Where to go on Vacation – East Coast vs. West Coast!


Where is the best place to Vacation? Is the east coast better than the west coast?

Where is the best child-friendly beach? Where is the best beach to take my teenager?

The best place to vacation in the US is the east coast! This is just my opinion. The west coast has many great vacation spots as well, but the beaches there are just not the same. If you like rough surf and high surges, head west. Everyone else should go east!

If you ask most people where would you like to go on vacation, they will answer “the beach”. That is my answer too! There is something special & therapeutic about smelling the salt air,  feeling the breeze cleanse your skin and mind, and feeling the salt water wash over you in a cool wave of refreshment.

How do I know how cold the water will be?

The east coast has a variation of ocean temperatures and something for everyone! The further north you go (Maine to Delaware) the ocean temperatures are warmest in July-August at only in the 70’s. For some that are super refreshing, for others, that’s still a might cold. From Maryland to Virginia that the waters are a tad warmer coming in near 76-77 degrees from July-August. North Carolina is its own special temperature. Because the state juts out at the northern part, the bottom of the state is warmer than the top. You could experience waters as cool as 77 or as warm as 80 degrees from July – August. If you want warmer waters, consider South Carolina and go south from there. Of course, it goes without saying that Florida has the warmest waters in the southern portion of the state.

Beach with Babies

You could go to almost any beach with your baby. You create your safe space for him/her so there truly is no worries there. Virginia Beach, Virginia is rather calm and relaxing during the day.  Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is relaxing and the water is a calmer there. If I had a baby that may want to dip there toes in the water on a first time trip, I’d definitely choose Hilton Head Island. This vacation spot is also dog-friendly on the streets and at the beach, your pet may come before 8 am or after 5 pm.


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Tybee Island, Georgia is another great family beach vacation. most of the hotels are mom & pop establishments that take pride in their businesses. The crowds are calmer but the waves are a bit more active here than on Hilton Head Island. This is a better beach for shelling. There isn’t really a populated boardwalk and it is mostly still not commercialized. It’s a nature’s best type of vacation spot where you can enjoy the larger particles of sand, shells, and landscape in peace. Kids run up and down the beaches freely as mom’s and Dad’s helicopter. This beach would also be great for tweens and teens.

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Beach with Tween & Teens

This one is tricky! There are several family-friendly beaches that are relatively “safe” for teenagers. How much danger or trouble they get in depends on you and how much freedom you give them. One of our favorite northern vacation spot to take the boys when they were teens was Chincoteague Island, Virginia. It’s a small island off of the Delmarva Peninsula measuring only about a mile wide and 3 miles long. It’s been a few years since we’ve been there so the island may have shrunk a little. The island is filled with many locals that live there year-round. The people are very nice and hospitable as tourism is their lifeline. In this small “everyone knows everyone town”,  there’s not a lot of space for a tween or a teen to find trouble. Most things are within walking distance and most people will be on foot or on bicycles. There’s a very nice RV Park on the island and to get to the actual Beach, you cross a small bridge over to Assateague Island. Assateague is crawling with Park Rangers and other officials to ensure that this wildlife preserve remains intact. It’s only a short drive through that area before you find yourself at the beach. There are no hotels, restaurants, or other types of vendors on the beach. You pack what you think you will need and bring it. There’s a section of the beach that is guarded by lifeguards for safety. The backdrop at the beach is gorgeous. It’s wild protected land with trees, shrubs, and birds. The sand is a cool brown color you will only see in this part of the country.  I would assume that no place on this Earth is a hundred percent safe, but I would recommend vacationing on Chincoteague Island because this is not a main party headquarter or destination. It’s a peaceful and very relaxing environment where you don’t have to worry about the kids losing their innocence about five minutes after getting to the beach. It’s also a wonderful shelling beach. Some of the largest shells we have ever found where here. (I’m talking as big as your face shells!)

Saint Augustine beaches in Florida are great for tweens and teens. This is a popular vacation spot for families that want to keep an eye on their kids, but also want to enjoy themselves too. There is some shelling here and the people tend to be a bit more laid back. It is much calmer and relaxing if you compare it to Daytona Beach.

21 years and older – Adult

If you’re not worried about your teens losing their innocence, or you are a young adult yourself of age, there are many party destinations that you will definitely enjoy on the East Coast.

Ocean City, Maryland is full of daytime and nighttime excitement. The boardwalk has something to offer everyone! There’s food, drinks, henna artists, tattoo shops, arcades, lots of ladies in bikinis and the ocean is only steps away. The waves are rough and the crowd is a bit loud and wild. The sand is brown and there are not as many shells to hurt your feet. You may find shark teeth though!


