Hot summer days means the beach will soon be calling and while NYC beaches offers up a variety of sandy locations, sometimes a mini weekend getaway is just what the doctor ordered. Here are our best beach vacations that are not far from home but feel like worlds away.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best family vacations from NYC
The best family beach vacations
Rehoboth Beach, DE
After sunning yourself, swimming in the ocean and strolling the esplanade, rent bikes from Bike to Go (biketogo.com; starts at $7, kids’ bikes start at $6) and explore the Junction and Breakwater Trail, a six-mile stretch of secluded woods and waterfront. There are plenty of quaint eateries in the area, but try Shorebreak Lodge (shorebreaklodge.tumblr.com) before tucking in at the intimate Beach View Motel. Beach View Hotel, 6 Wilmington Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE (800-288-5962, beachviewhotel.com). Rooms from $239 during peak season.
There’s little not to love about a place with a choice of three beaches, a lighthouse and an authentic fishing village. The expansive Narragansett Town Beach (narragansettri.gov) offers classic North Atlantic waves, perfect for surfing and boogie boarding. Families with younger kids may prefer Roger W. Wheeler State Beach (riparks.com) for its invitingly calm waters, playground and bathhouse. Don’t miss a visit to Galilee, at the western end of the beach; the small fishing village has an active marina, fish markets and lots of charm. Take a short excursion to Westerly for another historic landmark: the Flying Horse Carousel. The 1876 ride is one of the oldest of its kind still in operation; its horses, with real horsehair manes and tails and leather saddles, are suspended from the ceiling with chains, giving the rider the sensation of flying. In terms of food, hit up Galilee’s Buster Krab’s (busterkrabs.com) for burgers and fresh seafood, and for lodging, stay at family-run Anchor Motel across from Scarborough Beach. The Anchor Motel, 825 Ocean Rd, Narragansett, RI (401-792-8550, theanchormotel.com). Rooms from $109.
Sandy Hook, NJ
Rent a car and head to Sandy Hook, NJ for a beautiful, beachy getaway. North Beach, South Beach or Fishing Beach are perfect for hanging (as a heads up, families might want to steer clear of Gunnison Beach, a clothing-optional beach between North and Fishing Beach). Spend your afternoons checking out the Fort Hancock Historic District learning about local military history—here, kids (four feet and up) can climb 95 steps and a nine-rung ladder to the top of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. Guided tours are available from 1–4:30pm on a first-come, first-served basis. Stay at the local Comfort Inn for the best value—you’ll enjoy an outdoor heated pool, free hot breakfast and be within a 20-minute drive of all the action. For dinner out, drop by Matata (matataasian.com) for delicious Asian cuisine. Comfort Inn, 750 State Route 35 South, Middletown NJ (732-671-3400, choicehotels.com). Rooms from $189.
Seaside Heights, NJ
Famous for its soft, white sand, upbeat boardwalk and vibrant amusement park, Seaside Heights is like Jersey Shore’s own Coney Island, just a New Jersey Transit bus ride away. Float and play in the calm waters of the bay or surf along the beach. Try fishing, standup paddle boarding, or a combination of the two. Grab snacks on the go along the boardwalk, and for a heartier meal, sit down with the family at Bobber’s Family Restaurant, known for their yummy breakfasts (bobbersfamilyrestaurant.com). Fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves at the Boardwalk Hotel Charlee. Boardwalk Hotel Charlee, 1119 Ocean Terrace, Seaside Heights, NJ (732-793-1735, boardwalkseaport.com). Rooms with a view from $110.
Bring the family to the tippy top of the Hamptons for a weekend of beach hopping and fresh seafood. Check out the newest addition to Montauk’s list of beaches, Fort Pond, to launch ocean kayaks and other small boats into Fort Pond Bay—but be sure to bring swim shoes, since the beach is pebbly. For gentle waters and a walk along the jetty visit Gin Beach on the Block Island Sound, or bring a picnic and play on the playground at the Hither Hills State Park beach, located on the ocean four miles west of the village. Roam through Montauk’s dunes and see the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse before dining out next door at the Lighthouse Grill, where you and your little ones can dance with an ocean view to live music on the weekends. All this beach fun is sure to tire you and your family out, so retire to a local rental by Montauk Cottages at the end of the day for a true Montauk experience. Pricey, but if you've got the dough, it's beautiful and totally worth it. Various locations (203-852-9315, montaukcottages.com). Weekly rate from $1,200 in peak season.
Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, MA
This old whaling port boasts four different public beaches - with top choice going to East Beach in Chappaquiddick Island accessible by a less than three mile walk along a sand pit or a quick ferry ride. Nature preserves offer opportunities to find box turtles, birds and other wildlife. At the Martha’s Vineyard Museum (mvmuseum.org), kids will enjoy the Hands-On History space where they’ll participate in story-telling sessions, arts and crafts and interactive activities focused on maritime history and local traditions. Just don’t tell them about a certain movie named Jaws that was once filmed here! Grab a seat at the outdoor picnic table at Morning Glory Farm (morninggloryfarm.com), which has a tasty menu filled with homemade baked goods and greens from its garden, and then rest your feet at Winnetu Oceanside Resort. Kids there will enjoy antique fire truck rides, face-painting, yummy treats and lawn games. Winnetu Oceanside Resort, 31 Dunes Road, Edgartown, MA (508-310-1733, winnetu.com).
Ocean City, MD
This seashore town is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wight Bay and with white sand beaches, there are plenty of places to romp and play. Stroll along the boardwalk a long list of food options. Pop into Phillips Seafood for all things crab (phillipsseafood.com). For other kinds of fun, take a break with a ride on one of the 45 hand-carved animals on the historic Trimper’s carousel or cater to your inner thrill-seeker with a trip to Jolly Roger’s Splash Mountain Water Park (jollyrogerpark.com). Spend your nights in Carousel Oceanfront Hotel & Condos, which features a kiddie pool, bounce house, game room and a pirate ship jungle gym. Carousel Oceanfront Hotel & Condominiums, 11700 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, MD (800-641-0011, carouselhotel.com).
Myrtle Beach, SC
This town has a whopping 60 miles of beach to explore! When you’re ready to try its other offerings, Myrtle Beach does not disappoint. Children’s Pirate Adventures treat kids to an interactive pirate adventure to search for treasure and ward of enemies with a water cannon (myrtlebeachpirates.com). Practice your swing at Myrtle Beach Family Golf (visitmyrtlebeach.com) or catch a view of the ocean while dipping and turning on the rollercoasters at Family Kingdom (familykingdomfun.com). Grab a bite at Big Mike’s Grill (504 16th Ave N) and book a stay at Long Bay Resort, which comes complete with a children’s water park. Long Bay Resort, 7200 North Beach Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach, SC (855-820-4751, longbayresort.com). Rooms from $135 a day during high season.
Virginia Beach, VA
Aside from its three beaches, Virginia Beach has loads of fun activities, including Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground and the free admission Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Mary’s Restaurant is the spot for breakfast and lunch (marys-restaurant.com) while Tautog’s Restaurant is must if you’re craving seafood by the seashore (tautogs.com). The Oceanfront Inn, 2901 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA (888-826-2326, oceanfrontinn.com). Children 17 and under stay free with parents’ stay.