TripAdvisor’s family travel site has released its annual list of the Best Beaches for Families — naming the best beaches in the nation, specifically for families traveling with kids of all ages.
The report notes that families are looking for beaches that are not only safe and clean, but also locations that offer a level of convenience that meet the needs of those traveling with various age groups.
That means ideal beach areas should be near accommodations, restaurants and attractions – and the cost of those conveniences, as well – figure in to a beach’s appeal for families. This list of top picks this year highlights not only large, well-known beaches, but also some of the smaller hidden gems worth a visit.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore – Outer Banks, NC
Insider Tip: The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open all summer for both daytime and a few nighttime climbs to the public – in the evening, families can climb with flashlights to get a prime view of the Milky Way.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore – Empire, MI
Insider Tip: Pick up a free Junior Ranger Book, including fun activities for children to complete – once finished, kids will receive a Junior Ranger badge and certificate.
South Padre Island – South Padre, TX
Insider Tip: Families can work with local sea turtle rescue, Sea Turtle, Inc., on dozens of scheduled releases during the summer months, to watch as tiny sea turtles enter the ocean for the first time.
The Wildwoods – Wildwood, NJ
Insider Tip: Access to the beaches in The Wildwoods is completely free – no beach tags are required – and there is a special Wildwoods Dog Beach, for any families planning to bring Fido along on vacation.
Captiva Beach – Captiva Island, FL
Insider Tip: The Captiva Kayak Company offers boat rentals and kayak expeditions into local waterways to explore Captiva’s beaches and bayous.
La Jolla Cove – San Diego, CA
Insider Tip: La Jolla Concerts by the Sea are offered every Sunday afternoon during the summer, and provide fun for all ages with a wide range of music to enjoy.
Misquamicut State Beach – Westerly, RI
Insider Tip: Water Wiz of Westerly is a water park with three slides, located right on the beach – get there early for discounts.
Million Dollar Beach – Lake George, NY
Insider Tip: Nearby Lake George Village offers fireworks over the lake every Thursday from July 4 through August.
Clinch Beach – Traverse City, MI
Insider Tip: Nearby Clinch Park Marina offers kayak, paddleboard and bicycle rentals to ride on the paved TART Trail, which runs above the beach.
Golden Gardens Park – Seattle, WA
Insider Tip: The nearby – and free – Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks), offer views of boats and kayaks crossing the channel, as well as a botanical garden and fish ladder.