Fun Family Beach Activities for the Best Summer Vacation

The sun is out and the beach is calling! Check out this list of over 30 family beach activities and beach games to try out for your next trip.

Family having fun playing with a volleyball at the beach


Fun Things to do at the Beach This Summer

For families, a trip to the beach is often one of the most anticipated events of the year. It’s a chance to escape the routine of everyday life, soak up some vitamin D, and create lifelong memories. But with so many different activities to choose from, it can be tough to decide what to do first.

Whether you’re looking for action-packed adventures or laid-back relaxation, there’s something for the whole family at the beach. If you’re planning a trip to the beach this summer then check out of these fun beach activities for families to enjoy together.

Family having fun at the beach together.

Why Spend Time at the Beach?

Going to the beach as a family is a wonderful way to create lasting memories and strengthen family bonds. The beach offers a wide variety of fun activities for people of all ages, making it an ideal destination for everyone in the family. From building sandcastles to swimming in the ocean, there’s no shortage of fun and exciting things to do at the beach.

One of the biggest benefits of going to the beach as a family is the opportunity to unplug and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Without the distractions of work, school, and other obligations, families can focus on spending quality time together and enjoying each other’s company.

Whether you’re playing beach games, taking a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, or simply relaxing in the sun, the beach provides a serene and peaceful environment that encourages relaxation and rejuvenation.

The beach also provides an opportunity for families to learn and explore together. Children can learn about sea life and the natural environment, while parents can teach them about beach safety and responsible environmental practices. By experiencing the beach as a family, children develop a love and appreciation for the natural world, which can foster a lifelong interest in environmental conservation.

Overall, going to the beach as a family is a fun, educational, and enriching experience that can bring families closer together and create unforgettable memories.

Fun Beach Activities and Games for Families

We live about 8 minutes from the swim beach at our local reservoir so so we try to go at least once a week during the summer. While we love to simply hang out and enjoy the beach we also like to add some fun beach activities so we don’t get bored doing the same things over and over.

Here are some of my families favorite things to do at the beach. There’s something for all ages.

1. Relay Races

Relay races are a great way to have fun at the beach with a little friendly competition. There are many different types of relay races that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. Here are some relay race ideas that would be fun at the beach:

  1. Beach Ball Relay: Divide players into two or more teams, and have them race to pass a beach ball over their heads to the next person in line. The next person has to pash the ball between their legs, over-under style. Then the person at the end of the line has to run to the front and start over. The team that gets through their entire line first wins.
  1. Sandcastle Building Relay: This relay requires players to work together to build a sandcastle. Divide players into teams and have them take turns running to the water to fill a bucket with sand, and then running back to add it to the sandcastle. The team that completes their sandcastle first wins.
  1. Water Bucket Relay: In this relay, players race to fill a cup with water from the ocean, and then carry it back to their team’s starting point without spilling it before dumping it in their bucket. The team with the most water in their bucket at the end of the relay wins. You can also go until one bucket is completely full.
  1. Beach Towel Relay: Split the group into two teams. Give each team two towels. They have to get their whole team from one point to another while only stepping on the towels. First team to cross the finish line wins. This one is great for learning about cooperation and thinking outside the box. There are many ways to use the towels so it’s fun to see what teams come up with.
  1. Beach Towel Fold Relay: Divide players into teams and have them race to fold and unfold a beach towel, passing it from player to player. The team that completes the relay first wins.

2. Obstacle Course

A fun obstacle course takes little time to set up. You can bring things from home or use things from the environment to create the course. Think of things to circle around, jump over, crawl under.

You can even draw things in the soft sand, like a hopscotch grid, as part of the course. Just play as for fun or draw a finish line in the sand and time each other to see who can get the fastest score.

3. Musical Towels

Just like musical chairs but with towels. The sand slows kids down a bit but it also makes for a softer landing when diving for a towel. This is a fun game and doesn’t require anything extra to bring along assuming everyone has a towel and at least one person has a smart phone.

4. Beach Ball

A beach ball is always fun to play with at the beach. You’ve already have a relay race you can play but you can also play Don’t Let it Touch The Ground/Keep it Up where you can see how many times you can hit the ball around the group before it hits the ground.

Don’t forget about other fun games you can play using other balls like: beach volleyball, soccer, or football. A tennis ball can be a lot of fun to throw around and skip in the water at the beach because they float and are easy to spot in the water.

But, if you bring extras then you can also use them to play other fun beach games like skee-ball or corn hole. You can set these games up by digging out and sloping the sand appropriately and then rolling or throwing the ball to the hole. 

