors making it an ideal choice for those seeking solitude. Similarly Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island offers a retreat with its beauty.
In Maine nature enthusiasts can enjoy the charms of Moosehead Lake along the coast. Explore Roque Bluffs State Park with its secluded ocean beaches. These hidden gems provide opportunities for freshwater or saltwater experiences away from the tourist hotspots.
Lastly if you’re venturing to Florida and crave a barrier island adventure Cayo Costa State Park is well worth exploring. This picturesque island can only be accessed by boat. Rewards visitors with unspoiled beauty.
While popular destinations like Myrtle Beach and Ocean City attract tourists each year, these known spots offer a chance to immerse yourself in an authentic local beach town experience, on the East Coast.
Least Touristy Beach Towns on the East Coast
While spots like Myrtle Beach and Ocean City are popular with tourists, families looking for a more authentic, local east coast beach town experience should consider these options:
In North Carolina, try Topsail Island for 26 miles of quiet beach lacking big resorts, or sleepy Frisco Village on Hatteras Island. In South Carolina, Edisto Beach State Park offers a peaceful beach experience about an hour from Charleston.
In Florida, explore quiet Amelia Island near Jacksonville or Steinhatchee along the Nature Coast. Or try any beach on the sparsely populated Pine Island south of Tampa. Up the coast in Georgia, quaint Jekyll and St. Simons Islands near Brunswick or Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island avoid crowds.
Farther north, Delaware’s Bethany Beach offers a delightful, low-key family beach vacation. In New Jersey, Spring Lake is a quiet Victorian beach town alternative to crowded hotspots. Rhode Island’s Little Compton is the definition of a sleepy, undiscovered beach town perfect for families looking to avoid crowds.
Kid-Friendly San Diego Beaches
On the west coast, San Diego offers families sunny weather and some of the most family-friendly beaches in California. La Jolla Shores has very gentle waves great for young kids learning to swim. The adjacent Kellogg Park has grassy areas perfect for picnics. Swami’s Beach in Encinitas also has a protected cove ideal for little ones.
In Pacific Beach, families flock to the beachfront Crystal Pier with its quirky cottages. Let the kids splash in the waves at Coronado Beach’s calm shores and don’t miss the iconic Hotel del Coronado. Popular Mission Beach has a boardwalk, Belmont Park amusement park and no shortage of ice cream shops.
When visiting San Diego area beaches with kids, just remember to heed warning flags and check for seasonal rip currents that can be deceptively strong.
Final Thoughts About Family Beach Vacation
In summary, the East Coast offers an array of family-friendly beach vacation destinations. From the lively Virginia Beach to the serene Chincoteague Island, the vibrant Ocean City to the natural beauty of the Outer Banks, families can find the perfect spot for an unforgettable vacation. Whether seeking adventure in Myrtle Beach or a peaceful retreat in Cumberland Island, there’s an East Coast beach for every family. From Clearwater Beach to Cape May, this guide ensures a memorable seaside experience for all.