How To Plan a Family-Friendly Beach Picnic

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been daydreaming about the first warm beach picnic of the season. Whether you plan on taking the whole family along for the picnic or are planning a solo or more quiet picnic, we’ve got everything you need to know about planning the most family-friendly beach picnic ever.

What makes a beach picnic family-friendly? Great question. There are some amazing tips here from food ideas, what things you should avoid on the beach, what to pack, and more. A beach picnic takes a little bit more planning than your average picnic, so we put all the info you’ll need in this guide.

Ready to read all about it? Go ahead and pack the blanket and a cover-up, because you’ll be headed out the door in no time.

Getting Started: Pick a Location

You may not be local to Florida, but we love the beaches here, and this may inspire you to take a fun trip to the beautiful white sands of the Sunshine State. We wanted to highlight a few of our favorite beach picnicking spots for you to choose from.

These beaches are some of the most serene, and are perfect for setting up a picnic blanket and even playing a game of cornhole during your time. Get ready to feel your most relaxed at any of these spots.

  • Sanibel Island: This beach spot is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a quiet picnic. The island itself is among the less crowded, and you can also find some amazing shells during your downtime.
  • Clearwater Beach: Looking to add a bit of adventure during your beach picnic? This beach has awesome biking and walking trails close by.
  • Pensacola Beach: You’ve probably already heard, but this beach is gorgeous and filled with wildlife. Plan your picnic here for a dreamy day or evening.

What To Pack

You’ve got the place picked, now what should you bring? Packing for a beach picnic can feel a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ve already put together your packing list, so all you need to do is put your things together and hit the road.

Learn all you need to know about packing a beach bag, backpack, or basket for your next magical picnic.

Pack a Blanket or Tablecloth

This item may seem a little bit obvious, but some things are easy to overlook as you plan and pack. The reason we’re pointing this item out is that you might be tempted to just throw a couple of beach towels in the bag and call it a day. While you can totally do that, a bigger blanket or tablecloth is easier to manage, especially if you’re trying to fit multiple people and food on top.

Take a Couple of Cutting Boards

A big trend for picnicking lately is charcuterie. To make this, or any food you bring a little easier to manage, take along a couple of cutting boards to lay everything out on. Another awesome reason to bring these along is to level out the area that you put your food on so it doesn’t move around.

Bring an Umbrella or Tent

As we all know, having a picnic on the beach means it will probably be sunny and bright, depending on the time of day you go. If you’re planning on picnicking while the sun is high in the sky, it’s best to make sure you have ample shade to avoid squinting your eyes or even getting a sunburn.

Take Along the Right Clothing

To stay your most comfortable, make sure you take or wear a breezy swimsuit cover-up or a lovely pair of swim shorts. Both of these are great options to wear by the water, especially if there’s a chance you’ll be in the water.

Beach Picnic Food Ideas

Stumped on which food to take on your beachy picnic? We’ve got you covered there, too. Making a menu can be challenging, especially when you’re going to be eating outside in the sun and sand, so we’ve listed a few of our favorite things to pack and eat while sitting on the beach.

  • Fruit and cheese kabobs: These fun kabobs are easy to make and easy to eat. Everyone will be able to quickly grab a kabob and get the perfect amount of fresh fruit and yummy cheese.
  • Delicious finger sandwiches: If you’re able to, make a few layered sub sandwiches and cut them into smaller, easier-to-handle finger sandwiches. These will be perfect for a grab-and-go dinner item.
  • Sugar cookies: Want a dessert that won’t melt and get all sticky? Everyone loves homemade (or not) cookies, and these are light and tasty.

Foods To Avoid

Did you ever think there would be a list of foods to avoid bringing to the beach? As you can imagine, beach picnics can get pretty toasty and messy. There are some foods that should just be left to eat indoors, and we’re about to tell you which ones those are.

  • Sushi/fish: While we’re not saying you can’t eat these things on a beach picnic, we are saying that you should be careful. Sushi and other fish can go bad quickly in the heat of the sun.
  • Ice cream: It could be tempting to bring a frozen treat along with you, but again, these will melt rapidly and could get ruined in your bag or cooler.
  • Sodas: Nobody enjoys a warm soda. Not only can the sodas get warm fast, but their sugary tendencies will only make the bugs pester you more.
  • Mayo/cheese: Be mindful when making your sandwiches. Things like mayonnaise and cheese can spoil in the heat.
  • Meat: Along with fish products, other meats can go bad easily in the heat as well. Sandwiches with peanut butter and jam are always a great option.

There are tons of food options that work wonderfully for a beach picnic, and you can even bring the foods above if you have the proper ways to keep them cold and eat them shortly after packing them.

Things To Think About

As we mentioned above, it’s best to leave out the food items that melt quickly. Those will get messy and aren’t fun to eat or pack up to take home. Also, in case you haven’t added them to your list yet, make sure to take along some easy clean-up things, like wet wipes and hand sanitizer. No one likes sticky hands or containers, especially around the sand.

Along the same lines, be sure to pack enough water to stay hydrated! Whether it’s sunny and warm while you’re there, or if you’re sweating as you walk around or play games, it’s wise to have enough water to replenish what you’ve lost. Taking extra water along is also great for any dogs that might be tagging along.

Once the fun is over, you’ll want a way to easily and quickly clean up and head home, so why not take along some trash bags? Pack a couple and you’ll be able to throw all the trash away swiftly without littering on the precious beaches.

Overall Awareness

Everyone should do their best to be aware of the proper care of our beaches, especially when food and trash are involved. There are some important key things we wanted to mention here that everybody should be mindful of when going on their fun beach picnics.

Double Check Beach Rules

All beaches have their own rules when it comes to food and drink. If you’re thinking about bringing drinks to the beach, check-in with whichever location you’ll be imbibing at to make sure you do everything you’re supposed to.

Not all beaches allow alcohol. Not only that but there are sometimes rules about glass bottles. Check before you go to make sure you’re allowed to bring along that bottle of wine or bottles of beer. If so, make sure to pack what you need as far as a corkscrew or bottle opener.

Just like anywhere else, littering on the beach is a big no-no. Make sure you clean up after yourselves thoroughly after your picnic so that no trash gets left behind. And remember! Stick with your food while you’re there so no birds or other animals grab it first.

Last But Not Least, Have Fun

Beach picnics can be some of the most fun, magical ways to make memories. There’s nothing better than relaxing with your loved ones by the water with some tasty food and even a sandcastle or two. Overall, enjoy your time and relax as the waves crash nearby.


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