At beach resorts, families enjoy simple pleasures like building sandcastles, searching for seashells and strolling hand-in-hand along the shore. The best family resorts up the excitement by adding boating, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and other water sports, as well as children’s programs that engage kids of all ages while teaching them about local culture, ecology, wildlife and history. Top properties also tend to offer tennis, golf, spas and seaside dining options for adults. Here are 10 of the best family beach resorts to consider on your next coastal getaway.
Written by Candyce H. Stapen and Hilarey Wojtowicz
Written by Candyce H. Stapen and Hilarey Wojtowicz
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
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 can spend time in the Gamers’ Lounge playing air hockey, Foosball and more. Relax as a family in a spacious guestroom or a one- to three-bedroom villa.
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina
Famous for shelling, the beaches in Fort Myers are popular with families who enjoy time in the sand and are interested in finding a treasure to take home. 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 one. Daily activities for kids and teens also include the Octopool activity pool, sand art, ice cream sundae stations, arts and crafts and more. 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.
South Seas Island Resort
The Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer miles of beaches decorated with the beautiful shells that wash ashore daily. The South Seas Island Resort offers families access to the special sand, as well as spacious guestrooms and villas, family activities and special programs for kids of all ages. ScoutAbout takes young kids on an educational scavenger hunt through the property that they’ll surely remember, while teens can take part in video game tournaments, game nights and other activities where they’ll make new friends. Families can come together at the Skully’s Family Interactive Center for crafts, activities, arcade games and more. Don’t forget to sign up for water sports, like kayaking, sailing, fishing and more, too. Book a one-, two- or three-bedroom Beach Villa for extra room and special amenities like laundry facility access and a full kitchen.
Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Maui’s Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort is both luxurious and family-friendly with a 50,000-square-foot spa for adults and the 25,000-plus-square-foot Wailea Canyon Activity Pool for kids. The resort is also located on the beach and fun can be had in the sand building castles, or in the ocean, snorkeling and kayaking through the water. Resort activities include making leis, nightly torch ceremonies, luaus and more. The Rock is the club for children, while teens have their own space in the Spot. There are seven dining options on the property, including Humuhumunukunukuapua’s -- an open-air restaurant named for the small state fish (with a really big name!) with Hawaiian- and Polynesian-inspired dishes. Retreat to an Ocean Room or other spacious guestroom or suite and enjoy mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs and private lanais.
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
From the 27-acre, up-market resort 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 on the property. During the summer months, kids can enjoy kayaking, sailing and swimming at the Wequassett’s Children’s Club, which also features a pirate ship activity area, with waterslides and spray features, plus indoor games and entertainment. Grab a bite as a family at one of the 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, or in front of a cozy fireplace.
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
Whether it’s the beach, time in one of the two pools, or fun in the sun with staff, families who visit the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island will find their vacation relaxing and entertaining. The resort underwent a full-property renovation in 2013 and features 340 guestrooms, plus nine 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.
Madden's on Gull Lake
Located in Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota, on Gull Lake’s Pine Beach Peninsula, Madden’s offers families an old-fashioned Midwest experience with water sports, a kids’ club, biking, fishing, bonfires, and more. Although the resort’s beach allows access to a lake and not an ocean, families with little ones will be pleased with the calm and shallow water available. Try water skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, 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.
The Beach Club
Gulf Shores, Alabama, offers families access to the Gulf of Mexico and the pristine beaches that boarder the water. The Beach Club is no exception and, as its name points out, families who stay at the resort will spend a lot of time on the beach. Rent 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 full kitchens and free Wi-Fi.
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
For luxurious, beachfront accommodations in California, families should stay at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. One of the area’s best beaches, Butterfly Beach, is located right outside the resort, with sand and sun on the Pacific. Families can enjoy water sports like kayaking, surfing and paddle boarding, too. 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, California cuisine. Book a Premier Room for a comfortable accommodation and a rate that includes complimentary access to the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club Pool.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Escape to Kiawah Island, located just 21 miles from Charleston, and enjoy a beach getaway at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort for fun on the sand, in the pool, at the kids’ club, and more. Pick up chairs, umbrellas and toys before relaxing along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Water sports like kayaking, surfing and paddle boarding are also available. When not in the mood for a day in the sand, head to the 8,500-square-foot pool, which features waterslides and a zero-entry point for young ones. Kids between ages 3 and 11 can have even more fun at Kamp Kiawah, where they’ll spend time with their own age groups making crafts, playing tennis or dyeing T-shirts. Teens between ages 12 and 18 will also enjoy activities together, like basketball, dancing or late-night movies. Book a room with a balcony at the resort’s Sanctuary Hotel for direct beach access and scenic views.
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10 Best Family Beach Resorts