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April 07, 2011

Top Summer Beach Vacations: Family, Affordable, and Active

By Kate Chandler

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Sayulita beach
Sayulita Beach, Mexico (apasciuto\Flickr) 

Beaches are a little bit like pizza. Even when they're "bad," they're still pretty good. And now that spring is officially here, it's time for some sun and sand...wherever you can get it. If you have the time and the funds, we suggest the following beach vacations.

Best Family Beach: Sayulita, Mexico 
This safe, laid-back beach town is full of hip North American and European families, with friendly locals, too. Here, you and the kids can get back to basics. Every evening both local and gringo kids congregate in the town square to eat ice cream and play games.'s Sayulita Beach Travel Guide
More Family-Friendly Beaches

Best Active Beach Vacation Spot: Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Known for its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that once hosted the Ryder Cup, Kiawah Island, a half-hour drive from Charleston, features a ten-mile stretch of Atlantic coastline and a flat interior shaded by live oaks and magnolia trees draped in Spanish moss. Beyond the five golf courses, other activities include deep-sea fishing, kayaking through the marsh in search of mink and osprey, and biking the trails to spot gators. Stay at the swanky Kiawah Island Resort and you can add tennis to the list of activities.'s Kiawah Island Beach Travel Guide
More Active Beach Vacations

Best Affordable Beach Vacation: Cannon Beach, Oregon
A mere 90-minute drive from Portland, Cannon Beach commonly gets referred to as the Carmel of Oregon. Yet this Pacific Coast hamlet is not nearly as pricey as Carmel. First stop, towering Haystack Rock stands tall in the shallow waters, inspiring awe from all who stroll hand-in-hand on the hard-packed sand. Drive to nearby Ecola State Park and take a hike in the Emerald Forest, where massive 300-year-old Sitka spruce trees have trunks as wide as redwoods. Oh, and the beaches are nice, too.'s Cannon Beach Travel Guide
More Cheap Beach Vacations

Best All-Around: Florida Panhandle
The Gulf Coast boasts sugar-white sand and see-your-feet clear water that's reminiscent of the Caribbean—with no passport required. And with airports in both Pensacola and Panama City, you have easy access to all the best spots, like family-friendly Sandestin, laid-back Grayton, or picture-perfect Seaside.'s Florida Beach Travel Guide
Florida Panhandle Photo Gallery

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