Where to find the most family-friendly beaches in the US

South Padre Island

From beaches where kids can participate in wildlife conservation efforts, to live music and nightly fireworks displays, an online resource devoted to family travel has compiled a list of the best family-friendly beaches in the US for 2016.

Because when it comes to hitting the beach with kids in tow, it's not enough to find a spot that's sunny and clean, points out Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic, an offshoot of travel giant TripAdvisor.

Beaches that anticipate family needs can help parents manage between the sunscreen, picnic fare, beach towels and excitable children -- and minimize meltdowns and tantrums.

"Families are looking for beaches that are not only safe and clean, but also those that offer a level of convenience that meet the needs of those traveling with various age groups,” said Poirot.

“Nearby accommodations, restaurants and attractions -- as well as cost -- all add to a beach's appeal for families. This list of winners was hand-picked by our team of editors to highlight not only large, well-known beaches, but also some of the smaller hidden gems worth a visit."

Here are the top 10 beaches for families and their best assets, according to Family Vacation Critic:

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Outer Banks, NC
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open all summer for both daytime and a few nighttime climbs.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, Empire, MI
Kids can receive a Junior Ranger badge and certificate once they finish an activity book.

South Padre Island, South Padre, TX
Families can work with local sea turtle rescue, Sea Turtle, Inc., on dozens of scheduled releases during the summer months, to watch as tiny sea turtles enter the ocean for the first time.

The Wildwoods, Wildwood, NJ
Access to the beach is free. An area is also reserved for dogs so that the canine member of families can tag along.

Captiva Beach, Captiva Island, FL
Beachgoers can rent boats and kayaks to explore the local waterways, beaches and bayous.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego, CA
Every Sunday afternoon, beachgoers are treated to live concerts.

Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, RI
The beach is home to an on-site water park with three slides.

Million Dollar Beach, Lake George, NY
Every Thursday night, the sky explodes in a fireworks display over the lake.

Clinch Beach, Traverse City, MI
Beachgoers can rent kayaks, paddleboards and bikes for riding along a trail that runs above the beach.

Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, WA
The nearby Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks) is free and features a botanical garden and a viewing room where visitors can watch salmon migrate up the fish ladder.