Take your family to the beach while it’s still hot outside and the kids are out of school! If you live in the United States, look no further than our coastlines — there’s plenty to marvel at on American sand.
1. Bishop’s Beach - Homer, Alaska
This cove, located about four hours from Anchorage, features many intertidal habitats (better known as tide pools) with sea creatures of varying colors and types. Your little ones can gaze endlessly at crabs and starfish and perhaps see a wild bald eagle flying above the beach. After collecting sea glass, dine in the town of Homer, dubbed the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” Adventurous kids may enjoy the gourmet twists on local fish and produce at The Little Mermaid, but even the pickiest eaters will have trouble turning down a peanut butter cookie from Two Sisters Bakery.
2. Port Aransas Beach - Port Aransas, TX
Port Aransas Beach is a fantastic surfing and boogie-boarding spot loved by locals and non-Texans alike located a mere 45 minutes from Corpus Christi along the Gulf of Mexico. With lifeguards on duty and relatively warm waters, this scene could not prove better for learning to brave the waters. For families ready to try out some new water activities, Port a H2O offers kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and surfing lessons.
3. Jenness State Beach - Rye, NH
Though New Hampshire is not known for its beaches, this low-key stretch of sand in the town of Rye squashes any such stereotypes. It’s definitely no dive: the beach offers restrooms, lifeguards and upscale eateries nearby. While you’re in the area, take your family on a whale-watching tour out of Rye Harbor with Granite State Whale Watch, which sails past lighthouses and plenty of dolphins.
4. Devil's Churn - Yachats, OR
For older kids seeking more excitement, the village of Yachats features overlooks where you can watch the waves explode over rugged rock formations, like Devil’s Churn just five minutes south of town. Nestled along the beautiful Oregon coastline, nearby Cape Perpetua is home to the Cleft of the Rock Light lighthouse and Thor’s Well, a plateau with the same spouting effect seen in Devil’s Churn. Be careful, though: at high tide, these water wonders can be very dangerous. After marveling at Mother Nature's fury, head back to town and warm up with some creamy hot chocolates at The Village Bean.
5. Coronado State Beach - Coronado, CA
Near San Diego, this bustling beach town deserves praise for its Spanish-style architecture and abundant palm trees. With the reliable sunny weather of Southern California and spotless white sand, Coronado lures in vacationers of all ages and income levels. Blocks away is Spreckels Park, which has a jungle gym and regular concerts during summer months. Dinner time will be well spent at Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge, as kids can dig into sliders and fries while adults enjoy more sophisticated food and local drinks.
6. Poipu Beach Park - Koloa, HI
Kids love this picture-perfect paradise on the south shore of the island of Kauai, an area with low-impact tides and delicious mahi-mahi dishes. Poipu Beach Park gets rather crowded sometimes, but the snorkeling, wading and relaxation possible here is hard to beat. The town of Koloa has wonderful souvenir shops, notably Island Soap & Candle Works, which sells floating candles inside of coconut shells.
7. Jekyll Island - Brunswick, GA
Drive out to this southern isle in the marshy part of Georgia, located an hour and a half away from Savannah, for a getaway rich both in history and ecological diversity. After paying a toll to enter Jekyll Island, visit the beloved Georgia Sea Turtle Center or Summer Waves, a water park. Learn some relaxing stand up paddle boarding with SSI SUP or play golf on one of Jekyll Island’s four courses.
8. Waianapanapa State Park - Hana, HI
Give your youngsters a surprise by taking them to a beach with black sand! Tiny lava pebbles make this “sand” quite smooth, but without a lifeguard present, jumping into the rip-current-prone water might not be advisable. In addition to the beach, Maui’s less-traveled east coast offers many caves, cliffs and swimming holes. Be sure to stop by the Hasegawa General Store, a place so famous it has its own song!
9. Smathers Beach - Key West, FL
The idyllic Florida Keys have much in the way of entertainment, from key lime pies to breathtaking sunsets. Your children probably don’t know who Ernest Hemingway was (visit the historic house during downtime), but they'll enjoy the thrill of a jet-ski ride and some family volleyball. To top off the vacation, go out to Key West and touch historical treasures from the deep at the Shipwreck Museum.
10. Natural Bridges State Beach - Santa Cruz, CA
Although only one “natural bridge” still exists on this California state beach (the other two rock formations eroded into islands), this geological wonder inspires awe in sightseers. A nearby eucalyptus grove attracts thousands of monarch butterflies, which can be seen on hiking trails. If you’re not satisfied by the beach’s tide pools and resident seals, check out University of California Santa Cruz’s Seymour Marine Discovery Center, an aquarium next to Natural Bridges.
This article was written by content contributor Juliana Cohen and edited by Anne Harris.