50 Must-Try Things To Do At The Beach For Families

There is WAY more to do at the beach than swimming and sunbathing. If you need some ideas of totally not boring beach activities, here are 50+ fun things to do at the beach for families with kids of all ages. Watch your family beach days pass in a blink of fun in the sun!

Things to do at the beach - family walking on the beach on a sunny day

As a family that lives in a land-locked state, we are more familiar with things to do in the Rocky Mountains than we are fun activities for the surf and sand of the beach.

So when we get to go to a beach – any beach – we always have a fantastic time! And we are always looking for new and interesting things to do at the beach!

I grew up on the East Coast doing the typical things of playing in the waves, sunbathing, and reading a book.

But as it turns out, there are TONS of fun beach activities to do as a family. The beach is really just a giant playground of the imagination!

50 Top Things To Do At The Beach For Families

A beach day is a favorite for our family any time of year. We grab our sunscreen and a few simple items for some very enjoyable rays, relaxation, and FUN!

Although the kids love going to the beach and insist on doing the classics (build sand castles, play in the waves, etc.) they can get bored after a while.

So I’m sharing some of my favorite family beach games and outdoor activities that everyone will enjoy so you can spend all day long at the beach and make beautiful memories.

Whether you visit an old favorite location or check out something new, no two adventures are ever exactly the same! And here are the best beach activities, your next family vacation won’t be stressful or boring.

The beautiful thing about beach activities is that all you need are some sand, some water, a few simple items, and a little imagination to have a great time!

1. Build A Sand Castle

This is one of those classic activities that everyone brings to mind when they think of things to do at the beach.

Bring along a few sand pails as well as some plastic bowls, spoons, and cups. Then when you’re at the beach, look for some sea glass, driftwood, and unique shells to add detail to your castle.

Get the whole family involved (and maybe a few other kids at the beach), and create an entire castle and city with canals, a wall, and anything else you can dream up!

Making the ultimate sand castle is a fun family beach activity

2. Make Sand People

Move over, sand castles! Think of a warm weather version of Frosty the snowman, complete with seashell eyes and stick arms.

Add some imagination and recreate family members as a sandy family portrait!

sandman beach activity decorated with clothing and other objects

3. Beach Obstacle Course

Who’s ready for a challenge?

Plan a family obstacle course that includes activities like:

  • jumping over a sandcastle (without ruining it!)
  • running in the water
  • cartwheel over a beach towel
  • crabwalk (or wheelbarrow walk) to a chosen object first
  • whatever else you can think of!

The winner can win a seashell medal!

4. Play Volleyball

Beach volleyball is a classic that you and the kids can enjoy together for a few rounds. All you need is a volleyball net and ball (and some beaches have permanent beach volleyball nets set up for you).

To play a volleyball game, you’ll need at least 2 players. There are several ways to play, depending on how large your group is. Here are a few ideas:

  • mix everyone up into equal teams
  • kids vs. kids
  • adults vs. kids
  • adults vs. adults (while kids are building a sandcastle or something)

This game is super fun and will help wear those kids out (every parent’s goal)!

child on the beach in position to bump a volleyball

5. Do A Beach Scavenger Hunt

Print our our free beach scavenger hunt and send the kids off to search for all the items on the page. I highly recommend laminating it before you leave on your trip to avoid the sand and surf from destroying the paper!

6. Build a Fort

If you’re on a beach where a lot of driftwood washes up on shore, try building a fort! Then play in/around it! This is a fun idea to use the imagination in many different ways.

7. Leave Painted Rocks For Others To Enjoy

As you walk along the beach, you’ll likely discover shells, shell fragments, and different stones. If you want to incorporate an art project into your day, bring along some acrylic paints and paintbrushes and turn those natural bits and pieces into works of art!

Not only are they pleasant to look at, but they can also serve as a random act of kindness when you leave them somewhere others can find and enjoy them.

You could also plan ahead and do this at home with rocks from your yard or park. Paint the rocks with color and inspirational sayings and spread the joy by placing them around your local beach.

Believe it or not, people look for painted rocks and put their findings on social media – maybe one day you’ll see your creation online!

8. Make A Drip Castle

A drip castle is a variant of the classic sand castle. To make a drip castle, all you have to do is dribble very wet sand. We have gotten some really interesting structures when we’ve tried it!

making a drip castle is just one of many things to do at the beach for families

9. Seashell Hunting

Search the seashore for pretty treasures such as sea glass, shells, pebbles, and anything else that catches your eye.

