20 Family-Friendly Beach Towns to Visit on a Last-Minute Getaway

Mandy Velez | Jul 15, 2019 Home & Garden
20 Family-Friendly Beach Towns to Visit on a Last-Minute Getaway
Image: @litratu777 via Twenty20

myrtle beach
@litratu777 via Twenty20

Summer is the traditional time of year to go on vacation. It's usually warm, which makes for great beach trips. Sometimes those trips are planned, which is awesome. But other times, they're not. And that's OK. Just because a trip hasn't been planned doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken. Thanks to booking websites like Airbnb that and the Hotel Tonight app that often have openings or houses available last-minute, it's easier than ever to get a place to stay days or even hours in before the trip. It's summer after all, and there's only a finite period of time where it's perfectly acceptable to say, hey, let's go to the beach this weekend. Even if there isn't enough time to hop on a plane, there are plenty of beaches within driving distance to visit.

The key is going to a beach town that is family-friendly. Have some goals in mind during the quick planning phase, such as the travel time to get there versus how long the family will be able to spend there. Once that is taken care of, it's just a matter of looking at everything the towns have to offer. If the beach is all that's important, it makes things easy. But we found some great options for family-friendly beaches that also include other things to do with the kids. 

From mini golf and boardwalks to alligator fun in the South or camping in the Midwest, there's tons of accessible last-minute getaways to choose from. Some may even be close enough for a day trip. Even for a short trip, the beach towns we've picked are definitely worth a visit either now or in the future. Happy exploring!

  • Ocean City, Maryland

    ocean city
    @llski via Twenty20

    Ocean City, Maryland, is a classic American beach town. There's both a beach side and a bay side and lots of family-friendly activities from rides to boating.

  • Wildwood, New Jersey

    wildwood, nj
    @mreyz via Twenty20

    Wildwood, New Jersey, is a typical Jersey Shore experience, but it's only two hours from Philadelphia and offers family fun and tasty shore treats. Believe or not, one can get amazing slices of pizza here.

  • The Hamptons, New York

    @stonebrook108 via Twenty20

    The Hamptons is relatively simple for New Yorkers to get to and offers everything a beach should: houses, pools, and lots of sand. It's also a good place to hop on a bike and explore.

  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    Myrtle Beach
    @litratu777 via Twenty20

    Myrtle Beach is another East Coast beach town with a ton of attractions in addition to the beach. Plus, it's close enough to other places to visit in the South for a more varied trip. 

  • Narragansett, Rhode Island

    @rossa23 via Twenty20

    Rhode Island is becoming a more popular destination for weekend getaways. Newport is cute, but Narragansett has the beach. And beer for the adults.

  • St. Pete Beach, Florida

    @marn123424 via Twenty20

    Clearwater and St. Pete Beach, Florida, have less crowded beaches but still offer a family-friendly atmosphere. Plus there's lots of family-oriented resorts and restaurants. 

  • Cape May, New Jersey

    Cape May
    @flyingpuck via Twenty20

    Cape May is the southernmost Jersey beach and has beautiful Victorian houses lining the streets. In addition to the beach, there's a zoo and nature center for the kids.

  • Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

    @jotakesthecity via Twenty20

    Rehoboth, Delaware, has it all: a beach, boardwalk, rides, and the yummy food that comes with places like this. There's also a water park and farm tours. 

  • Outer Banks, North Carolina

    outer banks north carolina
    @bergemichelle via Twenty20

    The Outer Banks in North Carolina is much more laid-back than the bustling boardwalk-style beach towns and has many more family homes. It's perfect for those who want a simple, safe family getaway along the beach. 

  • Maui, Hawaii

    @debb_a via Twenty20

    Hawaii is a big vacation for East Coasters, but for those on the West Coast it's just a hop, skip, and a jump away for a weekend. The outdoor activities are endless. 

  • Santa Barbara, California

    santa barbara
    @johannesbau via Twenty20

    California is one big family-friendly kinda state with a lot to offer, but Santa Barbara is special. There's an amazing zoo, ice cream shops, kayaking, and more.

  • Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

    san diego
    @nikmock via Twenty20

    Down the coast is Coronado Beach in San Diego. There's the beach, of course, but also a famous creamery, zoo, and a Wizard of Oz exhibit. 

  • Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

    puerto rico
    @moloneymike via Twenty20

    Puerto Rico is quite easy to get to and affordable for a weekend or long weekend getaway. It has sandy white beaches and nearby the San Juan fort for little ones to explore.

  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts

    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    @marn123424 via Twenty20

    Cape Cod is another classic and quaint beach town for those in the New England area. There's tons of seashells to collect and bikes to ride.

  • Navarre Beach, Florida

    Navarre Beach, FL
    @LYNBAKER729 via Twenty20

    The beach is beautiful in Navarre, but there are opportunities for learning too. There's a marine science center as well as a turtle conservation center and butterfly house.

  • Port Aransas Beach, Texas

    Port Aransas Beach, Port Aransas, TX
    @v__nicole___ via Twenty20

    Yes, Texas has beaches, too. This area has sand sculpture fests and pirate cruises.

  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Indiana

    Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, IN
    @frostygorillaz via Twenty20

    The Indiana Dunes National Park is a family-friendly option for those in the Midwest. It has events year-round in addition to camping and geocaching.

  • Virginia Beach, Virginia

    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    @traveler742 via Twenty20

    Virginia Beach offers families a free beach for anyone to enjoy any time. There's also a boardwalk, bike riding, and fishing.

  • Gulf State Park, Alabama

    Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL
    @christine_dumouch via Twenty20

    The cool thing about Alabama's Gulf Shores is not just the beaches and marine life (kids will love the dolphin tour), but the Alligator Alley where kids can feed one aptly named Captain Crunch.

  • Kiawah Island, South Carolina

    Kiawah Island
    @ijourneytoo via Twenty20

    Kiawah Island is a perfect beach town if just getting away from the hustle and bustle is the goal. It's a great biking town, in addition to its expansive beach, and nearby amazing barbecue, too.

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