Top Five Family Beaches Across America

Family-friendly beaches do exist. Here are our favorite five.
Aerial view of Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Aerial view of Waikiki Beach, Hawaii  (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

The economy may be tottering like a newborn calf, but that won’t stop families from heading to the beach this summer. According to a survey by Orbitz, 81 percent of travelers still plan to go somewhere for a summer vacation. So where to go? Sure, big waves, romantic sunsets, and turquoise waters are great. But carrying a crying toddler across miles of burning sand, or having your family picnic ruined by some boozing 20-somethings, can really ruin a beach vacation. These five beach towns offer a great balance of family friendliness (think: extracurricular activities, nearby hotels, parking) and surf and sand.

Waikiki, Hawaii
From surfing to the zoo, from restaurants to parks, Waikiki has something for everyone in your family. Found in Honolulu, Waikiki used to be a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. Today, the beachfront is lined with hotels and resorts and hosts many events throughout the year, including surf competitions and outdoor performances. There is also the iconic Diamond Head Crater, the 500-arce Kapiolani Park, a zoo, and an aquarium for when you get too much sun.

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach, 80 miles west of Portland, is named for a cannon that washed ashore in 1846 from the shipwrecked USS Shark. The area offers an abundance of activities including an annual castle-building contest in June. Many well-known natural landmarks such as the Haystack Rock and Needles can be seen from the coastline. With a quaint downtown filled with small businesses and a farmer’s market every Tuesday, Cannon Beach will let you sit back, relax, and enjoy food, family, and friends. Away.com named Cannon Beach its number one cheap beach vacation spot.

Ocean City, New Jersey
Nicknamed “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” Ocean City has miles of guarded beaches, a 2.5 mile boardwalk with amusement parks, a water park, miniature golf, and many unique restaurants and shops. Families can find many fun things to do from a fireworks to concerts to auto shows. Cape May, to the south, makes for a great day trip as well.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach has camping, resorts, outlet malls, go-cart parks, waterslides, thousands of restaurants, plenty of shows, and 60 miles of wide, soft sandy beaches. Plus, it boasts some of the best (and, with more than 250, most) golf courses in the south, some created by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, or Greg Norman. With the average high hovering in the high 80s and a wide variety of activities for all ages, it is one of the top family beach destinations in the United States.

Clearwater, Florida
Considered one of America’s best beaches, Clearwater will offer your family a fun relaxing vacation. The clear, warm waters are shallow; the lifeguards on duty are attentive; and the beaches include a pier and accessible restrooms. The kids will enjoy building sandcastles while the parents keep an eye out from underneath their umbrella. Older kids can rent jet skis if they get restless.

Published: 2 Jul 2012 | Last Updated: 17 Jul 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Cannon Beach

$226
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#1
Surfsand Resort
$175
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#3
Lighthouse Inn

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