Every Saturday and every Sunday after church.
That’s how often I went to the beach growing up with my mother. It was a regular part of our summer life and I have amazing memories of playing for hours with my friends.
It was something I wanted to give my kids as well and, since we live in Florida, it’s a totally doable thing. I’m a big fan of the beach and the beach lifestyle so we make a point to get down there when we can.
We love the beaches in our state and, after you see the pictures below, I think you will too!
Tips for beach trips with small children
Here are some things I’ve learned through the years when taking kids to the beach or on a beach vacation I hope will help you. I have younger children so some of these rules would vary depending on the ages of your children.
In Gulf County, Florida (St. Joseph’s Bay) you can often see turtles on the beach or even go kayaking where you can find “turtle holes.”
Get proper heavy sunscreen
There’s nothing worse than being out for a long day ahead of you with no sunscreen or one with a low SPF. I personally do not like spray sunscreens because the wind scatters half the screen before it hits your body. Find a sunscreen, preferably one with zinc oxide as it is more effective at blocking burns, and keep it handy for all members of the family. You may think you “tan” but if you are pale and under Florida heat, well, you will probably burn first.
Bring hats, umbrellas, or a shade along
If it’s hot and sunny and your day is packed, make sure you have something to cover your kids’ faces (and your own). My children start to get fussy if they don’t have hats or sunglasses to help cut the glare. An hour or so of this won’t matter, but if you’re out for a long day then I consider it necessary.
If you’re able, I’d even suggest bringing a canopy or umbrella with you so that hot members of the family can find shade every once in a while. This is particularly handy if you have a baby who isn’t comfortable in 90º weather.
Keep food and water handy
When you’re out for a long day having snacks and food handy is a great idea. Children will feel more even keeled and calm if they can fill their tummies. You can bring snacks from the grocery store or pick them up near where you are going, but be sure to have more than you think you’ll need. There’s something about the beach and the heat that makes a person more hungry and thirsty than normal, so be sure you have access to a lot of water.
Go beyond the beach
One of the main reasons I choose the beach for an easy family trip (as easy as a family trip can be with small kids) is because it’s outdoors and kids love the outdoors. Also, it’s easier for them to be entertained and have fun doing active things than going to museums or tours. Of course, those things have their place, but during the summer there is no better trip than one to a beach town.
Last year we took a boat tour through a beautiful area and had a sunset dolphin cruise out of Gulf County (Port St. Joe). The kids, obviously, loved seeing the dolphins!
Think in advance about what you want to do and whether you can bring your own equipment or will rent it there. Or, if your kids are older, you may need very little. Chairs, towels, beach toys, or even beach wagons are awesome if you can pack them in the car. If you want to go fishing, scalloping, snorkeling, diving, or paddleboarding you can obviously rent equipment where you are. Depending on how busy the season, you may want to book in advance.
There are tons of places to go snorkeling or scuba diving in Florida so the sky’s the limit!
Dine where the locals dine
Talking to locals is a huge plus in my book. You can find out which restaurants serve the best food (fresh seafood) and all kinds of other interesting information. From all my world travels I’ve learned one thing, most of the time you have to go off the beaten path to find the best places. Ask on social media, visit an area’s website, and ask around when you arrive to find places you can’t miss.
Gulf County, Florida is just a few hours away from us and last year, around this time, we had the privilege of spending a long weekend there. It is now a popular beach destination that has “come of age” so to speak, in the past few years and still has the sleepy beach atmosphere that preserves culture and nature. Something many other beach destinations lack.
And you can go back often because, with outdoors trips, an experience is never the same twice since you can’t control nature.
Not only is Gulf County situated on the Gulf of Mexico (some of the most beautiful beaches in the world in my biased opinion since I live here), it is also near rivers, lagoons, and lakes which make it an awesome place to kayak, snorkel, scallop, and go boating. You can see all types of wildlife as well, making it more than just a beach to go read a book at.
They’ve put together GCFL Adventure Guide that you’ll want to check out if you are planning a trip. For information on where to stay you can go to Serenity Beach Rentals, and you can get tons of info on the water sports available at Daly’s Watersports.
We loved staying in Gulf County and highly recommend it if you’re looking for some Florida beaches that aren’t overcrowded!
Gulf County, Florida is giving away a $100 gift card to Sierra Trading Post (an outdoors outfitter store) to help you get some gear ready to come on an adventure with your family. All you have to do to enter is go to the Gulf County, Florida website and, using the search bar at the top, tell me when turtle season is in the comments below.
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