The beach vacation is almost as iconic of American culture as hot dogs and football Sunday. But when it comes to actually planning your family’s beach vacation, the options can feel overwhelming. It can be tempting to simply go to the same beach that your parents took you to that one time in your childhood, or to just go wherever your next door neighbors went last summer when they all came back with a perfect tan. But if you’re looking for a new state to travel to, or simply a new beach nearby your home, here are six for you to consider. Whether you’re looking for relaxation in the sun, adventure in the ocean, or fun at night, there’s a beach town or resort area for you.
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina, is an island just off the coast, edged by beach the entire way around. The island is easily accessible by car on a bridge. The island is covered with resorts and high-end neighborhoods — in fact, the majority of the island’s acreage is located within gated communities. Hilton Head Island is an incredibly family-friendly location, and boasts everything from watersports to hiking to relaxing sandy beaches. Opt for a resort if you’re looking for spa treatment and drinks on the beach. Consider renting a home or condo if you’d like more independence and adventure.
Wherever you stay, there are ample places to rent bikes from, either to ride on the beach or through the wooded areas of the interior island. If you’re staying at a resort or hotel, you’ll likely even be able to rent bicycles from the front desk. And, if golf is up your alley, Hilton Head Island is renowned for its many golf courses. You could spend an entire vacation just hopping from one golf course to the next.
If visiting the island for one vacation just isn’t enough, you can even consider going through TPG Houses to find a more permanent option to enjoy life on the island.
Martha’s Vineyard is a small island located just off the coast of Massachusetts, slightly south of Cape Cod. Unlike Hilton Head Island, Martha’s Vineyard is not accessible by car — most people opt to take the ferry across the island. The interior of the island has farmland and, as the name implies, ample vineyards. Because of this, and because the ample number of affluent homes on the island, Martha’s Vineyard is known as a haven for the wealthy. A majority of the homes are occupied only seasonally, by either owners or renters. If you’re looking for a relaxing, high-end, and boozy vacation, then Martha’s Vineyard may be for you.
Although much of Martha’s Vineyard is geared toward those who are old enough to drink, there are still plenty of activities for families. The island’s beaches provide opportunities to relax in the sun, and the town offers activities at night, such as film showings. That being said, the adults in the group may enjoy a short vacation at Martha’s Vineyard more fully if the kids could stay with the grandparents for a few days.
Myrtle Beach, in coastal South Carolina, offers more activity and excitement than an ordinary, quiet beach town. In addition to sandy, sunny beaches that stretch in a line for 60 miles, the town of Myrtle Beach boasts an extensive boardwalk. The boardwalk is dotted with restaurants, bars, arcades, and shops. To cap it all off, the boardwalk also has a family-friendly amusement park. With all of this, there is plenty to do once the sun goes down. And, since you’re on still on the mainland, you can always drive inland for a more city feel if the beach life gets too boring for you or your kids.
Like Myrtle Beach, Ocean City in Maryland provides more than just beaches. It also features an extensive boardwalk with the same types of shops, restaurants, and bars. There’s a small amusement park in Ocean City, as well, in addition to the expected beaches, which are popular and typically crowded during the summer season. The Ocean City area also provides ample opportunity for kayaking and other boat activities.
A short drive away from Ocean City is a casino, which has become nearly synonymous with the city itself. This provides a getaway for adults looking to leave their kids at home for a night, as well as a break in beach activities.
If you’re willing to shell out for some plane tickets, consider flying to Hawaii for your next beach vacation. Manele Bay on the island of Lana’i offers the perfect tropical getaway, with white beaches and plenty of marine life. The bay isn’t quite as busy as other Hawaiian destinations, but still provides opportunities to surf and snorkel. The water is warm and the marine life colorful and abundant. If you’re looking for the idyllic postcard vacation, complete with pristine beaches and maybe some summery drinks, then Manele Bay may be the place for you.
If Hawaii is a little too far for your travel budget, stay continental with a west coast beach vacation instead. Venice Beach and nearby Santa Monica, near Los Angeles, California, are known for their relaxed and slightly off-kilter feel. If you’re looking for a quirky, unique locale, then this might be it. Not only are the beaches beautiful, but they’re bordered by independent shops and eateries, each with its own unique personality. The beach town has been described as “bohemian,” which populates it with a large number of young and funky people.
The beach is great for people-watching, and for trying food that you’ve probably never heard of before. In addition, the town center is nearby enough to allow for nightlife and a break of pace when the sun gets too hot. If you or your family would like to explore the city while you’re there, downtown Los Angeles is incredibly closeby, although of course you’ll have to account for traffic.
Whichever beach or town you pick for your family’s vacation, just be sure to do your research and to rely on your intuition. And, of course, have fun!