You know that you’ve earned a beach trip. You’ve been picturing the salty wind in your hair, the sand between your toes, and the surf in your view as you sip an ice-cold beverage. Yes, it sounds idyllic! The truth is that if you’re planning a beach trip with your entire family, those small people won’t placidly lounge next to you while you read a beach novel. Call in the reinforcements: Beach games.
Let’s dive right into the world of fun, funny, and entertaining beach games that are perfect for the whole family. Get ready for some sandy, sun-soaked laughter! (And hopefully, you can get the kids playing by themselves, and you actually CAN stick your nose back into that tawdry book of yours).
How Can You Prepare for a Family Beach Day?
Listen, we’ve been there. Once upon a time, a trip to the beach was nothing short of bliss: relaxation, music blaring on your Bluetooth speaker, beer pong supplies at the ready, and lathering yourself up with oil to get yourself as tan as possible. Gone are the days.
Now, you’ve got that wide-brim hat (but hey, it’s cute, girl), you’ve switched to SPF 50, and you’ve got a literal wagon full of toys, treats, and towels. Ah, the beach with kids — a thrilling adventure full of sand-filled diapers, sunscreen battles, and an endless supply of “she started it” arguments.
But guess what? A day at the beach with kids can still be super fun. Here are a few tips:
Pack Carrying Bags With Care
Assemble your superhero team and prepare for the ultimate beach mission. Bring everything but the kitchen sink — towels, umbrellas, sand toys, extra clothes, snacks, drinks, and your entire collection of Frozen action figures. If you think you’ve packed enough, you’re wrong.
Be Smart About Sunscreen
This is no simple game. Picture yourself as a WWE wrestler entering the ring with a bottle of sunscreen and a formidable opponent: a wiggly, slippery child covered head to toe in sand. It’s a tug-of-war we know all too well. When it comes to planning outdoor games of any kind, it feels like we’re Hulk Hogan trying to wrestle an opponent into sun safety.
Make it easy by storing reef-friendly sunscreen in the cooler, not the carrying case you use for other supplies. Come lunchtime after the thousandth game of badminton, your kiddos will be practically begging for that refreshing, cool UV protection.
Accept the Sand
Now is not the time to worry about sand getting into your car after the beach. It’s gonna happen. Prepare to find sand in places that you didn’t even know existed. It’s like a terribly uncomfortable magic trick.
One beach hack you must know: Bring a container of baby powder to the shore in your beach bag. When you get to the parking lot, dust your sandy little monsters with baby powder for a pain-free way to brush sand off. Really! Try it.
Next, If your family is prone to bringing sand all through the house, store the digging shovels and buckets in a mesh bag — it’s way easier to shake out and far easier to wash than that suede tote you bought during NY Fashion Week.
Anything cloth/fuzzy might need to stay home — beloved teddy bears, tennis balls, and bean bags. You’ll have to find a suitable alternative to the classic cornhole set. Maybe oranges? When you figure it out, let us know.
Snack Strategy Is Key
Snacks are the currency of kid negotiations. Is it gentle parenting? Is it what experts suggest? Maybe not, but sometimes bribery wins.
Pack an arsenal of snacks that will get your kids excited: fruit snacks, chips, cheese sticks, PB and J sandwiches (or, let’s be real: Uncrustables). Snack time might be the only time they sit still the entire day.
Here’s the drinking game we didn’t play in college: Staying hydrated. Besides water and other drinks, water-rich foods like oranges, watermelon (naturally), cantaloupe, and more are gold medal options.
Dress for Success
What we wear to the beach depends on what your personal itinerary looks like. Maybe you like the tailgate aspect — snacks, maybe a crossword puzzle, or finishing your summer read while lounging in a beach chair more than you want to “win sports … or whatever.” In that case, a triangle bikini (complete with chic resort wear) is in order.
If you’ve been working on nailing your volleyball set and bringing your teammates to victory, that’s a whole other ballgame — literally. Go with activewear swimsuits to avoid your top from flying off as you dive after that flying disc.
Embrace the Chaos
We jest, but in reality, a huge part of enjoying time with your family at the beach is just getting into the mentality that it’s going to be messy chaos. At the end of the day, beach days with kids are all about creating memories and creating fun.
