A day at the beach is a wonderful way to make memories with your family.
But with children in tow, there are several things you need to consider before packing your beach towels and heading for the waves. Find everything you need to know in this handy list; we've rounded up a collection of the best beaches in England for safe swimming, family-friendly facilities and beautiful surroundings.
Plus peak sandcastle-building conditions, naturally.
Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
The dramatic form of Bamburgh castle overlooks this gorgeous expanse of craggy coastline, and it makes for a breathtaking site. Join other families in sunbathing, sandcastle-building or rock pooling around the light house and marvel at the beauty of this North Eastern treasure.
Sandhaven Beach, South Shields
A firm family favourite, the resort town of South Shields has all the classic beachside attractions. Sandhaven is the main beach of the resort, and boasts numerous awards for the quality and cleanliness of its sands and water. Make use of the volleyball nets, enter the kids into a sandcastle-building contest, or spend the afternoon at the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park - at South Shields there's no end of things to do.
Embleton Beach, Northumberland
A spacious, sandy beach, Embleton Bay is overlooked by the impressive ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. Counted as part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this beach has much to offer to those who seek a quiet, unspoiled bay to take the family. The medieval village of Embleton, about a mile from the coast, is also worth a look.
Earnse Bay, Cumbria
This wide, open beach stretches for miles along the coast and proves a great spot for breezy walks and even sea bathing, when the weather is fine. It's particularly good for wind and kitesurfing (even playing host to the National Kitesurfing Championship), and the shoreline is often dotted with kite-surfers skidding across the waves; pick a spot on the sand with the kids and watch them go!
Formby Beach, Merseyside
Despite its accessible location (sitting on the coast between Southport and Liverpool), the expansive beach at Formby still manages to make you feel as though you are out in nature. Lined with sand dunes and great swathes of pinewood forest, this National Trust-owned land provides ample opportunity for stunning walks and magnificent views. Facilities are scarce, so make sure to pack everything you need.
St Anne's Beach, Lancashire
At low tide, the beach at Lytham St Anne's seems to go on for miles, making it the perfect destination for families who dislike crowds. There's tons of space for beach games and playing in the sand, and the sea offers great paddling opportunities, though swimming on certain parts of the beach is not advised. Plus, with all the feeling of a quintessential Victorian resort in Lytham, there's no end of amenities to keep the kids entertained.
Yorkshire and The Humber
West Cliff Beach, Whitby
A long beach of rocks and sand, West Cliff beach has been popular with tourists and locals for generations. Another possessor the coveted blue flag award, the beach at West Cliff offers donkey rides for children and the neighbouring town provides countless amusements and attractions that make this the perfect place for a family day out.
This lovely sand and shingle beach is a real highlight of the Yorkshire coast, perfect for family walks, exploring rock pools and hunting for fossils, or simply a relaxing spot to watch the boats bobbing on the waves. The sea is, naturally, pretty cold, but great for surfing and bodyboarding if you can stomach it! The village of Runswick, a former fishing village huddled beneath the cliffs at the top end of the beach, is a charming assortment of winding streets and red-roofed cottages.
North and South Beaches, Bridlington
The resort town of Bridlington sits between two long beaches, the North and South, both of which offer a proper British seaside atmosphere, as well as all the desired amusements and amenities. Spend the day building sandcastles or soak up the sounds of the sea in the town's bustling harbour. Take a walk down the promenade in the afternoon sun to take in all the nostalgic charm this town has to offer.
Mablethorpe Beach, Lincolnshire
An expansive, sandy beach perfect for beach games and sunbathing, and a Blue Flag Award-winner to boot. Attractions and amenities available in abundance in the nearby town, where you can stock up on stacks, get the kids a donkey ride or keep them entertained in the fairground.
Ingoldmells South, Lincolnshire
Perhaps not as quaint as some of the other beaches here, Ingoldmells is nonetheless a great spot for swimming on a fine day. Public toilets are located near the beach entrance and facilities can be found in the nearby resort town.
Skegness Beach, Lincolnshire
This vast, sandy beach has won numerous awards over the years, and has plenty of traditional attractions to keep the kids entertained. From paddling pools to fairground rides, this is a great place to take young children.
Holkham Beach, Norfolk
Previously voted Britain's best beach, Holkham is an unspoilt natural treasure. The nature reserve on which it sits houses an array of rare plant life, and visitors must walk through a pine forest to reach the sandy shore. Surfboards are not permitted, so make do with your bucket and spade and revel in the gorgeous panoramic views. Be sure to visit when the tide is out, and the sand becomes dotted with small pools ideal for bathing.