Turn the seashell hunt into a competition of sorts. The goal: who can find the most shells or the biggest shells in a set amount of time. When time is up, give points for the number of shells, the types of shells as well as shapes, sizes, and colors and see who wins!

10. Play With Pool Floats

Floats are without a doubt one of my beach essentials but use with caution to make sure your float doesn’t take you too far away from shore!

Beach floats can help you stay afloat and catch those waves, which is additively fun!

11. Participate In A Float Race

Looking for more fun things to do at the beach with floats? You can use them to set up thrilling water races from one end of the beach to the other.

For safety reasons, make sure to stay close to shore. If you’re at the beach on a day when the wind is especially strong or your kids are very young, this may not be an ideal activity to do.

12. Play Tug Of War

Kids LOVE playing tug of war, and this is one of those great ideas that you may not think of when you plan your beach outdoor adventures. 

The beach offers plenty of space for a great tug of war match. You’ll need at least two players to play, but it’s much more fun with four or more players.

Before you start, place a marker on the sand. I highly recommend using a digging toy, a stick, or maybe a bucket. The team that wins of 3 out of 5 rounds wins!

father and two daughters playing tug of war which is just one of many fun things to do at the beach

13. Collect Driftwood

Finding driftwood is a fun twist on searching for sea shells and other treasures. And it’s incredibly beautiful! Use it to make beautiful keepsake pieces.

NOTE: Before you collect driftwood, be sure to check out the state regulations first to make sure the collection of driftwood on the beach you are on is legal, as it varies in each state.

14. Play Beach Skee-Ball

Take this classic arcade game out into the sunshine!

Draw circles in the sand to set up a skee-ball type of game. Each circle includes a number which gives it a point value (ex: a big outer circle is 5 points, a medium inner circle is 10 points, and the smallest circle in the middle is 15 points).

Toss shells, small rocks, or small toys into the circles to rack up points. Each person gets 7 attempts and the person to score the highest number of points wins that round!

15. Make Sand Angels

Sand angels are the warm weather version of snow angels! Find a great spot in the sand, lay down, and swing both arms and legs apart and together to create the angel shape.

When everyone is, you can decorate your sand angels with pebbles and shells!

making sand angels is one of the best things to do at the beach for families

16. Play The Blanket Bounce Game

This might be one of the best beach games ever! It’s inspired by a parachute game I used to play with kids when I taught gymnastics.

Ask two kids to hold a towel stretched out and challenge them to use it to toss a beach ball in the air and catch it with the towel. Challenge them to go as long as they can!

17. Play Sports And Games

No better place than the wide open beach for kids to play their favorite sports or games! You don’t need a ton of equipment, but taking a few items can add to the opportunities for fun.

Bring the football or racket and other sports equipment to the beach for a simple game with your family. Here are a few fun ideas maybe you haven’t tried before:

  • Jazzminton – kind of a cross between badminton and pickleball (super fun!)
  • Tidalball – sort of like horseshoes or cornhole but with balls.
  • Beach cornhole – cornhole without the heavy, bulky boards.
  • Luluball – kind of like bocce ball and SO much fun!
  • Spikeball – a classic for the beach or the back yard!
  • Shark toss – sort of an adaptation of lacrosse with two paddle nets and two balls.

Don’t forget to be mindful and courteous of other people at the beach when playing your games (and expect to get a few requests to join in on the fun)!

18. Check Out Tidal Pools

Tide pools along the shoreline hold some fascinating creatures that you can explore during low tide. Depending on the beach you visit, you can find anything from sea anemones to crabs, starfish, and much more!

Investigate what’s living or growing there!

exploring tidal pools is one of many fun things to do at the beach for families

19. Play Ring Toss

Ring toss is definitely a classic that can be enjoyed anywhere!

20. Play Skip Ball

This skip ball set is perfect for skipping rocks at places where rocks can’t be found (or may be dangerous to use). The ultimate rock skipping fun!

21. Play Paddleball

This simple and fun beach game can be played two different ways. You can play paddle ball with paddles that look more like a soft version of the traditional and act more like racquets.

