Last summer, our schedule did not allow us to take a long family vacation. We were, however, grateful to have a weekend getaway to the beach. Since we didn’t have much time there, I planned some special activities for the kiddos as a little lagniappe. It seems like we did so much more than sit on the beach for the weekend, yet we did just enough to be entertained while still being able to relax. Check out my tips to give this summer’s beach trip a little something extra.
For some kids, being a beach bum can get boring after a while. Break up the monotony of a day on the beach with sand art and kite flying.
Materials: food-coloring, some small glass jars with lids, plastic baggies
You can do this right on the beach, or collect bags of sand to take back to the condo to do later or save for a rainy day. Fill the bags with sand (one bag of sand per color). Add a few drops of food coloring to each bag. Zip the bags, work the dye into the sand, and use a small shovel to add layers of colored sand to the jars. Fill the jars completely and pack the sand tightly so that the colored layers don’t shift in transit.
Fly a Kite
Flying kites can be fun for the whole family, especially with the right one. We love this kite because the whole thing rolls right up into its little bag. There are no bulky frames to take up space or assemble. Get it here.
Need a break from the sun but kids don’t want to go inside? Give them something to look forward to back in the room: ocean slime!
Materials: slime recipe with blue Elmer’s glue, plastic ocean animal figurines, containers.
We’ve made DIY slime before with other materials, but for the ease of packing, I picked up this little Elmer’s kit for $9.99 from Target. Just make sure you use blue glue for that ocean look.
When the sun goes down and the pools are closed, head back down to the beach to fly Rocket Copters and hunt for ghost crabs.
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ve seen these things on TV and “really, really need them.” While I was initially skeptical, this is one of the few As Seen on TV toys that we all love. You can get 6 copters for $9.99 online or in stores. The beach is the perfect place to play with them since there are no trees or power lines to interfere. They are really fun at night since they light up and whistle. You can get 6 copters for $9.99.
Materials Needed: bucket (love this space-saving, collapsible bucket, net (or something to scoop), flashlight, bug collecting kit
Grab your flashlights and look for all the ghost crabs. Scoop ‘em up—they’re harmless—and collect in a bucket. Make it a teachable moment, and observe them with a bug collecting kit. We found an unfamiliar critter, so we used the free iNaturalist app to identify it.
Those activities add just the right amount of adventure to a low-key beach weekend. Add to that my four must-have items, and you won’t want to leave.
Bag: This is not your typical beach bag. I have been through SO. MANY. BAGS. They don’t fit all the stuff, the straps are too rough on my sunburned shoulders, etc. I also wanted to be able to carry all the things by myself while holding kids’ hands. After some research, my husband found this awesome mesh bag for $15 on Amazon. The backpack straps keep my hands free, and they’re not uncomfortable. The one we have is actually large enough to hold 4 basketballs, but it’s available in even larger size if you need. It held everything we needed, including toys, Puddle Jumpers, and towels and wasn’t cumbersome to carry. Order it here.
Blanket: This polyester picnic blanket folds and zips to be carried like a tote. Sand doesn’t cling and it dries quickly. We bought ours from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (use those coupons!), but here is a similar one.
Yeti Colster: You’re probably familiar with Yeti tumblers that keep ice all day, and the Yeti Colster serves the same purpose for canned drinks. Get it here.
Goggles: Hands down our BEST purchase! Parents and kids will love them because they snap in the back. No more forcing straps and pulling hair. These are so easy to adjust! The lenses themselves also offer UV protection. Amazing deal alert: $12.99 for a two-pack here
I am so looking forward to this year’s beach trip and hope you are excited to try out some of these ideas on your next trip. Did I forget anything? What are your favorite things to do and must-haves?
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 6 and 3 year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education and is now a full-time nursing student. In her hypothetical free time, Alyson would enjoy flipping furniture, writing, and dancing. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.