Walberswick Beach, Suffolk
Walberswick beach is perhaps best known for its crabbing, playing host to 'The British Open Crabbing Championship'. Buy your kids a crabbing line and let them get in on the action whilst you enjoy this beautiful expanse of sandy beach. Facilities are available in the charming village which is only a few steps away and well worth a look.
Cromer Beach, Norfolk
A visit to Cromer makes for a delightfully Victorian resort experience. The beaches are broad and sandy, cute little beach huts line the promenade on the east side and the pier is everything a pier should be. Catch a show at the Pavilion Theatre or enjoy some fish and chips as you soak up the sea air.
Aldeburgh Beach, Suffolk
Perhaps the best-known of Suffolk's beaches, Aldeburgh is a sand and shingle beach offset beautifully against the pale pastel holiday homes that line its promenade. It comes attached to the lovely seaside town of Aldeburgh, a pretty spot to take an afternoon stroll if you can tear the kids away from the sand, and a great place to pick up some fish and chips, which are said to be the best on the East coast.
East Beach, West Sussex
If you're looking for a proper seaside resort, look no further than East Beach, Littlehampton. Perhaps a little less picturesque than some of the other contenders on the list, this sand and pebble beach more than makes up for it with the wide array of amusements and amenities on offer. Take a walk down the promenade, a ride in the theme park, or why not a late afternoon boat trip? Lifeguards operate in summer months and there is even a wristband scheme for children, making this beach a super safe option for families.
Camber Sands, East Sussex
Famously great for water sports, Camber Sands is a beautiful spot for a family day out in East Sussex. With miles of unspoilt dunes to explore and an endless stretch of golden sand, it's the perfect place to search for shells, driftwood and other treasures. Park your towels on the western side (by the River Rother) to experience the best this beach has to offer.
Botany Bay, Kent
One of the seven bays dotted around the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs, Botany Bay boasts safe swimming, soft sand (dotted with impressive chalk stacks) and gorgeous views of the surrounding cliffs. There is a cafe on the beach and further facilities in the nearby town, which is worth a visit for the historical sites that pepper its charming streets.
Based in Kent? Take a look at more of our recommendations!
West Wittering, West Sussex
This gorgeous, unspoilt beach is one of the most popular in West Sussex. It's also the winner of the prestigious blue flag award, making it one of the cleanest and most eco-friendly beaches in Britain. With lifeguard-supervised swimming points, plenty of tidal pools to explore and ample amenities, this one's a real winner for families.
Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall
High cliffs and white sand hug the crystalline blue water at Cornwall's award-winning Porthcurno beach. It's sheltered, easily accessible and well provided-for; with a cafe, toilets and a lost child centre, it's perfect for a family visit. Considered something of a paradise by locals and tourists, it has been prone to crowding in recent years, so best to get there early (or visit in the low season). Be careful if swimming with children at high tide, as it can get dangerous.
Saunton Sands, Devon
A vast stretch of inviting golden sand awaits you at Saunton Sands, a popular beach on North Devon's golden coast. Perfect for families who like to avoid the hemmed-in feeling of more crowded spots, there's plenty of room for beach games and secluded sunbathing on this beach's three-mile sweep. It also runs alongside Braunton Burrows, the most expansive sand dune system in England and home to a diverse collection of rare plants and animals - perfect for a mid-afternoon walk and a little wildlife spotting with the kids.
Carbis Bay, Cornwall
Carbis Bay in St Ives makes for a great place for all ages; a haven of powdery sand, blue green sea and exotic sub-tropical plants, its a beautiful environment to spend the day. On top of this, the waves are calm and sultry, which means it's a great place for young children to swim. Facilities are provided by the Carbis Bay Hotel and lifeguards operate throughout the summer. If you're bringing young children to the South West this summer, this one is not to be missed.
Durdle Door, Dorset
An iconic and much-photographed landmark, the limestone arch that protrudes from the sand on Dorset's Jurassic Coast is well worth the visit. A mixture of shingle and sand, this beach is great for sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling in the turquoise sea. There are toilets in the carpark but no facilities on the beach itself, which is a 30 minute downhill walk from the carpark ending in 150 steps - something to bear in mind if you have small children.
Looking to discover more of the Dorset coast? Take a look at our definitive guide.
Woolacombe Beach, North Devon
Perhaps the most well-known in North Devon, the award-winning Woolacombe is often said to be one of the best beaches in the country. Three miles of gorgeous golden sand and a plethora of excellent rock pools await, whilst the sea is perfect for surfers and bodyboarders of all ages. There are several surf schools operating along the coast, if you want to book your kids a lesson, as well as cafes, beach shops and ice cream parlours. Perfect for a leisurely day out with the family.
And remember to be safe. For our tips on how to enjoy the beach safely during the pandemic, check out our guide. If you're London-based, why not take a look at our recommendations to the best beaches within 2 hours of London?
Header image: iStock
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