Are you in the planning stages for your next family beach vacation? One of the many Gulf Coast beaches may be the place for you to make family memories!
There are 5 states that have beaches along the Gulf of Mexico- Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. So many beaches to choose from!
Gulf Coast Beaches in Florida
Florida is usually the first place that comes to mind when you think of Gulf Coast beaches- and there are so many great destinations here!
Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches are known for their white sand and calmer waters. They also have some of the most clear and turquoise waters.
- Marco Island
- Fort Myers
- Siesta Key
- St. George
- Panama City Beach
Alabama’s Gulf Coast Beaches
Although Alabama doesn’t have near the amount of coastline as Florida, there are still some really great family-friendly beaches here.
- Orange Beach
- Gulf Shores
- Fort Morgan
- Dauphin Island
Beaches in Mississippi
Like Alabama, Mississippi also has a pretty small coastline. But the beaches here should not be overlooked!
- Bay St. Louis
- Front Beach
- Pass Christian Beach
Gulf Coast Beaches of Louisiana
The Pelican State’s beaches may be a little lesser known, but worth considering, especially if you’re looking for less of a crowd! I’ll admit, we’ve never been to a Louisiana beach, but it’s on our list!
- Grand Isle
- Holly Beach
- Rutherford Beach
Texas Gulf Coast Beaches
Most people know Texas for it’s big city destinations- Austin, Houston, Fort Worth. But there are plenty of beautiful beach destinations. Here are a handful of family-friendly Texas Gulf Coast beaches:
- Galveston Island
- Surfside Beach
- Crystal Beach
- Port Aransas
- Corpus Christi
When is the best time to visit a Gulf Coast beach?
This really depends on what you’re looking to experience. There is really no bad time of year to visit the Gulf.
If you are hoping for less crowds, but still beautiful weather, the spring months of April or May might be the best time. Kids are still in school, so there won’t be as many tourists. If your kids are in school, it might be worth pulling them out for a few days.
Accommodations will generally be cheaper than in the summer, and you can do all the outdoor activities without the intense heat.
During the summer, tourist activities are in full swing. You won’t have to worry about taking the kids out of school.
Even though it’s hot (highs can be in the upper 80’s to 90’s), and likely crowded, this might be the best time for you.
During the fall, rates start to fall again as kids go back to school. Just like during the spring months, fall weather is still nice, and the water temperature is still good for swimming.
Winter in the Gulf Coast beaches is a little more unpredictable. Weather can be warm and sunny, or drop below 50 degrees. The water temperature is likely not comfortable for swimming.
This is the least crowded season, so it’s great if you’re looking for more peace and quiet.
Keep in mind, that every time we have visited tourist locations during the winter season, some of the activities have been closed, at least during the weekdays. You definitely should check ahead of time if there’s a specific activity you don’t want to miss.
We loved visiting Galveston Island in the winter because of the lack of people. However, we missed out on Pier Park because it was winter, and only open on the weekends. Also, the famous Schlitterbahn’s waterpark was obviously closed for the season.
What are the least crowded Gulf Coast beaches?
Are you hoping to just relax and chill on this beach vacation, without the crowds? If you can’t go in the off-season, here are some Gulf Coast beaches that are a little more secluded.
Mexico Beach, FL
About 20 miles from Panama City Beach is Mexico Beach. This destination is perfect for wildlife lovers. Spot dolphins, loggerhead turtles, bald eagles, and many other bird species.
Head to Panama City Beach if you want a day of more touristy activities, and escape the people for the rest of the vacation!
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Between Panama City Beach and Pensacola is Santa Rosa Beach. The Florida seascapes are just as beautiful as anywhere, and again, you can escape the crowds while still being close enough to the action in other beach towns.
Anna Maria Island, FL
This laid-back beach town has managed to keep away the giant condos that are towering over most other beach destinations in Florida.
If doing absolutely nothing but relaxing with your family is your style, this might be your beach! If you’re up for some activity, there is snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, shopping, and dining.
Ocean Springs, MS
Near Gulf Islands National Seashore, and only 5 miles from Biloxi, is Ocean Springs. Accommodations are generally cheaper than Biloxi.
Mustang Island, TX
Mustang Island is near Corpus Christi. Port Aransas is on the north end of the island, where you can shop and dine.
Mustang Island State Park has 5 miles of beach. If you’re into kayaking or paddle boarding, the state park has a paddling trail called Mustang Island Paddle Park Trail.
Entrance fees for the state park are $5 per adult, free for kids 12 and under.
Which Gulf Coast beaches have the clearest water?
Maybe you’re looking for a beach with crystal clear, turquoise waters to really make your Instagram photos look good!
I have to mention, the weather and the time of year have a lot to do with how clean and clear the water is going to be on any beach.
However, Florida’s “Emerald Coast” is widely known to have the clearest, most beautiful water. The Emerald Coast in Florida stretches from Panama City Beach to Pensacola. Some of the other beaches included are Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, and Destin.
I can speak from experience that Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City Beach are all beautiful. The Emerald Coast could also include Gulf Shores in Alabama- it has clear, “emerald” water as well.
My family goes back to Destin over and over just for the crystal-clear water.
Hopefully, with this list of Gulf Coast beaches, you will find the perfect place for your next family vacation!
Let us know in the comments – what is your favorite Gulf Coast destination?
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