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Beach vacation with 3- and 2-year-old (Live near NYC Metro)
July 5, 2011 11:54 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are trying to plan our first family vacation. We have two very well-behaved boys, aged 3 years and almost 2 years. We really want to do a beach vacation with family friendly attractions like an aquarium, boardwalk with rides, restaurants, etc... and we live near the metro NY area. We have to go the week of July 24th because my husband starts a new job on August 1st.

Where would you recommend we go? We've had recommendations for Virginia Beach and Ocean City (MD). The beach isn't a must, but both boys love the sand and water. We'd rather drive if possible, but flying isn't out of the question. Our budget is around 3k but less is better!
posted by JessTortuga to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ocean City, MD is nice. Ocean City, NJ is closer, and Point Pleasant Beach, NJ is even closer.

All are family friendly, and have young-children focused boardwalk attractions/rides and aquariums, and plenty of places to eat.
posted by rich at 11:56 AM on July 5, 2011


Have you considered the Jersey Shore? Or parts of Cape Cod?

I can't recommend specific areas in either place (I've never been to the Jersey Shore, and "Cape Cod" for me always involved "staying at Grandma's"), but I think you can find affordable options in both places.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on July 5, 2011


Ocean City, NJ is totally your scene! It's a "dry" town, so it's very family friendly (but don't worry, there are several liquor stores right before you cross the bridge into town). For $3k, you could afford almost any sort of lodging (commercial motel/hotel or private rental); I think your choice would have to hinge on how much cooking you want to do while you're there. We do none and therefore stay at the Ocean7Motel right off the boardwalk. So close to things that I was able to run to get some popcorn and be back in my room before the commercial break was over.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2011


It would mean flying, but the Seaside / 30-A communities in NW Florida are perfect for what you're describing, and the Gulf beaches are much tamer and toddler-friendly than those on the Atlantic side.
posted by cyndigo at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2011


It would be an all drive, but the Outer Banks of NC would be nice too.
posted by COD at 12:22 PM on July 5, 2011


Second the recommendation for Ocean City, NJ. (Make sure to get the state right... OCNJ is different from OCMD :)
posted by mark7570 at 12:26 PM on July 5, 2011


It's not super beach-oriented, but Mystic, CT has a great aquarium, beaches, and lots of other fun coastal activities for kids. And it should be a pretty easy drive!
posted by ldthomps at 12:40 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Block Island is kind of magical, and I'm pretty sure there's ferry service from Montauk.
posted by mauvest at 12:42 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mystic had a fine aquarium when I was a child, plus a lot of seafaring historical attractions, if I recall. If you're looking farther afield than east coast, the Outer Banks has truly awesome waves & seashell collecting, plus all sorts of tourism trade things like hangliding lessons off the hundred foot tall dunes & things like that. Also wanted to recommend Virginia Beach: It's not great for beachcombing, but it's generally got much smaller waves than OBX, which can feel a lot safer when hanging out with children. They have a nice aquarium nearby (not world class, but worth checking out) great fishing options, plus you are within reasonable driving distance (call it 1.5 hours) of Bush Gardens (world class amusement park) & Colonial Williamsburg/Jamestown settlement (huge founding-of-America sightseeing venues).
posted by Ys at 1:06 PM on July 5, 2011


The Mystic, Connecticut area has just about everything you're looking for, and it's nicer (less crowded, more charming, with more historical interest) than the Jersey Shore. I have many fond memories of time spent there as a kid. You won't get the waves you'd get on the Cape or in Jersey, but considering the ages of your kids, maybe that's another plus.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 1:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


nthing Ocean City, NJ. For kids as young as yours are, an easy drive to a friendly, low-stress beach town is perfect. We were there last year, and the town had weekly street festivals with face painting, movies in the park, balloon animals, etc., plus a very clean beach with just enough wave action to get the toddlers giggling. The whole vibe of the town is as far from "Jersey Shore" as it is possible to be. Bring your bikes if you have them!
posted by apparently at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2011


Block Island is kind of magical, and I'm pretty sure there's ferry service from Montauk.

It's my understanding that Block Island may be on the pricey side, though.

Mystic, however, is another good option, as they not only have an aquarium, but they also have a seaport. You're also fairly close to the whaling museum in New London.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:22 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sea Isle city is another option. close enough to go to Ocean city, NJ on a day trip for the rides, but the water is calmer for youngins, and it's a cute town. You need to stay in the 60th - 98th streets, though.. north of that you get more of a younger crowd.
posted by rich at 2:07 PM on July 5, 2011


My wife and I enjoyed Ocean City NJ. We don't have kids but we're not into drinking or the party scene. It's got the beach, boardwalk, and rides you're looking for. It doesn't have an aquarium, but if you've got a car and are willing to drive an hour, you can easily get to Adventure Aquarium in Camden from Ocean City NJ.
posted by exhilaration at 2:35 PM on July 5, 2011


If you go to Ocean City, NJ, there's also the Cape May County Zoo nearby which, if I remember correctly, is a pretty good zoo. I used to go to OCNJ all the time as a kid, and I would definitely recommend it as kid-friendly.
posted by zorrine at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Ocean City, NJ, particularly the boardwalk, though there are towns with bigger beaches on the Jersey shore. You might also consider some of the Jersey shore towns with smaller boardwalks and nice beaches, like Lavallette, Point Pleasant, or perhaps also look for a rental on Long Beach Island, which has Fantasy Island Amusement Park.
posted by gudrun at 7:54 PM on July 5, 2011


may be too close to NYC to be a vacaton but Coney Island? Has beach and aquarium that are pretty decent.

The Cape is fun - but the Aquarium is a little lame. Maybe not for 2-3 year olds though. Traffic can be a hairy pain from NYC esp at the Cape beaches if you can't leave outside rush hour.
posted by TravellingCari at 8:30 PM on July 5, 2011


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