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 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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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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West Coast Beaches Trump East Coasts

Just read the post on the top 10 east coast beaches and thought I’d add my 2 cents about the fantastic California beaches—which, let’s face it, are much much better beaches than the ones in the east. I’ve been up and down the California coast a thousand times, so I know what I’m talking about.

Not to be too obvious or anything, but if you’ve never been to Venice Beach, you’re missing out on one of life’s great experiences. I mean, it’s definitely not one of your most serene and romantic beaches and it’s definitely a bit (or a lot) touristy, but it’s fun. People breathing fire and riding unicycles and doing all sorts of other bizarre performances line the promenade. And there is some solid street food. I guess as a local it’s not where I like spending my afternoons, but the occasional stop by Venice Beach is always a good reminder of how much vibrant life we’ve got at our fingertips in the amazing, colorful world. I think the first time I got really drunk was on Venice Beach.

Seal Beach might be my favorite, mainly because I remember going there with my family every Fall for as long as I can remember for the Seal Beach Sandcastle Festival. There’s something about the sand at Seal Beach which is perfect for molding and you can’t imagine the creations that these people come up with. I used to want to be a sandcastle construction man when I grew up. Ah, to be young again…)

Black’s Beach
— an unofficial nude beach. Need I say more? I’m a 24 year old single guy. Not to be a stereotype or anything…

Ok, moving right along. Baker Beach in San Francisco is pretty cool. I’ve gone fishing there a few times. Pismo Beach is definitely up there. It’s mentioned at the end of Big Lebowski…not that that makes it a good beach, but I’m just saying…

I practically lived at Avila Beach when I was in college (Cal Poly) so I can’t not put that on this list. Also good fishing here. And here’s a bit of trivia: the first motel, Motel Inn, ever is still alive and well on Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo.

Four more spots on my top 10 list and a thousand more beaches….A bit more obscure, but worth checking out is Stinson Beach. Good beach and good hiking. Jerry Garcia lived here, along with many other of the Merry Pranksters. Some good trivia. I guess if I had to choose three more, they’d be Doheny State Beach – Dana Point, Beacon’s Beach, and Bolsa Chica State Beach — all in Southern California, closer to where I grew up, and probably some of the most visited beaches (by me, at least).

I’m sorry—there’s no way these beaches compare to anything on the east coast. West Coast rocks!

Top 10 East Coast Beaches (not including Florida)

I just got back from a WHIRLWIND of a vacation! As a graduation present to ourselves, 2 of my best friends and I packed a car with plenty of bathing suits and went on an East Coast tour of all the beaches we can find. We brought a tent and sometimes camped out by the water and sometimes were lucky enough to know friends in the area who let us crash on their couches. Occasionally we splurged on cheap motels. Needless to say, we had an amazing time. Here are some of our highlights:

Hampton Beach in New Hampshire was one of our top picks. The Hampton Beach pier has great food and games. The beach is wide. The waters are clear. And we caught a great concert at the Seashell Amphitheater. Before heading out of New England, we stopped at one of Rhode Island’s greatest beaches, Misquamicut State Beach We went for a quick swim, boogie boarded, and then continued on our way. It was a short visit, but somehow won us over with its clean waters and pretty sands.

Further down the coast is Manhattan Beach on Coney Island in Brooklyn New York. Coney Island as a whole is packed and kinda kitschy, but Manhattan Beach is a bit more remote, affordable, and quiet. It’s also just a quick subway ride away from Manhattan, so we counted that as a huge perk. Before we left New York, we swung by South Beach on Staten Island and did some fishing—and caught a few fish!

A few hours drive down the coast brought us to Ocean City Beach, an extremely lively place where we tried our luck (successfully!) at windsurfing. And then an even longer drive down to Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. This one was actually my favorite, which came as a shock since I had never even heard of it before. It was just so serene and so beautiful. As was Hatteras Island Beach, a magical little place that just screamed relaxation! Another North Carolina island beach we loved was Ocracoke Island Beach, a quaint place that requires a lovely ferry ride to reach it’s pretty banks.

Next was everyone else’s favorite, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, which for me ranks at a close second. It was just FUN. First of all, we ran into people we knew and ended up staying at this HUGE beach house. The nightlife at Myrtle Beach is fantastic and the weather was perfect. We spent 4 days here which was longer than our stays at any of our other stops.

Before heading back up the coast, we decided to dip into Georgia to catch a Gulf Coast beach, our favorite being Tybee Island Beach, an oasis in that Georgia heat.

We stretched our 3 week trip into 4 and came back home feeling relaxed, looking great, and ready to face the real world! We all agree that these beaches sort of changed our lives—helped us make that transition from one stage of life to another. Anyone who says that a beach is a just beach, needs to check out these 10—who knows, maybe your life will change too!

Take a look at this lovely video I found on YouTube
It shows the beuty of Coney Island Beach:

The Vacationer presents : Video by Rpenni

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