Dad and young son throwing a beach ball back and forth in the water at the beach

5. Seashell Hunting

Who goes to the beach without looking for some shells? I’m pretty sure it’s mandatory and it never seems to get old. Each time you go on a beach trip there’s a chance to find new shells you’ve never seen before. You can keep your favorite and then take it home to use in another creation like homemade mermaid sugar scrub or a necklace or keychain. 

6. Beach Photo-Shoot

Take advantage of the beautiful scenery and natural lighting at the beach to take some unique and memorable photos. It’s always nice to get candid shots to remember all the family activities you did but planning some creative photos is always a good idea.

Here’s a photo us sisters took with a friend during on of our beach trips as teenagers. We were re-creating the milk commercials they had back then with sunscreen. I love that we have this photo to help me remember how much fun we used to have.

Four teen girls at the beach recreating the old milk mustache ads from the 90s.

7. Make a Beach Memory Jar

A beach vacation memory jar is a fun way to commemorate a special beach vacation. Collect sand and your favorite beach treasures and put them in a jar with your favorite photo from the trip.

Then write the place of the family vacation and date on the jar and display somewhere in your home. Every time you walk past and see it you’ll be reminded of the good times you shared on the trip.

Beach Vacation Memory Jar

8. Beach Scavenger Hunt

A beach scavenger hunt is an engaging way to explore the beach and discover new things. Give kids a bag and list of things to collect like; shells, rocks, sea glass, sea weed, litter that’s been left behind.

You can also give a list of things to be on the look out for like: seagulls, a person in a yellow bathing suit, a surfer, couple holding hands while walking the beach, dogs playing in water, a sandcastle. It should be pretty easy to come up some great ideas the kids will love.

9. Treasure Hunt

The beach is a great place to have a treasures hunt. Think about the number of participants and decide before hand what loot they’ll be looking for. You can hide small items like beach toys, snacks, or small trinkets in different locations around the beach. You can make it simple or go all out with these mini treasure chests.

Create a map of the beach, marking the locations where the treasures are hidden. You can use landmarks like lifeguard towers, rocks, or trees to help participants find the hidden booty.

10. Stack Rocks 

People love to stack rocks at our reservoir’s beach. We are always happy to find the stacks and add to them when we go. You can see how tall you can make them before the fall or create interesting stacks and leave them to inspire others.

rocks stacked on top of each other to make towers at the beach

11. Collect Smooth Rocks for Painting

Collect some rocks to take home and paint with positive messages. Then bring them back to the beach on your next trip so others can find them.

12. Play Tic Tac Toe in the Sand

This one’s an easy one but everyone loves to play. It will keep kids of all ages busy for a bit. First have the kids go find rocks, sea glass, sticks, sea weed, or shells to be there Xs and Os. Then draw the board in the sand and get playing.

13. Get Buried in the Sand

Kids love to get buried in the sand. It’s something everyone needs to experience once in their life. Go with the normal bury up to the neck or get buried up to the waist and create a mermaid tail.

Little girl buried up to her waist in the sand and a mermaid tail sculpted out of sand for the bottom half of her.

14. Bury Your Feet in the Sand

Stand in shallow water and dig your feet into the wet sand just a bit and then stand still. As the waves comes in, the water will start to move the sand around your feet burying them with each passing wave.

See how long you can stand there without loosing your balance. You can do this by yourself or challenge a friend to see who pulls their feet out first.

15. Sand Angels

If your younger children like to create snow angels then they should try making sand angels. They can try it in the soft sand and the wet sand.

Ask them before hand which one they think will work better and then have them try both out. Discuss what worked better and why they think that was. They can always decorate their angels with things they collect.

16. Beach Art

Use the sand, shells, and other materials found on the beach to create unique pieces of art. You can create sand sculptures, mandalas, or other designs. You can draw pictures in the sand with a stick or your finger.

Have fun making a self portrait using seaweed for hair and other beach finds for your eyes, mouth, teeth, earrings and more. (Combine this idea with your sand angels.)

You can do them for fun or make it a contest. Give awards for the best portrait, the creepiest, most creative.

17. Build a Sand Castle

Creating sand castles is a classic beach activity that everyone can enjoy. You can use buckets and shovels to build intricate structures or create simple designs. This create a castle bucket set helps kids build big castles with ease.

Completing a sand castle can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride, especially when it turns out well. It’s a tangible result of creativity and hard work, which can be very satisfying.

18. Play Don’t Knock Down the Castle

This game is like Jenga in a way. Each person playing will use a spoon or shovel to take a scoop of sand out from the base of the castle. Keep taking scoops of sand out until the castle comes crashing down.

19. Build a Moat Around Your Castle

Don’t stop at building a castle. Have kids dig a moat around it to keep enemies at bay. Once the moat has been dug, have kids take trips to the water with a bucket to fill up the moat.

