Sun, sand and fun – whether you’re looking for a weekend trip or a vacation destination, here are some of the beaches Atlanta families love to visit. Each has a great selection of family-friendly activities, dining and attractions.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Climb the red-and-white-striped lighthouse in the Harbour Town area (114 steps above!) or check out the Sandbox, a local children’s museum complete with a boat, plane and sandcastle play areas. Visit Adventure Cove for the large mini-golf area or the Coastal Discovery Museum, with a butterfly enclosure, trails, gardens and more.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Neptune Park is a favorite for families, an oceanfront public park with a playground, pool, mini-golf course and a fishing pier. The lighthouse museum is a great introduction to Georgia’s maritime history, and kids will love the views after climbing to the top. Don’t forget to hunt out the Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island: 20 face carvings in trees around the Island, making for a fun scavenger hunt.

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Kids will go crazy about climbing over and under the giant driftwood pieces situated on Driftwood Beach, located on the North end of Jekyll Island. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is also a special opportunity to meet sea turtles and learn about rehabilitation efforts. The Jekyll Island Club Resort has tons of history between the walls, with millionaires such as the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts once taking residence. Check out the croquet court and walk the grounds.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee is known as Savannah’s beach, located only 30 minutes from Downtown Savannah. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, you can see for miles down the long stretches of beach. Grab some ice cream from Seaweed’s and walk down to the pier to watch fishermen. The Tybee Island Marine Science Center is a fun place to learn about marshes, beaches and wildlife on the Island. Then stop by the Tybee Lighthouse or drive into Savannah for a trolley tour of the city.

Cumberland Island

Ride the ferry to Cumberland Island and explore 18 miles of undeveloped beaches (pack a lunch as there are no concessions on the island). Go see the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum, and if your kids like submarines, the St. Marys Submarine Museum, with displays including a working periscope, models of torpedoes, a deep-sea diving suit and submarine uniforms. St. Marys Waterfront Park has a playground for kids.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

A big draw to this beach destination is the water and amusement parks at Oceanside. Family Kingdom has a variety of thrill rides with ocean views. Wild Water & Wheels has go-karts, speed slides and mini-golf. Myrtle Waves Water Park is also a great choice with 20 acres of water rides.

Panama City Beach, Florida

The city is more family-friendly, beyond the wild spring break days of the past. Visit Pier Park for family fun, which includes a small-scale amusement park, shops and restaurants. Don’t miss Ripley’s Believe It or Not, WonderWorks and the giant walk-through maze and putt-putt at Coconut Grove Mini-Golf. Gulf World Marine Park and Shipwreck Island Waterpark are also fun picks.

Destin, Florida

Destin is a great option for families, with sparkling emerald waters and tons of activities for the kids. Take a pirate ship cruise, walk down Destin Harbor, go shopping at the Silver Sands Outlets or visit Big Kahuna’s Waterpark. Travel towards Okaloosa Island for Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park and Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone.

Highway 30A, Florida

The beaches along this stretch of sand are packed-full of fun for kids. Hop on bikes and travel from Rosemary Beach to Alys Beach to Seaside and WaterColor. Stop in Seaside for snow cones out of an Airstream trailer, or other treats such as grilled cheese or fried pickles. The Seaside REP Theatre is always hosting puppet shows or theater productions for kids. Rent stand-up paddleboards at the WaterColor Boathouse for calmer fun away from the ocean.

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Take a dolphin cruise here; you will be sure to see many pods of dolphins playing in the water. Pensacola sits within the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which has plenty of places to build white sandcastles. The City is also full of military history—visit the National Naval Aviation Museum to see many types of aircraft and don’t miss the Navy’s Blue Angels practice tricks high above the beach.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

This Alabama beach destination has lots to offer families. Visit the beachy play areas at Lucy Buffett’s Lulu’s (tip: they have an allergy-friendly menu just for gluten, shellfish and other allergies) and The Hangout, both waterfront restaurants. Waterville USA is a waterpark full of big water slides, lazy rivers and walk-through water fountains. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is also a fun spot, which has a variety of exotic animals, including tigers and black bears.

Jacksonville, Florida

Surf, swim or bask in the sun on Jacksonville’s beaches, hike or bike on a nature trail, or learn about the wildlife in its woodlands, marshes and waterways. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve has 46,000 acres of pristine coastal wetlands. Visit the city’s fishing pier—no permit required—or walk one of its historic neighborhoods. Dining options range from upscale bistros to down-home fish camps.

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Don’t forget your bikes at this beach and resort near Charleston with 30 miles of paved bike trails. Enjoy shopping and eats at Freshfields Village, with tasty restaurants, jewelry stores, clothing stores, a bookstore and more.

Amelia Island, Florida

Located near the Georgia border in northeastern Florida, Amelia Island has beautiful stretches of beach, a vibrate dining scene in nearby Fernandina Beach, and shopping.

St. George Island, Florida

Near Tallahassee and south of the Apalachicola National Forest, this barrier island has 22 miles of serene beaches, fishing tours, St. George Island Lighthouse and paddle boarding.

Fripp Island, South Carolina

About 20 miles from beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina, Fripp Island has over six miles of pristine beach, nature opportunities, restaurants and acclaimed golf and tennis. Just five minutes away from Fripp, explore Hunting Island State Park with camping, hiking and a historic lighthouse.

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Near Charleston, South Carolina, Folly Beach has canoeing and kayaking, boat tours, dolphin and whale watching and more.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

One of the oldest beach towns in South Carolina, you’ll love the small town feel of Pawleys Island. Visit the cute shops like Hammocks Shop Village, Island Art Gallery and Litchfield Books. Nearby in Huntington State Beach, visit beaches, wetlands and Atalaya, a Mediterranean style castle built in the 1930s.

Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Located about an hour north of Wilmington, North Carolina, Top Sail beach is a 26-mile barrier island. Check out nearby Soundside Park in Surf City, mini-golf, Topsail Beach Skating Rink, restaurants and shopping.

Lakes and Beaches Near Atlanta

Acworth Beach at Cauble Park

The beach area features a white sand beach and roped off area for swimming. Acworth Beach opens the last Saturday in April and closes Labor Day weekend. Also on Lake Acworth, check out South Shore Park, and on Lake Allatoona, visit Dallas Landing Park and Proctor Landing Park.
Location: 4425 Beach St. NW, Acworth.
Cost: Swimming is free. Mon.-Fri. parking, free; $10 per vehicle on weekends for non-Acworth residents between 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

LandShark Beach at Lake Lanier Islands

Hang out on the beach, play some volleyball, catch some rays and enjoy food from the boardwalk. Pay extra to visit Margaritaville for water slides, Paradise Beach and more.
Location: 7000 Lanier Islands Pkwy., Buford.
Cost: $9.99; holidays and special events, $14.99. Gate fee, $20.

Robin Lake Beach at Callaway Gardens

Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, miniature golf, a floating playground with obstacles, paddle boats, inflatable waterslide, rock climbing wall and more.
Location: 17800 US Hwy. 27, Pine Mountain.
Cost: $24.95; ages 2 and younger, free. Some activities extra charge.

The Swimming Beach at Red Top Mountain State Park

Cool off in the sandy beach area and roped off swimming area nestled in a cove and surrounded by trees at Lake Allatoona, and enjoy the nearby putt-putt golf and large playground.
Location: 50 Lodge Rd. SE, Cartersville.
Cost: Parking, $5.

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