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The 10 Best Beaches for Families

Find out which waterside escapes are real gems for families.
North Beach at Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde, Florida 1. North Beach at Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde, Florida

Warm, clear water, seashell-dotted white sand, and nature activities galore helped this beach, located in a county park, rise to the top of our list. Protected by a sandbar, North Beach, near St. Petersburg, has a large lagoon that doesn't get above 3 feet deep. "It's like a natural kiddie pool," says Justin Hamilton, of Bardstown, Kentucky, who visited last summer. "My 2-year-old loved chasing minnows." The water doesn't get any cleaner than it is here: Out of more than 100 samples from 2009 and 2010, there wasn't one problem.

When you're ready for shade, walk over to the playground, where your kid can steer a pretend pirate ship or cool down with a snow cone from the snack bar. If your family is up for more, drive to the park's Gulf Pier, a great area for spotting dolphins. From there, explore the fort and cannon built for the Spanish-American War or take a surrey-bike ride along the nature trails.

Spend the Night
Sleep in a pink castle! The Loews Don CeSar is a ten-minute drive. Families keep busy with free cake- and cookie-decorating classes, scavenger hunts, and poolside movies. There's a drop-off kids' club for 4- to 12-year-olds, and babysitting. (Summer rates start at $199 per night for a room that sleeps four; loewshotels.com.)