If your kiddo loves the beach and everything that comes with it (buckets, shovels, digging and sandy masterpieces), you have to check out Sand in the City—a sensational sandcastle extravaganza held every summer in Olympia. From fantastic sand sculptures to sandcastle making to tropical-themed activities, we’ve got the inside scoop on this kid-tastic, sand-covered spectacle.

Aaron Barna Sand in the City4

The Festival Deets 
Olympia’s Sand in the City is Washington’s largest free family sand festival, going strong for the last 14 years. All surfside activities will be held in and around the super-cool Hands On Children’s Museum, as well as on the beach and in the streets surrounding the area (Psst… be sure to bring the Bob and the bag of sand toys!). The event is sponsored by local businesses, with all proceeds from donations, food sales, store sales, event sponsorships and Museum admissions going to the Free and Reduced Admissions Programs for the Museum.

Hands On Childrens Museum FB 4

Beachy Vibe
During this sand-sational party, see sand artists at work and check out creations by Master Sand Sculptors from around the West Coast, and vote on your favorites! (The winners will be announced Sunday around 4 p.m.) Bring a shovel and your best bucket to enjoy tons of sandy and splashy fun in the East Bay Waterfront and at the East Bay Plaza stream, which is just a few baby steps away from the Museum. And don’t worry if you forget your beach gear—there will be tons of tools available to get your sandcastle on!

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Museum Madness
Head into the awesome (and enormous) Hands On Children’s Museum, with discounted $5 admission until closing, to participate in cool, tropical-themed activities at the Polynesian Party. Silkscreening, poi balls, Uli Uli gourds and eruptable mini volcanoes are on the crafty menu during your visit. Never visited before? Explore over 150 Northwest-themed exhibits with your Littles, including the new, half-acre Outdoor Discovery Center. Plus, enjoy free museum-related activities outside the Museum, including face painting, paper lei-making, sand bracelet creation and a Tot Spot for the 4 and under crew. And if Grandparents are nearby, be sure to have them tag along for special events on Sunday, which also happens to be Grandparents’ Day!

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Festival Frolic
Feel like a bit of a stroll? There will be over 40 events taking place in the streets and businesses around the Museum for you to get your science and art on. Make a sand art necklace, learn about solar science and help build a bee house at the dozens of crafty and creative booths. You can also cuddle a bunny, laugh with a llama and pet a service pooch from Cory’s Ark and Animal Services as well as dance your day away to live music and performances at the Festival Stage and get your nosh on at totally kid-alicious food trucks (think shave ice, burritos and kettle corn). Just remember to pack the sunblock and sunhats… it’s going to be a beach bum kind of day!

Hands On Children’s Museum
414 Jefferson St. N.E.
Olympia, Wa 98501
Online: hocm.org/sandinthecity

Festival dates: Aug. 23-24, 2014
Festival hours: Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Are you planning on going to Sand and the City this year? Let us know about your experience in a comment below!

-Erin Cranston

All photos courtesy of Aaron Barna Photography and Hands On Children’s Museum Facebook page