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9 Best Family-Friendly Beach Destinations

Bring the kids along and visit one of these seaside spots this summer.

When summer arrives, it's hard not to start fantasizing about a beach vacation. Not only do you get to soak up the sun, but the sandy shores are also a great destination if you have kids in tow. Of course, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right beach hub for you and your family. Are there affordable accommodations? Kid-friendly activities? Rainy-day alternatives? The list goes on. With that in mind, we asked experts about the best family-friendly beaches likely to check all (or most) of your boxes. Read on to find out where they recommend planning a trip.

RELATED: 7 Best Affordable U.S. Beach Towns Where You Can Enjoy Sand and Surf.

Ocean City, Maryland

ocean city maryland
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First up on the list is Ocean City, Maryland, which comes highly recommended by Becca Siegel, co-owner of the Half Half Travel blog.

"For people in the 'DelMarVa' region, this is no surprise, as Ocean City is Maryland's most popular beach destination," Siegel tells Best Life. "It's located on the Eastern Shore, just south of the Delaware beaches. I went as a kid a few times with my dad's side of the family!"

There's plenty to do with family during the summer, including concerts, movie nights, and amusement parks. And if your trip happens to fall on a rainy day, Siegel suggests checking out the Ocean City Library.

Kure Beach, North Carolina

kure beach, north carolina
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A family-friendly option is also waiting for you in North Carolina. According to Melissa Ferguson, author and TikToker behind @ourfriendlyfarmhouse, Kure Beach, North Carolina, is an ideal destination.

"This beach with fairly inexpensive beachfront options had the most beautiful blue-green water and great waves for boogie boarding and adventuring, but it also had everything else," Ferguson writes in text overlaying a Feb. 2023 TikTok video.

The beach town boasts additional amenities like an aquarium, marshland for fishing an hiking, Civil War history biking paths, weekly carnivals, and fireworks, Ferguson shares. You can also hop on a ferry to visit Wilmington, where major films and TV shows like Safe HavenA Walk to Remember, and Dawson's Creek were filmed.

RELATED: The 10 Best Family-Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

myrtle beach south carolina
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Head south from Kure Beach, and you'll hit a more well-known spot: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"This would not qualify as a hidden gem, but I firmly believe Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a great family beach destination," says Samantha Linnett, travel planner and blogger of Discover with Sam. "I grew up going with my parents for our annual family vacations, and we have gone a few times as a family since my sister and I have reached adulthood. It's perfect because it has so much to do for all members of the family."

According to Linnett, the beach itself is great, and depending on where you set up camp, you'll have a different experience. Enjoy a quieter vibe on the north side or brave the busier crowds toward the south near the boardwalk. However, even if you prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle, it's worth checking out the 1.2 mile-long Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade with your family.

"There are all kinds of beach-town shops and activities along the boardwalk, including one of my favorites, the SkyWheel," Linnett shares. "There's loads of entertainment for the whole family, from nightly shows and an amazing aquarium to mini-golf and escape rooms. I highly recommend The Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show for a fun, family-friendly night out that will impress parents and kids alike."

If you're budget-conscious this summer, Linnett also cites this destination as one that's more affordable.

Brighton Beach, New York

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Brighton Beach isn't just a great and conveniently located getaway—it's also a spot where you and your kids can be "immersed in a totally unique culture and language," says Noël Wolf, Babbel Live teacher and cultural expert at Babbel.

"Family vacations can be taxing, especially if you're constantly searching for activities for kids, but some of that can be curbed by vacationing in a spot that is both naturally and culturally rich," Wolf says. "Exposing children to other cultures and particularly other languages can bolster their cognitive development, creativity, and cultural understanding—even while on vacation."

Believe it or not, Brighton Beach can provide just that, and doesn't require you digging out your family's passports.

"Nicknamed Little Odessa due to its population of Russian-speakers, Brighton is visited by countless families each year looking to spend time in New York while also experiencing the coast," Wolf shares. "With the legendary Coney Island just a 15-minute walk away, Brighton combines Russian culture and New York sensibility."

