From coast to coast, these 5 family-friendly playgrounds are the perfect U.S. beach destinations for spring getaways with kids of all ages
Spring trips to U.S. beach destinations are a fantastic way for families to make new memories by the ocean before the summer crowds arrive. They provide the perfect opportunity for parents and kids to relax and rejuvenate. Spring beach vacations are often an excellent value as well, since rates for accommodations at this time are often considerably lower than during the prime summer season.
We’ve rounded up five ideal beach destinations for spring family trips. Each is slightly different, as every family’s idea of the perfect beach vacation isn’t the same. If you’re looking for the best place for a spring getaway, here are five beach towns that offer something unique for every member of your family.
Amelia Island, Florida
Florida is the first state that comes to mind when thinking about U.S. beach destinations for a warm family trip. Amelia Island, located about 30 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport in Northern Florida, is a phenomenal locale. Connected to the mainland by two bridges, Amelia Island features 13 miles of wide sandy beaches and a wealth of attractions. From Fort Clinch at the northern end to the high dunes at the south, vacationers will find plenty of appealing areas for relaxing and playing in the sand on this lovely Florida island. Families enjoy beachcombing for seashells and shark teeth, taking a scenic cruise tour with Amelia River Cruises, biking or hiking at Egan’s Creek Greenway and learning about local wildlife at the Amelia Island Nature Center.
If you plan an Amelia Island family vacation, set aside some time to explore nearby Cumberland Island via a river cruise or ferry. On Georgia’s southernmost barrier isle, you’ll find miles of deserted beaches, wild horses, armadillos, and the ruins of historic mansions and plantation homes. It’s well worth the trip.
There are several top-notch family-friendly Florida resorts on Amelia Island, including the oceanfront Omni Amelia Island Resort and the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Fort Clinch State Park offers more than 60 campsites, and numerous vacation home rentals are available. The Villas of Amelia Island features private homes and villas with access to 3.5 miles of private beach, multiple pools, 36 holes of championship golf, 23 tennis courts, nine on-site restaurants and more.
Corolla, North Carolina
Corolla is one of the 10 small towns found on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. While the destination is a popular choice for summer family vacations, it’s also an excellent choice for spring getaways. Although the late-March to mid-June temperatures are cooler, the beaches are less crowded, and accommodation rates are significantly lower in the off-season.
Located at the northern end of the Outer Banks, Corolla offers wide beaches and plenty of outdoor fun. Families can visit the historic Currituck Beach Lighthouse, explore the area by bike, go fishing and see the wild horses that freely roam in Corolla’s four-wheel-drive zone. Tours and backcountry safari trips are convenient ways to observe the wild horses in their natural habitat. It’s also fun to take a short drive down to Nags Head to climb the massive dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park and visit the nearby Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.
Where to stay
Hotels in the Corolla area include the Hampton Inn & Suites Outer Banks, the Inn at Corolla Light and the nearby Sanderling Resort. Families can also choose from hundreds of upscale vacation homes, villas and condominiums located throughout Corolla’s communities. For families with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, homes can be rented along the beaches north of Corolla’s paved roads as well. Family-friendly dining spots include North Banks Restaurant and Mama Easley’s.
Galveston Island, Texas
Galveston Island is another unique U.S. beach destination featuring 32 miles of beaches, a vibrant historic district and a wealth of family-friendly attractions. Located along the Gulf of Mexico, this barrier island offers something for all ages and interests. Galveston is also a popular cruise port, making it a good destination for families that wish to set sail after spending a few days vacationing on the island.
There are multiple beaches to choose from on Galveston Island. Stewart Beach is generally the top option for families and multigenerational groups. This beach is staffed with lifeguards and offers chair and umbrella rentals, food concessions, showers and changing rooms and volleyball courts. Families also enjoy playing at the 26-acre indoor/outdoor Schlitterbahn Galveston waterpark featuring a collection of over 30 rides, slides and chutes. The attractions at Galveston’s Moody Gardens are a draw for many families, too.
Galveston Island offers a wide selection of accommodations for families. Hotels range from the reasonably-priced Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On The Beach to the AAA Four Diamond San Luis Resort, Spa and Conference Center. Multi-bedroom vacation rentals and RV parks offer additional accommodation options.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island is a wonderful spring beach destination for a group vacation, particularly for active families. This island’s world-class golf courses, wide beaches and great restaurants attract vacationers year after year. Biking on the island’s hard-packed beaches and extensive network of trails is fun for all ages.
Hilton Head Island was named the top island in the United States for the fourth year in a row in the 33rd Annual Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards this year. It’s no wonder this is one of the top U.S. beach destinations on the East Coast. Families can enjoy 12 miles of beautiful beaches, 60 miles of trails for biking and hiking, an extensive array of boating and water sports, interactive children’s museums, supervised recreation programs, zip line adventures, nature cruises and boat tours. Some of the island’s top-notch dining venues, such as the Skull Creek Dockside Restaurant, are particularly family friendly.
Staying on the island
Located just a short drive from Savannah, Georgia, Hilton Head Island is easily accessible by car and offers a wide variety of resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals. Set on 5,000 oceanfront acres, the award-winning Sea Pines Resort caters to families with miles of beaches, three championship golf courses, tennis courts and academies, pools, biking trails, horseback riding, boating and water sports, and special events for families. Over 400 vacation rentals, villas, condos and hotel rooms are available at Sea Pines Resort. Hilton Head is also home to many other top family-friendly properties, including the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island.
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Little St. Simons Island is an excellent choice for families seeking a more secluded destination for their spring beach vacation. Little St. Simons Island is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles and is accessible only by boat. This spectacular 11,000-acre, privately-owned barrier island offers a secluded nature sanctuary filled with seven miles of white sand beaches, abundant wildlife, ancient maritime forests and marshlands.
Families and multigenerational groups can stay at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, an all-inclusive retreat perfect for families and nature lovers. The resort accommodates just 32 overnight guests in six cottages. Rates at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island include three full meals daily, non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited island activities and the use of recreational gear, naturalist-led excursions, and ferry transfers to and from the island.
The Lodge at Little St. Simons Island offers immersive experiences for adults and children. Little St. Simons Island guided adventures are well-suited for families. Some favorites include exploring the island’s untouched beaches, naturalist-accompanied kayaking trips through the coastal marshland, hiking outings and truck-based natural history tours. The island is also home to many migrating and resident bird species during the spring, so this natural wonder becomes the focus of many seasonal naturalist-led activities.
San Diego, California
Sunny San Diego is continually ranked as one of America’s best U.S. beach destinations for families. In fact, a recent study conducted by InsureMyTrip named San Diego as the best family vacation spot in the United States.
With 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, San Diego offers families a wide choice of beautiful beaches. Some of the best strands for families include La Jolla Shores, Coronado Beach, Del Mar Beach, Moonlight Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach. Kids also love watching the California Harbor Seals lazing on the beach at La Jolla Cove. Families can enjoy many other amazing attractions in San Diego, including the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND California, SeaWorld San Diego, Balboa Park and Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
San Diego is home to dozens of family-friendly resorts and hotels. Some of these amenity-rich properties offer direct beach access, multiple pools, sports facilities, and children’s programs. A few of the best beach-oriented options at a variety of price points include the historic Hotel del Coronado, Fairmont Grand Del Mar, La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, La Jolla Shores Hotel, Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa and the Bahia Beach Hotel. In addition, RV resorts, campgrounds and hundreds of vacation rental properties are available in San Diego.
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By Nancy Schretter, Contributing Editor
Header photo credit: Nancy Schretter