Best Family-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast of the U.S.

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As the summer heat approaches and the school year rolls to an end, parents are thinking about what family-friendly places they can go for summer vacation. Will they try to stay local and perhaps enjoy a family road trip to a city they’ve never been to before? Or will they book a trip to the Bahamas or a quaint European beach town?

Whatever they decide, parents should be aware that they don’t have to endure an 8-hour flight or days of travel to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation. If your family lives anywhere close to the East Coast of the U.S., you are able to enjoy so many beautiful beaches within a reasonable distance from home.

There are so many wonderful beaches dotted along the East Coast that make you feel like you’re on a Caribbean Island enjoying great weather with your family and friends. Skip the long travel times and explore the gorgeous beaches of the East Coast. They are set in amazing locations with tons to do for both parents and children.

When we think of family-friendly beaches, they must fit a certain list of criteria. This includes things such as water activities (think parasailing, water skiing, snorkelling, etc), beachcombing, birdwatching, and other paid activities at the beach and in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Another vital aspect is for there to be plenty of lodging or places close by to grab a quick bite or meal.

Here are a few family-friendly options to help you plan the best beach vacation for you and your loved ones this summer.

Crescent Beach State Park, Maine

Starting the list off with one of the most unlikely beach destinations, Crescent Beach State Park is a great place to take your kids for a family-friendly, picturesque vacation. Located about eight miles south of Portland in Cape Elizabeth, Crescent Beach is (you guessed it) a crescent-shaped beach that runs about a mile long. It is the perfect spot for swimming and other boating activities. In the summer, the waters are quite warm, and the light surf makes swimming safe for families with small children.

Admission to the beach is fair, about $8 per out-of-state adult. The beach is clean and equipped with picnic tables, public restrooms/showers nearby, and a children’s play area. It is not a long walk from the parking lot, which is a bonus when you’ve got little ones running around.

What’s great about Crescent Beach is its close vicinity to Cape Elizabeth, a small coastal town with a friendly community and plenty of places to grab a quick bite after the beach. Stop at The Good Table Restaurant to enjoy fresh lobster rolls on their outdoor patio. And finish it off with a sweet treat at Kettle Cove Creamery & Shack.

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lobster roll


Coney Island, Brooklyn NY

Moving down along the coast, we of course had to add an iconic New York beach. If you live anywhere in the Tri-State area or surrounding states, we definitely recommend visiting the renowned beach and amusement area of Coney Island. Once known as the largest amusement park in the United States, Coney Island is famous for its iconic theme park featuring The Cyclone. However, Coney Island is also a great place to enjoy the beach just beyond the boardwalk.

The beach stretches along the adjacent boardwalk for about 3 miles and is a great place to relax with the kids before or after visiting some of the attractions on the boardwalk. There are lots of shops that are equipped with beach gear. So no need to worry about lugging around beach chairs and umbrellas.

You and your family are sure to have a great time, as there are so many attractions and activities going on at Coney Island. If you get tired of the beach and are looking for more educational activities, the kids will love the New York Aquarium. They can see the exotic marine sea life, or visit the Coney Island Museum, which features historical keepsakes of the island.

There are countless rides at Luna Park, most notably the Coney Island Cyclone. But there are also so many games and events along the boardwalk, like the Friday Night Fireworks or the Luna Arcade. In between all of the fun you and your family are having you are bound to get hungry. Stop for a bite to eat at the numerous food shops like Flywheel Eats or Coney’s Cones.

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Nathan's at Coney Island Pier


Bethany Beach, Delaware

Bethany Beach is a peaceful coastal town great for families looking to escape the fast pace of the city and relax in the sunshine. This town features parks, beaches, nature preserves, and fun activities for family fun in the sun. Six miles from Bethany Beach is Fenwick Island State Park, a nice place to go to the beach, enjoy a nice picnic lunch, rent a boat for the day, or spend the night at the campground to be one with nature.

