17 Best Beaches in US for Families

Pacific Ocean. Top beaches in the US for families
Grab a sunset along the Pacific Ocean. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker 

A beach day soothes people so plan a trip to one of the Best Beaches in the US this year. The US features 100,000 miles of coastline according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Beach goers have lots of room to spread out for a much-needed beach day.  With all the beaches across the US, visitors will find different types of beaches like colored sand from inky black to pure white The beaches in the  U.S. are also sanctuaries for  wildlife  and shelling. Here is a list of the best beaches in the U.S.

Black sand beach
The black sand is actually eroded lava. Credit: Catherine Parker

Best Beaches for Colored Sand

The U.S. offers beaches of many colors, thanks to the varied geograhy. Beach goers will find pure white, straw-colored, black, pink and one very rare  green sand beach. The Island of Hawaii offers both a black and green sand beach and the most remote islands in the world.

Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, Island of  Hawaii

This remote beaches gets its unusal color from olivine crystals as a result of the Mauna Loa eruption 49,000 years ago. To reach this beach, a 5.5-mile hike is required and it doesn’t offer any services.

Located at the southern tip of the Island of Hawaii, exit off Highway 11 between mile marker 68 and 70 and hike to  the beach.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Island of  Hawaii

Another colored sand beach on Hawaii, this one is also made of eroded lava. The black sand is a stunning contrast to the deep blue water. Panalu’u Beach is framed by coconut palms and offers a food trailer.

Located south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park off Highway 11 at the end of Ninole Loop Road, a few miles south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Find street parking nearby.

Waimanola Beach Park on Oahu, Hawaii. Credit: Catherine Parker

White Sand Beaches

Gulf  State Park, Orange Beach, Alabama

Along the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama offers white sand beaches that feature soft sand and squeak when beach-goers walk on them. Gulf State Park offers a pavilion with restrooms and showers for an easy beach day.

Located at 20115 State Park Rd., Gulf Shores. All day parking is $10. 

Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

From Pensacola to Panama City on Florida’s panhandle, families can find miles of sugar white sand beaches on Scenic Highway 30-A. A family favorite for years, the beaches remain uncrowded except around the larger towns.

Located 375 Main Park Rd. Parking is $5 and find rinse-off showers.

Waimānalo Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

On the windward side of the island, this park is far from the crowds of Waikiki. Find a three-mile stretch of sand, popular with photographers.

Located 41-741 Kaleniana’ole Highway. Features off-highway parking.

Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

On the North Shore, this area is known for its big waves during the winter. Though the summer offers calmer water and an uncrowded long stretch of straw-colored sand.

Located north of Pūpūkea-Paumalū Forest Reserve. Parking along the Highway 83.

Hapuna Beach, Big Island of Hawaii

One of the most scenic beaches near Kona. Popular spot with tourists and locals alike.

Located north of Kona along Highway 19. Find restrooms and rinse off showers.

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Tide Pools. Top beaches in the US for families
Walk around the tide pools at Cabrillo National Historical Monument with the kids. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Best Beaches for Animal Watching

Kids love beaches as much as kids love animals. So find beaches that combine both.

Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi, Texas

Kids are crazy for sea turtles. Padre Island National Seashore offers five different varieties of the Gulf of Mexico sea turtles, including the Kemp’s ridley. Hatchling releases happen in the spring and offer families the opportunity to see the tiny turtles make their way to the water, unaided.

Located at 20301 Park Road 22. Admission is $10 for one day pass.

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, California

Kids love to discover tiny eco-systems so don’t miss this unique West Coast experience when visiting San Diego. Cabrillo National Monument offers one of the top places to tide pool in California.

Cabrillo features one of the best protected and easily accessible areas to explore with kids. With several different tide pool zones, families can see more animals.

Located at 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr. Admission is $20 per vehicle.

Seals of San Simeon. Top beaches in the US for families.
The seals of San Simeon sleep and snort the day away. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
Hearst San Simeon State Park, San Simeon, California

Elephant Sea lions nap along the beach in a large rookery. The Hearst San Simeon State Park offers a boardwalk to safely watch the massive seals. During our visit in June, the males fought each other for mating rights with bellows and battles.

Located at 500 San Simeon-Monterey Creek Rd. Find off-highway parking.

Explore Lime Kiln State Park. Top beaches in the US for Families.
Lime Kiln State Park features a lighthouse and offers whale watching from the beach. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
Lime Kiln Point State ParkSan Juan Island, Washington

Whale watching usually requires a boat except on San Juan Island, a short ferry ride from the Seattle area. Lime Kiln State Park offers seasonal orca whale watching from their shore. San Juan National Historical Park-American Camp offers another spot to catch the resident pod of orcas.

Located at 1567 West Side Rd.

Explore the beaches of Olympic National Park with kids. Top beaches in the US for families.
I found deserted beaches in Olympic National Park to explore with the kids. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Kalaloch Beach 4,  Olympic National Park, Washington

My kids scampered over rocks and waded through shallow water to explore the tide pools. We found ribbed limpets, acorn barnacles, and giant green anemones. My kids loved this experience and talked about it for days.

Located at 167422 U.S.-101.

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Silver Strand State Beach. Where to go in San Diego with kids. Top beaches in the US for families.
Explore Silver Strand State Beach on Coronado Island. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Best Beaches for Shelling

Sitting in the beach chair reading bubblegum fiction pretty much equals a perfect day for me. Though take a moment and dig deeper by collecting some shells. Or consider visiting a beach known for shelling.

Sanibel Island, Florida

A barrier island near Ft. Myers, Florida. Sanibel Island offers some of the best shelling because of the east-to-west orientation of the beach.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado Island, California

During a recent visit, I delighted in finding several whole sand dollars during my walk. Though protected by state law, I found lots of shells along the beach.

Located at 5000 California Highway 75.

Moonstone Beach in California. Top beaches in the US for families.
Not your traditional beach, visit Moonstone Beach for the tiny tumbled stones. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
Moonstone Beach, Hearst San Simeon State Park, California

Beaches offer more than shells. At Moonstone Beach, I found tiny tumbled moonstone, jade and bloodstone along the waterline. Dig a little deeper for larger stones.

Located off Highway 1 in Cambria.

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The legendary Hotel del Coronado offers exceptional service to its overnight guests and for day visitors wanting to enjoy the ambience without spending the night.

Best Beaches for Catching a Sunset

West Coast beaches can’t be beat for sunsets. Catch the fiery sun as it drips below the horizon and watch the sky fade from aubergine to indigo.

Coronado Beach, Coronado Island, California

With the Victorian Hotel del Coronado as a backdrop, it’s San Diego’s most picturesque beach. On the largest stretch of sand, families can rent chairs, fly a kite or make a sand castle. The Hotel del Coronado offers rentals along with restaurants for day visitors.

Will Rogers State Beach, Pacific Palisades, California

A popular beach close to Santa Monica for families to watch the sun fall below the horizon in a kaleidoscope of color. It offers more parking than nearby beaches.

Know Before You Go

  • Pack a cooler full of snacks if spending the whole day, like fresh fruit and lots of water.
  • Parking is always an issue at the beach on summer weekends.
  • Arrive early and bring cash for parking.

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A beach getaway is the best. Sitting in a chaise while watching the waves crash soothes the soul. Got the best beaches across the U.S. for families, including best beaches for shelling, best beaches for marine life, best white sand beaches in the U.S. Best Beaches in U.S. for families | Best White Sand Beaches in U.S. | Best Beaches for Shelling | Best Beaches for Marine Life | Top Beaches in Hawaii #Beaches #BestBeaches

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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