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A Summer Guide to Beach Games for the Whole Family

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Every summer, visitors flock to the beach as they look to get away with their families. There’s no better place to take your family than Ocean City, New Jersey.

Consider these statistics from Visit New Jersey. In 2015, tourism generated $37.3 billion in GDP for the state. That’s 6.6% of the state’s entire economy.

Additionally, there was a 2.4% increase in out of state visitors from the previous year. In the end, 95 million people visited New Jersey in 2015 alone.
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In other words, no matter how you measure it, going to the shore is an important part of what makes New Jersey thrive.

While we’re confident that you’ll come visit us sometime during the summer, we also want to help you have a blast when you do. That’s why today we’re focusing on beach games. While many consider beach activities — swimming, sun bathing or building a sandcastles — to be self-explanatory, we know that just getting the kids out of the minivan and into the sand isn’t always enough.

Therefore, we’re putting together this comprehensive guide on things to do at the beach. Included are our favorite beach party games along with countless other beach games for kids. They’re fun, are mostly free — though some may require a few toys — and they’re great for kids and adults of all ages.

So don’t worry about what to do at the shore. Pack the sunscreen and beach towels and get ready to have some fun in the sun with the whole family!
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Sea Shell Beach Art

Two things that kids are always excited about at the shore are finding shells and digging in the sand. So why not encourage the little ones to combine both? Task them with creating the biggest and wildest seashell art that they can. Let them know that when they’re done, you’re going to memorialize their masterpiece with a photograph that will become one of the defining documents from your vacation.

Kids are very creative, but often they need specific parameters to help them channel that creativity. That’s what makes this such a good activity. It’s not actually challenging and they can’t really do it wrong. But by telling them that you want it to be a certain size and, if they need a little help, giving them a subject to present, you’ll get them excited for the task. Now they will have a certain number of shells that they’ll need to collect. They will then have to take time to arrange them intentionally rather than just dumping them haphazardly.

Just make sure you are encouraging them for art’s sake and not pitting siblings against each other. If your kids are especially good at cooperative activities, you can even ask them to make one masterpiece rather than multiple individual works.

Sand Pictionary

Pictionary is a classic game that almost everyone knows how to play. But if you need a refresher, here’s the gist. One person is in charge of getting other players to guess a common term or phrase. They’re allowed to draw, but can’t speak or use letters or numbers. You can either divide into teams or just have one person be the drawer and have everyone else trying to guess.

The nice thing about sand Pictionary is you don’t need any equipment whatsoever. All you need is a canvas of sand and a finger. If you have younger ones who might have a limited vocabulary, cater all the clues to things they can find at the shore. You can even add a twist by playing near the waves, forcing people to work against a “tidal clock!”

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your own family rules. Once you’ve hit upon something that really works for your crew, solidify it moving forward and you’ll have your own special version for years to come.

Musical Towels

This is basically musical chairs, but with a fun beach twist. Instead of chairs, set out towels — one less than the number of players. Then pick out one of your favorite beach jams on your smartphone of portable radio. Have everyone circle the towels until you stop the music. When the music stops, everyone rushes to sit on a towel, and whoever remains standing is out. Remove a towel and play another round with those that remain.

To make it a little harder, require that players lay down on their backs on the towel, making sure that no part of them is touching sand. This will surely make for some zany struggles as players jostle for the last spot.
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Crab Walk Race

Many of us probably remember the crab walk from gym class. Just like walking on all fours, except instead of having your back in the air, it’s your stomach that’s facing up. You probably remember how tough this is, so this is especially good if you have some high energy kids.

This activity is especially well suited for the beach since crash landings are common when crab walking. While gym floors may make for sore bottoms, the sand allows kids to try and move a little faster without the fear of falling over.

Kids will also love watching parents trying their own crab walk. And while parents may be likely to beat little ones at a foot race, a kid’s lower center of gravity actually gives them an advantage when crab walking, which is a nice way to even the playing field during intra-family competitions.

Beach Skee-ball

Remember skee-ball from your childhood afternoons at the arcade? A cross between bowling and shuffleboard, players roll a wooden ball down an alley in an attempt to ramp it into a number of different holes, with each hole having a different assigned score.

Well, if you have some small plastic balls (such as whiffle balls) you can make your own skee-ball alley out of sand. Just start by building a mound out of sand. Then dig some whole in the face of the mound. Next, flatten an alley in front of the mound, and include some dug out ditches as gutters.

Depending on the age of the kids, you can make it as difficult or easy as you want. Younger ones will be more than happy to try to roll the ball into the hole, regardless of the score. Older kids might want to make some more complicated rules and challenge themselves to top each other’s scores.

