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“The 10 Best Beaches for Families: 2011” by Parents®

Posted by Jody on October 25, 2011

Family Post by Alaina Diehl

Parents® has taken exceptional measures to spot out the best 10 family beaches with 10 runners-up. They “combed through water-quality reports, closings, and advisories for more than 1,000 U.S. beaches,” nixing those with “persistent problems and ones where the water isn’t tested.” After that, they evaluated three more “deal breakers” that families must consider—restrooms, calm surf, and lifeguards. Finally, beaches with nature trails and other perks made the cut. Kids or no kids, these beaches look like real treasure troves of beach and beachside activities. All we need to do is pack our swimsuits and enjoy the calm, clean waters of  “The 10 Best Beaches for Families.”

North Beach at Fort De Soto Park (Photo by Christopher Hollis/Wikimedia Commons)

1. North Beach at Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde, Florida

This beach is a perfect spot for the kiddos. The water is clear and clean, and this county park beach area features nature activities, a shallow and large lagoon, a playground with a pretend pirate ship, and the nearby Gulf Pier—a good spot for dolphin spotting! Fun and American history meet at the fort, where the family can explore remnants of the Spanish-American War.

2. Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Parents® picked this spot for its calm, shallow waters. Kids can peer into the tidal pools at low tide (look, but don’t touch!) and collect treasures off of the beach. The sand is also ideal for building sand castles and cycling.

3. Kama’ole Beach Park III, Maui, Hawaii

They got me at “Maui.” This beach, nicknamed Kam 3, is one of three beaches in the Kama’ole Beach Park. This is a fun nature spot with clear water and small waves—kids may be able to spot fish, puffer fish, and sea turtles. If you want a closer look, nearby vendors rent snorkeling equipment that can help make it happen. More family fun can be had in the grassy area behind the beach where visitors can enjoy games, fly kites, or eat shaved ice (a stand won’t be too far away!).

4. Coronado Central Beach, San Diego

Hotel del Coronado (Photo by Binksternet/Wikipedia)

A treasured memory from my childhood, this beach is a special stretch of sand. Great weather, pristine sands, and warm waters make this a great place to spend the day. Downsand from the famous Hotel del Coronado, you may find tide pools filled with sea creatures. As an extra added bonus, California beaches are smoke-free.

5. West Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter

This beach sounds like a blast. If your family likes the hands-on educational program approach to vacationing, then this beach with a Junior Ranger program will be right up your alley. Kids can complete a list of activities to receive a “beachcomber badge.” If you’re looking to run the kids down for naptime, there are several nearby nature trails to enjoy…and burn off about 1 ½ miles of energy to boot.

6. Mayflower Beach, Dennis, Massachusetts

This beautiful Cape Cod beach has an annual sand sculpture contest! You don’t have to be a kid to like digging sand into buckets. There are categories for kids ages 3-6 and 7-11, as well as family teams.

7. Coquina Beach Park, Bradenton, Florida

The “coquinas” (mini colorful shells) make this beach a popular treasure collecting spot. Other fun activities include walking the paved nature trail, enjoying the warm water, and kayaking – lucky kayakers will spot sea life favorites, such as the manatee (this beach is located in Manatee County), dolphin, or stingray!

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon (Photo by Postdlf/Wikimedia Commons)

8. Cannon Beach, Oregon

This lovely beach has the beach critters and the gorgeous views beach vacationers crave. The state-protected tidal pools are filled with colorful starfish and other creatures. Bring a camera to get snapshots of picturesque Haystack Rock, just off the beach. Even in the summer, the water stays cold enough to deter swimmers from diving right in. If you want to get in past your toes, you’ll want a wetsuit—fortunately for the kiddos, the Cannon Beach Surf Shop rents out toddler-sized suits.

9. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York

Are the people on this beach judging me for my department store swimsuit? According to Parents®, even though this white sand beach is overlooked by mansions, it retains a “down-to-earth” atmosphere. The real downside? Parking is by permit only on weekends. It’s a good idea to bike in or stay at a hotel that will drop you off.

10. North Beach, Racine, Wisconsin

If the beach isn’t enough to keep your kids busy, this Lake Michigan beach sports one of the state’s largest playgrounds. The zoo isn’t too far away, either.

Last but not least, you may want to check out one of the 10 runners-up: Siesta Key Public Beach, Siesta Key, Florida; South Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia; Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oaho, Hawaii; South Beach, Tybee Island, Georgia; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, Rhode Island; Hapuna Beach Park, Big Island, Hawaii; Cape May Point Beach, Cape May, New Jersey, Aliso Beach Park, South Laguna Beach, California; and Gulf State Park Beach, Gulf Shores, Alabama.

So many beaches, so little time!

Everyone will enjoy “The 10 best beaches for families!

2 Responses to ““The 10 Best Beaches for Families: 2011” by Parents®”

  1. I’ve been to some of these beaches and hope to get to all of them eventually. Based on my experiences I’d say this article is spot on, however, I would add Main Beach in Ogunquit, Maine ( as one of the best beaches for families.

    • Jody said

      You’re not alone in thinking Main Beach is worthy of top-tenning. Yankee Magazine mentions it in the “10 Best Beaches in New England,” which was slated to be our very next “Tuesday Top Ten”! Thank you so much for sending us your sound advice, and by all means, feel free to keep sharing it with us. Much obliged- E.G.D.

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