Top U.S. Beach Resorts for Families

I thought I’d continue the top beach conversation (Dana, thanks for the new list!). This time, I’ve got a list of the top beach resorts for families. The original list from parents.com includes beaches in Jamaica and the Bahamas, but I’ve excluded those for the sake of continuity of the conversation.

Enjoy beach season!
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Another Top Ten Beach list

I saw that Sharon posted Dr. Beach’s Top Ten Beach list, and just to round out the pickings, I thought I’d post another top ten list (the 100 best everything list). So if you’re not a Dr. Beach follower, maybe you’ll prefer this list:

  1. Panama City Beach, Florida
  2. Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
  3. Kee Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
  4. Kailua Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
  5. Green Sand Beach, Hawaii
  6. Daytona Beach, Florida
  7. La Jolla Cove, California
  8. Caladesi Island, Florida
  9. Fort De Soto, Florida
  10. Kua Bay, Hawaii

Some thoughts: Dr. Beach’s list has more diversity—he’s got a few New York beaches and one in South Carolina, whereas this list is exclusively Hawaii and Florida with one California beach. Also, the only beach that overlaps on both lists is Caladesi Island, which Dr. Beach ranks as #1 and this list ranks as #8. I think it’s safe to say that Caladesi Island is definitely worth going to!
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Dr. Beach recommends…

I’m SO frustrated! We were just in the Tampa area and were choosing between a few beaches in the area and DIDN’T go to Caladesi Island State Park Beach. And NOW, only now, do I read that Dr. Beach rates Caladesi Island SP as the TOP beach in America!

Caladesi Island is a barrier island north of Clearwater (which is not far from Tampa Bay) with white sands, crystal clear, steel-blue Gulf waters, and forests filled with birds and wildlife.

Stephen P. Leatherman (a.k.a. Dr. Beach) makes a list of the nation’s best beaches every year, and I ALWAYS look at, but for some reason it escaped my mind this year.

The other beaches in the top ten for 2008 are:

So no big deal…just next time I need to check the list before heading out to the beach!

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Summer Trip is announced!

Two or three times a year, my parents take me and the kids on a fantastic vacation, all expenses paid. I have a brother and sister-in-law and a niece who either get their own vacation with mom and dad or join us. This year it’ll be the whole family. Obviously we all get input into the destination, but m&d get the final say. And this year, we’ll all be going to…SAN FRANCISCO!

I am really excited. I have never been to San Fran and have always wanted to. Sometimes the trips are small, like 2-3 nights in the mountains nearby, but it seems like this is going to be a biggie. We’ll be going for 8 days and they already have quite an itinerary.

Here are the definites, and of course, if anyone has any MUST DO’S, please let me know so I can pass on the advice to my parents:

  1. Basic Brown Bear Factory – This will obviously be a winner with the kids, but I’ve always loved factory tours, so I’m looking forward to this as well. And my mother actually collects teddy bears, so that’s probably the real reason why we’re going.
  2. Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf – None of us (except my sister-in-law) have ever been to a wax museum. I, of course, am most looking forward to Elvis Presley. Alexandra says she can’t wait to see Leonardo DiCaprio – how does she even know who that is?
  3. Alcatraz Island – This one is really my dad’s top choice, so he says “it ain’t gettin’ moved off any list.” So here ya go, dad.

It’s a small list so far, but they only just decided on a location this morning and we don’t leave till mid-July. So we’ve got plenty of time. I only wanted to share because I was so excited about the announcement and I have friends who keep asking where we’re going this summer!

Anyways, as always, please feel free to offer advice! Like what are the best beaches? Is it worth it to go to the zoo up there (Oakland Zoo or the San Francisco Zoological Gardens) if we have such a good zoo (Zoo Atlanta) right near our new home?

Thanks for your help!


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St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida – an educational/business/pleasure trip!

Listed on www.parents.com as one of the top six (why won’t they just give us ten??) Florida vacations for families, I was thrilled when Rick said he had to be in St. Petersburg for a week. He’d be busy 5 out of the 7 days, so said I should plan accordingly, keeping in mind that he’s dying to go to the Salvador Dali Museum.

So as we all know by now, I love nothing more than planning a trip (almost more than actually experiencing the trip – is that normal?), so I got out my travel books and browsed the travel websites, and here’s what I came up with, keeping in mind the need to combine fun with education:

We’re going to spend in between time at either St. Pete Beach, Madeira Beach or St. Petersburg Municipal Beach on Treasure Island. Gulf Coast winds make for good kite flying, so I figure this can be turned into a science lesson on wind and tide as well as the science of kite flying (there must be a great unit on this somewhere—anyone know?).

