Creating the perfect family summer bucket list: Beach Edition

 In Travel Tips

Summer has arrived for parts of the country, and it will soon be showing up in the north. Until then, it is time to dream about our summer travel bucket lists. In my household of growing boys, who’s opinions seem to grow with every inch, we all have to compromise a little so we can see as much as possible on our wish lists.

But where do you even begin?

Let’s head to the beach

For many families, the beach is the place to be in the summer. I grew up going to the Jersey Shore and a lake in New Hampshire every year. In college, I hung out on the beaches of Georgia and Florida, even getting an unexpected beach vacation the week I was supposed to start my sophomore year. Thanks to Hurricane Floyd, friends and I evacuated to a friend’s family who happened to live in Panama City, Florida. Splashing in the beautiful blue waters of the Gulf wasn’t a bad way to wait out the storm.

Now that I have my own family we love to hit the beaches of Hawaii and the Oregon Coast. We have our favorite activities, foods to chow down on and ways to unwind. Finding that perfect balance of relaxation for mom and dad, and activities for the kids that we all can enjoy can make or break our trips.

Before we depart for our trip, I run through a list of activities we love to do or would like to try. Not sure what you can do at the beach, well here are a few top ones on our list.


Summer beach activities

  • Visit a new beach or spot on the beach
  • Taste something you have never tried before
  • Take in the view of the coast aboard a helicopter
  • Get up close with some sea creatures
  • Wiggle your toes in the sand
  • Take a picture with a local icon
  • Fly a kite higher than you ever have before
  • Learn to surf, skim board or boogie board
  • Practice paddle boarding on the open seas
  • Meet up with friends for a round of mini golf
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Cook s’mores on the beach
  • Jump off the high dive
  • Beach combing for shells
  • Finding new and interesting sea creatures in tide pools
  • Don’t get sunburned!
  • Learn how to back float
  • Take a nap in the sun
  • Read a book while the kids bury you in the sand
  • Pedal a surrey bike successfully
  • Bike through a coastal nature preserve
  • Wave at a pelican
  • Snorkel with tea turtles
  • Watch dolphins swim by from the beach or hotel balcony


Not all beaches are warm enough to swim in though. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have to get creative with our beach time. We can still build sandcastles, but surfing requires full bodysuits, and a sweatshirt is usually a must most of the year.

Cold weather beach fun

  • Splash in the tide pools
  • Starfish and sea anemones hunts
  • Sand Castle competitions
  • Fly a kite
  • Hike through the dunes
  • Explore sea caves during low tide
  • Crabbing on the beach
  • Beach pit cook outs
  • Star gazing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle boarding
  • Storm watching


What are we looking forward to most this summer?

I’d like to give paddle boarding another go with Dek at the helm. We love to chat and explore the waters beneath as I paddle us around. If we happen upon a few dolphins during our explorations this summer I may swoon with delight. I also need to check one more fried dessert off of my summer foods bucket list. I’ve tried Fried Oreos and Twinkies. I think this year I’ll tackle the Fried Snickers bar!

Dek would like a new Spiderman kite to perfect his kite flying skills. Two years ago his Spiderman kite was snatched away by a gust of wind and he has been asking about it ever since. He’d also like to find a few new (to him) sea creatures in the tide pools off the coast. It may also be time for Dek to learn how to properly snorkel. So far he has just used his goggles, which work, but the fish freak him out.

Ty would like to not drown this summer, as he throws himself head first into every new experience. OK, so maybe this is my wish for him. We are working on his swimming and breath control, while also teaching him the finer points of “look before you leap,” and sand castle building. Birds are always a hit with the toddler crowd. Ty is sure to get up close with a few seagulls and pelicans during our summer wanderings.

Mike would like to do a little boogie boarding with the boys, learn to kayak and eat his body weight in sushi. When it comes to the beach, the only real thing on Mike’s bucket list is soaking up the sun, cooling off in the water and napping on the beach. Playing a little game of sand soccer never hurt either.

What is on your summer bucket this this year?


Disclosure: This post was written as part of a Summer Bucket List campaign with Travel Mindset and Panama City Beach, which I am being compensated for. As always, all opinions and editorial are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know. 

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Showing 2 comments
  • Camels & Chocolate

    On my bucket list is to sip bourbon while wiggling my toes in the sand and watching you three labor over your sandcastle 😉

  • Jade

    Can’t wait to see the little guys enjoy the beach! You know I’ve never been to Oregon in the summer but I’d really love to stay near the coast for a long weekend. Bliss.

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