Not all beach trips have to be about bikinis and sunbathing, and Oregon’s stunning beaches prove that beach vacations can go beyond the stereotypes. You’ll only need to drive about an hour and a half from Portland to reach this area, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Haystack Rock is the iconic natural landmark here that you’ll see protruding from the ocean a couple hundred feet from the surface. The route to get here highlights stunning views of the coastline, so pull over a couple times to snap photos of the scenery along the way. Ecola State Park nearby is great for hiking, biking, and flying a kite.
An unpaved maze of roads leads the way to Le Rêve, an intimate, 25-suite boutique property with more romance and charm than its neighboring mega-resorts combined. Couples hang out in private hammocks by the garden suites, accented with colorful, locally sourced Mexican tiles. Bungalows come with private plunge pools overlooking a generous stretch of ocean. Snorkeling gear is on the house.

The 17th-century pilgrim settlement of Eastham makes a tranquil Cape Cod getaway. Wander the paths along the shore taking in sweeping views of the dunes and marshes. To really get away from it all, turn off your phone, pick up your book, and make your way to Dyer Prince Beach. It’s only accessible via a rather overgrown pathway, making it a bit of a hidden gem. Here you’ll find a small beach edged with calm waters.
Taking the family to the beach can create lifelong memories, as long as every member of the family is satisfied. To help you choose your next family beach vacation, U.S. News considered factors like safe waters, kid-friendly attractions, dining options, spacious accommodations and multigenerational appeal to determine the list below. Weigh in by voting below, then use this list to plan your upcoming travels.
Oahu: When planning a vacation in Hawaii, the first step is to decide where to go. Each island is different, offering a choice of accommodation, activities and scenery. The most famous destination in Hawaii is Waikiki on the island of Oahu. It's home to numerous hotels and resorts, some right on the sandy shore and others a just a few blocks from it. Travelers come here for their honeymoon, on a family trip and to learn how to surf. The Royal Hawaiian is decorated all in pink. Because of its historic ambiance and romantic atmosphere, the hotel is especially popular with honeymooners. Next to the Royal Hawaiian is the 1,695-room Sheraton Waikiki which offers many rooms overlooking the ocean. If you are looking for a more secluded getaway, reserve a cottage at Turtle Bay on the north end of the island. The resort has two golf courses, a spa and a kid's club.
The most famous beach in the DR is also the cheapest in the Caribbean; once you get there, you can coast on $20 a day. The beaches here are all the bright white sand and turquoise waters of your Caribbean fantasies, and only a few hours flight from most US cities. It’s also home to some of the best golf courses in the islands, and a marine park where you can swim with dolphins or play with manatees.
For summer R&R that includes gallery hopping, wine sipping and spa going, this upscale beach community located about 90 minutes north of San Diego is ideal. Several large resorts — Montage Laguna Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and Surf & Sand Resort among them — are set along the area's picturesque cliffs and are perfect for a romantic couple's escape or a girlfriends' getaway. The town is a longtime art colony (with more than 100 galleries), so it's easy to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir, while the region's focus on healthy California cuisine means you'll eat well, too.
For travelers looking for a vacation without breaking the budget, Nags Head, North Carolina, provides the ideal family holiday. Single family cottages are plentiful in this historical Outer Banks beach town just south of Kitty Hawk. Nags Head boasts 11 miles of sandy shoreline and has much to offer in terms of watersports. During a trip to Nags Head, visitors can go fishing off two public piers, sailing or kayaking along the coast, snorkeling past sunken shipwrecks, or hang gliding above the sandy dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park. This destination works for couples, solo travelers, or families.
Long a refuge for vacationing Midwesterners, Mackinac Island is a classic summer destination for families. Called "fudgies," after the island's famous treats, tourists come to Mackinac to embrace a nostalgia that warms and unites generations that seem increasingly disparate. From Michigan's Mackinaw City you arrive by pedestrian ferry—cars were banned on the island in the 1890s—and climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage to the Grand Hotel, one of North America's last great Victorian-era hotels, complete with stunning vistas, period flourishes, and history to match—five U.S. presidents have stayed here. Take a dip in the Esther Williams pool or sip a cocktail while watching the sunset in the Cupola Bar. For more nostalgic fun, take a horse-drawn carriage to the island's interior and dine at Woods Restaurant. Before your venison medallions arrive, try your hand at duckpin bowling at America's oldest operating alley (located in the buildling). Bicycle to Mission Point Resort for a seasonal drink from its cocktail garden, and paddle a kayak to the western side of the island to watch a sunset with the guides from Great Turtle Kayak Tours.
If you’re an active traveler who wants the sun and sand but not the sedentary lifestyle, put Virginia Beach on your radar. The city is renowned for its water sports (surfing, fishing, kitesurfing), its three-mile-long boardwalk—which features a separate bike path for rollerblading, biking or surrey rentals—and its sugary 100-yard-wide beach. More of an environmentalist than a beach bum? Venture out to First Landing State Park, where there are nine walking trails totaling 19 miles, and a bike path that winds around lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. Or simply stick around your hotel, The Founders Inn and Spa, to indulge in a pampering treatment in the spa and to treat yourself to a reasonably priced prix-fixe dinner with wine pairings at the Swan Terrace restaurant.

There’s plenty in Monterey to help you unwind and get back to nature. Try the calm and quiet of Del Monte Beach, tucked away from the more popular stretches and loved by locals because of it. Here you can surf and stroll to your heart’s content, or just sit and watch the waves. Book your aquarium admission in advance to see a wide variety of marine life in a tranquil setting.
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