10 Things To Do at the Beach

The beach isn't just for sunbathing and swimming.

St. Joseph State Park
••• St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. © FlaUSA.com

People usually go to the beach to swim or sunbathe, but the beach can be much more fun if you try some of these things to do while at the beach:

  1. Build a sandcastle. Sandcastles and sand sculptures can be simple or elaborate, but all are so much fun to build! No special tools are really needed — just sand, water and your hands will do — but simple cups and pails are helpful tools in carrying sand and water and helping to shape your creation.
    Tip: Learn more about sand castle building basics from eHow.com.
  1. Cast a line. Fishing is one of America's favorite activities and pastimes. While not all beaches allow fishing, many do; and, some even have fishing piers that rent gear. Go fish!
    Tip: Learn about saltwater fishing on About.com
  2. Collect seashells. You can find shells on just about any beach. And, while this activity sounds like a no-brainer, there are some things to keep in mind. You will need a container to collect your shells. This can be a pail, cup or bag. Only collect "dead" shells — shells that have no animal inside.
    Tip: Make shell collecting more fun by purchasing a book and looking up the names of each shell to see how many you can find.
  3. Enjoy a picnic. Many beaches have food concessions, but that can be quite expensive and not very satisfying. So, why not pack a nice picnic? Cheese and crackers, sandwiches or fried chicken are favorites; and, when paired with a salad or fresh fruit, it is much healthier and often less expensive.
    Tips: Many beaches have an ordinance against alcoholic beverages, so leave the beer and wine at home and instead pack plenty of water. Also, don't forget common sense food safety. Keep foods cold in a well-insulated cooler; and, when serving, don't let them set out for an extended length of time.
  1. Play a game. Whether you are the active type or prefer sitting around, there are games that can pass the time. The possibilities are endless. Bring along a ball and play a game of catch or volleyball. A Frisbee can be tossed over the sand or in the water. Bring a hula hoop and see who can keep it going the longest. Draw lines in the sand for a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, using several of two different kinds of shells for the markers; play hangman in the sand; or, bring along a deck of cards.
  1. Read a book. While you're catching those rays, it is also a great time to catch up on your reading, whether it's the latest magazine or a naughty novel.
    Tip: If you have sun-sensitive eyes, consider taking along a book on tape or CD; but, don't forget your headphones.
  2. Splash and play in the surf. How do you cool off? Get in the water! Splash, splash each other, run and play. Let the waves wash over you, but do be careful. Those playful waves can pack quite a punch, especially for toddlers already unsure on their feet. And, rip currents are a real threat and should be taken seriously as well.
  3. Take pictures. If you're on vacation, of course you'll want photos of those memory-making moments. After all, you'll have to prove to the clan back home that Uncle Johnny really did look like a lobster with that sunburn, and Dad will get over the embarrassment of you catching him gawking at those bikini-clad girls. But, why not take your picture-taking skills to the next level and capture some of the beautiful scenery — glistening sand, rolling white-tipped waves, colorful umbrellas, sunsets and lots of people make interesting subjects for photos. When you get home you just might find a picture you'd like to have enlarged and framed as a reminder of your trip.
  1. Walk or stroll. Whether you take a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk, the sand is great for exercising your feet and legs; and, the sound of the surf and smell of the salt water will clear your mind.
  2. Watch the sun set. What a wonderful way to end your day at the beach! Florida's sunsets are spectacular, particularly from the vantage point of any Gulf Coast beach. There are two beach communities that think every sunset is reason enough to celebrate — Clearwater Beach and Key West. Those communities put on a nightly party that includes live entertainment, street performers and craft vendors. Best of all... the sunsets and celebrations are free!

Always use sunscreen before you hit the beach and apply it often. Learn more about sun, sand and surf safety.