Favorite Family Friendly Beaches

Chris and I really want to take a trip this summer with Kennedy, just the three of us (we are thinking for my birthday in July!) so I’ve been doing some research on the best family-friendly beaches around and thought I’d share what I’ve found. Planning trips with a baby is pretty difficult – the location needs to be easy to get to, have beach and pool access and have plenty for both kids and adults to do. You guys know I love good food and coffee, so that’s a must-have too!

P.S. I am also working on a blog post about what to pack for a beach trip with a baby (for example, a travel crib and travel bassinet). That should be up soon! And if you’re worried about bringing your baby to the beach, don’t be! Kennedy had her first beach trip at just a few months old and she was totally fine, in fact, she loved it. She really likes feeling the wind on her face, and the ocean is pretty much one giant sound machine, haha!

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

You know I had to include Ocean Isle Beach on the list! This is my favorite beach because I’ve been going every summer since before I could walk. I actually took my first steps here as a baby! Ocean Isle is a small, family-friendly little island off the coast of North Carolina. Although it’s small, it’s PACKED with fun restaurants and things to do! If you want to relax, the beach is sooo peaceful and you can hang out there from sun-up to sundown. If you prefer activities, there’s an arcade, pier, beach yoga, mini golf, farmer’s market, museum, concerts, and even a huge play gym and splash pad for kids all right on the island. Check out this post for my Guide to Ocean Isle, which includes all of our favorite restaurants and things to do.

Wild Dunes Resort, South Carolina

Wild Dunes Resort, located on Isle of Palms near Charleston, holds a very special place in my heart. It’s the location of mine and Chris’s first vacation, my bachelorette party, and the first place we took Kennedy on vacation! Wild Dunes is a gated community that includes vacation rentals, two different hotels, a golf course and more. The Sweetgrass Inn is Wild Dunes’ latest addition, which we visited a few months ago with Kennedy. The hotel is incredibly baby- and kid-friendly! You can view the ocean from your balcony and it’s a short walk to the beach (they even put up the beach chairs for you!) and has an amazing pool with a splash pad. The thing we loved most about Sweetgrass Inn is the convenience of getting food – you don’t have to worry about groceries and/or cooking, because it’s steps away from several amazing restaurants, including our favorite, Coastal Provisions, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The other thing that’s really nice about Wild Dunes is it’s proximity to Charleston – if you’re down for a day trip, it’s only a quick 30-minute drive away!

30A Beaches, Florida

I have never been to 30A, but this is one of the places we’re considering for our family beach trip this year! I’ve heard AMAZING things about the beaches in 30A, and not only that, but the beaches boast beautiful, crystal clear ocean water! You can’t find ocean water like that in North Carolina. 😉 I’ve heard great things about Rosemary Beach and Seaside, with plenty of amazing eateries, coffee shops and happy hour spots, and a lot for kids to do as well. You can go for a bike ride, paddle across a coastal dune lake, head to Gulf World Marine Park, visit the Seaside Farmer’s Market, create pottery at Fired Up, or host a beach bonfire right on the beach. There are some beautiful house rentals on VRBO, just be sure to plan out your trip in advance, because they get rented quickly!

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Another great family beach is Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. One thing I love most about Hilton Head is that the beaches as well as the town are so clean! There are plenty of beach front places to stay from family friendly resorts to more private house rentals. One thing you’ll notice about Hilton Head is the lush vegetation – there are palm trees and plants growing seemingly EVERYWHERE and it’s really a beautiful sight to behold, even just driving through town. And there are over 60-miles are bike trails that easily take you across the island. Hilton Head also has a lot of yummy restaurants and cute shops, many of which are located at Coligny Plaza!

Outer Banks, North Carolina

A vacation to the Outer Banks can be as relaxing or as adventurous as you and your family want it to be. There is so much to do here such as climb one of the five lighthouses, hike the sand dunes at Jokey’s Ridge, or catch a glimpse of wild horses on the Corolla beaches. It’s also the perfect beach to slow down because it isn’t very populated and average summer highs are only in the 70s and 80s. I’ve been dying the go ever since I binged Outer Banks on Netflix last summer – anyone else have a crush on John B?!

Bald Head Island, North Carolina

If you really want a peaceful vacation, Bald Head Island is the place to go. It is truly a quiet getaway, partly because cars are not allowed on the island! You can only get to the island by a ferry that you board in Southport, NC. Then once you are on the island, everyone gets around by riding a golf cart, biking and/or walking! Part of the island is a nature reserve and the other part is full of locally owned shops and restaurants (none of those big chain places in sight). A house rental is definitely the way to go if you choose Bald Head.

If you have any more recommendations for family-friendly beach vacations, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Chris and I haven’t booked anything just yet so we could easily be persuaded!

