Nature has been kind to southeastern beaches along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Natural beauty, soft sands and miles of beaches in some of the south’s best beach towns.
Southeastern beaches offer white sands, crashing waves from the Atlantic and infinite family activities. Waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the ocean while you enjoy a cup of coffee on the balcony while the kids are still sleeping is so relaxing.
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Browse our list of seven of the best southeastern beaches before you book your room. Gulf coast and east coast beaches, quiet uncrowded beaches and those like Myrtle Beach bustling with more activities than you can fit into one vacation are included.
Anytime we hear the Atlantic ocean calling us, we head to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. I can’t count the number of times we have visited through the years. We enjoy going in the off-season, when the fisherman are there just as much as being in the hubbub of the summer crowds on the 4th of July.
Read our honest review of our stay at the Baywatch Resort in Myrtle Beach.
Water sports including parasailing, always a beach favorite thing to do, kayaking, ride the Banana boat, you can rent a jet ski, a boat with wakeboard and paddleboards if you love a little extreme water sporting. Go on a dolphin cruise, take a sunset cruise or go scuba diving.
More Adventures and Entertainment
There are a myriad of things to do in addition to spending the day soaking up fun in the sun on the beach. Among the many favorite activities for families and children;
- Ripley’s Aquarium
- The Hollywood Wax Museum
- Children’s Museum
- Riverboat Cruise
- Amusement Park
- Pirate cruise
- Mirror Maze
- Pinball museum
- Battleship North Carolina tour
- Zipline and ropes course
- Go Karts
- Nascar Speed Park
- an untold number of mini-golf places to choose from
- Water park
- ATV Adventure tours plus much more if you can imagine that.
- Is there a golfer in your crew? Myrtle Beach is famous for beautiful golf courses.
If your idea of vacation adventure includes a ‘shop til ya drop’ philosophy, you can do just that at Myrtle Beach.
- You will find two Tanger Outlets with more than a hundred stores and restaurants to choose from.
- Barefoot Landing, a Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Award winner, with over 45 shops and boutiques, more than a dozen restaurants and a half dozen attractions including Alabama Theatre.
- Broadway At The Beach with over 70 shops, over 20 restaurants, 20 plus attractions and no less than four theatres including Legends in Concert.
Myrtle Beach has been named one of the best family beach vacations in the U.S. by U.S. News.
Gorgeous beaches with the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and beaches with pristine white sand where you can relax in the sun, jump the waves or go for a walk, go parasailing or kayaking. Dolphin tours and cruises including sunset cruises and even a glass bottom boat tour. Spend the day fishing including charter boats and marinas or fishing from the pier at Gulf State Park.
More adventures and entertainment
- The Wharf Amphitheatre with live music outdoor concerts,
- a 20 acre water park
- Go-Karts and Arcades
- mini golf
- Ax Throwing
- Escape rooms
- Segway tours
- helicopter rides
- Ferris wheel at the Wharf
- the brand new Selfie Museum
- a 25 acre Zoo.
and more; biking, birding, hiking, zip-lining or shelling. Basically all the ‘ings’ can be found at Gulf Shores.
Need more incentive? There is shopping and restaurants galore.
Visit any of the five beaches at Tybee Island for a relaxing and exciting vacation or weekend get-away. North beach, South beach, Mid beach, Back River and Little Tybee, you could visit them all. Tybee is just over 5 miles long. You can bike the entire island in the morning and spend the afternoon on the beach then enjoy a night out.
Watersports and ocean adventures await on Tybee and include; sailing, fish from the pier or go deep sea fishing, kayaking, surfing, jet ski, dolphin tours and paddle boarding. One unique adventure you can do on the beach is go on a fossil hunting excursion.
Attractions and Historical Sites
- Because Tybee history dates back over 400 years, there are historical sights to tour like the Lighthouse and Museum.
- The Fort Screven District with history dating back to 1897 where you could spend a day.
- Don’t miss Officer’s Row or the Post Theatre.
- Be sure to visit Fort Pulaski considered to be one of the “most spectacular harbor defense structures” in the United States during the Civil War era.
- Also visit the Tybee Island Marine Science Center where you will learn about tides, dunes and ocean wildlife.
Shopping and Entertainment
Beach shopping at it’s finest can be found in the local boutiques, art galleries and souvenir shops.
Sometimes, entertainment and dining out are one thing. That is the case on the Back River where you can make reservations at A.J.’s and dine on the pier at sunset, sounds wonderful doesn’t it. The Crab Shack is a must do dining experience if you enjoy waterfront dining, plus the food is fabulous. Dine on the deck and watch the shrimp boats return in the evening at Coco’s Sunset Grille. There is no shortage of restaurants for lunch, dinner or dessert on Tybee Island. You can cap off a perfect day at the beach with waterfront dining on island time and listening to live music.