Big sand castle with a moat filled with water

20. Dig a Hole

My dad always brought a shovel to beach so he could dig a big hole in the sand for us. We’d go back and forth filling our buckets with water and dumping it in the hole until it was full.

Then we’d hang out in our pool at the beach. This is especially nice for little kids to play in when the waves might be a bit much for them.

Make sure to keep holes shallow because deep holes are a safety concern and always fill them back up with sand after.

21. Sand Toys

Sand toys are a must for the littles. My son loved to bring his small construction trucks to play with. They always kept him busy and took up little room in the beach bag.

Other popular ideas are ice cream sand toys or this cute dinosaur set.

22. Water Toys

Water toys are also a must in my opinion. We would spend most of the time at the beach riding our boogie boards. We could play on those things for hours.

Don’t have room for boogie board? Then consider pool noodles and squirt guns. Just be sure to teach kids about respecting others when playing with them.

23. Rent Equipment 

Many beaches offer rental equipment like paddleboards, surf boards, kayaks, and snorkeling gear. This is a great way to try out a new activity and explore the water.

24. Frisbees

A frisbee is another of my favorite things to bring to the beach. You can obviously throw it back and forth but you can also make up some other games.

Put a stick in the ground and see if you can throw this type of frisbee onto the stick. You can also draw circles in the sand with points in each circle and then try to land the frisbee on for points. 

25. Play Tug of War

The beach is the perfect place for a game of tug of war. The sand makes the game a little more interesting but also provides a softer landing for the loosing team.

It’s simple to set up. Grab a long rope, divide the group evenly, and draw a line in the sand. Play a couple of rounds and then change up the groups and play some more.

Kids playing tug of war at the beach

26. Beach Yoga

Yoga on the beach is a peaceful and calming way to start or end a beach day. Find a quiet spot on the beach where you can focus on your body and relax your mind. Pay attention to the wind in your hair and the warm sun on your skin.

Couple doing yoga in the sand at the beach

27. Read a Book

Grab a good book to read on your own or bring a book you can read together as a family. 

Once our family is done playing in the water we dry off and sit on our beach towels or blanket and my husband reads a chapter or two of the book we’ve been reading. It’s nice to show kids that they can enjoy the beach in lots of ways. 

28. Have a Picnic

Pack a cooler with your favorite foods and drinks and enjoy a relaxing family picnic on the beach. ​​I love our backpack cooler because it fits a lot of stuff and I can throw it on my back, or kids back, and I’ve still got two hands free to carry other things.

​Pick easy-to-eat snacks like chips, sandwiches, fruit, and veggies. Bring water bottles, capri sun, or your favorite canned drink as a fun treat. We make sure the food we bring doesn’t need any utensils or paper goods to make things nice and easy.

Some beaches and lakes have grills you can use and others have fire rings for s’mores and bonfires. Get to know the beaches in your area so you can take advantage of what they offer.

Family having a picnic on the beach

29. Beach Clean-Up

Participate in a beach clean-up to help keep the beach clean and protect the environment. You can organize your own clean-up or join a local organization. 

We like to bring a small trash bag with us to the beach to throw our trash in and then we look around the area for more trash that others have left behind. It’s a great way to help out, to teach kids to clean up after themselves and taking care of the environment.

a hand reaching down to pull an empty soda can out of the sand

30. Go for a Walk

Take a stroll along the water’s edge and explore the local flora and fauna. Look for shells, crabs, and other marine life. This is a great time have a conversation and connect as a couple or family. 

31. Watch the Sunset

There’s nothing quite like watching the sun set over the ocean after spending the whole day at the beach or lake. Find a comfortable spot and curl up in a blanket together as you enjoy the beautiful colors of the sky as the day comes to a close.

32. Free Events

Don’t forget to check your favorite beaches for free events. Sometimes they are right on the beach like a volleyball tournament. Other times it can be in the shops that surround the area. 

Family Beach Activities List

I hope you found some new beach ideas to try on your next trip to the beach. Honestly this list helped remind me that there are so many things we haven’t done with our kiddo yet, that we did growing up. I can’t wait to try some the next time we’re there.

A young girl laying on her towel reading a book with another girl in the background playing with a beach ball

Going to the beach as a family is a fantastic way to bond, relax, and create cherished memories. The beach offers an abundance of activities that can be enjoyed by all family members, from young children to grandparents. It’s a chance to unplug from the stresses of everyday life and spend quality time with loved ones. 

The beach provides a unique opportunity for families to learn and explore together, fostering a love and appreciation for the natural world. So, whether you’re building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or simply soaking up the sun, there’s no denying that the beach is an ideal destination for families. Make some time this summer to head to the beach and enjoy all that it has to offer.

What are some of your best family beach games? Did we include it in our list? If not please tell us about in the comments below!

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