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from: BerryLook
Virginia Beach, Virginia has a great and invigorating nightlife.  There are more bars than I could count and everyone is looking to party, dance, and have a blast. During the day, most folks soak up some rays oceanside in the brown sand.  There are not very many shells here, so your bare feet are a bit more protected. When the sun starts to set, the party lights come on and the streets come alive. This is a great vacation spot if you are going kid-free.

Jax Beaches in Florida is a popular vacation spot for spring breakers! There’s a party going on there most days and the bar scene is usually packed full. I do not recommend these beaches for children, tweens, or teens.

Daytona Beach, Florida is a hot spot for Spring Breakers, girls in bikinis shaking their rears offering a Bike or Car washes, photo opportunities, bars, great food and a wild nightlife. Guys and gals alike have long targeted Daytona as a Party Beach. The waves vary and the sand is gray with a hint or gorgeous orange-red particles from crushed shells. This is the land of excitement and hang-outs. If you are looking for a good time, Daytona Beach is the place to find it. The city of Daytona Beach on the mainland is where the Daytona International Speedway is located and there are hundreds of stores to shop. Great food is everywhere you turn and this party town is on fire with excitement. So if you are looking to have a wild & great time, Daytona Beach is calling you!

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida (Apollo) is a popular destination for nudist. I keep hearing there is a huge nudist colony in Florida, but I haven’t seen it or sought it out. I hear that gate 5 is where the nudist proudly display what God has given them. Beware though: What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Mid-Life Beach Enjoyment

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is another place with a lively nightlife. This one is a bit more laid back though. Here you will mostly find adults who can afford to enjoy the evening with more expensive taste.  There are very affordable eateries and pubs, but most of the people here have been there-done that in life and just want to relax. To me, that’s what vacation is all about,  relaxing from the daily grind.  The waves are far more gentle, the beach is very nice (almost white) and the sand is soft like baby powder. Because these tend to be calmer waters, this is not a great place to go shelling, but you can find sea biscuits, starfish, and sand dollars.

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Flagler Beach,  Florida is a great mid-life beach. This popular biker location is full of some hopping bars and a great pier. Flagler is also super dog-friendly and your Fido is welcomed with you at most establishments and on the beach. Flagler is a resort type community where you will feel welcomed and loved during your stay. Just ask a biker about it!

Clearwater Beach, Florida is on the gulf coast side. It has some of the clearest water you will see and the variety of shells available there are completely different than the Atlantic side. This condo filled community has a few public access points, but not many. This is a great relaxing spot where mid-lifers go to seek out serenity in life. The sand is almost white, but more of a light gray and it is soft, but not baby powder soft. Watch your bare feet when walking, there are many shells.

Retired and Senior

Ormond Beach, Florida is another popular biker destination. It is actually the home to Destination Daytona, the birthplace of speed, and John D Rockefeller’s Ormond Beach home. Every year there are over 500,000 bikers that come to Ormond Beach during Bike Week in early spring. This well-known event caters to bikers from all genres, ages, and backgrounds. In October, bikers appear again for Biketoberfest. Except for that small time and spring and in the fall, Ormond Beach is actually a quiet, calm quiet Resort community with soft gray sand and varying surf. Commercialization has come to Ormond Beach but not near as much as came to Daytona. Ormond Beach is located only a couple of miles north of Daytona Beach Florida and is just a little lesser-known to the younger crowd. Oceanside, you’ll find communities of people who live here year-round or frequent during the winter as snowbirds. For the most part, it’s a great family vacation spot at one of the many resort hotels. The strength of the serve and height varies here with the cycles of the Moon. The ocean is not very deep near the shore, making Ormond Beach one of the better places to take a dip in the sea. At times the water is crystal clear. Other times there’s a high sand turn over so the water appears almost grayish. The water is tested here on a regular basis and is very clean. There isn’t really a boardwalk anywhere but there are restaurants within walking distance from the beach. For those who are not residents, there are several public entrances to access the beach. This is one of the few beaches left that you can still pay to drive on. Ormond Beach has a very long history of driving on the beach, so it’s handicap accessibility. If you worried about getting stuck in the sand there are lifeguard stations at several entrances with ADA compliant bathrooms and sand wheelchairs!

Have you visited any of these locations yet?

*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these images, I may or may not be compensated.

Chrissy

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