Are you ready to go for a swim with your kids along the Gulf Coast? Be sure to consider these best Gulf Coast beaches for families.
All of these Gulf Coast beaches have something unique to offer so that you can have a relaxing time. Some are close to cities while others are a bit remote. Regardless of which one you choose, all of them promise a fabulous time with your family.
Choose between the following beaches to decide where your family should travel.
- Orange Beach, Alabama
- Clearwater Beach, Florida
- Mustang Island, Texas
- Seaside, Florida
- Captiva Island, Florida
- Destin, Florida
- Galveston Island, Texas
- Marco Island, Florida
- Dauphin Island Park and Beach, Alabama
- Biloxi Beach, Mississippi
- St. Pete Beach, Florida
- Gulfport Beach, Mississippi
- Siesta Key, Florida
- Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana
- Surfside Beach, Texas
- Navarre Beach, Florida
Orange Beach, Alabama
Much of Orange Beach, Alabama, is on a few islands, though some of it is on the mainland. A small part of the city is on a small island that it shares with part of Florida. If you want to travel between islands, you can take a paddleboard, boat, kayak, or even a jet ski.
The town has gorgeous beaches with white sand. Its waters are relatively warm, so you and your family can enjoy time swimming. The temperature of the water fluctuates from about 62 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. With average high temperatures in the 60s to 80s, you can visit at any time of the year.
But if you want to visit more than just the beach, you can also visit local museums and even a waterpark. You’ll also be able to visit Gulf State Park and the Orange Beach Waterfront Park.
Shops are also nearby so that you can pick up souvenirs on your trip. Meanwhile, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a great place to hike.
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach, Florida, is close to Tampa, so it’s one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families who want an entire vacation. It’s also a great weekend trip destination for people who live in western Florida.
You can enjoy spending time on the beach, but you can also swim in the gulf. And you have easy access to Tampa Bay for even more choices of beaches and water views. Check out the Clearwater Marine Aquarium if you want to take a break from swimming but still want to explore.
Another option is to visit the Moccasin Lake Nature Park. You can view the nature preserve and lake or take part in an educational program about the animals.
The average daily temperature in Clearwater ranges from 62 degrees in the winter to 82 degrees in the summer. Of course, you do have to consider hurricane season before traveling. But with great weather all year, you can book a trip during a school break and outside of hurricane season.
Mustang Island, Texas
Just east of Corpus Christi, you’ll find Mustang Island, Texas. The island features five miles of coastline, and you can swim, fish, or enjoy the view. Mustang Island State Park also has a paddling trail on the island’s west side for you to paddle and fish.
You can also see coastal birds along the paddling trail. Outside of the water, you and your family can go geocaching. Camping is also available with 50 drive-up primitive sites and 48 water and electric campsites. However, you should reserve your spot because they fill up fast.
If you and your kids want some souvenirs, be sure to stop by the park gift shop. And you can head off the island and into Corpus Christi to see the Texas State Aquarium.
Speaking of Corpus Christi, the whole area has excellent year-round weather. The daily mean temperature ranges from 58 in January to 85 in August. That makes it the perfect vacation spot for a winter getaway or even a summer vacation.
If you prefer to explore North Florida, you may enjoy the beaches in the Seaside area. You’ll need to pass below a tall part-lighthouse-part-pyramid structure to access the beach. Then, you’ll be able to get in the water or sit on the beach and watch the crowd.
There are plenty of vacation rentals available in Seaside or nearby Santa Rosa Beach. That way, you and your family will have a comfortable place to stay on vacation.
During the day, be sure to explore the city on and off the beach. You can try some food from local food trucks. There are also local boutiques and a seasonal farmers’ market. Everything is within walking distance, so you don’t need to worry about driving.
January is the coldest, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. In August, Seaside can reach 90 degrees, while lows are in the upper 70s. That climate makes it a great place to visit for much of the year. Plus, you can avoid the craziness of Panama City Beach to the east so that you can focus on your family.
Captiva Island, Florida
Captiva Island, Florida, is just to the west of Fort Myers. You’ll need to drive through Sanibel Island to reach the smaller island along the Gulf Coast. The island provides a relaxing oasis for you and your family to be together and enjoy your time.
