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Plan your East Coast beach getaway

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There's no better place for a summer vacation or weekend getaway than an East Coast beach. Beach lovers await the Top 10 Beach list each year from Dr. Stephen Leatherman, America's leading beach expert.

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Leatherman, also known as "Dr. Beach," releases his list on Memorial Day weekend, using 50 criteria to rate beach quality. Since the Top 10 Beach list began in 1991, the top spot has been awarded to a beach in Florida or Hawaii nearly every year.

Although Dr. Beach's list changes each year, many families prefer tried and true beach destinations. If a beach getaway sounds like the perfect summer vacation for your family, check out these destinations from north to south and find just the right beach.

Cap Cod, Massachusetts is made of up of the beaches of the lower Cape, mid Cape, upper Cape and the island beaches of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Many of the beaches on Nantucket are perfect for families, including Jetties Beach and Children's Beach. West Dennis Beach is a favorite of the mid Cape beaches for families. Cape Cod beaches are included in Dr. Beach's 2011 and 2012 lists as well as being in the National Geographic top 10 boardwalks list.

East Hampton, New York is home to five beaches, all owned and operated by the Village of East Hampton. The beaches of East Hampton are very well kept and considered among the most beautiful in the world. Main Beach in East Hampton was at the top of the 2013 Dr. Beach list. Beaches in the Hamptons are consistently on top 10 beach lists.

The Wildwoods, New Jersey was named top beach in the New Jersey top 10 beaches and is among National Geographic's top 10 boardwalks. Five miles of white sandy beaches at the Jersey Shore will delight your family. After a day in the sun, visit Morey's Piers, a staple of Jersey Shore entertainment with over 100 rides and attractions along the boardwalk.

Atlantic City, New Jersey is home to the most famous boardwalk in the U.S. as well as beaches for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, kayaking and windsurfing, boogie boarding and more. The beaches are free and so are many of the musical events on the boardwalk all summer long. Atlantic City's boardwalk was named at the top of National Geographic's list of boardwalks.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is listed among the top 10 boardwalks and the top 10 kid-friendly beaches. The boardwalk and beach offer free fun in the sun within the city limits of Rehoboth Beach and there are a bunch of state parks located nearby for those looking for a quieter place to visit.

Virginia Beach's boardwalk is among the top 10 boardwalks and there's enough happening to suit everyone in the family. The north end of the beach is quieter for those who are looking for a slower pace.Visit the south end of the beach to watch great surfing, walk or ride bikes on the boardwalk, build sand castles on the beach or enjoy an accessible oceanfront playground.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina consists of many beaches and barrier islands including Cape Hatteras, Duck, Corolla, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and more. The 200-miles of beaches includes some accessible only by 4WD or ferry. Beaches of the Outer Banks consistently make top 10 lists including Dr. Beach's lists for 2011 and 2012, Travel Channel's top 10, and National Geographic's top 10 family beaches.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, known as The Grand Strand, is 60 miles of white sand beaches from North Myrtle Beach south to the upscale beach communities of Pawley's Island and Litchfield. One of the most popular East Coast beaches, Myrtle Beach is always ranked high on every list including number two on the Travel Channel's top 10, number three on the Travelers' Choice top 10, and the top 10 boardwalks with the new boardwalk just added in 2012.

Tybee Island, Georgia, is just 18 miles from Savannah, but the pace of life is much slower. Get back to nature as your family explores the history and beauty of Tybee Island. Enjoy a dolphin tour or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or jetskiing.

Florida's Clearwater Beach was voted Florida's Best Beach Town in 2013 in the USA Today's Readers' Choice listing. Located on Florida's West Coast, its beaches offer miles of sugar-white sand and crystal clear waters with lots of attractions for families.

A beach trip is a favorite summer getaway vacation for families across the country. Explore an East Coast beach with your family this summer and make some memories.

Watch the sun rise over the ocean in the early morning, build sandcastles in the middle of the day, surf the waves on a boogie board in late afternoon and enjoy sunset on the beach.

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