101 beach activities for kids

April 27, 2018

A day at the beach can be awesome. But let's be honest, it's a lot of work and sometimes kids lose interest fast — unless you have some awesome beach activities lined up to keep them happy. By the time you make snacks, pack the cooler, get swimsuits and sunscreen on and stake your claim to the perfect spot on the beach for the day, you're exhausted and ready to relax. The last thing you want is a kid who is ready to go home half an hour later.

Whether you frequent the beach daily or are lucky to get in one visit a summer, you want to come prepared with fun beach activities to make the trip worth it and fun for everyone.

"Kids and adults often have different wants and motivations at the beach. Kids use beach time as an opportunity to run, swim and play while parents often want to use a beach trip for a much-needed time to relax," explains Dan DeFigio, author of "Beach Games for Kids." "Staying active is one of the best ways for kids to beat boredom at the beach. Sand and water make a different environment than the typical backyard, so kids can explore while having fun."

Planning activities everyone will enjoy is key to a great beach day and will pay off in memories for years to come. "Families and the beach just go together — it's a perfect way to be active and outside with your kids," says Megan Hewitt, owner of Shrimp and Grits Kids clothing line and blog. "Spending time at the beach can be so varied — you can relax by the water, swim, play games on the beach, look for seashells — or all of the above!"

