7 Unforgettable Family Beach Vacations in Georgia

best beaches in georgia for families graphic

If you’ve been searching for the best beaches in Georgia for a memorable family getaway, here are some of the best! The Peach State has picturesque barrier islands that have bustling beachside towns and pristine beaches. Georgia’s barrier islands are the perfect places for your next family vacation. As a local, here are my favorite family-friendly Georgia beaches we’ve traveled to many times over the years.

Jekyll Island is one of Georgia’s smaller barrier islands, but has 10 miles of beautiful beaches and plenty adventures for the family. Here are some of my favorite things about Jekyll Island.

Driftwood Beach: A Captivating Landscape

Driftwood Beach is Jekyll Island’s most popular beach and is a unique beach experience. It’s a great place for fun in the sun and swimming. However, the hard-packed sand also makes it ideal for leisurely walks or bike riding.

Have a picnic while observing the wildlife – you might see loggerhead sea turtles nesting nearby! Enjoy a photoshoot as well. The beach has a beautiful landscape and is named after the smooth driftwood that washes on its shores.

Location of Driftwood Beach

Summer Waves Water Park: Fun in the Sun

For a splashing good time, check out the Summer Waves Water Park! The park is perfect for the family, as it has rides and amenities for kids of all ranges. It features 8 different rides and attractions from thrilling water slides to a lazy river and splash pad.

  • For younger kids / Low Thrill: Splash Zone, Turtle Creek, Shark Tooth Cove
  • Medium Thrill: Frantic Atlantic, Nature’s Revenge
  • High Thrill: Pirates Passage, Man O’ War, Force 3

After enjoying the waterpark rides, you can grab a bite to eat at Larry’s Giant Subs or check out the cool stuff at the Surf Shop.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center: Education, Entertainment, and Adventure

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchlings

If someone in the family loves animals, don’t miss the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Per their website, this is “Georgia’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility.”

Here you can learn about the fascinating world of sea turtles and the conservation efforts undertaken by Georgia’s DNR in partnership with local communities and organizations.

The center offers interactive exhibits, views of the turtle hospital, turtle walks along the beach, anda two-story wildlife viewing platform.

St. Andrews Beach Park: A Wildlife Hotspot

For nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, head to St. Andrews Beach Park, where you’ll find a pristine beach area and diverse wildlife. The park is home to a fishing pier and picnic pavilions, making it the perfect spot to spend quality time with your family. Keep an eye out for dolphins frolicking in the surf or migratory birds taking flight.

2. St. Simons Island: Family-Friendly Beaches & Beach Town

St. Simons Island is the largest of the four Golden Isles and is one of my favorite places for a family vacation! St. Simons is situated midway between Jacksonville, FL and Savannah, GA and has four diverse beach areas, along with a charming downtown.

East Beach

People at St. Simons Beach on a Sunny Day

An excellent choice for a family beach day is East Beach. Enjoy swimming, building sandcastles, or simply soaking up the sun. One of the most popular beaches in Georgia, it has soft sand and gentle ocean waves. And at low tide, you’ll have space to hunt for shells or explore the tidal pools teeming with marine life.

If you want to learn about the other three beach spots on St. Simons – Goulds Inlet, Massengale Park, and Coast Guard Station – this article provides more detail.

Massengale Park: Picnic on the Beach

Head down to Ocean Blvd and you’ll find Massengale Park, which is a great place for a family picnic spot. There are perfectly-shaded picnic tables, pavilions, grills, a children’s playground, and clean public restrooms.

Sites for Your Family History Buffs

Fort Frederica National Monument

Fort Frederica National Monument teaches about the 1742 battle that in which Britain defeated the Spanish, which confirmed Georgia as a British colony.

The remnants of this battle are protected and available to the public for Park Ranger guided tours, self-guided tours, and groups.

World War II Home Front Museum

View artifacts and galleries at the World War II Front Museum. The whole family can participate in the interactive history lessons. The Museum is housed in the Historic St. Simons Coast Guard Station.

Pier Village District: Shopping and Dining

And finally, head to the charming downtown area of St. Simons known as the Pier Village District. Get everyone an ice cream cone from Moo Cow Ice Cream or fro-yo from Fuse Fresh Frozen Yogurt. Popular restaurants include:

  • Barbara Jeans
  • Iguanas
  • Del Sur Artisan Eats
  • Tramici Restaurant

3. Tybee Island: Savannah’s Beach Playground

Tybee is the main public beach in the greater Savannah area (about 20 minutes away) and is famous for the iconic Tybee Island lighthouse and the Tybee Pier & Pavilion!

Take a break from soaking up the sun by visiting the historic lighthouse before visiting the pier for fishing, relaxing, or just people watching.