Salvador Dali Museum is a definite, especially since that’ll be a whole family outing. Rick has actually been prepping for the girls for this one, which is nice for me b/c I’m learning a lot about Dali and Surrealism along the way. Also on the museum list is the Florida International Museum which I’m still a bit iffy on. There is a permanent exhibit on JFK and there’ll be an exhibit on Princess Di when we’ll be there, and I’m not so sure I can either get the girls interested or make these topics relevant. Really I want to go because both exhibits are right up MY alley…. so we’ll see.

Something high on my list is Heritage Village in Largo which is off of Tampa Bay (a bit of a drive). It’s a recreated Florida pioneer village. There are historic homes, a one-room schoolhouse, and De Soto National Memorial, a fort dating back to 1898 which protected the bay area during the Spanish-American War.

Definitely not my first choice, but the girls want to go to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay… And it’s only redeeming factor is that there’s an African Safari. Also, apparently there are “educational presentations” so we’ll see what that’s about…

Down and dirty in the California Beach Scene

Someone just posted about about going to Mission Beach in San Diego, which is, I grant you a pretty good beach, especially for families. But it is such a shame to even mention San Diego and not mention some of their other amazing beaches. Seriously—what about all us young hot dudes who want to get some action? We’re not as likely to stick to the run-of-the-mill family beaches now, are we? I’m the type of guy who pops over to the beach for a lunch hour or an early morning jog or an after hours romp in the sack. Beaches aren’t just for afternoon picnickers…. San Diego’s beaches aren’t exactly in my backyard (like Hermosa Beach in LA which I really do go to almost every day), but as you know (or as you will know if you keep reading what I write) I’m a California boy and I know all there is to know. So here are some more of my top beaches.

I’ve already mentioned (in a previous post) about Black’s Beach which is also in the area, but there’s also Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and Coronado Beach which MUST NOT BE MISSED! Especially Coronado Beach, kinda urban, kinda trippy. I guess this post wasn’t really about getting down and dirty. Though if I had a penny for every time I used these beaches as my gentlemen’s lair…

Honeymoon in Hawaii

While it was still freezing in NYC, my new, spectacular wife and I escaped for 2 weeks (spring break plus some) to Hawaii for our belated honeymoon. We’re back already but if I close my eyes and concentrate just a little, I think I can take you back there…

Warmth is showered upon me as I peel off the layers of clothes that had kept me warm in the airports and the flight. I squinted my eyes with pleasure and splashed suntan lotion on Carrie’s (now bare) shoulders. We got in a cab that brought us to the Sea Mountain Resort, but not without giving us a tour of a most picturesque landscape. Our windows were open and we could see, feel, and smell Hawaii bursting with life around us. The sight of the waving trees and glistening sands drenched in heat and ocean winds was delectable and whispered our names, beckoning us to partake in its splendor.

The majestic sands of the Punaluu Black Sand Beach won us over for our first day trip. We dragged our feet along the lava granules (sand) lining the beach. Inspired by the natural foot massage, I treated Carrie to a full body Punaluu massage (created and carried out by me) where I took the coarse rocks mixed with warm water and spread them out on her body. We saw turtles and went snorkeling. We went swimming in the freshwater pond at the far end of the beach and saw ducks. We ate a romantic picnic lunch and lazed out in the sun for hours.

I had just finished a unit on volcanoes for my third graders and had promised to take pictures of some volcanoes in Hawaii; and what better place to do so than the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The biggest and most active volcanoes dot this park. The environmental features of this island are absolutely phenomenal. The hike we went on brought us to dramatic vistas that were surrounded by the looming heights of volcanic displays.

Spencer Beach Park and Hapuna Beach State Park demanded a few days of our time, and we broke up beach time with eating at fantastic restaurants and participating in (kinda cheesy, but fun) luaus. We also went to Mauna Kea Beach, which honestly, I can’t remember anything specific about—maybe that’s the one that we camped out at?

The Hawaiian palate is impossible to describe—it’s like someone threw some colors on a canvas and then swirled them magically into a beach sunset. The air is imbued with passion and chaos—it is only through these great forces that this sort of beauty exists.

We took fantastic pictures, but I’m not sure if I know how to post to this site. I’ll see if I can figure it out…
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