101 beach activities for kids

  1. Play beach-themed charades.

  2. Take a mini inflatable pool to the beach and fill it with water so even your tiny tots can enjoy the sand and water in a safer way.
  3. Search for seashells. "When your child returns, have them sort them by type, shape or color. It's a great quiet-time activity for smaller kids," suggests DeFigio.
  4. Go for a walk on the beach.
  5. Spell words in the sand with seashells and stones.
  6. Play I Spy. Use binoculars — real or pretend — and take turns guessing what the looker sees by the clues he gives.
  7. Make a sand handprint keepsake.
  8. Go on a scavenger hunt searching for beach-themed items like seashells, sand dollars, seaweed and feathers.
  9. Build a moat.
  10. Collect smooth rocks to paint when you get home.
  11. Play tic-tac-toe in the sand using pebbles or seashells instead of Xs and Os.
  12. Have a picnic.
  13. Make "sand pies" — a beachy twist on the classic mud pies.
  14. Play "Ring Around the Rosie" at the water's edge. Everyone will love falling down and making a big splash.
  15. Have everyone make footprints in the sand and then write their name and the year next to them and take a photo.
  16. Bring plastic construction work toys like dump trucks and diggers to create a sand construction site.
  17. Fly a kite.
  18. Bury your kids' feet and hands in the sand. Or have the whole family work together and bury dad up to his neck.
  19. Watch the sunset.
  20. Bring boats and other floating toys to play with in the water.
  21. Float on pool noodles, inner tubes or other inflatables.
  22. Make sand angels.
  23. Play with squirt guns.
  24. Draw pictures in smooth, wet sand with a stick or rock.
  25. Play beach volleyball.
  26. Make a "beach in a jar" keepsake. Collect sand, pebbles, seashells or sea glass in a mason jar. When you get home, paint the name of the beach or city and year to commemorate the trip on the jar.
  27. Play Frisbee.
  28. Build a sand city made of multiple sand castles.
  29. Bring cookie cutters or big rubber stampers to make shapes in the sand.
  30. Build a sand volcano.
  31. Play musical towels — like musical chairs except with towels. Your phone can provide the music.
  32. Listen to the ocean by holding shells to your ear.
  33. Explore the waterline at low tide and look for sea creatures.
  34. Play hopscotch in the sand.
  35. Play Don't Knock Down the Castle. Make a large sandcastle and take turns removing a small scoop of sand from it, one at a time. Whichever player makes the castle collapse loses the game.
  36. Play the beach ball towel game
  37. Play beach golf. Dig a hole in the sand and roll a tennis ball at the hole from the same distance, whoever needs the fewest rolls wins the hole. Make various holes on slopes or hills to make it more challenging.
  38. See how many sea creatures you can identify at the beach.
  39. Have a bucket-filling race. Each player gets a bucket and a plastic cup and must run back and forth from the ocean to the bucket to fill it. The first person to fill her bucket wins.
  40. Go snorkeling. Outfit the kids with snorkels and masks and use the masks to see underwater.
  41. Play bottle bowling. Fill plastic water bottles with a little sand or water to weigh them down and roll a ball to knock them over.
  42. Have a water fight with sponge balls made at the beach or at home. They offer all the fun of a water balloon fight without the popped balloons.
  43. Make a sandman. It's as fun as making a snowman, but you don't freeze your fingers!
  44. Create an I Spy game to commemorate your vacation. Search for 10 to 20 tiny objects found on the beach and put them in a plastic water bottle. Make a list of all the items you place in the bottle, then fill it with sand and you have made your very own beach-themed I Spy game, perfect for the ride home.
  45. Make a sand family. Have each person lie down on the sand and trace around them. Then decorate the outlines to make it look like them. Use extra clothes, sunglasses, seaweed for hair or make a "seashell swimsuit." Get creative.
  46. Play "Crack the Egg." Sit in shallow water with your arms wrapped around your knees. As the waves come in, they will knock you around. The last person to let go of his knees wins.
  47. Make three-dimensional sand art. Using found objects like feathers, stones and shells, create a family masterpiece in the sand.
  48. Play a Dynamic Duo Beach Ball Race. Split into teams of two, giving each team a beach ball. Draw a start and finish line in the sand approximately 10 yards apart. "Each team must carry the ball from the start to finish line without using their arms," explains DeFigio.
  49. Make sand drizzle sculptures.
  50. Pick up trash — an excellent way to teach kids about conservation.
  51. Draw a "dart board" of concentric circles in the sand. Assign point values to the rings and toss pebbles at the board to score points.
  52. Play Hangman. "Simply grab a stick and write in the sand, especially closer to the water where the sand is packed tighter," suggests Hewitt.
  53. Rent a metal detector and search for buried treasure.
  54. Practice writing simple ABC's or cursive words with a stick in the sand.
  55. Go skimboarding.
  56. Build a boat out of sand big enough for the kids to sit in and pretend to drive.
  57. Make a seaweed crown, necklace or bracelet.
  58. Play "Feed the Shark." Draw a shark with its mouth open on the sand, line up at a distance and throw a beanbag trying to get it into the shark's mouth.
  59. Dig a hole to China.
  60. Build a castle near the water's edge and see how long you can protect it. Build a dam or dig a moat to keep the water away.
  61. Make a sand sundial.
  62. Have a ping pong ball race. Dig two side-by-side channels in the sand and place a ping pong ball in each one. Pour a small amount of water in the channel so the ball floats. Then, on hands and knees, blow the ball down the channel. Whoever gets to the end first wins.
  63. Have a seashell scuttle. Scoop up a heap of dry sand on a large spoon or small sand shovel and balance a seashell on the pile. The kids must make it from starting line to finish line without dropping the shell.
  64. Read books.
  65. Play badminton at the beach.
  66. Play 500. While standing in shallow water, toss a ball into the air while calling out a number value. Whoever catches it gets that many points. The first one to get to 500 points becomes the thrower.
  67. Play Limbo. A tightly twisted towel stretched out can serve as a Limbo pole.
  68. Have a treasure hunt. Bury treasure — like coins or fake jewelry placed in a plastic bottle — for your kids to find. Give them a map with landmarks and instructions to the loot, suggests DeFigio.
  69. Make a bonfire if allowed.
  70. Play Frisbee golf. Set up targets, such as plastic bottles or beach chairs, and see who can hit them with a Frisbee.
  71. Roast marshmallows and make s'mores.
  72. Go surfing.
  73. Do the "Fishy Pokey." Like Hokey Pokey, except you name fish parts such as "put your left fin in" while standing in waist-high water. Splash the water instead of clapping your hands when you sing, "That's what it's all about."
  74. Go a few feet into the water and try to jump over waves as they come in.
  75. Play "Squirt Ball." Draw two lines in the sand a few feet away from each other, one for each team. Place a beach ball in the middle. Use squirt guns to move the beach ball across the other team's line to score a point.
  76. Go sailing.
  77. Make seashell necklaces by finding shells with holes in them and using sturdy twine to string them up.
  78. Reward the best "find." Send kids on a mission to each find the most unique thing they can on the beach. Parents judge whose is the coolest.
  79. Play Marco Polo.
  80. Play Sharks and Minnows. One person is the shark and tries to catch the others, who are minnows. Whoever is tagged becomes the shark.
  81. Ball Tap. Try to tap the beach ball into the air 100 times in a row. If the ball is dropped, or if one player hits it two times in a row, you must start over.
  82. Run down the beach and see how far you can get before someone gets tired.
  83. Swim!
  84. Go horseback riding.
  85. Make sand sculptures, such as dolphins or whales without using plastic molds!
  86. Play Flip-Flop Throw. Have everyone stand on a line and throw a flip-flop as far as they can. See who can throw the farthest.
  87. Play soccer with a beach ball.
  88. Make yourself into a mermaid. Sit in the sand and build a mermaid tail with sand over your legs.
  89. Make sand art using paper plates, paper and glue. Draw a picture on the plate with glue and sprinkle sand on it. Add shells, stones or other objects.
  90. Skip stones in the water.
  91. Bring a waterproof disposable camera and take action shots in the water.
  92. Bodysurf the waves.
  93. Have crab races by scooting on your hands and feet with your belly facing up.
  94. Go boogie boarding. Hewitt recommends turning it into a competition by seeing which family member can catch a wave that takes them the farthest up the beach.
  95. Have an impromptu family photo shoot and take goofy photos.
  96. Bring a sketchpad and colored pencils and draw the sunset.
  97. Play the pass the water game. Stand in a line and pass a cup of water over your head to the next person in line.
  98. Play Fish, Fish, Shark — just like Duck, Duck, Goose but with the challenge of having to run on the beach.
  99. Make seashell imprints by gently pressing the patterned side into wet sand.
  100. Build a tent by draping towels across two or more beach chairs.
  101. Put on some music and have a dance party!
Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

Please enter a valid email address

Thanks for signing up!

We’ll see you back in your inbox.

Leave a comment

Create a free account with Care.com and join our community today.

You may also like

How much should you pay for a babysitter?