North Beach: A Historic Coastal Adventure

North Beach is a fantastic beach experience for families. The island’s North Beach has a historic district that includes Fort Pulaski and the above-shown Tybee Island Lighthouse. You can also enjoy beachcombing, swimming, and bird watching!

South Beach: A Hub of Entertainment

The South Beach beach experience is going to include more entertainment and people! South beach is also a popular spot for water sports and sports like beach volleyball. This bustling beach area offers easy access to restaurants, shops, and live music.

For places to stay, some of the top hotels are Hotel Tybee, Georgianne Inn, Beachview Inn & Spa, and the DeSoto Beach Hotel.

Head Into Explore Savannah’s Historic District to Learn and Explore

Below are just a few things you can check out in Savannah when you’re not visiting Tybee Island!

4. Cumberland Island National Seashore: Wilderness Experience

Cumberland Island showing horse and Dungeness Ruins

Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest barrier island and is a true wilderness experience at 9,800 acres of salt marshes, unspoiled coastline, and sand dunes.

Wild Horses and Pristine Beaches

Step back in time on Cumberland Island, where wild horses still roam the beaches and historical sites. You can learn about the island’s history by visiting sites like the Dungeness ruins pictured above. Cumberland Island National Seashore offers miles of coastline to explore, including the stunning Glory Beach and Corsair Beach Park.

5. Lake Lanier: A Freshwater Beach Getaway

Instead of going to the ocean, you and the kids may want to check out a beautiful lake instead! I really enjoyed visiting this spot during college summer months – swimming, boating, and water skiing here are fantastic!

Located in north-central Georgia, Lake Lanier is about a 1 hour drive north of Atlanta and only 20 minutes from downtown Gainesville, Georgia.

Lanier Islands: Water Sports Galore

Who says beach vacations must be limited to the ocean? Lanier Islands offers a delightful freshwater beach experience. Head over to LandShark Landing to access some beautiful beaches, followed by refreshments.

You can also participate in water sports here , including wakeboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding, and flyboarding.

Lanier Islands: Fantastic Fun at a Lake’s Water Park

For a day filled with excitement, visit the Water Park at Lanier Islands. This family-friendly attraction includes a whole host of rides:

  • Parakeet Spring
  • Raging River
  • Foam Parties
  • Wild Waves Wave Pool
  • Intimidator
  • Triple Threat
  • Twister
  • Blackout
  • CAT4
  • Splash Down
  • Racing Waters
  • Typhoon
  • The Dunker Slide
  • The Dunker Bunket
  • Parrot Mountain Summer Tubing

6. Little St. Simons Island: A Private Island Retreat

Little St. Simons Island is the smallest Golden Isle and is a privately owned beach resort. You can only access it by boat from the north St. Simons Island.

You’ll find a luxurious and peaceful getaway for your family here! The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island has some charming cottages to stay at.

Little St. Simons is a great place for nature lovers too! Besides visiting the beach, some other activities to consider include:

  • A Family Bicycle Ride
  • Guided nature walk tours together
  • Fishing or birding

7. Amelia Island: Not in Georgia, But Close

Located just across the Georgia-Florida border, this spot is still worth mentioning and has been a favorite of mine since going to the UGA vs. Florida football game!

Amelia Island has over 40 public beach access points to explore that are mapped out here. With thirteen miles of pristine, white sand shore, the beaches are a lot of fun!

Besides exploring the natural beauty, check out these activities on Amelia Island.

  • Visit the Civil War historic site, Fort Clinch, which is pictured above
  • Relax on one of the many public beaches
  • Go horseback riding
  • Visit Egans Creek Greenway

Table of the Best Georgia Beaches for Families

BeachUnique Things to DoOfficial Website
Jekyll IslandDriftwood Beach
Summer Waves Water Park
Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Jekyll Island
St. Simons IslandFour great beaches to visit
Cute little downtown at Pier District
(and my personal pick)
St. Simons
Tybee IslandNorth and South Beach
Historic Tybee Lighthouse and Pier
20 minutes from downtown Savannah
Tybee Island
Cumberland Island National SeashoreLargest Georgia barrier island
Ruins of a 1700s mansion
Wild horses
Cumberland Island
Lanier Islands at Lake LanierOnly 1 hour north of Atlanta
Lanier Islands Resort – huge water park and beach area with water sports (flyboarding too!)
Lanier Islands
Little St. Simons IslandPrivate resort near St. Simons Island
Quiet getaway with cozy cottages, bike rides, beaches, and nature walks
Little St. Simons Island
Amelia IslandShouldn’t technically be on this list, but 40 publich beach access points and amazing historical site of Fort ClinchAmelia Island

Conclusion to Best Beaches in Georgia for Families

Georgia’s coastline is dotted with some of the most breathtaking and family-friendly beaches in the entire United State of America. From the tranquil shores of Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach to the historic landmarks and wild horses of Cumberland Island, there’s something for everyone in the family!

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