Vacation where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic ocean at Virginia Beach. You will find a reason to visit this historic area year round, not just in the summer. A bustling and thriving location with tons of things to see and do.
- Paddle Boarding
- Jet Skiing
- Grommet Island Park-America’s first ocean front park
- Fishing Charters
- Dolphin Tours
- Whale watching
Attractions and Entertainment
- Aviation Museum
- Virginia Aquarium
- Hunt Club Farm, a petting farm featuring nature and agricultural-based entertainment
- Virginia Sports Hall of Fame
- Family Fun Park with rides and arcade
- Go Karts
- Mini Golf
- Boardwalk for bikers, roller blading and people watching
- National Wildlife Refuge
- Cape Henry Lighthouse
- New Cape Henry Lighthouse
- Escape Room
- Ax Throwing
Shopping at Virginia Beach
You will find lots and lots of shopping at Virginia Beach including specialty and gift shops along with beach shops and your favorite mall stores.
- Virginia Beach Antique Mall
- Lynnhaven Mall, an indoor shopping experience out of the heat and humidity
- Sunsations Beach Department store
- The Shops at Hilltop with over 120 shops and restaurants
- and more
Located in northwest Florida along the Emerald coast is the family friendly Destin-Fort Walton beach area. Destin is one of the most family friendly southern beaches in Florida along the gulf coast.
Watersports galore. If it floats and it’s fun, you can give it a whirl at Destin. Rent a pontoon boat, go jet skiing, paddle board, kayaking, enjoy the floating water park, go snorkeling or diving, charter a fishing boat for the day, go on a dolphin cruise and so much more.
Attractions and Adventure
- Going to a water park is always fun, even at the beach so be sure to visit the Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park.
- Plan a Bonfire on the beach using any of these services to set it up for you.
- Lots of Mini golf courses to choose from. The perfect way to end the day.
- Go Karts
- Pirate Cruise
- Fishing charters
- Dolphin cruise
- Wild Willy Adventure Zone with rope course, arcade, lazer maze and more
- Segway tours
- Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
- Crab Island Watersports-boat and wave runner rental
- Cattywampus Eco Adventures-seashell safari day cruise and snorkeling
- Destin History and Fishing Museum
- Emerald Coast Zoo
Shopping at Destin
There is shopping galore at Destin including the few listed below.
- HarbourWalk Village-incredible views for shopping, restaurants and entertainment
- Destin Commons with 95+ stores outdoor shopping center
- Silver Sands Premium Outlets
- Shoreline Village Mall
Visit any of the southeastern beaches at the Outer Banks if you are looking to enjoy a beach vacation without overcrowding. The Outer Banks consists of over 100 miles of small towns, villages and cities with plenty of shoreline for a beach vacation. Because the area is rich with American history, there are plenty of historic sites to visit.
- Water sports
- Paddle boarding
- Dolphin cruise
- Scuba diving
- Bird Watching
Adventures and Entertainment
- Bodie Island Lighthouse
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
- Go horseback riding on the beach
- Take a Ghost Tour
- Mini golf
- Go Karts
- Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
- The Lost Colony
- Frisco Native American History Museum
- Wright Brothers National Memorial
- Roanake Island Aquarium
- more museums and historic sites
- Mystery Dinner
- Escape Rooms
- Visit an oyster farm
Shopping on the Outer Banks
Rather than big crowed shopping centers, you can enjoy quaint small locally owned shops filled with unique treasures. There are 15 towns and villages to explore, all with their own shopping places.
Seabrook is a predominately residential beach and vacation get-away for owners of private villas, homes and townhouses. You can find nice places to stay through VRBO.
A nice quiet beach where you can relax away from all the usual hustle and bustle of overcrowded places. Only about 28 miles from downtown Charleston where you will find the entertainment, activities, adventure, shopping and restaurants.
- Building sand castles
- Play in the water
- Sun bathing
- Going for a walk
- Watching sunrise
- Watching sunset
- Dolphin watch
Catch a sunrise at the North Beach. Build sand castles while relaxing on the sandy shores. Go for a romantic walk at sunset.
Watch dolphins doing something called strand feeding. Your best chance of catching sight of this rare feeding technique is low tide on the north end. The dolphins may seem to you like they are struggling but they are actually feeding on the edge of the water as it crashes onto the sandy shores.
Bring your binoculars if you enjoy birding. There are quite a few species to enjoy and the Seabrook Island Birders will keep you informed on their Facebook page here.
Pack your suitcase and get ready for a long weekend or a weeklong family vacation at any one of these southeastern beaches.
7 Southeastern Beaches for Families
- Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama
- Tybee Island, Georgia
- Virginia Beach, Va.
- Destin, Fla.
- Outer Banks, N.C.
- Seabrook Island, S.C