Get ready for fun in the sun (and sand)! Once your little dudes and dudettes have exhausted the waves, there are plenty of land-based activities to keep them busy until sunset. Check out our list featuring everything from relay races to sea-themed scavenger hunts, and ensure that everyone has a blast by the shore this summer.

1. Create Beach Art with Found Shells
This two-in-one beach activity is a perfect way for your little explorer to showcase their artistic side. Get an early start and collect as many colorful shells as possible. Then create an outline of your favorite sea creature in the sand and fill in the space with shells. It’s like a design-your-own beach puzzle! For extra inspiration, check out the amazing shelly creatures created by Creative in Chicago.

Shell Seahorsephoto: Creative in Chicago

2. Relay Race
Split your little mermaids and mermen into two teams. Using shovels, small cups or the largest shells you can find, race back and forth from the ocean, filling your team’s sand pail with water as quickly as possible. First team to fill their bucket wins! Check out all the mermaid-themed activities at One Charming Party.

mermaid4_race-550x734photo: Nicole Hill Gerulat via One Charming Party

3. Sand Pictionary
When the tide is out, a sandy beach is the perfect canvas for an exciting game of Pictionary. Give this classic game a summery twist with words like firework, crab, and watermelon. Once the correct guess has been made, wait for the waves to clear the “board” and start the next round.

4. Explore the Tide Pools
Get inspired by Anna Milbourne’s children’s book On the Seashore before heading out to explore all the vibrant sea life found in the tide pools.

5. Become a Mermaid
Bury your lower half and have a friend (or parent) help you create a mermaid tail with the surrounding sand. Or, bury mom and dad (even Princess Diana let William and Harry do it)!

photo 1Photo: Gabby Cullen

6. Do Beach Yoga
Take a meditative moment and do yoga to the sound of the waves. To avoid getting super sandy, stick with standing poses like Triangle Pose, Half Moon, or Warrior Pose.

7. Build a Sand (Snow) Man
Olaf may have wished for summer, but most snowmen prefer the frigid temps. Their sandy counterparts, however, love all things beachy! Sand toys like shovels for arms or a bucket hat make perfect seasonal accessories. Watch this adorable Sand Man come to life over at the OC Mom Blog.

OC Mom Sandmanphoto: OC Mom Blog

8. Beach Ball Relay
Using any part of the body except the hands, two people race to carry a beach ball across the finish line before their opponents.

9. Create Sand Animals
Forgo the typical sand castle and challenge your budding builders to sculpt their favorite sea creatures out of sand. Bonus points for the most imaginative sand monster!

10. Beach Scavenger Hunt
The beach is full of hidden treasures. If your pint-sized pirate isn’t quite ready for ocean exploration, then a land-based scavenger hunt is a great way to spend the afternoon. Start the day off with easy-to-locate items and slowly work your way toward more obscure finds, just like Katie of Views from the Step Stool did with her son.

Beach Scavenger HuntPhoto: Views from the Step Stool

11. A Game of Spades
Try this beach-ified version of musical chairs we discovered over at se7en. Set up a row of shovels in the sand – one less than the number of players. Competitors will race from the starting line to capture a shovel, and the player left without a shovel in hand is out. Race again until just one shovel is left!

12. Musical Towels
Short on shovels? Not to worry. A circle of towels easily doubles as the set up for musical chairs. Don’t forget to bring the radio or a smartphone with speakers so you can crank your favorite tunes.

13. Boogie Board Balancing Act
Have everyone line up their boogie boards near the edge of the water. Have your little acrobats stand on the board with their backs facing the water (so they won’t see the waves coming). The winner is the last one standing on their board when the water retreats.

Cashmere Miles Boogie BoardPhoto: Cashmere Miles

14. Beach Ball Toss
Sometimes the simplest games can be the most fun. So forget the fancy gear. To start a giggle-inducing game of toss all you’ll need is an oversized beach towel and beach ball (two beach staples). This bright idea is courtesy of Brilliant Beginnings Preschool.

15. Pitch a Beach Tent
Escaping to a tropical paradise this summer? Channel your inner castaway and create a beach tent using found branches and a towel. Then relax and enjoy sandy fun in the shade.

16. Family Olympics
Turn a day at the beach into a Olympic-inspired competition. Head over to A Small Snippet and see how to set up games like hurdles, a 40-yard dash, discus throw, and more. A true showcase of sand athletics, these little hurdlers even had shirts made for the occasion!

Family OlympicsPhoto: A Small Snippet

17. Beach Tic-Tac-Toe
Whether you DIY a game board like The Chic Site did using a standard beach towel, or simply sketch a board in the sand, tic-tac-toe is an easy and fun beach game at any age. Get creative with your Xs and Os markers by using shells, sticks, and other nautical treasures.

18. Have a Crab Walk Race
Claw your way to the finish line by walking on your hands and feet with stomach in the air (aka crab style).

19. Beach Skee-Ball
Skee-Ball + sand = fun. Recreate everyone’s favorite arcade game at the beach. Just dig holes and get rolling. Thanks to Life with Leo for the idea!

Beach Skee-BallPhoto credit: Life with Leo

20. Dig a Hole
Whether you’re competing to see who can hit water first or digging a swimming pool for the royal residents of the adjacent sand castle, digging a hole is a great way to pass the time.

21. Sand Darts
Sand darts is one game that’s always a bullseye at the beach. Easy to set up, just sketch a dart board in the sand and then collect shells or pebbles to use as darts.

And once the games are over…treat all the winners (i.e. everyone) to ice cream!

Mate Marschalko - Ice Creamphoto: Mate Marschalko via Flickr creative commons

 What’s your kid’s favorite beach game? Share it with us in the comment section below!

– Abigail Matsumoto & Lauren Hill