Its beaches are gorgeous, and you can decide to stay on the beach or get in the water. Plus, there are plenty of resorts where you can stay while you’re on the island to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Captiva Island also has activities for kids and families outside of the water. That way, you can keep your kids busy throughout the trip. When you’re ready for something else to do, check out the shops on the island.
The weather is fantastic all year, so you can book a trip whenever your kids have a school break. December and January are the coldest, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. In the summer, temperatures can reach the mid-90s.
Up in the panhandle, you’ll find Destin, Florida, is another excellent destination for families. It’s just to the west of Seaside, so you can visit both beaches if you can’t decide between them. In Destin, you’ll enjoy the white sand and beautiful water.
Views are great on and off of the beach, and you and your family can even go fishing. The city has a solid reputation for catching good fish. Other activities include visiting Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park and checking out Henderson Beach State Park.
Destin is a short drive from other parts of Northwest Florida as well as southern Alabama and Georgia. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is a good option to consider if you’re traveling from farther away.
Temperatures range from the mid-50s to mid-80s throughout the year. So while December and January could be a little cold for swimming, you can still visit the city then. And you can sit on the sand and enjoy the view.
Galveston Island, Texas
Galveston Island, Texas, is another one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families. It’s the island that’s home to the city of Galveston, and it’s close to the big city of Houston. That makes this beach easy for many families to get to.
You’ll find Galveston Island State Park on the island. And with a length of 27 miles, the island has a vast coastline for you to explore. You and your family can also go to Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Moody Gardens if you need a break from swimming.
To reach the island, you’ll need to take Interstate 45 from Houston. So whether you’re driving from the local area or flying into the city, you can get to Galveston Island quickly and easily.
With lows near freezing, December through February isn’t the best time to visit. But the rest of the year has great weather, and highs can reach up to 90 in the summer. That makes it a great place to go before your kids head back for another year of school.
Marco Island, Florida
In Southwest Florida, you’ll find Marco Island, which is yet another one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families. The island is due south of Naples, so it is a bit further away from a city. However, that can be a good thing if you and your family want to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Marco Island is a great place to visit the beach and go boating. You can choose from a few resorts on the island, so you can make sure you and your family have a great place to rest at night.
Not only can you enjoy the local beaches, but you can take the daily ferry to Key West. Then, you can keep from having to swim or relax in the same place every day of your trip. And your kids will get to explore more beaches.
Daily mean temperatures vary from 64 in January to almost 84 in August. But temperatures can be higher or lower throughout the day. Either way, you can’t go wrong with the weather.
Dauphin Island Park and Beach, Alabama
Dauphin Island Park and Beach, Alabama, is yet another excellent getaway. It’s a small town on an island just south of the mainland, and it’s close to the Mississippi border. This spot is perfect if you want to focus on spending time with your family near the water.
The island doesn’t have any traffic lights, and it’s easy to walk to get from place to place. Its beaches have beautiful white sand and gorgeous water. Plus, you can find birds in the various bird sanctuaries.
Dauphin Island Park is home to campgrounds, and the site gives you access to a private beach. That way, you don’t have to compete with other visitors for a spot near the water.
Average high temperatures in the summer are close to 90 degrees. However, the winter can be a great time to visit since temperatures are in the 50s and 60s.
Biloxi Beach, Mississippi
If you want to visit one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families in Mississippi, check out Biloxi Beach. This town is on the mainland, so it’s easy to access by car. Don’t let that fool you, though, because it still has excellent beaches.
The city maintains the white sandy beaches to make sure they’re in pristine condition. Plus, the nearby barrier islands help keep the beaches calm, making Biloxi a fantastic place for you and your whole family to go swimming.
However, swimming may not be as comfortable during the winter. The air temperature is still in the 50s, but the water can be a little cold.
If you prefer to be able to swim, consider visiting during the summer. It can get up to almost 90 degrees, but that makes the beach an excellent place to cool off.
St. Pete Beach, Florida
St. Pete Beach is just west of the city of St. Petersburg, making it an easy destination for families in western Florida. The smaller city is home to one of the best beaches overall, not just one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families.
You and your family can hit the beach throughout your trip. And the city has almost 2.800 hotel rooms, so you don’t have to travel far each day.
If you need a break from the water, St. Petersburg is only about 10 minutes away. So you can head into town to go shopping or visit the fairgrounds. St. Petersburg also has beaches that you and your family can explore.
