Smear on the sunscreen; track down the sand bucket and shovel. There’s still time for a sandy getaway. We’ve found the best family-friendly beaches from coast to coast.
The Native Americans were spot on with their name for the slice of Maine coastline known as Ogunquit. It means “beautiful place by the sea.” Amble along the Marginal Way (there are plenty of benches for little ones to park it on the way), soak in the view, and greet the fishermen (and ice cream cones) at Perkins Cove.
Miami’s Crandon Beach is famous for more than just palm trees. Get there early in the morning to score a private cabana with a shower then journey to Crandon Park Visitors and Nature Center to explore dunes, mangroves, and seagrass beds. Afterward, wade out on the sandbar (take tots who haven’t mastered doggie paddling yet).
Locals know Santa Monica’s Ocean Park playground presents two ocean-view toddler play areas, three swing sets, and access to the famed boardwalk bike path. A nearby snack bar and restrooms are just icing on the melting cake.
Saint Joe’s has gotten flashier during the last few years, mostly because of the ginormous splash pad and indoor merry-go-round at its biggest attraction, Silver Beach. After play, save room for eats at Roxy’s Hamburgs and Silver Beach Pizza.
Cannon Beach provides a picturesque backdrop even during Oregon’s bouts of mistiness. Whether the forecast calls for rain or sun, pack binoculars to spy the puffins nesting on Haystack Rock and trawl the shore for pieces of agate.
You may identify the Jersey Shore with hard-drinking hooligans, but families in the know flock to Ocean City. It’s a dry community; you won’t find a bar in sight. You will find pint-size rides at the end of the boardwalk and events for the younger crowd.
Step off the T and onto a fifteen-minute ferry ride, and you’re at Spectacle Island. Closest to downtown, it’s the only one of the Boston Harbor Islands with a lifeguard. Plus, activities and festivals hold your guppy’s attention nearly every day of the week.
If you want to avoid hobnobbing crowds in the Hamptons, hop the ferry to Shelter Island, where life moves at a leisurely pace (which explains the stoplight-free streets). Kiddos frolic in the calm waters of Wades Beach, a family favorite with restrooms and picnic tables.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks pair pristine beaches with historical sites that date back to the Colonial Era. Make teachers everywhere proud by clambering on the replica of the Wright brothers’ plane at Kitty Hawk before dipping a toe in the ocean.
Seaside, the idyllic Florida Panhandle community, provides a safe backdrop for exploration. So rent him a bicycle and let him roam free for the day. If it’s quality family time you’re after, take a sand castle-building class together.
Get to know the creatures that lurk on Puget Sound at Seattle’s Alki Beach. Search for sea stars and moon snails that slither onto shore during low tide. But, please, remember their home is the sea, not the insides of your pockets.
Rehoboth regulars look forward to visiting businesses that have lined the boardwalk for ages. No vacation is complete without a slice from Nicola Pizza and a spin on Funland’s teacups (where ticket prices have remained the same since it opened in the ’60s).
European flair meets the Cali coast at Carmel-by-the-Sea. Stroll down the main drag, Ocean Avenue, stopping at Hansel-and-Gretel-ish Cottage of Sweets for fudge and more than 50 flavors of licorice; keep an eye out for dolphins; and pitch a bonfire on the beach.