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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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…

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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