RELATED: The 7 Best Beaches That Are Also U.S. National Parks.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

family walking to the beach on hilton head island
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If you've already done Myrtle Beach or just want another South Carolina destination, look no further than Hilton Head Island.

Mom content creator Dani Morin says Hilton Head gets her family-friendly stamp of approval for a few reasons. In a June 2023 TikTok, she highlights the cleanliness of the town and beaches. Morin goes on to point out that Hilton Head "lives up to the kid-friendly hype" thanks to the several parks and themed activities.

And if you're primarily going to enjoy the beach with your family, you won't be disappointed with that either.

Morin recommends checking out Skull Creek Dockside for a meal and to let kids enjoy the on-site playground.

"There is so much to do on this island," she gushes. "I will definitely be coming back to Hilton Head."

Key Biscayne, Florida

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Also on Wolf's list is Key Biscayne outside of Miami. The lush area is home to Crandon Park Beach, which Wolf says is "kid-friendly" and a bit less crowded than the Magic City.

Wolf adds that the beach itself is a well-known destination for TV commercials and magazine photoshoots—and if you want to give your kids that cultural experience, build in a day to explore Miami.

"When you're done at the beach, take in all that Miami has to offer, with its marriage of Latin culture and language in one of America's most unique cities," she suggests.

RELATED: The 10 Best States for Summer Road Trips, According to Data.

San Diego, California

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Head out to the West Coast and explore San Diego, where you'll certainly find fun for the whole family.

"With its miles of golden beaches lining the coast, surf breaks that cater to both beginner and more experienced surfers, and galore of tasty food options, San Diego is easily one of the best family-friendly beach destinations," says Kristin Lee, travel expert and owner of the travel blog Global Travel Escapades. "Whether you're traveling with little ones or adults, this beach town offers something for everyone in the family."

She continues, "For example, two crowd-favorite beaches include Mission Beach with its bustling boardwalk, and La Jolla Shores with its calm waters, perfect for families with young children."

It's another spot that has lots to offer in case of inclement weather, and your vacation isn't complete without a trip to the San Diego Zoo!

Chincoteague Island, Virginia

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Another destination to add to your family's bucket list is Chincoteague Island, Virginia. According to Lauren, the mom behind the TikTok account @classicalcreativechaos, this spot is "a one-of-a-kind family-friendly beach getaway."

"From wild ponies to pristine beaches, there's something for everyone," Lauren writes in the caption of a June 2023 video, noting that she has made an annual trip to Chincoteague for 12 years.

"It's one of our family's favorite places. It's never crowded, [it's] safe, and simply beautiful," she shares.

Lauren recommends renting golf carts or bikes to explore the island, as well as trying out crabbing. When it comes to sweet treats, she also suggests taking the kids to Sandy Pony Donuts and Mister Whippy.

The famous Chincoteague Ponies she mentions technically live on Assateague Island, but they're definitely something you and the kids will want to catch a glimpse of. While you have to see these wild horses from afar, there are a few ways to do so, including by boat, bus, or car.

Cape May, New Jersey

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Rounding out the list of family-friendly beach destinations is a quaint spot at the southernmost point of the Jersey Shore.

"The idyllic Cape May area in New Jersey is a family-friendly beach that's only about 90 minutes from Center City, Philadelphia," Amber Haggerty, travel blogger behind Amber Everywhere, tells Best Life. "With beautiful, sandy beaches, adorable little shops, and boutiques in town, there's more than enough activities to fill up an itinerary."

Outside of "the usual beach activities," consider bringing the kids to the Cape May County Park and Zoo. You can also take Haggerty's suggestions and climb to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse or go birdwatching in Cape May Point State Park. At Cape May Point, any history buff—young or old—will want to snap a photo of the crumbling shipwreck S.S. Atlantus.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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