5 Great Kid-Friendly Beaches

Find kayak rentals, beach 'diamonds' and a pony swim on these road-trip worthy shores. 🏖
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Cape Charles, Virginia, is one of several family-friendly beaches worth a stay. (Photo by Sarah Hauser for Virginia Tourism Corp.)

Despite the proliferation of neighborhood pools, public spray grounds and water parks in Arlington, it’s still nice to bring the family to the beach in the summer if you can swing it. Luckily, there are scores of beaches within driving distance, including some that may not be top of mind. Here are five worth a visit if you’ve got kids in tow:

Cape Charles, Virginia

Positioned along the commonwealth’s Eastern Shore, this lesser-known beach is roughly 230 miles south of Arlington, or about a four-hour road trip. Young swimmers and splashers can enjoy safer waters here, due to the more subdued waves of the Chesapeake Bay. Local shops offer rentals for kayaks, paddleboards and other aquatic vehicles. And be sure to check out the “LOVE” sign beside the fishing pier, as well as the architecture of the Cape Charles Historic District.

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The Cape May Lighthouse features a 199-step spiral staircase. (Photo by King of Hearts via the Creative Commons ShareAlike 4.0 International License)

Cape May, New Jersey

If your kiddos are into root beer floats, toy stores and beach “diamonds,” consider a trip to Cape May. The relaxed town at the southern end of the Jersey Shore is a significant departure from the hustle and bustle of the DMV and home to antique shops and well-preserved Victorian homes. If you need a spot near the beach to enjoy a bite or cool off with a drink, try surfer bar Rusty Nail or Barefoot Bar and Grill—both of which have live music. Don’t leave town without a visit to the Cape May Lighthouse, featuring a 199-step spiral staircase and fabulous views of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay.
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Visit Chincoteague in July for the Annual Pony Swim. (Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce)

Trade the boardwalk for a neighborly vibe and a whole lot of ponies on this charming island. Wild horses have called nearby Assateague home for centuries, an island that connects to Chincoteague via bridge. If you visit in July, make space in your agenda for the Annual Pony Swim, an event that attracts international attention. And if you find yourself ponied out, you can also find some family fun with mini golf, go karts and bumper boats.

The “other Ocean City”—in New Jersey—features arcades, amusement rides and a killer sunrise. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce)

Ocean City, New Jersey

Been to Ocean City, Maryland, more times than you can count? Try this “other ocean city,” a Jersey beach town, home to a boat parade, amusement rides, arcades and a 2.5-mile boardwalk. Set up shop on the beach, where vendors are stationed with frozen treats. And if you’d like to vary your maritime fun, head to nearby Great Egg Harbor Bay for fishing and water sports. (Parents, please note this town is a “dry” one.)
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A view of the Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa marina and bandstand, one attraction in Twin Beaches, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Calvert County Tourism)

Love a good farmers market? How ’bout one on the beach? North Beach—one half of the duo that comprises the Twin Beaches (along with Chesapeake Beach)—hosts a Saturday morning market serving up baked goods, fresh cheeses and iced coffee. When you’ve got your picnic basket ready, head to any of several serene strands for a seaside lunch. And add some extra fun with kayak, inner tube and bicycle rentals, or a scavenger hunt for Miocene-era shark teeth.
Categories: Parents & Kids, Travel