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Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Taking the family to the beach can create lifelong memories, as long as every member of the family is satisfied. To help you choose your next family beach vacation, U.S. News considered factors like safe waters, kid-friendly attractions, dining options, spacious accommodations and multigenerational appeal to determine America's top family beach destinations. Weigh in by voting below, then use this list to plan your upcoming travels.

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#1 Outer Banks

#1 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Outer Banks beaches are lauded for their consistent yet manageable waves and verdant landscapes. And you can count on OBX to deliver great summer weather. Plan on renting a cottage or condo – this will give you more space without being too far from the beach. For lots of sand to stretch out on and build sandcastles on, check out the wide shores in Nags Head. Or, head to Kitty Hawk or Kill Devils Hills to surf the choppy waters. Duck is the beach to go to if you brought your four-legged family member with you. Read More »

Outer Bank beaches View 33 photos
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#2 Destin

#2 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

This Florida town's family-friendly vibe and impressive beaches entice multigenerational groups year after year. The stark white sand and calm jade water at Henderson Beach State Park are picture perfect. Plus, many Destin resorts cater to kids, so parents can relax while the little ones play. Boat tours are also a great way to spend some quality time with the family; all ages will have fun looking for jumping dolphins, and the kids will have a blast on the pirate-themed cruises. Read More »

Boating View 22 photos
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#3 Sanibel Island

#3 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Sanibel Island is a hit with kids for two reasons: The area's beaches offer calm waters that are perfect for play, and the "Sanibel Stoop" will keep little ones occupied for hours as they search for shells and sand dollars on popular shelling beaches like Bowman's. Families can also look for wildlife along the 4.5-mile-long Wildlife Drive in the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. If you're not yet convinced, remember that hotel deals are pretty easy to find here. Read More »

Shelling View 16 photos
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#4 Maui

#4 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

While cost is a barrier for any family getaway, it's an especially large barrier in Hawaii. Still, Maui has some of the United States' most abundant and exotic family-friendly beaches. Wailea Beach is the go-to option, with sun-drenched sands and plenty of umbrellas to go around. And all ages will want to head to Haleakala National Park for an educational yet unforgettable visit to the world's largest dormant volcano. Read More »

Hula Dancing View 44 photos
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#5 Ocean City

#5 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Your kids will love the famous Ocean City Boardwalk thanks to its on-site arcade, Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Trimper's Rides and Amusements. However, when you can finally coax them down to the sand, they'll have a blast there, too. The 10-mile-long beach boasts plenty of sand and surf, but note that different areas have different vibes. Walk north of the boardwalk for the best family-friendly shores. Read More »

Ocean City boardwalk View 24 photos
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#6 Hilton Head

#6 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Hilton Head is perfect for families looking to slow down. You'll find two notable beaches here: Alder Lane Beach and the ever-popular Coligny Beach Park. For a break from the sands, take a stroll (or bike ride) through Harbour Town and climb to the top of the lighthouse. Golf courses and tennis courts abound here as well, if your family wants to stay active while on vacation. Read More »

Aerial Harbour Town View 22 photos
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#7 Myrtle Beach

#7 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Myrtle Beach has no trouble luring East Coasters to its expansive sands. After you've had time on the beach (this area boasts more than 60 miles of sandy shores), check out Ripley's Aquarium or catch a game at Pelicans Ballpark. Myrtle Beach State Park is another must for families, as you'll fewer crowds, a nature center, campgrounds, trails and a beach pier. Just make sure you wear plenty of sunblock – the South Carolina sun can be unforgiving. Read More »

Myrtle's Morning Pier View 18 photos
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#8 Honolulu - Oahu

#8 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Oahu is expensive but is home to some of Hawaii's most inviting beaches. Head to Waikiki Beach, where the water remains relatively calm and lifeguards are always present. When you need a break from the beach, trek the kid-friendly Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail or explore some of the island's historic sites, such as the Battleship Missouri Memorial. If your family happens to be visiting in late November or early December, make sure you go watch the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition on Oahu's North Shore. Read More »

Wakiki Beach View 46 photos
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#9 Cape May

#9 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Cape May's nearly 3 miles of family-friendly sands fill with locals during school breaks. You and your little ones can bond while surfing, kayaking or strolling along the promenade. Sunset Beach is a popular spot for families, and The Cove, while crowded, is fun for surfing. Just remember to buy beach tags for visits between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and reserve accommodations a few months in advance.

Cape May
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#10 Jekyll Island

#10 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Families keen on relaxing will love this Georgia island's sands. You'll have seven beaches to choose from, including St. Andrews Beach Park (where you may see dolphins swimming) and South Dunes Beach Park (with screened-in picnic pavilions). For more action, play volleyball or bocce at Great Dunes Beach Park. Keep in mind that you'll need to purchase a pass (available in daily, weekly and annual selections) to access Jekyll Island and many of its offerings.

Jekyll Island
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#11 Sandy Neck Beach

#11 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Of Cape Cod's beaches, few are as impressive or as family-friendly as Sandy Neck. Occupying 6 miles of coastline in Barnstable, Massachusetts, this beach boasts more than 4,700 acres of dunes, forests and marshes to explore. Families will also likely enjoy checking out the Sandy Neck Light, one of Cape Cod's most well-known lighthouses. Remember, though, that drivers need a vehicle day pass to park at this beach.

beach
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#12 Pensacola

#12 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Situated on the Florida Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola attracts vacationers from all over thanks to its sparkling waters and soft sands. Keep in mind that the city's main stretch of sand – Pensacola Beach – is actually made up of several smaller beaches. Quietwater Beach is good for families with its calm water, while Casino Beach is chock-full of amenities. There is also a nearby dog beach. Read More »

View 13 photos
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#13 Santa Barbara

#13 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

A few beaches sit within Santa Barbara's city limits: East, West and Leadbetter. Of the three, East is best suited for families, offering lifeguards, a playground, free parking, showers, picnic areas and volleyball courts. Following time spent in the sun, kiddos can eat ice cream or pick out candy on Stearns Wharf, or search for their favorite animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Read More »

View from the Courthouse View 14 photos
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#14 Boca Raton

#14 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

This South Florida city appeals to travelers of all ages. Those who are eager to swim, surf and snorkel should head to Red Reef Park or Spanish River Park. Plus, Boca is home to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, where budding naturalists can participate in turtle walks and a hatchling release program. The South Inlet Park Beach is a secluded spot away from the crowds, ideal for when your family wants to stretch out and relax. Read More »

Boca Raton Main View 16 photos
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#15 St. Augustine

#15 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

Founded by the Spaniards in 1565, St. Augustine has a rich history that will appeal to families with varying ages and interests. Youngsters will likely love the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and the wildlife at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve. Plus, St. Augustine Beach boasts almost 2 miles of sandy shores and is extremely popular with families thanks to its splash pads, small waves, volleyball courts and outdoor showers. Read More »

City Hall View 19 photos
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