Winter weather is relatively mild, with lows in the 50s and highs around 70 degrees. If you want it to be a bit warmer, you can visit during the summer. Then, the temperatures range from the 70s to around 90.
Gulfport Beach, Mississippi
After Jackson, Gulfport Beach, Mississippi, is the second-largest city in the state. It is just to the west of Biloxi, so it’s a great option if you want to visit multiple beaches. Like Biloxi, Gulfport has the benefit of barrier islands protecting the coast.
That makes it much safer for you and your family to go swimming. Out of the water, you can simply enjoy the view of the gulf. You can also visit the Mississippi Aquarium or the Municipal Marina.
Gulfport also has a main street for you to visit to go shopping. Then, you and your family can switch things up to keep from getting bored.
It can be a little cold from November through February. However, temperatures for the rest of the year range from the 60s to the lower 90s. Like other parts of the gulf, you’ll need to be careful of hurricanes if you choose to visit in the fall.
Siesta Key, Florida
Just southwest of Sarasota, you’ll find Siesta Key, Florida. The barrier island includes three main beaches, including Crescent Beach, Siesta Beach, and Turtle Beach. You and your family can explore all of those beaches throughout your trip.
There are also plenty of activities to do in or near the water, from swimming to relaxing. Plus, Siesta Key has a resort right on the island. That makes it easy for you and your family to wake up and head straight to the water.
However, you’ll also have easy access to hotels in and around Sarasota. Plus, you and your family can rent a car to explore the greater area of Sarasota.
The weather in the area is warm all year, with temperatures ranging from the 50s to the 90s. Summers are pretty warm, while the winter is mild.
Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana
Grand Isle is one of the southern-most parts of Louisiana, and it’s due south of New Orleans. The island is thin but long, so the coastline abounds. You’ll need to drive on state highway 1 from the northwest to reach the island.
Once you arrive, you will be able to see the water. Beaches are available on all sides of the island, providing views of the gulf to the south and Caminada Bay to the north.
This beach is more on the remote side, so it’s great if you want to get away from a city. Plus, you can stay on the island at Blue Dolphin In & Cottages. That way, you don’t have to drive in and out each day.
Winter weather is pretty mild, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. The summer can be warm, with highs and lows in the 80s, so your family will spend quite a bit of time in the water to cool down. Just make sure you avoid hurricane season if you don’t want to risk dealing with severe weather.
Surfside Beach, Texas
Not too far south of Galveston Island, you’ll find Surfside Beach, Texas. The beach is on a barrier island just to the south of Galveston, and a road runs between the two. Locals call Surfside Beach simply “Surfside,” and it’s near the city of Quintana.
It is a bit far from the nearest big city of Houston. However, that can be a good thing if you don’t want to deal with a ton of traffic while on your trip.
The city’s population is less than 500, but you’ll still have access to restaurants and a motel and RV park. So, you can stay on the island for much of your vacation to enjoy the immaculate water views.
Summers in the area can be sweltering and humid, so prepare to jump in the water to stay cool. In the winter, however, you can enjoy a more mild climate. To get to the island, you’ll need to travel through Galveston or the town of Freeport, which is on the mainland near Quintana and Surfside.
Navarre Beach, Florida
Another one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families is in the Florida panhandle. Navarre Beach is to the west of Destin and the east of Pensacola. One of its nicknames is that it’s the most relaxing place in the state.
The town is on the mainland and is just north of Santa Rosa Island, so you have easy access to plenty of gorgeous beaches. Plus, it’s a mostly residential area giving residents and visitors an excuse to relax.
You can visit Opal Beach and check out the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. That way, you can get in the water but also have fun around the beach. If you can’t stay in the city, it’s not too far from Pensacola, offering more accommodation options.
Like other Gulf Coast towns, the weather in Navarre Beach is enjoyable. Lows in December and January are usually in the 40s, while highs are in the 60s. Summer temperatures can get up to 90 degrees, and the lows during those months are in the 70s.
Which of the Best Gulf Coast Beaches for Families Will You Visit?
When planning your next vacation, you may want to stay near the water. If you don’t want to go to the east or west coasts, the Gulf of Mexico is your best bet.
Be sure to consider all of these best Gulf Coast beaches for families. If you’re looking for family vacations across different destinations, have a look at our other travel guides.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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