Or you can play it with velcro paddles (my favorite) so the game is more like a game of catch with paddles.

playing velcro paddle ball is one of many things to do at the beach for families

22. Make Something With Shells

It’s pretty common to bring shells home from the beach to make a new craft. But you could also bring items to the beach with you to make crafts at the beach if you need an activity that will get the kids out of the sun for a time.

Paint shells or make a wind-chime out of shells or make a mosaic in the sand to leave for others to see and enjoy. Once it’s complete, take a picture of your mosaic to add to your summer adventure journal.

23. Tic-Tac-Toe And Hopscotch

A game of tic-tac-toe is also super easy for everyone (especially the kids) to enjoy and play while taking a break from other activities.

For hopscotch, draw a hopscotch grid in the sand, grab a shell or stone, and play!

tic-tac-toe board drawn in the sand near an ocean wave

24. Soccer

Playing soccer is a great way to get the whole family involved! In addition to a soccer ball, all you need are a few markers in the ground for goals. Items such as towels, buckets, and empty picnic baskets work well!

25. Watch The Clouds And The Birds

If you’re visiting the beach on a sunny day that has clouds in the sky, check them out! Let your imagination run wild and see what shapes you can identify in the clouds.

Another thing you can do is to check out the birds on the beach and flying around. Beach birds do some very interesting things! Just don’t feed them.

bird standing on the beach with the ocean in the background.

26. Beach Bowling

To play this, you need six plastic bottles partly filled with sand. Set them up in a pyramid shape (three bottles in the back, two in the middle, and one in the front).

Take turns rolling a ball (could be a tennis ball or a ball from one of your beach game sets) to knock them over.

Don’t forget to recycle the bottles after you’re done playing!

27. Make Sand Rivers

Use a stick, finger or shovel to carve out “rivers” in the sand. Fill them with water and see what happens. What happens if you put something that floats in the river?

28. Enjoy A Picnic

Some beaches have nearby food trucks and food kiosks (it is a great place to enjoy some ice cream!). But I’m a huge fan of saving the money and bringing your own food from home!

Spread out a blanket (I love this huge sand proof blanket that comes with stakes so it won’t blow away), put your picnic baskets on top and enjoy! Here are a few of our favorite food ideas for the beach:

fun things to do at the beach for families include having a picnic! Image of two picnic baskets on a blanket with food spread out and the sea in the background.

29. Play Musical Towels

Have you played musical chairs? The game musical towels is similar.

All you’ll need is a portable speaker, some fun music, and beach towels. Follow the same rules of musical chairs, using towels as the “chairs.” 

Take turns being in charge of the music and removing the towels as you go along.

Here’s a quick rundown of the rules:

  • Set up towels in a circle (with one fewer towel than the number of players)
  • Turn on some music, and have all the players walk over the towels.
  • When the music stops, players must lay down or sit on the nearest towel (one person per towel).
  • The player without a towel is eliminated!
  • Remove a towel after each round until you’ve got one player left standing (the winner!).

30. Body Surfing or Boogieboarding

A boogie board (also known as a bodyboard) is a small foam board that you can use to ride waves without standing up like you do when surfing.

Since it’s small, it’s easy to bring to the beach, and it provides hours of fun!

riding boogieboards in the ocean is one of many fun things to do at the beach

31. Have A Beach Relay

This is inspired by a challenge I saw when we watched an episode of Survivor.

Have your kids fill cups with water, then empty them into bigger buckets placed several feet away. The first one to fill their bucket to the top wins the race!

This is a fun and exciting activity, but if you want to make it more challenging, set up the buckets further away, use bigger buckets, or place obstacles in the way between the water and the buckets.

32. Enjoy A Water Bucket Relay

Here’s a different take on the relay idea.

I recommend splitting into teams of at least two (if possible).

Each team should have a bucket of water. Then you use spoons, shells, or any other tool of your choice to scoop ocean water into your bucket. Take turns within teams.

The winner is the team fills their bucket first!

33. Beach Ball Relay

In our family, no active beach day is complete without a beach ball relay!

This game works for kids of all ages, and adults love it too! NOTE: you will need at least 4 players.

To play, you will be passing a beach ball between your knees to see which team can complete the task the fastest. Smaller teams can work on beating their best time, while larger groups will be able to race to the finish.

34. Climb On The Sand Dunes (If Allowed)

Sand dunes are so much fun to climb on and slide (or roll) down!

