Summer is here (hooray!), so it’s time to start planning your family beach vacations. Think digging your toes into the sand, searching for seashells and diving headlong into frothy ocean surf. Not much can top days spent wearing flip-flops, snuggling with salty-haired kiddos, and simply enjoying laid-back seashore bliss. The best beach vacations for families are those that cover all of the above and then some, which is why it is important to do your research when picking resorts.
The best beach resorts for families know how to keep both kids and adults happy by offering activities for all ages, in addition to nanny services and nightlife. After all, the best beach vacations with kids also include some alone time for the parents. Here are the best beach resorts in the U.S. for family vacations.
Hotel Del Coronado – California
The grand dame of Coronado Island, the stunning, red-roofed Hotel Del Coronado serves up an elegant cocktail of Victorian seashore charm infused with bygone glamor. Set on a private stretch of Coronado Beach, the Del offers families countless seaside activities from biking along the Pacific coast to surf lessons, mermaid fitness classes (tail included!), beach bonfires and waterskiing.
Days can be spent in laid-back coastal California style, lounging on the beach (games and gear are available to rent), enjoying the resort’s gorgeous pools, or exploring the mecca of unique, onsite shops. Kidtopia, the resort’s children’s center, features a slew of ocean-themed DelVentures for kids ages 4 through 12, and spots like Spreckles Sweets and Treats and MooTime Creamery are favorites among the underage crowd.
Hawks Cay Resort – Florida Keys
Located at mile-marker 61, Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key offers a perfect balance of fun and solitude amidst 60-acres of lush gardens, vibrant coral reef and the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. With its unique offerings, children will love the Coral Cay kids club, featuring crafts, scavenger hunts, snorkeling, and kids’ nights out.
Accommodations — which range from spacious family guestrooms to breezy, multi-bedroom villas with private lanais — are scattered throughout four distinct villages, each with its own inviting island ambience. The resort’s onsite marina and Sundance Watersports entice guests with plenty of options to explore the sea including sunset cruises, fishing for local mahi, or kayaking to remote mangrove islets.
Lounging with an umbrella-garnished cocktail by one of the resorts five pools, including the elaborate pirate-themed children’s area and a private, ocean-fed, saltwater lagoon, is vacation at its best.
Kiawah Island Resort – South Carolina
Families will find themselves immersed in low-country splendor the moment they drive down the oak-shaded lane that leads to the sublime Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island. Perhaps best known for its five award winning golf courses, Kiawah Island Resort offers a wealth of indulgences beyond the links. The resort is truly breathtaking — a sweeping lawn bedecked by Adirondack chairs overlooks the ocean while verdant palms and plush loungers surround a sparkling saltwater pool.
Just beyond the pool deck, a boardwalk leads to a 10-mile expanse of beach, perfect for bike riding or just whiling away the hours. Guests can find Night Heron Park, the resort’s activity hub, a short drive from Sanctuary, which is home to the excellent Camp Kiawah kids’ program, a fabulous children’s pool complete with slides and splash areas, and the Heron Park Nature Center, which serves as the jumping off point for the resort’s superior naturalist-led programs — favorites include boating excursions to secluded Sandy Point and wildlife paddling tours through the surrounding saltmarsh.
Luxurious accommodations range from spacious guestrooms and suites in the Sanctuary to an enormous selection of villas and private homes spread throughout the resort’s 10,000-acre island haven.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort – Florida
A world unto itself, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is the kind of place that, once you arrive, you’ll never have to leave. Spread throughout 1,350-lush acres, visitors will find three golf courses, 23 Har-Tru tennis courts, a luxury spa, and the Shops of Amelia Island Plantation (home to a variety of charming eateries), Amelia’s Wheels bike rentals, Heron’s Cove Adventure Golf, and the Amelia Island Nature Center.
The resort’s centerpiece is the soaring 404-room oceanfront hotel, framed by lush palm trees, 3½ miles of private beach, and a spectacular pool area with restaurants, kids’ activities, and even a tequila bar.
Camp Amelia offers children ages 4 through 14 the chance to explore the resort through themed activities that encourage nature and science discovery, imaginative play, and camaraderie. Families will love the bright, ocean-inspired guestrooms and suites, most with balconies overlooking the beach and pools.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa – Hawaii
Families will find the aloha spirit at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, with its lush, tropical grounds overlooking the gorgeous Pacific surf of Poipu Beach. The resort’s pools, featuring slides, a lazy river, waterfalls, and hidden coves, and a 1½ acre saltwater lagoon are the stars of the show.
