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Fun Outdoor Beach Activities for Kids and Adults

by Julia Sayers Gokhale on October 10th, 2020
fun beach activities for kids and adults

A trip to the beach is the perfect vacation to socially distance, since it’s an outdoor destination where the main attractions are fresh air, sand, and sun. But not everyone is content to just lie on the beach all day – especially if you’re traveling with kids. With some family fun centers, attractions, shops, and spas closed or keeping limited hours, you’ll need to find additional beach activities to entertain the family. There are plenty of outdoor beach activities for both kids and adults that are fun, safe, and require limited interaction with others. 

Sandcastle Lessons

Building sandcastles is an all-time favorite beach activity for kids of all ages.

While you relax on the sand, entertain the kids by booking a sandcastle lesson. Professional sandcastle builders will meet you on the beach and teach the kids how to build an expert sand palace that will be the envy of all other beachgoers. Sand Castle Lessons is a company that operates in Destin and 30A, and Sand Castle University will come to you in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan. Consider packing plenty of sandcastle building supplies for your trip.


Get fit and have fun with SUP, one of the most popular beach activities on the Gulf Coast.
Stand up paddleboarding is fun for the whole family.

While some watersports activities are on pause due to close interactions with guides or other participants, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a safe way to get the kids out on the water in a vessel to themselves. Rent a paddleboard for a day and take it from the beach into the Gulf, or go on a guided paddleboarding tour with outfitters that will take you through the coastal waterways. If you’re staying along 30A, you can paddleboard in the area’s famous dune lakes.

Bike Rentals

Renting bikes is a great way to explore a new beach area and stay active.

Encourage a little physical activity for the family by renting bikes to cruise around the area rather than driving. Most beach destinations have bike lanes or bike paths that run parallel to the main thoroughfare. Take your bikes to a nature preserve like Gulf State Park or Grayton Beach State Park for a change of scenery. In Panama City, you can also bike on the beach!


Fishing from a pier can be one of the most memorable and easiest family activities to enjoy at the beach.

Grab some rods and reels and head out on a fishing trip excursion. You can charter a boat for just you and your family to ensure you’ll be the only ones aboard. For a more affordable beach activity that’s still just as fun, take the kids to a fishing pier. If you don’t have a fishing license, most public piers offer daily permits for a minimal fee.

Booze Cruise

Set sail on a tiki hut, one of the more fun beach activities on our list for adults.

Nothing says entertainment like a sunset sail with some tropical cocktails. Private catamaran and boat charters–like Paradise Adventures in Panama City or Smile N’ Wave in Destin–are available to take out small groups. A unique and fun option is the Cruisin’ Tiki in Orange Beach, a literal floating tiki bar that allows only one group per sail (up to 6 people). Or plan a trip aboard the Southern Star dolphin and sunset cruise ship, the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, or AJ’s SeaBlaster in Destin, Florida.

Nature Walks

Bird watching is popular on the Gulf Coast, which offers miles of trails and state parks.

Explore the natural beauty of the coastal areas on foot via nature trails. Along the Alabama and Florida Gulf coasts you’ll find several preserves and state parks with miles of trails and plenty of wildlife to be spotted. In Alabama, the Coastal Birding Trail features six birding loops in Baldwin and Mobile counties. Make it educational for the kids by packing a field guide to coastal birds. Spot public art – including wooden horses and a mermaid – along an 1,800-foot trail through Alys Beach’s nature preserve. In Pensacola, visit Jones Swamp Wetland Preserve to wander through a 1,300-acre swamp.


Diving the sunken sculpture at The Underwater Museum of Art
Sunken sculpture at the Underwater Museum of Art

Take your beach vacation to the next level – literally – by getting under the sea. There are plenty of diving spots in the Gulf for certified divers, including wrecks, artificial reefs, and even a museum. The Underwater Museum of Art, located in Walton County, Florida (off Grayton Beach State Park), features sunken art pieces and sculptures for divers to view. South Walton also has four artificial reefs (arranged to look like sea creatures) for divers and snorkelers. Panama City Beach has been designated the “Wreck Diving Capital of the South” due to its many historic wrecks, including the 185-foot Black Bart, the 441-foot World War II Liberty ship, and the 465-foot Empire Mica. Orange Beach has several diving sites accessible from the beach; both Whiskey Reef and the Orange Beach Snorkeling Reefs are just a short swim from shore.

Need a place to stay? Our beach vacation rentals along the Gulf Coast include a wide range of accommodations, everything from hotel rooms and suites to spacious, fully furnished beach houses, condos and villas. Some can be booked online directly from with no added fees.

From → Gulf Coast

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