Sure, there will be meltdowns, fights, and tantrums. But you should also be ready for the giggles, the wide-eyed wonder, and those moments of pure joy when they experience the beach for the first time. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, and though this may be the most annoying phrase, someday you will miss this.
What Are the Best Beach Games for Families?
You already know about cornhole, frisbee, spikeball, and the regulars. We’re here to introduce you to a few creative beach games that will help you think outside the box and look like the hero of the day. You’ll be like, “Ring toss, who? Horseshoes? Never heard of her.”
These beach games deserve a spot in the Olympics:
1. Jellyfish Volleyball
All that you will need for this game is that deflated beach ball that’s been taking up space next to the mismatched playing card deck and random doll clothes in the game room. Blow it up, and let’s move on to the following step.
So, you know how jellyfish gracefully float in the ocean? Well, this game brings that same elegance to the beach volleyball court. Replace the regular volleyball with a beach ball, and ditch the net and court in favor of invisible boundaries and questionable volleys.
The rules of the game are as amorphous as a jelly. The only real requirement is that in playing the game, you’ve gotta move like a jellyfish. Just imagine your family members flailing their limbs like floppy jellyfish tentacles. Bonus points for making weird squishy sound effects.
2. Crabby Race
Have you ever seen crabs scuttling along the shore? Embrace your inner crustacean and have a crab walk race. This one might take you back to your elementary school gym class in the 90s when for some reason, we were walking like crabs a lot and riding those crazy death scooters across the hardwood basketball courts.
For a crab walk, begin by sitting down on the sand with your arms behind you, fingers facing your hips, and your feet out in front of you. Lift your hips and tighten your core, then “Walk,” moving your left hand followed by your right foot, then switch. Keep going!
The side benefit here is that it’s a killer workout for your core, shoulders, triceps, and quads. Structure your race however you want. It could be fun to do a big race with the whole family, or you could do brackets if you want to keep the races smaller.
3. Treasure Hunt
It’s imaginative playtime; transform your kiddos into explorers! This game takes a little bit of planning. Find a nice big area, toss coins and trinkets about, and let your family members search for treasure.
You may have also seen videos of grandparents walking down the beach with pockets full of store-bought shells, dropping them along the way to let their grandkids think they are finding shells along the shores. It’s the same general idea, but this time the kids are in on it.
You can make it like an Easter egg hunt, and if you want to get older kids interested, you could have certain trinkets representing different prizes. For example, you find the plastic starfish, you get to pick the music we listen to in the car on the way home, or you get to pick the restaurant where we eat dinner, etc.
Note: Heavier items (like bocce balls) work better than lightweight ones (think birdies) because you don’t want any to blow away or accidentally be left behind. We operate on a “leave no trace, except for footprints and that tic-tac-toe game you drew in the sand.”
4. Sand Sculpture Charades
Sand castles are cool, but we can do better. Combine the art of sand sculpting with the hilarity of charades. Split into teams and take turns sculpting something with sand while the other team guesses what it is. Prepare for some comical interpretations and sandy masterpieces that make you say, “Is that a potato or a unicorn?”
Some variations that could make this even more fun and exciting: Have a theme for the clues, make all the clues unique to your family, or set time limits for the sculpting. You might also consider splurging on a gorgeous cover-up for your castle-building adventures because if you’re anything like us, you’re getting alllll up in there, and you may want to cover up while you’re on your hands and knees, elbows deep in wet sand.
5. Beach Twister
Remember the classic party game Twister? Even if the last time you uttered the words, “Right hand, red,” was at your middle school birthday party, trust us. This one is fun: Bring Twister to the beach with differently colored frisbees on the sand for a whole new dimension to the game.
Sit back and watch as your family members twist and contort their bodies in ways that could make even yoga instructors jealous. Be prepared for some sandy wedgies and questionable flexibility attempts, and get yourself a swimsuit that won’t ride up!
Game Set Swimsuit Match
So there you have it: Five ridiculously fun beach games that will have your family laughing, bonding, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Or, at a bare minimum, some beach activities that will be fun and that will keep you sane for an afternoon on the hot sand with your kiddos. Just remember to bring your sense of humor and enjoy the sun and surf in an awesome matching swimsuit.