12 Best U.S. Beach Resorts for Families 2021

Categories: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The best beach resorts for families offer water sports such as boating, sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking, as well as children’s programs that engage kids of all ages while teaching them about local culture, ecology, wildlife and history. Our favorite beach resorts for families also offer plenty of activities for adults—tennis, golf, spas and seaside dining options. These are the best U.S. beach resorts to consider for your next vacation with the kids.

1. Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA

The Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a family favorite when it comes to beach resorts in California. One of Santa Barbara‘s best beaches, Butterfly Beach is located right outside the resort, and families can enjoy water sports like kayaking, surfing and paddleboarding. The complimentary Kids For All Seasons club will keep little ones entertained with arts and crafts, cookie-making workshops, painting, and more. For families with kids of all ages, enjoy other onsite fun, including tennis, movies and swimming. For seaside dining, head to Bella Vista for Italian-inspired cuisine. Book a Premier Room, which includes complimentary access to the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club Pool.

2. The Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort – Ogunquit, ME

Want to experience New England at its best? Plan a summer vacation at The Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort, which overlooks the rocky shores of Ogunquit, Maine. Be sure to book well in advance, though—this family beach resort quickly books up every summer! The reason? There are many, including the resort’s pools and hot tubs, lawn activities, onsite dining, and downtown location close to more dining options and stores. This family beach resort also sits directly in front of the famous Marginal Way—a paved walking path with stellar views. Accommodation options range from small oceanfront guestrooms to luxury suites with full kitchens.

3. Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort – Amelia Island, FL

Sprawled across 1,350 acres on a barrier island located just 45 minutes from Jacksonville, Florida, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort feels worlds away. With 3.5 miles of beach, the resort offers a plethora of seaside fun for all ages. Sign up for crabbing, shark tooth hunts and kayaking through the salt marshes with the resort’s naturalists, or explore the property via bike or Segway. At Camp Amelia, kids between ages 4 and 12 discover nature, science, salt life and more through interactive learning experiences. Teens will enjoy water sports and mini-golf, or they can spend time in the Gamers’ Lounge playing air hockey, Foosball and more. Relax as a family in a spacious guestroom or a one-, two- or three-bedroom villa.

4. Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina – Fort Meyers, FL

Famous for shelling, the beaches in Fort Myers are popular with families who enjoy quiet time in the sand. The Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina offers families direct beach access with chairs, umbrellas and toys, plus water sports like kayaking, sailing and paddle biking. Aquacycle paddle bikes are like floating tricycles and kids will surely have a blast riding them! Daily activities for kids and teens also include the Octopool activity pool, sand art, ice cream sundae stations, and arts and crafts. Sparky’s Kidds Kamp is specifically for children ages 4 to 12 and offers supervised activities and games. Book a two-bedroom villa with ocean views—the rate includes a complimentary breakfast.

5. Napili Kai Beach Resort – Lahaina, HI

Nobody does family beach resorts like Hawaii! One of our favorites is the Napili Kai Beach Resort, set on 10 dreamy acres of oceanfront in Maui. Aside from water sports, sand castle building and sunbathing, you’ll spend your days swimming; enjoying keiki activites with the kids, such as shuffleboard and lei-making; and playing tennis (onsite) and golf (next door). The resort has one restaurant, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily. Opt for a suite to enjoy extra space and a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator.

6. The Beach Club – Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf Shores, Alabama, offers families access to the Gulf of Mexico and the pristine beaches that border the water. The Beach Club is no exception and, as its name implies, families who stay at the resort will spend a lot of time on the beach. Rent beach chairs and umbrellas and spread out in the sand with the kids. When you’ve had enough, head to one of the pool areas, all of which have small wading pools for toddlers. The Village Hideaway will keep teens entertained with arcade games, billiards and a golf simulator, while kids between ages 5 and 11 head to the resort’s kids’ club for scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, nature walks, and more. Other scheduled activities for families include dive-in movies and live music. Book one of the Gulf-Front Condominiums for accommodations that come with a full kitchen and free Wi-Fi.

7. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club – Harwich, MA

From the 27-acre, upmarket family beach hotel that is the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, families can explore Chatham, Massachusetts, or take a complimentary boat ride to reach Cape Cod National Seashore’s undeveloped beaches. However, it might be difficult to drag the kids away from the fun at this family beach resort! During the summer months, kids can enjoy kayaking, sailing and swimming at the Wequassett’s kids’ club, which also features a pirate ship activity area with waterslides and spray features, plus indoor games and entertainment. Grab a bite to eat at one of the beach resort’s restaurants, such as the Outer Bar & Grille, where seafood, pizza and burgers can be enjoyed on the outdoor patio. Stay in one of the Water View Cottages and relax on a private balcony or deck. 

8. Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island – Hilton Head, SC

Whether it’s the beach, time in one of the two pools, or fun in the sun with staff, Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island will give you a family vacation that’s both relaxing and entertaining. The family beach resort offers 340 guestrooms, plus suites with amenities like mini-fridges and private balconies. Head to the sand and stop by the Just Us Kids club for beach toys, game times, arts and crafts, and more. Rent bicycles through Just Us Kids and explore the resort as a family, uncovering wildlife like turtles, fish, alligators and more during the adventure. After working up an appetite, dine at one of the three onsite restaurants, two of which offer kids’ menus.

9. Madden’s on Gull Lake – Brainerd, MN

Not all beach resorts are ocean resorts! Madden’s on Gull Lake offers families a classic Midwest beach experience in Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota, with water sports, a kids’ club, biking, fishing, bonfires, and more. Parents with little ones will especially love this family beach resort, as its lake waters are calm and shallow. Try water skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing and more on Gull Lake, or head to one of the five swimming pools. Adventure Cove is the seasonal kids’ club that offers activities like beach games, trail rides and water park visits. Come together for a family meal with fantastic views of the water at Madden’s Lodge. Tables are surrounded by scenic water views on three sides. Relax in a villa before waking and taking an easy stroll to the beach for more fun.

10. King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort – St. Simons Island, GA

The only oceanfront resort on St. Simons Island, the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort offers families myriad activities, including water sports, pools, tennis and golf. There are two restaurants onsite (plus in-room dining), and accommodations include guestrooms, villas and full houses—perfect for multigenerational groups. The resort’s location also offers easy access to all the charm of St. Simons Island, including St. Simons Island Light and Massengale Park.

11. Hotel del Coronado – Coronado, CA

What’s a list of the best beach resorts without the Hotel del? This iconic resort sits on stunning Coronado Beach, just outside of San Diego. The resort is just as much a place to stay as it is a tourist attraction, with shopping, dining (including al fresco options by the beach), a spa, and resort tours available to the public. Stay the night to enjoy the pools (where kids can learn how to be mermaids), and roast S’mores over a fire on the beach.

12. Wild Dunes Resort – Isle of Palms, SC

After you’ve explored Charleston, head out to the Isle of Palms for a classic beach vacation at Wild Dunes Resort. This resort has it all: a wide variety of accommodations, from standard guestrooms to entire homes; onsite restaurants; shopping; a spa; kids’ activities; and several pools. It even has its own boardwalk, where you can grab a frozen treat on your way to the beach.