NOTE: Make sure to check the rules of the beach where you are to confirm that it’s allowed (some beaches make it illegal in an effort to protect the dunes).

35. Jump The Waves

This is one of those things to do at the beach that can entertain kids for hours by itself!

I remember how I could jump waves for hours as a kid – and we go to our local water park for a similar experience. My kids are just as enthralled with this simple and endlessly fun activity and no beach trip is complete without it. 

Can’t you just hear the laughter and the giggles now? Priceless!

little boy jumping waves and wearing arm floaties at the beach

36. Fly A Kite

The open spaces and consistent breezes at the beach make it an ideal location for flying a kite!

If you don’t have a favorite kite to take with you, check out the local shops for one you like!

But, you can also buy one online. Check out these cool ones: 

young boy flying a kite on the beach

37. Bury Someone In The Sand

If you’ve never been buried in the sand from the neck down (or at least from the waist down), then you just haven’t lived!

SAFETY NOTE: To keep everyone safe and avoid freak outs, it’s a good idea to avoid digging a hole where the water can reach the person who is buried.

a girl buried in the sand at the beach

38. Make A Sand Mermaid

Making sand mermaids is a twist on burying someone in the sand and involves choosing one person to be the model. 

Have the model sit or lay down and cover them up to their chest or waist with sand. Then shape a mermaid’s tail around their legs. 

Use seashells, seaweed, pebbles, driftwood, and anything else to decorate the mermaid’s tail. Be sure to take photos to capture the memories!

39. Water Gun Fight

Kids love splashing water at each other (and their parents). Take it to another level by bringing along some water guns and starting a water gunfight!

dad and daughter having fun with a water gun fight at the beach

40. Big Beach Clean-Up

If you want to add a mini learning lesson to your day of fun (and help take care of our planet), get the whole family involved in doing a beach clean-up.

Try making a game out of it — whoever fills their bag with the most trash gets a prize!

SAFETY NOTE: Stay safe during this activity by having everyone wear gloves and supervising younger children.

41. Frisbee

A game of Frisbee is easy to organize and play! All you need is a lightweight frisbee and a couple of teams.

BONUS: If it lands in the water, you can easily find it!

dad and daughter playing frisbee on the beach

42. Dig A Hole

Digging holes in the sand is pretty much something EVERY kid does. Turn it into a game! How deep and wide can dig if you dig together? What about if all the kids pitch in or everyone helps?

Then fill it up with water and stand in it (and take a picture for the memory)!

SATEFY NOTE: Make sure it’s no more than knee-deep to avoid any injuries or accidents.

child's hands digging a hole in the sand at the beach

43. Play With Seaweed

If you find some seaweed on the beach, get creating with it! Use it to sweep the sand or shape it into different shapes or wear it as a cap or a wig!

44. Build A Sand Fort

Grab some buckets and shovels and get the whole family involved in making a fort! If you do a search online, you can find some amazing design ideas to get you started.

45. Water Sports

Older kids and adults may love jet skiing, and stand-up paddle boarding is fun for family members of all ages!

46. Camp On the Beach

There’s nothing quite like enjoying the beach at night and camping under the stars to the sound of the waves! Enjoying s’mores and telling campfire stories are a fun bonus!

47. Draw Or Write In The Sand With A Stick

Think of this as drawing with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk. Simply take a stick and draw an image or write a word that comes to mind! Maybe it’ll even resonate with someone else who sees it. 😉

the word hello written in the sand on the beach

48. Beach Family Photoshoot

The beach makes for picture-perfect scenery, so take advantage of it by taking some amazing family photos? Whether your photoshoot is pre-planned or spontaneous make sure to get those perfect beachside snaps.

Have some fun with it too by making silly poses or letting the kids take turns taking the photos!

49. Indulge In A Good Book

Whether you’re an avid reader or just need an excuse to relax, take some time to read a New York Times Best Seller while enjoying the sound of the waves in the background. This list offers options for all different types of books, so everyone can find something they love on your beach vacation.

woman lying on a towel on the beach and reading a book

50. Relax

This is one of my favorite things to do at the beach – and a good way to wrap up a perfect day with the family! Everybody deserves a break, and the beach offers the perfect backdrop for rest and relaxation.

I love to lie on my beach towel (under an umbrella) and just be present in the moment while listening to the ocean waves.

More Beach And Summer Fun!

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