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Last minute trip to Crete next week! Good family beaches near Heraklion?

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We are taking our 5 and almost 4 year old on a last minute trip to Crete next week for a bit of sun before we head into the long UK winter. No flghts available to Chania so we are instead flying into Heraklion late Wed night and therefore, I looked for a place that was within 1 hour drive (but didn’t want to do a big resort like in Elounda). So, I found what sounds like a great family run place called Paradise Island Villa’s in Anissaras which is close to Heraklion.

We have 3 full days before departing on Sunday. I would love to go to the beach one day assuming the weather stays warm enough. Any ideas on really good beaches with sand NOT gravel for building sand castles? Our kids aren’t really into swimming in the ocean at their ages so mostly looking for nice sand and some shallow wading. I would be ok with driving 1-2 hours if we could make an adventure out of it and stop places along the way.

Also, I was trying to decide on other activities that would be kid friendly enough but also appeal to my desire to see some historic sights. Is the Palace of Knossos something that is worth dragging the kids? They are pretty good but attention span only lasts so long and not sure how if this is worth a visit or if there is something else we should prioritize.
We really don’t have any big agenda other than enjoying the warm weather and relaxing with the kids but if I could see a few sights along the way it would be a great bonus!

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