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For many families, the onset of summer means trips to the beach. I live near the Oregon Coast where it's rarely warm enough to get all the way in the water. My family still enjoys jaunts to the beach for a day of sand and surf, even if we're sometimes short on sun. Having fun at the beach with family members of all ages takes preparation and smarts. Here are my top 10 ways to have an epic beach adventure.
1. Research first.
Choose the right beach for your needs. We once parked at a beach and thought we had a short walk over a dune to see the ocean. Several minutes later we were still trudging over sandy hills with toddlers in tow, arms full of beach stuff and the bathroom back in the parking lot. Look for online reviews and descriptions of beaches in the area you are going to visit. Some beaches are popular and busy, with snack bars, surfboard rentals and lifeguards. Others are secluded and have no amenities.
2. Pack carefully.
Think about what you'll need at the beach and how to get it there. You'll need towels, sunscreen, food, toys at minimum, and you also might want boogie boards, wetsuits, a blanket, chairs, a shelter and extra clothes. I assign each child something to carry or someone to help, and I try to pack only what we'll need. I like to wear flip flops to the beach, but pack sandals for my explorers so they don't cut their feet on shells or rocks.
3. Sunscreen before you go.
If your beach is less than an hour away, put on sunscreen before you go. It's hard to apply sunscreen in the wind, and kids are so anxious to get to the water that they often get in before the sunscreen is dry. Also, sand and sunscreen don't mix well, so getting a good first coat on and set before you hit the beach makes sun safety easier. Use sunscreen on cloudy days, too.
4. Choose sand-friendly snacks.
Our family tells a funny story about a hungry seagull who swooped down and stole a sandwich right out of our young daughter's hand. Playing at the beach works up big appetites, so pack lots of healthy snacks. Do any food prep beforehand, as you might not have a picnic table and sand can blow in your food if it is windy. Finger foods are best, and make sure to close any bags after you are done eating.
5. Don't forget the toys.