PONCE INLET, Fla. -- Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor's family travel site, has released its annual list of the "Best Beaches for Families" in the US and Ponce Inet is on it.
"Beach vacations are at the top of so many families' must-do list throughout the year," explains Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. "Whether for a day trip or a longer vacation, our list aims to help families narrow down the options to find beaches that truly are fantastic for families – every beach has lifeguards, in addition to kid-friendly activities and a selection of lodging options nearby. These beaches go beyond just a day on the sand, but offer some really fun features for families to enjoy together."
Here is the 2017 listing of the Best Beaches for Families with children of all ages in the United States, as listed by Family Vacation critic, which stresses they are in no particular order from 1-10:
• Long Beach Island - Long Beach Township, NJ
Nobody does a classic beach vacation like Long Beach Island. The island offers 18 miles of shoreline for sandcastle building and boogie boarding, with lifeguards patrolling many areas. New to the area is Daymark Bar & Restaurant in Barnegat Light, perfect for both families and date nights. In 2017, the area's iconic Surflight Theatre and ShowPlace Ice Cream Parlour will also reopen after a two-year closure. But the main highlight for kids remains Fantasy Island Amusement Park, where you'll find everything from a Ferris wheel to funnel cake, plus free concerts and magic shows. Plenty of hotels, motels and rentals dot the island, too.
• Ponce Inlet - Ponce Inlet, FL
You won't find high-rise hotels or a boardwalk in Ponce Inlet, Florida. Here, the beach is a quiet, wide stretch of sand and surf that doubles as a conservation area for sea turtles. Families can visit the Marine Science Center to learn about the area's sea turtles and other native wildlife. They can also visit the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the state of Florida. Other popular past times include boating, fishing, surfing and paddleboarding. There are lots of places to eat on the ocean and intracoastal waterway, as well as a great selection of rental properties. Bonus: On Florida's east coast and just minutes from Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet is just over 60-90 minute's drive from the Orlando theme parks.
• Jones Beach State Park - Wantagh, NY
Located on Long Island, Jones Beach State Park has all the makings for a classic beach vacation with kids: clean, calm and lifeguard-protected waters; a boardwalk; mini-golf; and playgrounds. Families with little ones should check out Zach's Bay -- a shallow area that's perfect for new swimmers. Families can also catch a concert at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater or visit the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center. While you're in the area, be sure to take a tour of Oheka Castle, one of the inspirations for Jay Gatsby's estate in "The Great Gatsby."
• Rehoboth Beach - Rehoboth Beach, Del
One word: Funland. The family-owned amusement park is the most beloved attraction for kids in Rehoboth Beach, offering midway games, delicious food -- we're dreaming of the funnel cake -- and classic rides at "yesterday's prices"; in fact, each ride costs just 35 cents! The beach itself is well groomed and fully staffed with lifeguards; plenty of public restrooms and showers are available, too. New in 2017 is Kids Camp-By-The-Sea, a week-long camp that will take place June 26 to 30. Also new is Lefty's Alley and Eats (in nearby Lewes), a fun zone with bowling, an arcade, laser tag and a restaurant.
• Coronado Beach - Coronado, Calif
The pictures of Coronado Beach, outside of San Diego, just don't do it justice. Go with your family to experience the wide, open shoreline with picture-perfect views (and even better sunsets). Lifeguards are scattered throughout the area, and restrooms and showers are available. Of course, you can't go to the beach without exploring the historic Hotel del Coronado behind it. Take a tour of the hotel, browse the shops and grab a bite to eat at one of the onsite restaurants. You might also consider Mermaid Fitness at The Del, new in 2017. Wear a mermaid tail while you take a 45-minute aerobics class! Kids ages 12 to 17 may attend this class with an adult.
• North Beach Park - Racine, Wis
It looks like an iconic Florida beach -- swaying palm trees and all -- but North Beach Park is actually located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Lifeguards in the summer months, a great playground, volleyball court, walking/biking paths, and a relaxing and clean atmosphere make this one of the best beaches for kids. Conveniences for families include restrooms/showers, a snack stand, free parking and nearby BBQ grills for a picnic. And it never feels crowded, especially during the week. When it's time for a break, check out Wind Point Lighthouse and the Racine Zoo.
• Coast Guard Beach - Eastham, Mass
Preserved by the National Park Service, Coast Guard Beach is one of our favorite beaches on the Cape. Just off of US Route 6, you'll find a beautiful, clean stretch of soft sand and calm waters, plus the convenience of seasonal lifeguards and restrooms. When it's time for a break from the beach, head to Cape Cod Inflatable Park, an amusement park with all-inflatable rides! The park is undergoing an expansion in 2017. More beaches, lighthouses and restaurants with fresh seafood add to the appeal of a family vacation at Cape Cod's Coast Guard Beach.
• Weirs Beach - Weirs Beach, NH
On the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, Weirs Beach transports families to the beach vacations of yesteryear. The New Hampshire beach began hosting families in the 1950s and while some things have changed, its no-frills appeal remains the same. Today's families can expect the true simplicity of budget, family-style accommodations; classic boardwalk fun and a beach like no other. The beach is staffed with lifeguards, and a playground at Endicott Rock is available for little ones. When the sun goes down, head to Weirs Drive-in Theater for a double feature.
• Seaside Beach - Seaside, Ore
Seaside Beach is a prime place for whale watching and in 2017, it will also be a top spot to watch the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Public restrooms, showers and lifeguards add to the appeal of a family vacation at this Pacific Northwest beach. The beach is made even better by its 2-mile boardwalk, lined with restaurants, hotels and shops. Must-sees while you're in town include Lewis and Clark National Historic Park; Haystack Rock, featured in "The Goonies"; and Buzz on Broadway, a candy store with everything from classic to unusual treats.
Balboa Beach - Newport Beach, Calif
Balboa Beach in Newport Beach, Calif., is a family beach through and through. Soft sand beckons little ones to build sandcastles, while lifeguards watch over the advanced boogie boarders and surfers in the family. When families aren't at the beach, they're at Balboa Fun Zone, a hub for rides, games, foods and sports equipment rentals, including bicycles. Families can also embark on a harbor cruise from here. Nearby, there are plenty of kid-friendly hotels and restaurants. And in 2017, everything is more easily accessible thanks to the Balboa Peninsula Trolley, which offers free service on weekends.