Even as more vacationers have discovered the appeal of the Gulf Coast, the beach communities here have retained their sincere hospitality and Southern charm. --> The Alabama Gulf Coast is a beach lover’s dream with 32 miles of sandy beaches spanning from Orange Beach to Fort Morgan. Visitors can find fantastic restaurants, eclectic shopping experiences and plentiful watersports providers sure to create a family fun vacation like never before. Boating fans will feel at peace walking around the well-appointed marinas, while golfers can find sanctuary in the world-class courses adorning the coast.
Florida is a classic beach destination in the U.S., and despite its popularity, you can still find some great deals on beach trips in the state. For the best deals, look in beach towns along the Florida Panhandle and along Florida’s Gulf Coast. You can reach the popular towns of Panama City and Pensacola by flying into the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The temperatures in Pensacola, for example, range between the 70’s and 90’s from April to October, which is perfect beach weather. Other great areas to stay in for your Florida Panhandle beach trip are Destin, St. Andrews, and Grayton Beach.
The National Park Service typically posts lifeguards here from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with chair and umbrella rentals (you’ll find a restroom and cold-water showers too). The ferry has a snack bar, but most folks bring a small cooler (you must pack out what you bring in). On the island’s west end, explore Fort Massachusetts, which dates to 1866.
You can ride horses on this beach―Three Oaks Carriage Company, run out of the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, leads treks across Driftwood Beach. Vanderbilts and Rockefellers once summered at the club and on these beaches, taking pleasure in the same thing that draws visitors today―a peace interrupted only by terns skittering along the water’s edge or an occasional ship humming in and out of port. jekyllisland.com
Australia: Kewarra near Cairns offers a beautiful sandy bay, a garden filled with exotic birds and pristine rainforest surroundings. Thala Beach Lodge, also near Cairns, is a unique getaway with two pools, waterfalls, spas and grottos. Lizard Island has 24 secluded beaches, a freshwater swimming pool, snorkeling and scuba diving on its own coral reefs. Ask for a room right next to the ocean.
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.
Campgrounds let you plan a cheap stay, without breaking the bank and often give you the flexibility to bring your family dog or pet. Once you pay for your camping spot, you can cook your own food and have a family BBQ. Cabins are another great way to go. Take a look at these affordable wilderness cabins on the East Coast where you will have access to lake beaches, complete with kayaking, boating and swimming.
The “Spice Island” has something for everyone, including Afro-Caribbean culture, one of the Caribbean’s prettiest colonial cities, fragrant spice plantations, dozens of beaches and bays, and a mountainous national park great for hiking. In the capital of St. George, you can walk along narrow colonial streets lined with a rainbow of pastel-painted houses and shops and watch masted ships sail in and out of the harbor. While in town, browse the spice and food markets and visit the 18th-century French fortification Fort George.
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.