I have traveled with my family to a bunch of beaches across the US. From Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, & New Smyrna Beach on the east coast of Florida to Clearwater Beach, Fort Myers Beach, & Sanibel Island on the Gulf coast side of Florida. I have been to South Padre & Corpus Christi beaches in Texas. We have also traveled to Santa Monica & Venice beaches in California. My travels also include Myrtle & North Myrtle Beaches in North Carolina & also the Gulf Shores in Alabama. So to say the least I have seen my share of beaches in the US and in the Caribbean. But, also in the Midwest along the Lake Michigan too. Now on to rating them.
I will start from the bottom to the top in order to the best in my mind. If it made the list it’s ok to decent and going upward from there. I will grade on a scale from 0-10. 5 or less I would not vacation to again up to a 10 meaning I would go back with my family time and time again.
10. New Smyrna Beach, south of Daytona, FL
This beach is the middle part of Florida on the east coast. 1st, it’s not known for much wave action and also at different times of the year can have some rip currents. Not much in the way of nice hotels around and not the cleanest beach I’ve ever been too. Beach activities such as snorkeling, parasailing, deep sea fishing, boogie board & surf board rental are low compared to other beaches. Plus the sun sets to the west and I’m always in favor of a west facing beach. Rating: 5.5
9. Corpus Christi, Texas
I actually liked south Texas and the weather & water were great, but I’ve seen better beaches. We were only here two days so I didn’t get full exposure but you can do better for a family vacation. The city itself is good and not too large that traffic is a big issue, just not as much to do as other places. Rating: 6.4
8. Myrtle Beach, North Carolina
Just because it’s rated this low doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. 1st, it’s in North Carolina meaning you only get 6-7 months of good beach weather compared to Southern California, Florida, & Texas beaches that get closer to 9-10 months. 2nd, the east facing thing again. On the plus side, travel to and from was not difficult & the shops around the area are pretty neat. Middle level of activities going on such as deep sea fishing trips, parasailing, etc. Rating: 6.8
7. Gulf Shores, Alabama
A nice area even though this was pre-Katrina I was there. Lots to do and not overpopulated. I would go again and think this area was spared for the most part from Hurricane Katrina. If you can get away at night without the kids there is even casinos not too far away. Rating: 7.0
6. Cocoa Beach, Florida
For an east facing beach to rate this high with me it says something. I really enjoyed Cocoa Beach. Very clean, easy to get to, plenty of activities, & family oriented. As you’ll see below some great beaches can be not great for families during certain times of the year, i.e. Spring Break. This one is away from all that most all of the time. Only downfall is not a lot of good hotels to nearby. Rating: 7.4
5. Fort Myers Beach, Florida
My brother & I were in our late teens, earlly 20’s when we went here. Our youngest sibling was 12. We had a great time renting jet skis and the downtown areas for shops are great. Weather & water are perfect most of the year. I would go back again, no problem. Hotels are not a problem either, plenty to choose from. Rating: 7.9
4. South Padre Island, Texas
A beautiful 34 mile island in southern Texas with great weather & the water is always warm enough. Hotels are plentiful and traffic is manageable. Tons of activities to do for everyone. The only downfall is South Padre turns into a college frat party from late february to early April. Without that it would perfect year round for a family vacation. Rating: 8.3
3. Clearwater Beach, Florida
A beautiful beach with plenty to do. Great ocean front hotels with seaside decks you can see dolphins swimming by. Tons of activities, beautiful sunsets, and plenty of space. I recommend the trip up to see Sannibel Island which is a short drive north. Traffic is just ok being on the edge to Tampa Bay, but it’s worth it. Rating: 8.7
2. Venice Beach, California
The only thing wrong with my last 2 choices is they are in Los Angeles, meaning you have to deal with L.A. traffic. But if you fly into LAX these two are only a short trip north. Venice beach has everything. Tons of shops, a huge bike path, handball courts, tons of activities for all. Plenty of movies have been shot from this beach and the next below and there are plenty of reasons why. Don’t miss the sunset from either this one or the next! Rating: 9.0
1. Santa Monica Beach, California
I stayed here for 5 days and loved it! Great hotels, tons of things to do, from parasailing, to Santa Monica Pier, tennis courts, surfing, & much more. The beach has tons of room for everyone and is cleaned nicely daily. Our family rented bikes and went all the way down to Venice Beach & back. It’s endless what these two places have to offer. That is why I chose to tie these to in rating scores but to give Santa Monica the edge for only the simple fact it has a little better offer in hotels. Rating: 9.0
All in all, you can have a great time at any of these places above because family vacations are supposed to be about spending time away with your family first. Then, 2nd, where you went to! I hope this helps describe some of the beautiful beaches located here in the US. I hope you & your family have a great vacation the next time you visit one of these places! Safe travels and obey you beach signs of rip currents and other dangers!