Other activities besides enjoying the beach include playing mini-golf at Captain Jack’s and arcade games at Arnie’s Playland. Likewise, kids can go hunting for coins at Coin Beach. Enjoy delicious food at some of the countless local restaurants like Off the Hook or Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard.

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kids playing at the beach

Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Virginia

While Virginia’s coastline can get a bit crowded and commercial during the summer, we recommend Virginia Beach Oceanfront for a more relaxing/family-friendly experience. This beach features lifeguards and plenty of beach-related activities like boogie boarding and parasailing.

The relaxing atmosphere along with its unique southern charm is what draws families near and far to Virginia Beach. There is no shortage of activities lining the boardwalk, including AquaMan Fishing or American Indoor Karting. Whether you are staying for the week or a few nights, Virginia Beach has various hotels and lodging in the area. Check out Schooner Inn and Barclay Towers.

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beach at sunset


Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 

Skip the expensive flight to the Caribbean and head to South Carolina instead for an affordable and charming beach vacation that will be sure to keep your kids entertained the entire trip. The main attraction of Myrtle Beach is the Grand Strand, a 60 mile-long white sand beach where families can enjoy swimming, fishing, sunbathing, and more. Known as the Seaside Golf Capital of the World, Myrtle Beach is home to nearly 80 golf courses, including many themed miniature golf courses perfect for kids.

Other attractions include riding the thrilling rides at Family Kingdom Amusement Park or playing the classic games at the various arcades lining the boardwalk. In addition, Broadway at the Beach is a great place for live entertainment during the summer nights. It also includes WonderWorks and Ripley’s Aquarium, which is bound to provide family-friendly fun. If your kids love wildlife, we recommend visiting Alligator Adventure to see animals like wolves, alligators, and kangaroos. Most importantly, don’t worry about finding a place to stay. There are many hotels and resorts with beautiful oceanfront views.

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girl sitting on the beach


Tybee Island, Georgia

Travel a few hundred miles down the coast and you will find yourself in South Carolina. Visit Tybee Island for the ideal family getaway. It is rich with history and bike-friendly communities within minutes of the beautiful beaches. Besides going to the beach, one of the best activities to fully experience Tybee is to explore the various bike paths that are scattered throughout the island. Head into Tybee Island Bike Rentals to get you and the family ready for a fun bike ride.

With so many activities to offer, your kids won’t even miss being on their Ipads and tablets, they will have a great time bonding with each other through things like dolphin tours and Bull River Cruises. The beaches are great for family sandcastle building, swimming, and boogie boarding. Plus they are within walking distance to the Tybee Island Light Station & Museum.

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beachgoers at sunset

Panama City Beach, Florida

It’s no shock that Florida is home to some of the nicest beaches in the country. It is usually the go-to vacation spot for those from all parts of the country looking for a tropical destination without leaving the states. Yes, you may be familiar with Miami Beach or Palm Beach. But if you are looking for a more family-friendly spot, then Panama City Beach is the perfect place for you.

Panama City Beach features 27 miles of sandy beaches with over 80 access points that guarantee affordable family-friendly fun. Spend your trip soaking up the Floridian sun, enjoying snorkelling and swimming in the clear waters. What’s more, Saint Andrews State Park features options for water sports and hiking, in addition to a concession area where you can find parks, fishing supplies, and plenty of souvenirs.

Besides the gorgeous beaches, families can visit family-friendly attractions like ZooWorld Panama City Beach, Race City PCB, Coconut Creek Family Fun Park. And don’t forget to check out WonderWorks for a more educational experience.

There are plenty of hotel options available in PCB, with picturesque views from right outside your window, equipped with luxurious spaces for spending an afternoon at the pool. Moreover, your vacation isn’t complete without trying out some of the local restaurants featuring delicious fresh seafood and more. Some places worthy of attention can be found here.

Learn More Here

girl at the beach

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