Leave a Comment


  1. Lauren

    Don’t forget Pawleys Island! 🙂

  2. TaylorNC

    You should look into getting your daughter into ISR survival swim lessons when she’s old enough! What a water baby!!

  3. Callie

    One majorrrr perk about OBX (outer banks) is that you can drive on the beaches in most areas. So much easier than carrying all your belongings to the beach- especially with kids!!

  4. Ashton

    Seabrook Island, SC! It’s just south of Folly Beach and next to Kiawah. Seabrook Island is my happy place for many reasons. On the drive in beautiful oak trees line the road and you can stop at the Angel Oak, one of the oldest trees in the south. Seabrook Island is mostly houses and does not have any high rises, which makes it feel more secluded and peaceful. It’s also a nature preserve so you see animals everywhere. My favorite thing is the beach of course, and they don’t have open container laws and dogs are allowed on the beach at all times. We see dolphins every year and it’s definitely where I feel the most at peace!

  5. Stephanie Jordan

    Fun fact about the OBX show. It was actually filmed in Charleston and the surrounding islands. I am a Charleston native and they just finished filming Season 2 a few months ago!

  6. Marilyn

    I thought you two bought a place on the ocean a few years ago, there were posts of how you fixed it up. Did you sell it?


    You should watch comedian John Crist’s spoof of 30A. (30A must be very upscale. He is a very clean comedian).
    I grew up in St. Augustine so I never had to travel far for great beaches. Loved your post and all you are doing!

  8. I love Ocean Isle Beach, as well! It is honestly so gorgeous with such cute little shops and activities. Speaking as a Floridian, there are definitely a lot of beautiful beaches here, as well! If you ever decide to venture to the Northeastern Florida beaches, definitely check out Hanna Park in near the Jacksonville beaches. It is a nature/beach park, so in addition to the sand and waves, it full of trails and places to camp. Also, it’s very common to see dolphins there!



  9. Laura Leigh

    Bald Head Island is one of my favorite places I have ever visited! Such a beautiful, relaxing place that makes you forget about everything off of the island! Cannot wait to see where you all end up going!

    xo Laura Leigh

  10. Katie

    Do you have any recommendations for beach that has accomodations for just 2 people? I’m wanting to go somewhere with my mom this winter but these beach rentals all sleep 5+ people, when 1-2 beds total works for us. Potentially 4 people total (my husband and dad coming along too) which is 2 rooms.

    I’ve been to Jekyll Island, GA and don’t recommend that one (food choices are poor).

  11. Candice

    Emerald Isle Beach and Atlantic Beach/Morehead city NC!

  12. mary

    My favorite road-trip East Coast beaches are Sea Island, Georgia, Hilton Head, SC and Amelia Island, Florida. While the panhandle is also beautiful, it’s very crowded and you usually have to rent a house for an entire week. My pro-tip now that I have many decades of local travel under my belt, is to go to Southern beaches from December to early-July and then hit the mountains when it gets super hot, buggy and muggy in late summer and fall. My family always did that backwards and I laugh thinking about the misery of spring in a freezing cold lake and August at the beach when the water is almost boiling. I would love to try some of the North Carolina beaches you have mentioned. They sound lovely.

  13. G. Booth

    I would recommend Pensacola. The beach has the lovely white sand and emerald water like 30 A. If you go to downtown Pensacola (away from the beach), it has the NOLA architecture and great food.

  14. My twins first trip was a beach trip when they were 4 months old. It’s totally doable but you definitely have to pack a lot. 🙂


  15. Tricia

    So happy to see you mentioned the Outer Banks. I’m in Duck right now and can 100% recommend the Sanderling Inn in Duck. They have a great pool with an adjacent baby pool, they are right on the beach and the restaurants are great. Downtown Duck offers a wide selection of shoppes, restaurants, coffee and a beautiful boardwalk. Alternatively you could rent one of the many private beach homes available. Although it is late for booking as many were booked back in January and they are having a banner rental season. The Four Season or Sanderling developments are two that I recommend. A bit further down the road is Corolla which is an equally pretty beach town.

  16. I cannot recommend 30A enough! You can’t go wrong with Rosemary Beach or Seaside! Our fam lives in GA so we’re a short drive from there, so I’ve grown up going there my whole life and it’s truly beautiful with so many fun family things to do! We just got back Saturday from our annual trip and we had the best time! Be sure to visit The Hub in Watersound, Bud and Alley’s and Great Southern Cafe in Seaside, The Wine Bar in Watercolor, and La Cocina in Seacrest for THE BEST margs!

  17. Thank you so, so much for compiling this list and sharing your thoughts! I haven’t been to many of these beaches and have lived in NC since 2006. I definitely need to get out and explore more. 🙂

    Loving all of the recommendations that this blog post led to as well! So many options!