#1 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
This South Carolina island less than 30 miles southwest of Charleston provides a slow-paced beach vacation complete with 10 miles of shoreline and plenty of rugged nature to explore. Head to Kiawah Beachwalker Park, the island’s only public beach, which features a snack bar, beach rentals and a scenic boardwalk. When you’re not building sandcastles, spend your time biking on the hard-packed sand, kayaking through the marsh or exploring the island’s maritime forests. Or, sign the kids up for one of the day camps offered at Night Heron Park while the adults visit a spa or play a round of golf at a world-renowned course.
#2 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 North Carolina’s OBX to deliver great summer weather (think: highs in the 70s and 80s). Plan on renting a cottage or condo for more space without being too far from the beach. For lots of sand to stretch out on and build sandcastles, visit Nags Head’s wide shores and sand dunes. Or, head to Kitty Hawk or Kill Devil Hills for easy beach access and plenty of lifeguards on duty.
#3 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 and the Shores at Crystal Beach Park are picture-perfect, and young naturalists will love exploring the tide pools at Norriego Point. 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 a pirate-themed cruise.
Big Island Hawaii
#4 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
Though less traversed (and slightly cheaper) than Maui or Oahu, The Big Island offers some of Hawaii’s top beaches. Families can wade in the water at La’aloa white sand beach in Kona, which has calm waves, or Carlsmith Beach Park in Hilo, which offers plenty of lagoons and coves. Meanwhile, those wanting to set foot on one of the island’s volcanic black sand beaches can visit Punalu’u on the Ka’u coast, which is easily accessible, has a picnic area and offers a chance to see sea turtles. For a break from the beach, families can hike or drive through Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
#5 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
This barrier island off Florida’s northeast coast offers tons of space to spread out in the sand – 13 miles, to be exact – but it also promises plenty of fun away from the shore. Head to Egans Creek Greenway, a more than 300-acre protected area that’s home to alligators, snakes, bobcats and many birds. For even more wildlife-watching opportunities, sign up for Amelia River Cruises’ Family Friendly Sunset Tour. You’ll sail around the island while looking for dolphin pods and listening to an abbreviated history of the area. The island also offers a handful of family-friendly resorts with over-the-top kids’ amenities and activities.
*The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions.