Escape to the Shore: 19+ Best East Coast Beach Towns To Visit With Kids This Summer

A young girl standing on a beach holding a surfboard on Kiawah Island, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Travelers searching for a perfect family getaway that combines sun, sand, and adventure will find it in one of the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids! From building sandcastles in North Carolina to watching whales in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, there’s something magical about spending time by the ocean. Not only are these beaches beautiful, but they also provide plenty of activities suitable for children of all ages, including kayak tours, amusement parks, hiking trails, and more. Many seaside towns have charming boardwalks where families can enjoy ice cream cones while strolling along the waterfront. Don’t forget about seafood – this coast is famous for its freshly caught lobster rolls and crab cakes! In this article, we’ve rounded up some amazing beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids. Plus, where to stay. Keep reading to learn more! 

Best Beach Towns in Maine to Visit with Kids

Choosing the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids? Maine undoubtedly takes the cake! This New England state is a treasure trove of some incredibly charming beach towns. Each is perfect for a fun-filled family vacation. Keep reading to learn more! 

RELATED: The Ultimate Beach Packing List: Essentials For Families Of All Ages

Kennebunkport

A yellow tug boat move along a bay near Kennebunkport, Maine, with classic Maine home in the background.
Photo Courtesy: Lori VanderWall

When it comes to the best east coast beach towns to visit with kids, one destination that always tops the list is Kennebunkport, Maine. This charming seaside village boasts picture-perfect beaches, quaint shops, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Plus, from fresh seafood to ice cream and everything in between, your family will love dining in this beach town! 

For scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean, families can drive or bike down Ocean Avenue. There’s also soft white sand at Goose Rocks Beach, where kids can enjoy a day of sun, fun in the water, and seashell hunting along the tidal pools! (Please note there’s no lifeguard here.) Mother’s Beach has a fun playground for kids, with chances to spot fish and other marine life at low tide. For a more low-key experience, visit the sand-and-pebble Arundel Beach, also known as Colony Beach.

Or, take a Kylie’s Chance Tour to see the city’s best sights, like on a lobster or whale watching tour. Kids will appreciate Kennebunkport’s streetcars at The Seashore Trolley Museum. End your day with a treat at Rococo Ice Cream!

RELATED: 10 Best Places to Visit in Maine with Kids this Summer

Where to Stay in Kennebunkport with Kids

Wondering where to stay in Kennebunkport with your kids? Try the Nonantum Resort, located on the riverfront just a short way from Dock Square. Dating back to 1914, The Colony Hotel sits on its own private beach, great for your family vacation in Kennebunkport. There’s also Cliff House Maine, perched on a hill overlooking the ocean in Ogunquit. Families can also try renting vacation homes on Airbnb or Vrbo

Here are the top 50 Maine family-friendly vacation rentals | Vrbo.com

Best Beach Towns in New Jersey to Visit with Kids

Get ready for some serious fun in the sun; we’re talking about the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids, and New Jersey is right at the top of that list! From Cape May to Ocean City, there’s a wide array of family-friendly activities and attractions that are sure to keep your little ones entertained all day long. Here are our favorite suggestions! 

RELATED: 16 Fantastic East Coast Summer Destinations Families Will Love

Cape May

A pleasant beach scene, with water lapping on the shore and beach goers lounging in the sand near Cape May, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Irene Sh

Cape May, New Jersey, is the ultimate destination for families looking to soak up some sun, sand, and sea! Nestled on the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May offers up stunning views and endless stretches of sand to enjoy. But that’s not all – this charming town also has fantastic attractions for young visitors!

Start off by taking a stroll down historic Washington Street Mall, where you’ll find quaint shops and restaurants perfect for family meals and browsing unique gifts. Families can even take in the twinkling lights via a horse and carriage ride! When it’s time to hit the beach, visit Cape May Public Beach, offering chances to swim, build sandcastles, or dine alfresco at nearby restaurants like Mad Batter. Though not ideal for swimming, Sunset Beach also has magnificent views in the evening.

Families can also take in breathtaking ocean views while strolling on the two-mile-long boardwalk or rent bikes for a leisurely ride along nature trails. Nearby, you’ll also find Cape May State Park, a protected area housing native wildlife, a beach, and the famous Cape May Lighthouse. Finally, if you have more time to explore, visit the Beach Plum Farm or the Cape May Zoo. Cape May is also known for its delicious seafood restaurants serving fresh oysters, crabs, and lobsters! 

Here are 16 Fantastic East Coast Summer Destinations Families Will Love

Ocean City

Beach Patrol Boat in Ocean City, NJ, one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Credit: BJ Neary via Wikimedia

Ocean City, New Jersey, is the ultimate family vacation destination and one of the best East Coast beach towns to visit with kids! With miles of pristine beaches, world-class Boardwalk amusements, and various dining and shopping options, there’s something for everyone in this historic seaside town. 

With eight miles of sandy beaches, Ocean City is the perfect place to enjoy some sun and waves. Regardless of which access point you choose, the waters will be shallow enough for children to enjoy. (Remember to secure a beach tag!) The boardwalk area also features two piers with rides and games, making it the perfect place to take a break from swimming.

Ride your bike past souvenir shops, grab a slice from Manco & Manco’s, and some ice cream for dessert. Or, stop into an arcade to beat the heat for a few. (OC Waterpark is another alternative!) Toddlers will love Playland’s Castaway Cove, an amusement park with kiddie rides ideal for preschool and under. At night, enjoy a family spin on the giant Ocean City Ferris Wheel when you visit the famous Gillian’s Wonderland Pier! 

Book your family’s stay in Ocean City through Vrbo here!

Honorable Mentions for Beach Towns in New Jersey with Kids

New Jersey has many amazing, kid-friendly beaches, especially in the Cape May area. If you want to switch it up for a day or consider visiting a smaller beach town, check out this option! 

Stone Harbor

Around 30 minutes from Cape May, Stone Harbor is a charming seaside village with pristine white sand, crystal clear waters, and plenty of room to spread out. Check out the seven miles of beaches – our favorite beaches are 89th Street Beach and 96th Street Beach. Or, take a walk along the boardwalk to browse shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and arcade games. Remember to sample some ice cream from the famous Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream. If your family loves nature, head over to the Wetlands Institute

Avalon

When it comes to cozy beach towns on the East Coast for families, Avalon, NJ, is an absolute gem! From its pristine beaches and towering dunes to its charming storefronts and friendly locals, this coastal paradise has everything your family could want in a vacation destination. Take a stroll along the boardwalk or spend lazy afternoons building sandcastles on Avalon’s expansive beaches. (Beach tags are required for all visitors) Families can also check out the Pirate Island Miniature Golf Course, go on a boat tour, or try water sports like jet skiing.

Reserve a homestay in Avalon here through Vrbo!

Best Beach Towns in Massachusetts to Visit with Kids

If you’re looking for a fun and unforgettable getaway with your little ones, then look no further than Massachusetts! This state boasts some of the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids, from Cape Cod to Newburyport. Keep reading to learn more! 

Chatham

Several people mill about the Chatham Pier Fish Market on a sunny day in Cape Cod, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Chatham Pier Fish Market

Chatham, Massachusetts, is a quintessential New England beach town and one of our favorite places to visit with kids this summer! This charming seaside village located at the “elbow” of Cape Cod boasts an array of pristine beaches perfect for families to explore and relax, not to mention other outdoor adventures! 

From Lighthouse Beach, you can climb to the top of Chatham Lighthouse and get a bird’s eye view of this magical town. Then, at Cockle Cove Beach, you can see tidal pools teeming with colorful sea creatures. There is no shortage of fun in the sand and surf here. For those looking for unique experiences beyond just playing in the waves, check out Monomoy Island Excursions to take a seal tour or see sharks up close. Families can also burn off energy at the playground on Main Street, go crabbing off the pier or explore Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

When it comes time to refuel after all that salty air has worked up your appetite, Chatham is known for its fresh seafood. We love grabbing lunch at the Chatham Pier Fish Market. Those up for a little drive can also enjoy dinner at Kate’s Fried Seafood & Ice Cream in nearby Brewster.

Find more things to do by reading about the 15 Best Things To Do In Cape Cod With Kids!

Where to Stay in Chatham with Kids

Need somewhere to stay in Chatham with kids? We suggest Chatham Bars Inn for its upscale, secluded setting. Families can also consider looking for accommodations outside of Chatham on the rest of Cape Cod, like the Cape Cod Inflatable Park and Family Resort, Sea Crest Beach Hotel, the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, or Green Harbor Resort. Or, check out Vrbo for home rentals. 

Martha’s Vineyard

A young boy stands in front of several geese on Martha's Vineyard, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Megan Tucker

Nestled off the coast of Massachusetts lies six of the best beach towns on the East Coast for families, all located in one cool area: Martha’s Vineyard. From Cape Cod, The Vineyard is accessible by ferry, which can also transport your automobile as well. This magical island boasts miles of sandy beaches, rolling hills dotted with colorful houses, and quaint fishing villages that transport you back in time. Plus, there are lots of activities to keep both kids and parents entertained in the summer months. Keep in mind it can be quite expensive in the summer, however. 

Families can soak up the sun at kid-friendly beaches across Martha’s Vineyard, including Fuller Street Beach in Edgartown, Long Point Beach, and South Beach in Katama (please bed advised: there are undertow currents on this beach and often large swells; parents should be advised to keep a close watch on young children here). Kids can enjoy calm waves, clean shores, and lots of opportunities for swimming or sandcastle building!

Other things to do in Martha’s Vineyard depend on which town you’ll be staying in. Here are some ideas to get you started:

READ NEXT: Best Tips For A Magical Family Vacation On Martha’s Vineyard

Where to Stay in Martha’s Vineyard with Kids

Most families staying in Martha’s Vineyard choose a rental property from agencies like Martha’s Vineyard Vacation Rentals and Sandpiper Rentals. Or, you can also check out homes on Vrbo. 

For a hotel experience, the waterfront The Harborside Inn offers accommodations, including some with patios and suites. Harbor View Hotel has traditional rooms in the main historic building, alongside one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages.

In Oak Bluffs, consider Summercamp Hotel with fun décor, kid and pet-friendly rooms, and a game room. The Surfside Hotel has spacious suites, gear rentals, and a convenient location. For an oceanside resort, families love The Winnetu, which has both a hotel and homes for rent.

Honorable Mentions for Beach Towns in Massachusetts for Families

Looking for more beach towns in Massachusetts for families? Check out this honorable mention!

Newburyport

The epitome of a family-friendly beach town on the East Coast, Newburyport features a picturesque downtown area filled with charming shops, delicious seafood restaurants, and stunning beaches perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. Families can check out Plum Island Beach, see wildlife at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, or check out the Joppa Flats Education Center. Don’t forget to stroll through the shops and boutiques in downtown Newburyport or stop for a bite to eat at Bob’s Lobster or The Grog Restaurant for classic New England seafood fare!

Best Beach Towns in Rhode Island to Visit with Kids

If you’re on the lookout for the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with your little ones, then Rhode Island is where you ought to be headed next! This charming coastal state boasts a plethora of family-friendly coastal destinations that offer something for everyone. Here are the best beach towns in Rhode Island to visit with kids! 

Block Island

A view of a beach on Block Island with kids playing on the beach and houses in the background.
Photo Courtesy: JJBers

Block Island is hands down one of the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids! Nestled just off the coast of mainland Rhode Island, this charming island is home to some of the most pristine beaches in New England. From swimming to sunbathing or water sports, it is ideal for families looking to soak up some sun and enjoy everything that coastal living offers. To get here, families can take an hour-long ferry ride from Point Judith, Rhode Island. 

Crescent Beach is the most popular stretch of shoreline on the island. Families especially love the section called Fred Benson Town Beach, which features calmer water than the rest of the island (Block Island is known for its strong rip tides) and lifeguards on duty. Just south of here, families with small children can also visit Baby Beach, which features tidal pools where kids can find hermit crabs, collect seashells, or simply wade in the shallow water.

Families can also rent bikes and explore the quaint town, grab ice cream at one of the many shops or restaurants like The Ice Cream Place, and take a hike on one of the island’s nature trails. Or, explore its rich history by visiting historical landmarks like the Southeast Lighthouse, which has a small museum open to visitors in the summer. 

Narragansett

Aerial view of Narragansettri Beach, an East Coast beach.
Photo Courtesy: Town of Narragansett

Narragansett has everything you need for a perfect summer vacation in New England! Not only does this charming coastal community boast stunning beaches with crystal clear waters and soft sand perfect for little ones to build sandcastles in, but it also offers an array of family-friendly activities that will keep everyone entertained all day long.

Narragansett boasts two stunning beaches – Narragansett Town Beach and Scarborough State Beach. Both beaches offer miles of soft white sand, perfect for building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or simply relaxing while soaking up some sun. The clear blue waters are ideal for swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding too!

If you’re feeling brave enough, take your kids on a thrilling ride at Adventureland Family Fun Park or enjoy the park’s other activities, such as mini-golf. For history buffs interested in exploring further beyond the coastline, don’t miss out on visiting Historic Point Judith Lighthouse, which was built in the 1800s. And who can resist fresh seafood? You can find delicious fish tacos and lobster rolls at any number of fantastic restaurants along Ocean Road – the views alone will make it worth your while.

Best Beach Towns in New York to Visit with Kids

Looking for the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids? Head straight to New York! With its miles of pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters, this state has got some truly fantastic destinations that are perfect for a family vacation. Stay tuned to learn more about planning a family beach vacation to New York! 

RELATED: 13 Amazing Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC

Fire Island

A sandy shoreline of Fire Island, a family-friendly East Coast town with sandy beaches and beach houses.

Next on our list, Fire Island might easily be the best East Coast beach town to visit with kids! With untouched natural beauty, pristine beaches, and an array of fun activities for all ages, you’ll never run out of things to do on this lively barrier island located off the coast of Long Island. It’s around 2 and a half hours from NYC, and accessible via ferry from different parts of Long Island, including Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue. Plus, since the island is car-free, it’s easy to navigate and laid back, showcasing a friendly environment where everyone knows each other. 

Certain communities on Fire Island, such as Saltaire, Ocean Beach, and Ocean Bay Park, are more kid-friendly than others. While Ocean Beach features free access and playgrounds, Ocean Bay Park also offers bike rentals. Or, stroll the boardwalk to encounter other cozy communities within Fire Island, like Kismet Beach, featuring a nearby local market. White-tailed deer and other wild animals also frequently appear throughout the island, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

On mainland LI in Bellport, kids savor ice cream from Carla Maria’s while parents shop at nearby boutiques like TOLA. Outdoor enthusiasts will also love a visit to Watch Hill, a campground providing ranger-led programs to better acquaint you with the area. From there, walk to Davis to end your night at a delicious restaurant! 

Where to Stay on Fire Island with Kids

Kid-friendly resorts are less common on Fire Island, so if you’re looking for somewhere to stay with kids, check out Airbnb or Vrbo for home rentals! 

The Hamptons + Montauk

When it comes to the best beach towns on the East Coast for families, there’s no doubt that The Hamptons and Montauk are top contenders. With miles of pristine beaches, countless outdoor activities, and plenty of family-friendly restaurants and shops to explore, these iconic destinations in Long Island offer a little something for everyone in the summer. 

The Hamptons are home to the calm Long Beach and the livelier Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack Harbor. If you’re near Amagansett, visit Atlantic Beach, or Main Beach in East Hampton. Families staying in Westhampton can also check out the low-key Ponquogue Beach, which occasionally hosts live music. Don’t forget Shock Ice Cream for dessert! Cooper’s Beach in Southampton is also popular among families, followed by dinner at 75 Main. Most beaches require daily parking passes and tags. 

Montauk is another popular summer destination at the very tip of the Hamptons. Teens can surf at Ditch Plains Beach, home to numerous surf schools, and plenty of waves to practice. For younger children, visit Kirk Park Beach. Families will find lots of other kid-friendly things to do in Montauk, too, like visiting the Montauk Point Lighthouse or exploring the historical Camp Hero State Park. Besides hiking, Montauk is also great for fishing, chartering a boat, or renting a bike to ride through town. 

Where to Stay in Montauk + The Hamptons with Kids

Need somewhere to stay in The Hamptons with kids? Most families choose to rent a home from a site like Vrbo. If you’d prefer a hotel stay, try The Hampton Maid, featuring spacious, resort-style rooms and suites in a convenient location. Sea Crest Resort in Amagansett is another fantastic option for families. It has a seasonal cabana service and quick access to grassy-covered dunes and the ocean. 

In Montauk, choose a hotel like Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, situated directly on the beach. Hero Beach Club offers airy rooms and a tranquil atmosphere. Families can also stay at luxury hotels like The Driftwood Resort, Montauk Beachcomber, and Beach Plum Resort.

Best Beach Towns in Delaware to Visit with Kids

If you’re looking for the ultimate family-friendly beach vacation, then look no further than the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids – Delaware! This charming state boasts some of the most stunningly picturesque seaside resorts and pristine beaches in America, including Rehoboth Beach. Keep reading to learn more! 

READ NEXT: 14 Best Lakes For A Family Vacation (Less Than 4 Hours From NYC!)

Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids, filled with visitors and beach umbrellas on a sunny day.
Photo Courtesy: Pafotofan

Looking for a family-friendly getaway that will leave your kids begging to come back year after year? Look no further than Rehoboth Beach – one of the best East Coast beach towns to visit with kids! With its long stretches of sandy shorelines, a bustling boardwalk complete with amusement park rides and games, and plenty of shops and restaurants perfect for a quick snack or souvenir hunt, it’s just a short drive from major cities like Philadelphia (two hours), Baltimore (two and a half hours), and Washington D.C. (2 hours and 45 minutes). 

Spend time playing in the sand or relaxing on the city’s main beach, which is free to enter. It’s also wide and flat, making it perfect for building sandcastles and playing in the waves. Plus, there are lots of restaurants within walking distance along Rehoboth Beach’s iconic boardwalk. Grab a slice of pizza from Grotto’s, a bucket of beach fries at Thrashers, and soft-serve ice cream at Kohr Brothers.

Or, if kids want to play in the water longer, then take them to Jungle Jim’s Waterpark. They’ll love the waterslides as well as the lazy river! There are also lots of arcades, rides, and places to play games along the boardwalk. For more things to do with kids, don’t forget about Funland. This amusement park has been delighting kids since the 1960s! 

Where to Stay in Rehoboth Beach with Kids 

Looking for somewhere to stay in Rehoboth Beach with kids? With many hotels located within a 5-minute walk of the beach and boardwalk, you won’t have to spend a fortune on accommodations. Plus, most hotels offer complimentary beach gear, pools, and other amenities to entertain the whole family. Try the Atlantic Sand & Conference Center, located right on the boardwalk and beach. (Make sure to treat your family to a room overlooking the ocean!)

If you prefer to be a few blocks off the beach, stay at the Bellmoor Inn and Spa. It offers large rooms, a pool for the kids, and a magnificent spa for parents.

Best Beach Towns in Maryland to Visit with Kids

Are you ready to hit the beach with your little ones? Look no further than Maryland’s best beach towns on the East Coast! Home to the iconic Ocean City, this mid-Atlantic state is famous for its delicious seafood, bustling boardwalks with family-friendly attractions, and of course, stunning beaches. Here are some suggestions on where to plan a family beach vacation in Maryland! 

Ocean City

If you’re searching for the ultimate destination to experience all the fun and excitement of a classic beach vacation with your kids, look no further than Ocean City, Maryland! A true gem among the best East Coast beach towns to visit with kids, this iconic resort town has welcomed families to its shores since the early 1900s. It also boasts miles of golden sand beaches perfect for building sandcastles or soaking up some sun, as well as thrilling amusement parks and other kid-friendly attractions.

With over 10 miles of shoreline, families will find plenty of places to settle in and enjoy the weather. Play in the sand, body surf the waves, or cruise in a rental from Bayside Boat Rentals. Then, take a stroll along the famous boardwalk, which stretches over 2 miles long and is packed with shops, carnival games, eateries, and more.

From rides and games at Trimper’s Rides or Jolly Roger Amusement Park to iconic treats from Thrasher’s French Fries, Fisher’s Popcorn, Dumser’s Dairyland, and Dough Roller, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant coastal town. And, to take a break from the heat, kids will love checking out the oddities at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! To connect with nature, take a short drive to Assateague Island and see the wild horses that live there!

Where to Stay in Ocean City with Kids

There are so many places to stay in Ocean City with kids, including kid-friendly hotels. The Princess Royal Oceanfront Resort sits on the beach and boasts an indoor, Olympic-sized pool. Holiday Inn and Suites Ocean City offers children’s pools inside and along the beach, as well as a water slide. Then, Hilton Garden Inn Ocean City Oceanfront provides suites for more space, as well as an indoor pool. The Carousel Hotel and Condos even has an ice rink. Finally, for an option on the bayside of town, families can enjoy two- and three-bedroom units with water views at Bay Club Resort. Or, check out Vrbo for rental options. 

Best Beach Towns in Virginia to Visit with Kids

For families looking for a fun-filled beach vacation on the East Coast, Virginia has some of the best beach towns to visit with kids! From the sandy shores of Virginia Beach to the charming town of Cape Charles, there’s something for all ages. Here are some of the best East Coast beach vacations in Virginia for families! 

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach on a sunny day, a family-friendly beach vacation spot on the East Coast, with people walking on the sandy shore and distant buildings.
Photo Courtesy: DanRVA via Wikimedia

Virginia Beach is the perfect destination for all families seeking an unforgettable beach vacation on the East Coast! This coastal gem boasts miles upon miles of pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear water that’s perfect for swimming and splashing and plenty of fun activities for all ages.

Whether you’re looking to spend some quality time building sandcastles or riding the waves on a boogie board, Sandbridge Beach, Chesapeake Bay Beach, and Oceanfront Resort Beach are all free and open to the public. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, take advantage of the many water sports available such as kayaking, windsurfing, and paddle boarding.

Or, check out the hiking trails in nearby First Landing State Park. You can also take a walk down the boardwalk to grab an ice cream. And, of course, no trip to Virginia Beach would be complete without visiting the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, one of the best aquariums in the country. When it comes time to refuel, you’ll find plenty of delicious restaurants serving up fresh seafood caught right off the Virginia coast! 

Honorable Mention for Beach Towns in Virginia with Kids

Regarding the best beach towns on the East Coast for families, Virginia has a lot to offer! While we’ve already covered some standout destinations, here is an honorable mention that definitely deserves some recognition. Keep reading to learn more! 

Cape Charles

If you’re looking for a vacation spot that combines sandy beaches, scenic views, and a welcoming atmosphere for the whole family, visit Cape Charles, located on the Chesapeake Bay. It has a beautiful public beach – Cape Charles Town Beach, which has shallow water and lifeguards on duty during the summer months. Families can also take dolphin-watching boat tours, go kayaking, walk the boardwalk, or stop for a bite to eat. In downtown Cape Charles, you can also appreciate the preserved Victorian architecture. History buffs can’t miss the  Fort Monroe National Monument and the iconic Cape Charles Lighthouse!

Best Beach Towns in North Carolina to Visit with Kids

North Carolina is home to some of the most amazing and family-friendly seaside destinations that are perfect for a summer adventure! From bustling boardwalks to serene oceanside escapes, this state boasts some of the most family-friendly beach towns around. Whether you’re searching for miles of pristine sand or an action-packed adventure, keep reading to learn more! 

Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina from top floor of the Holiday Inn.
Photo Courtesy: Idawriter via Wikimedia

Searching for the perfect place to relax and unwind with your family? Look no further than Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina! Considered one of the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids, it’s located just a short drive from Raleigh (around two hours) and offers everything you need for a fun and relaxing beach vacation. 

Kids will delight in the array of water sports available at Wrightsville Beach, from kayaking and paddleboarding to surfing. But if relaxation is what you crave most, then take advantage of some much-needed downtime by simply lounging under an umbrella while watching your little ones build sandcastles. There are various public access points along the shore where families can access the beach.

Plus, the town is home to some great attractions for kids, like the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, which offers self-guided walking tours. Or, for younger kids, drive to nearby Wilmington to visit the Children’s Museum of Wilmington. Families can also go fishing off Johnnie Mercers Pier or check out The Loop, a two-and-a-half-mile hiking and birdwatching trail that also features a playground for kids along the way. 

Where to Stay in Wrightsville Beach with Kids

If you need somewhere to stay in Wrightsville Beach with kids, look no further! The town has a wide range of accommodations, from camping and RV sites to hotels and vacation rentals, so you can find the perfect place to stay. If you’re looking for a typical resort experience, check out Blockade Runner Beach Resort or Holiday Inn Resort Lumina On Wrightsville Beach. For home rentals suitable for larger families, check out Vrbo

Outer Banks

Left Image: A girl wearing a unicorn hoodie poses on a beach in the Outer Banks. Right Image: A young boy wanders a beach in the Outer Banks at sunset, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Rotem

When it comes to the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids, there’s one destination that truly stands out: the Outer Banks in North Carolina! This string of barrier islands features miles of pretty coastline dotted with charming towns and plenty of kid-friendly activities. 

From the calm waters of Corolla Beach to surfing at Kitty Hawk or Kill Devil Hills Beach, families will love visiting during the summer. Nags Head, located in the central Outer Banks, is also a popular destination for families due to its beaches and rich history. Beyond Nags Head, history buffs can even see the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Or, tour the area’s local lighthouses. Of course, kids will love sliding down the super-tall sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park!

Animal lovers can visit the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge or take a 4×4 Tour in Corolla. Featuring wild horses, this special excursion is offered by companies such as Corolla Wild Horse Tours, Wild Horse Adventure Tours, and Bob’s Wild Horse Tours. Then, enjoy more family fun, like mini-golf and arcade games at Paradise Golf & Arcade

Where to Stay Near the Outer Banks with Kids

Accommodations in The Outer Banks usually depend on which town you’ll be staying in. Provided by agencies such as Twiddy and OBX Lodging, rental homes are usually more popular than resorts. There are also more than 50 local agencies in addition to sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

However, if you’re really craving a resort experience, we recommend the Sanderling Resort, Oasis Suites Hotel, TownPlace Suites Kill Devil Hills, and Hilton Garden Inn Kitty Hawk. All feature a more traditional hotel setting, with rooms near the beach. 

READ NEXT: A Mom’s Guide To The Perfect Family Beach Vacation In The Outer Banks

Best Beach Towns in South Carolina to Visit with Kids

South Carolina offers a host of stunning seaside locations perfect for those who love sunshine and warm weather activities! With its endless stretches of coastline and warm, welcoming locals, this charming state has everything you need for a fun-filled family vacation. Here are some more suggestions on the best East Coast beaches for families! 

Hilton Head

Two kids splash in the water at a beach in Hilton Head on a sunny day.
Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Rotem

As one of the best East Coast beach towns to visit with kids, Hilton Head has everything a family could want for an unforgettable vacation! With its stunning views, pristine beaches, and endless entertainment options for children and adults alike, this charming coastal sanctuary promises nothing but excitement, adventure, and endless memories. And don’t forget about all of the delicious restaurants and ice cream shops that’ll satisfy every craving imaginable!

Whether you’re looking to go fishing or crabbing, play golf or tennis at one of the many world-class resorts, or simply relax on the warm sand – Hilton Head truly has something for everyone. Family-friendly beaches include Islanders Beach Park, Driessen Beach, and Coligny Beach. Kids can swim, build sandcastles, or visit the playground while their parents unwind.

Then, you can horseback ride at Lawton Stables or visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge to see more local animals. Families can also see Hilton Head’s wildlife by water by taking a sailing tour or going bird-watching with Commander Zodiac. Or, go dolphin watching with Hilton Head Dolphin Tours. Adventure Cove is always fun for mini-golf, and kids will love the arcade. Visit The Sea Pines Resort to climb up its legendary lighthouse! 

Where to Stay in Hilton Head with Kids

Wondering where to stay in Hilton Head with your kids? For a luxury stay,  consider booking the Montage Palmetto Bluff, which has a big property and accommodations ranging from one-bedroom suites to Southern-style cottages. Then, Omni Hilton Head features three golf courses, a kayaking lagoon, and three outdoor pools. Disney fans will love a stay at Disney’s Hilton Head Resort, which is located less than a mile from Shelter Cove Harbour. Find more family-friendly hotels in Hilton Head when you read about the Best Family Hotels in Hilton Head (All Parent-Recommended).

For apartment-style accommodations, try Marriott’s SurfWatch. Or, explore homes and condos in Palmetto Dunes and The Sea Pines Resort, among other options on Vrbo

RELATED: Best Family Hotels in Hilton Head (All Parent-Recommended)

Kiawah Island

Two young kids riding bikes on a beach on Kiawah Island, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

When it comes to the best East Coast beach towns to visit with kids, Kiawah Island is a must-see destination. Located 25 miles southwest of Charleston, this beautiful barrier island in South Carolina boasts 10 miles of pristine beaches, stunning sunsets, some of the best golf courses in the country, and lush greenery that will leave you in awe. Plus, since there’s little traffic and even fewer crowds, it’s perfect for a tranquil escape! 

Spend your days sunning on the wide sandy shorelines, paddling through marsh-lined creeks, or riding bikes around the island without worry. The island is split into two beach areas: East Beach and West Beach. Beachwalker County Park on West Beach is the only public access point. Water sports, such as kayaking and surfing, are always available (alongside many other fun-filled activities!).

For children curious about marine life, there’s the chance to go on dolphin-watching tours, where they can catch glimpses of bottlenose dolphins jumping out of the waves. When you want a break, check out the various restaurants in the town center, try bird-watching, or go for a hike. Adults can’t miss a chance to play on the iconic courses at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, designed by legendary architects.

Pro Tip: Families visiting the island need to secure a Gate Pass if not staying through a resort. 

Where to Stay on Kiawah Island with Kids

Families who want to stay on Kiawah Island with kids can book accommodations at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which boasts one-bedroom suites, two outdoor pools, and more kid-friendly amenities. Or, check out Vrbo for home rentals. 

Families searching for a budget-friendly vacation can check out these 21 Affordable Summer Vacation Destinations With Kids

Honorable Mentions for Beach Towns in South Carolina for Families 

Looking for the best beach towns on the East Coast for families might seem like an overwhelming task, but South Carolina has got you covered. Here is one honorable mention to consider adding to your itinerary! 

RELATED: Best Barrier Islands For Your South Carolina Family Vacation

Edisto Beach

If you’re looking for fun beach towns on the East Coast in South Carolina to visit with kids, Edisto Beach is definitely worth adding to your list! Nestled in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, this charming town is part of the larger Edisto Island and showcases an endless stretch of scenic sand and surf. It’s also just a short drive from Charleston – around an hour and a half! Families can get around by bike or golf cart and head to Edisto Beach State Park to soak up the sun. Or, go hiking through the park. Though there are few restaurants and shops on the island, there’s a wonderful farmer’s market. Not to mention family fun like the Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve & Wildlife Management Area!

Best Beach Towns in Georgia to Visit with Kids

If you’re looking for the perfect family vacation spot, hop on over to Georgia’s best beach towns on the East Coast. This charming southern state offers a plethora of sandy shores and seaside fun all year round. Keep reading to learn more about the best family beach vacations to take in the United States this summer! 

Sea Island

A view of the shoreline of Sea Island in Georgia.

When it comes to the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids, Sea Island undoubtedly stands in a class of its own! As one of Georgia’s barrier islands, this idyllic slice of paradise is home to stunning stretches of gorgeous sand lapped by crystal-clear waters that offer endless opportunities for splashing and frolicking in the sun. Beyond just being a picturesque destination, though, Sea Island also boasts some incredible family-friendly activities that make it an absolute must-visit for parents and their little ones alike. 

Accessible via a bridge from St. Simons Island, access to Sea Island is limited to resort guests since it’s privately owned. Of course, relaxing at the resort is always an option, thanks to luxurious options like The Cloister at Sea Island, where parents can unwind while their little ones participate in supervised activities like crafts and games. The private Cloister Beach is great for families who want to enjoy the resort’s amenities, like access to the hotel’s restaurants or pool.

Other activities for families include kayaking, paddle boarding, horseback riding, hiking, and more. And when you’re not soaking up some sun in a cozy beach cabana or building sandcastles, Sea Island offers an abundance of dining options featuring delectable seafood cuisine made from fresh-caught local ingredients.

Where to Stay on Sea Island with Kids

As mentioned, only guests staying at the Sea Island Resort can access the island. Within the resort, families can choose from a variety of different hotels, though The Cloister at Sea Island is the most family-friendly. It features oceanfront villas, an indoor pool, access to the beach, and so much more. 

Tybee Island

There are few east coast beach towns more picturesque than Tybee Island, Georgia! While it may be best known as a romantic getaway destination, this vibrant coastal community is packed with exciting attractions that promise fun for the whole family. Sitting just off the coast of Savannah, it offers a unique blend of southern charm and coastal relaxation.

Tybee Island comprises four main areas: North Beach, Mid Island Beach, South Beach, and Back River. A lot of families like staying on the north end, which features the historic Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum. Adventure seekers can also try their hand at parasailing, jet skiing, or paddleboarding, while those who prefer a more laid-back vibe can indulge in some fishing or dolphin watching. Multiple family-friendly companies offer it, such as Tybee Island Dolphin Adventure Tours or Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours. Depending on which you choose, the tour should last about an hour, including an entertaining voiceover by one of the guides.

On the south end, you can also enjoy access to Tybee Island’s Pier and Pavilion, the main beach area, and Tybee’s Marine Center. Families who want a historical experience can also visit nearby Fort Pulaski.

Where to Stay on Tybee Island with Kids

If you need somewhere to stay on Tybee Island with kids, consider the Beachview Inn & Spa, which features vintage rooms with kitchenettes and private porches. It’s also a short walk from the beach. Or, check out Vrbo for home rentals on Tybee Island!

Best Beach Towns in Florida to Visit with Kids

If you’re planning a family vacation to the Sunshine State, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the best beach towns on the East Coast to visit with kids! From crystal-clear waters and soft sand beaches to a plethora of fun-filled activities, these family-friendly destinations have it all. Keep reading to start planning your next adventure! 

Amelia Island

Mother and daughter walking a horse on the beach at sunset on Amelia Island, one of the best beach towns on the East Coast with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Peter W. Cross and Patrick Farrell

If you’re looking for the best East Coast beach towns to visit with kids, Amelia Island has got to be at the top of your list. Located near major cities such as Jacksonville, this picturesque island off the coast of Florida offers everything a family could want in a beach vacation – 13 miles of pristine sandy beaches, clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling, fun water activities like kayaking and paddleboarding, and plenty of kid-friendly attractions.

Families with young children will love Main Beach Park. It’s a great place to build sandcastles, paddle in the shallows, and explore the tide pools. For older kids, there’s plenty of room to run around and a nearby skate park to make friends. Downtown, you’ll also find Fernandina Beach, which features shallow water for little ones. Plus, a pirate-themed playground nearby! Looking for a beach that’s a little more secluded? Seaside Park is located at the end of a long boardwalk, an excellent spot for fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching. Fort Clinch State Park is another superb option for families who want to avoid crowds. Plus, there’s a historic fort right next to the beach that kids will love exploring. 

To appreciate the scenery, take the Egan Creek’s Greenway, a kid-friendly loop around Egan’s Creek. Watch out for bobcats, alligators, and more wildlife along the way! Animal lovers may also fancy a visit to the Amelia Island Nature Center. Or, learn more about Amelia Island’s history at the American Beach Museum and the Pippi Longstocking’s House. 

Where to Stay on Amelia Island with Kids

If you need somewhere to stay on Amelia Island with kids, we recommend The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island. It showcases direct access to the beach, elegant suites with separate living room areas, and both an indoor and outdoor pool. Then, families can also stay at Omni Amelia Island. Set on the scenic Fernandina Beach, it boasts elegant, ocean-inspired rooms or a choice of larger suites with kitchenettes. There’s also an indoor and outdoor pool, a day spa, and a golf course for parents.

Visiting Florida with kids? Check out these Florida Beaches For Families: A Guide To The Sunshine State’s Best Coastal Spots By Region

Happy Travels!

Kids carry boogie boards along a board walk on a South Carolina island.
Photo Courtesy: Anna Massion

We hope you found this article featuring an Escape to the Shore: 19+ Best East Coast Beach Towns To Visit With Kids This Summer helpful in planning your trip with kids! The United States East Coast is a paradise for families looking to create lasting memories and bond over fun experiences, from fun in the sun to hiking, munching on delicious seafood, and more. Enjoy your beach vacation with your kids! 

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.