Beach Bowling

If you have a larger ball, try this easy variation on beach skee-ball. Simply make your own bowling alley in the sand, using the empty water bottles that you’ve been collecting over the day. Don’t fret if you don’t have exactly 10 bottles. Just work with what you’ve got. If you want an easier scoring system, count strikes as two points, spares as 1 and everything else as 0.

Sand Twister

Here is another variation of a classic board game that’s right at home on the beach. Instead of colored circles, construct your own four by four board with four different symbols, such as “x” or “o.” Then find some way to select what body part — right foot, left foot, right hand and left hand — and where to put it. Eventually, your kids will be so tied up in knots that they’ll fall into a giggling fit. Blessedly, the sand will cushion any falls!

Sand Golf

You can buy a set of plastic over-sized beach golf clubs, but even a single whiffle ball and a piece of drift wood is enough to set up your own beach links. Just dig a hole — make it bigger for younger ones — and designate a tee box somewhere else on the beach. If you want to put in a little extra effort, you can even make a few traps. Set your kids to digging some pits that will serve as hazards. You can even arrange your course so it sits next to the water, which will give you a water hazard to work with.

Just make sure you’re being mindful of your neighbors. While everyone on the beach knows that there will be kids playing, they might not appreciate being hit in the head with a whiffle ball. So try to set your hole up in such a way that everyone can have a good time without worrying about having to yell “fore!”

Frisbee Golf

This is similar, except instead of trying to get a ball in the hole, your goal is to hit an object with a frisbee. Just put a stick or an umbrella in the sand and then set the tee box somewhere else. Then you throw the frisbee towards the object, trying to do so with as few throws as possible.

The same warning applies — in fact, it might be an even bigger concern with this variation. You don’t want to set your hole up in the midst of a crowd of vacation goers and run the risk of hitting someone with an errant frisbee.

Beach Limbo

In many ways, limbo is the perfect beach activity, seeing as it originated from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Now that kids are coming to the beach with pool noodles in hand, it is easy to convert the noodle into a limbo poll.

This is an especially good way to encourage your kids to get an inadvertent workout. Because limbo requires players to try to get under a bar by bending backwards, staying on their feet while easing their bellies under the noodle, it is a great way to work on flexibility.

Plus, like so many of the games on this list, the soft sand makes tumbles far less of a concern.

Bocce Ball

Bocce ball is an Italian classic, and generally involves a specially designed bocce ball set. However, if you just want to make your own set, the rules are simple and you can use any ball that you have on hand.

First, throw a small ball some distance ahead of the players. Next, other players take turns trying to get their larger balls as close to the target ball as possible. Typically, players have multiple balls that are color-coded. But if you’re improvising, just have each player have one ball or one smaller ball and one big one. You can make your own family rules that you can pull out for future beach vacations.
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Special Beach Games for Adults and Teens

While many of these games would be great for the whole family, regardless of their age, we do want to point out a couple of fun adult and teen beach games. Like our games for kids, we are choosing games that require very little equipment, meaning you can play all of these on a budget and don’t necessarily need to plan ahead of time.

  • Acrobatic Catch Contest: This is a great game for more daring older kids who are strong enough swimmers to play out in the deeper water. Throw a frisbee far enough ahead of the person who’s catching to force them to make an acrobatic dive into the water. Assign others to be the judges, awarding points on a scale from 1 to 10 for such skills as “floppiness,” “mid-air posing” or “splash height.” If you have a foam football, that’d work just as well.
  • Boogie Board Balancing Act: If you have boogie boards, here’s a game for older kids or adults that aren’t afraid to look foolish. The fun is using boogie boards in the exact wrong way. Go out in some of the shallow water and try to stand on your boogie board. Whoever can stay on longer is the winner. We bet no one will last very long!
  • Beach Soccer: Beach soccer is easy to set up and really only requires a ball. Just make some goals out of discarded shirts. This is better for older kids and adults, because the sand can make playing soccer frustratingly hard. Younger ones are prone to get upset early on.

If you want to remove goalies from the game, require goals to be on the sand and not in the air. This will force players to get a clear shot on goal.

Book your Vacation and Start Playing

Now that you are equipped with a number of great and simple games, all you have left to do is book your vacation. We are your one stop site for all the best information on where to stay, how to book your room or beach home and what to do once you arrive in Ocean City, New Jersey. So contact us today and get your trip to OCNJ booked and put on your calendar. On the other hand, if you’re ready to begin booking, start right away while that perfect rental is still available.

So what are you waiting for? Your family deserves a break. Your kids are ready to cut loose. And there’s nothing that can compare to watching your loved ones smiling and laughing as they enjoy all that Ocean City, NJ, has to offer. Book your Ocean City, New Jersey vacation today!

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