The United States has such a huge variety of exciting vacation destinations, it can be difficult to decide where to take your family for your annual getaway. If you’re after a sand and surf vacation, you’re in luck. There are tons of great beaches around the US that offer exciting activities and beautiful weather. Here are our picks of the best.

Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii

While it may not be on mainland United States, Maui is definitely one of the top vacation destinations in the country. Your kids can get a taste for the distinctive Hawaiian culture, learn all about this wonderful state’s fascinating history and enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches that line the island. Wailea Beach is one of the best on the island for families- it has water sports, easy access to shopping and dining, and plenty of clean, clear sand to built sandcastles in.

Santa Cruz Beach, California

California has some of the best beaches in the country, but Santa Cruz definitely tops the list when it comes to family-friendly fun. The beach has a huge boardwalk with rides, live music and arcades for the kids to enjoy, and the whole family can learn to surf in the blue Pacific waves. If you get a little tired of the sun and sand, catch the Roaring Camp Railways train from the Santa Cruz boardwalk and head up to the stunning Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to see the awesome Redwoods standing tall.

Crane Beach, Ipswich, Massachusetts

You don’t have to head straight to Cape Cod for a great East Coast family vacation. Crane Beach is a wonderful getaway for families with kids of all ages. The beautiful tidal pools and calm waters are perfect for swimming and splashing around in the surf, and the surrounding hiking trails make for a great family walk, giving your kids the chance to collect shells, spot wildlife and climb over sand dunes. There are also plenty of great family-friendly restaurants around Ipswich, as well as a snack bar right on Crane Beach to keep the whole family feeling energized.

Lifeguard Beach, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Don’t just stick to the coastline when on vacation in North Carolina; jump on the ferry and visit the stunning and historic Ocracoke Island. The quiet, sandy beaches are perfect for playing and swimming, and there are tons of water sports available for your family to enjoy. The fun isn’t limited to the beach- the island also has plenty to offer in terms of family-friendly activities and education. Rent bicycles and explore the lovely village on two wheels, and make sure that you stop at Teach’s Hole, where the kids can learn all about the life and legend of Blackbeard. 

Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida

The Florida Keys are a great vacation destination for families, with crystal clear water and gorgeous secluded beaches to relax and enjoy. Siesta Beach sets itself apart by its incredible sand- believe it or not, the sand is 99 percent quartz, giving it an extremely soft and powdery feel. Lay back and enjoy the ultra-soft sand while your kids enjoy the waves, the beach playground and the tennis courts. You may even catch sight of some of the Keys’ beautiful marine wildlife- visitors frequently spot pelicans, dolphins and manatees. There are also plenty of fantastic family-friendly restaurants nearby to grab a bite to eat after your day at the beach.

North Beach, Fort de Soto Park, Florida

For those looking for a beach vacation that combines nature activities with sandcastle building, look no further than North Beach, Florida. Fort de Soto combines the fun of a country park with the excitement of the beach, and the water is cleaner than any other beach in the area. Kids can play in the natural lagoon created by the beach’s sandbar, spotting minnows as they splash and swim. The park also has a great playground with its very own pirate ship, and a pier just down the road that offers dolphin-sightings.

Image: “Santa Cruz Beach” by Donna Sutton on Flickr.