Naylor and Creech family posing together on the beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Family is coordinating in green/blue outfits. 3 Best Beach Destinations

Explore My Top 3 Best Beach Destinations for Families

Discover the best beach destinations for families! Check out my top 3 picks for a family adventure you won’t forget. Enjoy sun, sand, and waves in an unforgettable beach getaway!

Take your family on the perfect beach vacation with my top 3 picks for family-friendly beach destinations. From crystal-clear waters to breathtaking views, you’ll find everything you need for the perfect getaway. Discover the perfect beach destination now!

Related Post:
Ultimate Amazon Beach Day Essentials for Families

Gulf Shores, Alabama

This beach destination is perfect for families looking for a laid-back vacation. Gulf Shores offers miles of sugar-white sand beaches, crystal-clear water, and plenty of family-friendly activities, such as, water parks, zoo, and mini-golf courses. Families can also enjoy fishing charters, dolphin cruises, and beach volleyball.

Gulf Shores has been enjoyed by our family many times throughout the last several decades. We’ve found that it offers similar beaches as Destin, but without the extreme crowds, even during busy holiday weekends.

Things to do in Gulf Shores

  1. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo: Discover over 199 species, of which 8 are endangered. You can also feed giraffes (which is sure to be a hit with littles) for an extra small fee. It’s such a lovely zoo and after you spent the morning here, you can enjoy the near outlet stores.
  2. Fort Morgan: Known as the guardian of Mobile Bay, this National Historic Landmark is located 22 miles west of Gulf Shores.
  3. Tropic Falls: Enjoy 23 rides and attractions or make a splash in the year-round tropical paradise at their indoor waterpark.

Places to eat at in Gulf Shores

  1. Lambert’s Cafe: Located about 25 minutes from Gulf Shores in Foley, Alabama is Lambert’s Cafe. Though not directly in Gulf Shores, it’s well worth the visit. Lambert’s is best known for their thrown rolls and southern cooking. Our family always makes sure to visit Lambert’s when we’re in Gulf Shores.
  2. Lulu’s: Lulu’s is owned by Lulu Buffet and many of the recipes were created by Lulu herself. They offer an array of seafood and allergy-friendly menu options. You can also enjoy live music and other outdoor activities.
  3. Original Oyster House: If you’re looking for some great seafood, look no further than the Original Oyster House. While they do serve oysters, you can also enjoy a plethora of other seafood options. Enjoy shopping and the boardwalk while you wait for a table or to relax after you’ve had a bite to eat.
Brittney Naylor and daughter playing on the white sands of Gulf Shores Alabama, 3 best beach destinations
Eleanor and John Naylor feeding a giraffe at Alabama's Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shoes, Alabama
Eleanor feeding a giraffe at Alabama's Gulf Coast Zoo

Anna Maria Island, Florida

This charming island on the Gulf of Mexico is a hidden gem for families seeking a peaceful beach vacation. The island boasts pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and fantastic shelling opportunities. Families can also enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. The island also offers a variety of family-friendly restaurants and shops.

John and I visited Anna Maria Island on our own, but we will definitely be back with our daughter soon enough. We love the ultra laid back and small town feel of Anna Maria Island.

Things to do in Anna Maria Island

  1. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding: The calm waters make it the perfect place to kayak and paddle board. You can bring your own or rent from AMI Paddleboard.
  2. Bicycling: Throughout the island, there are several city bike paths that you can use to easily navigate the island including Coquina, Robinson Preserve, and Lake Manatee State Park.

Places to eat at in Anna Maria Island

  1. Two Scoops: There’s no ice cream like Two Scoops! You can also enjoy hotdogs and other snacks.
  2. Sandbar Seafood: Dine with your toes in the sand and catch a beautiful sunset. John and I experienced this ourselves and it was quite the treat!
  3. The Waterfront Restaurant: Built in 1922, the cottage was one of the original homes on Anna Maria Island. Enjoy beautiful views of the pier and Skyway Bridge. In addition, you’ll have the most delicious food and best service from The Waterfront staff.
  4. Wicked Cantina: Beach life isn’t all about seafood! Wicked Cantina is sure to quench your taco desires! Of course, if you must have seafood, they still offer seafood entrees and burgers.
John and Brittney Naylor cuddled together on the beach in Anna Maria Island, 3 best beach destinations
hand holding out ice cream cone in front of mural at Two Scoops in Anna Maria Island Florida

Saint Augustine, Florida

Known as the nation’s oldest city, Saint Augustine offers a unique beach experience for families. The city’s beaches offer a wide range of activities such as surfing, kayaking, and parasailing. Families can also explore the city’s rich history by visiting the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument or taking a trolley tour. The city also offers plenty of family-friendly restaurants and shops.