Putting a native spin on the traditional kids’ club, Camp Hyatt engages kids in Hawaiian culture with activities like palm-frond weaving, ukulele lessons, and time spent interacting with the resort’s colorful parrots. In the resort’s open-air atrium, complimentary fun includes lei making and hula lessons throughout the day. Don’t miss the twice-weekly luau, which features a lavish Polynesian-style revue.
Inn by the Sea – Maine
Overlooking the gentle surf and soft sand of Crescent Beach, Inn by the Sea combines eco-luxury with the rugged beauty and nautical charm of coastal Maine. Families take up residence in the Inn’s sunny and spacious seaside suites and cottages, most with ocean views, kitchens or kitchenettes, and large furnished decks or balconies.
Days are filled with old-fashioned seashore fun — grab beach cruisers and pedal out to one of the local lighthouses, enjoy a naturalist led beach walk, fly kites on the beach, or take a dip in the solar heated swimming pool. Kids will love juggling lessons or learning about Maine’s marine ecosystems from an insect’s perspective in the Bug’s Life Garden tour.
A great home base for exploring the maritime wonders of the historic Casco Bay area, the Inn’s staff can arrange everything from lobster boat excursions to kayaking, visits to Casco Bay’s islands, or tickets to a Portland Sea Dogs game.
Marriott Resort and Spa at Grand Dunes – South Carolina
Sometimes a beach destination with all the bells and whistles — think flashy boardwalk, super go-karts, and mini-golf on steroids — is just what the family needs. Enter Myrtle Beach, which encompasses all of the above and more. Set along a semi-private stretch of South Carolina’s famed Grand Strand and its 60 pristine miles of Atlantic coastline, the best place for families to call home is the Marriott Resort and Spa at Grand Dunes.
Though the hullaballoo of the “strip” remains close by, the luxe Marriott Grand Dunes offers blissful respite six miles north of the famed 14th Street Pier. Perks include freshly renovated guestrooms (opt for an ocean view with balcony), the Hibiscus Spa with a fun kids’ menu, and a spectacular pool. Organized kids’ activities are offered seasonally for a small fee and guests have privileges at several nearby golf courses.
Surfsand Canon Beach – Oregon
Old-school seaside charm awaits at Surfsand Resort, perched just a few steps from the edge of Canon Beach. Warm and welcoming, Surfsand is like summer camp for families, offering perks like an extensive DVD library for family movie nights, board games, bicycles and helmets, Saturday ice-cream socials, and in-room lanterns for beach walks beneath the stars.
Just offshore, Haystack Rock, a local landmark, soars above the Pacific, while tide pools offer perfect places for kids to explore the underwater world. Parents will love the resort’s complimentary cabana service, which provides beach umbrellas, kites, and sand toys. Surfsand’s 95 guestrooms offer comfortably chic accommodations, with plush amenities like bathrobes for kids and adults, gas fireplaces and spacious balconies.
Sea Island – Georgia
Take a step back in time to a bygone era of old-fashioned, southern charm on Sea Island, an alluring gem among Georgia’s Golden Isles. Bordered by the Black Banks River to the west and 5 miles of dune-fringed Atlantic seashore to the east, the island is steeped in abundant history and pristine natural beauty.
At the heart of the resort, the Mediterranean-inspired Cloister and adjacent Beach Club offer a variety of elegant guestrooms and suites — staying on the Beach Club side, with its easy access to the resort’s beach and beautiful, meandering pool, is ideal for families.
Pedal beneath moss-draped, antebellum oaks and learn about the island’s ecology and history, paddleboard through tidal grasslands, grab a cone at Wonderland Sweet Shop, or join the resort’s famous Bingo game. Camp Cloister, Sea Island’s children’s program, offers an array of engaging experiences with talented onsite naturalists and educators for younger guests.
Winnetu Oceanside Resort – Massachusetts
Family-owned by people who know what it’s like to be parents, the folks at Winnetu Oceanside Resort truly know how to make a family vacation fun and relaxing. Perched along a gorgeous stretch of South Beach in Edgartown, the resort has handcrafted an imaginative menu of activities that keep kids of all ages running around outside, exploring the tides, visiting a nearby farm and building sandcastles.
Teens ages 13 through 16 can join up with the local Martha’s Vineyard Adventure Camp for kayaking, orienteering, and mountain biking. Beyond organized fun, families can bike, play classic lawn games, take a ride on an antique fire truck, and kick back at the resort’s popular Wednesday evening clambake.
For even more adventures, Winnetu’s pre-arrival concierge will help plan outings to nearby Nantucket, island nature tours, or an in-room massage. Bright and breezy, the resort’s suites and cottages are perfect for families of every size offering space for even large, multigenerational groups to spread out in comfort.