We here at RCM have so many recommendations about all kinds of things to do in North Alabama but we realize that when summer comes there is nothing quite like a quick trip to the beach. We asked our writers to share their favorite sandy destinations, along with a couple “mom tips” about what to do when/if you go. And don’t miss these beach hacks for baby! Feel free to leave your favorites in the comment section. We love hearing about new sunny locations to discover!
Favorite Kid-Friendly Beaches
Henderson Beach State Park – Destin, FL
This is a great beach in the middle of Destin, FL. Quiet and uncrowded (as least when we were there). The bathrooms and bathhouse (showers and stalls for changing) are very clean, well kept, and on the beach. Camping is also available. – Karen G.
Panama City Beach, FL
We enjoyed Splash Resort at Panama City Beach. It has two swimming pools, a lazy river, and a covered ‘water park’ so if the weather on the beach isn’t ideal, at least there is something for the kids to do. When we went last October, the beach itself was beautiful, and the water had lots of raised sand portions so that we could walk very far out and it was only waist deep, which of course the kids enjoyed very much. Schooners was our favorite restaurant there, but there are lots of restaurants nearby and even pizza delivery. – Heather P.
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Okaloosa Day Use Area, Okaloosa, FL
The bay side of this National Park Service Day Use Area is fantastic for families with smaller children. There’s a bathhouse with bathrooms and outdoor showers. The beach area is full of shells and, when we were there, there were hermit crabs in the water. Lots of kids to play with and the water is shallow for quite a distance from the beach area. – Karen G.
Fort Morgan, AL
If you don’t really like the hustle and bustle that comes with a beach vacation, Fort Morgan is the quieter sister to Gulf Shores. Plus hiking at Bon Secours is amazing! – Helen L.
Ft. Walton Beach, FL
We’ve been visiting Okaloosa Island near Ft. Walton Beach, FL for almost 5 years now. We moved to Huntsville from an East coast beach town and while we loved that area very much even we had to admit that the Gulf Coast beaches are far superior. There really isn’t anything more beautiful – The blue/green water! The white sandy beaches! – and we can’t get enough. Time and again we choose to return to Okaloosa Island because it’s the perfect fit for our family of little ones. It’s close enough to Destin to have access to all the fun of a larger beach destination and just secluded enough to feel like you’re in a sleepy little hamlet.
FOOD – Old Bay Steamer – best low country boil in the area & Harbor Docks – best sushi we’ve had ANYWHERE.
FUN – Dolphin Cruises – there are a ton and we’ve been on a couple and had a great time with both. There is also a pirate cruise which we’re planning to try out next. – Jennifer B.
Miramar/Navarre Beach, FL
This beach offers a plethora of options for parents and kids. It is a clean beach with private access for those staying in the nearby condos and hotels. There are plenty of “water activities” for enthusiasts and lots of nearby water parks and play areas. Or, if you are a total beach bum like me, you can watch the kids romp in the waves while you sip a beverage and read a book. There are tons of eateries, but do not miss the Donut Hole for breakfast or Osaka Rocks for a fresh sushi dinner while you are there! And, mom, be sure to schedule a day to hit the Silver Sands Outlets! We love a sunset stroll at Baytowne Wharf down to the end of the piers to bird watch and feed fish! – Christa L.
St. George Island, FL
You can ride bikes everywhere! All over the island and half of the island is a state park and it isn’t too built up. Our favorite restaurant is Boss Oyster in nearby Apalachicola. – Katie D.
Myrtle Beach, SC
We LOVE going to Myrtle Beach and staying at Dunes Village; Dunes Village has an indoor waterpark with lazy river, water slides and it is right on the beach. And then you hit the boardwalk at night for food and carnival rides. We’ve been several years we absolutely LOVE it! – Jen B.
The Old Florida Village in Santa Rosa, FL
Our favorite beach destination is between Destin & Seaside and affordable for a couple of families together. The beaches are clean, the people are friendly, and we have our favorite house we like to visit every year. The Blue Mountain Creamery is a MUST, and be sure to grab dinner at Louis Louis. Cafe Tango is a great adults-only date night destination. Outlet shopping is close in Destin, and the boutiques & food trucks of Seaside also aren’t far away. Bike rental is fun – trails are plentiful! – Stephenie W.
Orange Beach & Gulf Shores, AL
We like this quiet stretch of beach a lot, and we try to stay at Seachase when we can. Sugar sand, clean beaches, and we always see sea life like turtles and skates when we go! It’s great in the Fall – ordering a pizza from Papa Rocco’s and watching SEC football on the balcony is tradition. There’s great outlet shopping in Foley, and our favorite kid-friendly restaurants are Cosmo’s (dog-friendly too!), Lulu’s on the Beach, and Lambert’s – home of the throwed rolls. Nearby arcades, go-karts, & water parks will keep older kids happy, and the small but reputable Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is really fun to experience. – Stephenie W.
Got some favorite beach venues to share? Leave them in the comments & help out other local parents – leave details about your favorite places to stay, eat, and activities your family enjoys.
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.