Our family recently stayed in Saint Augustine and had the most enjoyable time! One of our favorite things about Saint Augustine is that you can pay to drive on the beach. It was convenient for our large family and all the many things we insist on taking to the beach.

Things to do in Saint Augustine

  1. Alligator Farm and Zoological Park: Spend the morning or afternoon at the Alligator Farm! Discover 24 species of crocodilians, reptiles, mammals, birds, and more. Watch animal performances and learn from educational demonstrations.
  2. Saint Augustine Old Town Trolley Tours: Undoubtably, the most effective way to explore Saint Augustine is with Old Town Trolley. There are 22 stops and you can hop on and off as much as you’d like in one day. Learn history of Saint Augustine and site-see along the way, too!
  3. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument: Built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route, Castillo de San Marcos preserves the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States.

Places to eat at in Saint Augustine

  1. Sunset Grille: Enjoy seafood, burgers, and more at this favorite local restaurant. I absolutely devoured the fried shrimp and cole slaw.
  2. Crabby’s Beachside: Newer to the Saint Augustine area, but not to Florida, enjoy crab legs, fried seafood, hushpuppies, and more.
  3. Saltwater Cowboys: Relax on the intracoastal waterway at Saint Augustine’s oldest restaurants. Their menu offers everything from BBQ to seafood to chicken–there’s something for everyone.
  4. Mayday: Cool down from the Florida heat with handcrafted ice-cream at Mayday, where the sprinkles are always free.
3 kids sitting on fake alligator at Alligator Farm in Saint Augustine Florida
Girls in big oversized chair at Crabbys Beachside in Saint Augustine Florida


When it comes to family-friendly beach holidays, the US is full of great options. My top 3 picks are Gulf Shores, Anna Maria Island, and Saint Augustine Beach. Each offers a unique experience for families, with stunning sand and surf, plenty of kid-friendly activities, and delicious food. With its great beaches, warm climate, and endless possibilities, spending a week in the sunshine is sure to make for happy, relaxed and fun-filled days for all. So why wait? Gather up the family and start packing for your next beach trip.

Like this post? Pin it!

Top 3 Best Beach Destinations for families. Florida and Alabama beaches.

Do you have a family favorite beach of your own? Let me know in the comments!

*This post contains affiliate links meaning at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.*

Leave a Comment

The Comments

  • A Capone Connection
    April 5, 2023

    My daughter and I have been talking about going to St. Augustine. This will be super helpful for finding places to eat when we go. Thanks so much!

    • Brittney
      → A Capone Connection
      April 5, 2023

      Saint Augustine offers so much for everyone! Not only is it filled with so much history, but there are quality beaches, and multiple great things for kids to do!

  • Brianna West
    April 6, 2023

    I’ve only visited Saint Augustine but these all look quite nice ! Have you visited Edisto beach ? We went there as a big group of families every year !

    • Brittney
      → Brianna West
      April 6, 2023

      Never been to Edisto Beach, but I’ve heard a lot of great things. We have been to Hilton Head and Charleston, though.

  • Lisa
    April 6, 2023

    Oh I’ve not been to the beach in a loooooong time! No matter how much sunscreen I put on I still get burnt!!! 🙁

  • Cosette
    April 6, 2023

    Since we’ve had our son, I love a good beach vacation. Plus when there are other things to do besides laying on the beach. All 3 sound like good destinations. Especially Saint Augustine in Florida with the Castillo de San Marcos NM.

  • Tess
    April 7, 2023

    I absolutely love Anna Maria Island! It’s so beautiful and there are so many fun things to do there and nearby. I’ll have to check out St. Augustine & Gulf Shores soon.

    • Brittney
      → Tess
      April 7, 2023

      Anna Maria Island is definitely a little hidden gem in Florida!