Entertaining small kids at the beach is easy: a shovel and bucket usually does the trick. Eventually, though, kids want to do more than dig a hole and sprinkle dad with sand. And while there are plenty of tried-and-true beach games out there ⏤ from Velcro paddles, to ladder golf, to the non-lethal version of lawn darts ⏤ nothing gets kids to stop whining about eating cotton candy like playing something new.
Now, admittedly most new sand, water, and lawn games are rarely more than adaptations of already popular ones, like bean bag or frisbee. But that doesn’t make them any less fun. Plus, the new games add a creative twist to otherwise sub par games. Why toss a boring old bag when you can play a variation of cornhole with golf balls or hacky sacks? Or better still, what hockey kid wouldn’t want to spend the day firing pucks across the beach? Because they can do that, it’s a real game. And, like the other 10 on this list, it can turn an average beach day into something epic. Or, at least, decidedly less average.
The big sell with this “next generation cornhole game” is that there are three ways to play: throw the hacky sacks at BULZiBUCKET’s three, tiered buckets like you would a bean bag (naturally, the biggest bucket on the bottom is worth the fewest points); kick them like you would a hacky sack; or throw/kick them and let your partner knock ’em in, à la KanJam. Either way, you’re not lugging two giant wooden boards all the way down to the beach.
Mashball is essentially a carnivalesque version of beer pong without the solo cups or Natty Ice. Instead, there are two boxes with 10 holes each. Teams of two toss balls at the boards and when one lands, the hole is plugged. First team to cap all 10 holes wins. The instructions include five other games if you’re looking for more variety, and the boards also float so it’s perfect for play in your pool.
Boochie is a lawn-beach game for two-four players that combines bocce ball and ring toss. Same gameplay as bocce in that you throw the soft foam target out on the sand/grass. The big difference is that now you have to get both your ball and your hoop as close as possible. To make it harder, each round comes with a new challenge such as tossing the balls behind your back or between your legs, just to keep you on your toes.
Marrying two great games you probably love but definitely don’t get enough time to play ⏤ golf and cornhole ⏤ Chippo is a soon-to-be beach sensation. Instead of tossing bean bags, you chip golf balls. Simple as that. Each set comes with two opposing boards covered with artificial turf (each of which is cut with three different sized holes), two heavy chipping mats, and six foam practice golf balls.
Aquaticz Skeeball Toss
Skeeball without the arcade. Instead of rolling the balls into one of five pockets and trading tickets for a giant stuffed panda bear, you toss or skip them and settle for bragging rights. It also floats, so good in water play.
Original Hockey Sauce Kit
Who said hockey has to be played on ice? Hockey Sauce is a clever adaptation that, thanks to two portable synthetic ice boards, lets your future Sidney Crosby work on their slap shot at the beach. Two small goals with ramps sit 20 feet apart, and players take turns shooting regulation-sized hockey pucks at them.
Squap Catch & Throw
Squap is throwing game where the paddles do all the work. The locking mitt is worn like a baseball glove and when opened, the damn ball shoots right out! Apparently, it takes a little bit to get used to but is billed as a good way for kids to develop hand-eye coordination when they lack arm strength.
Skip Fun Bouncy Water Balls
Skip Fun’s Bouncy Water Balls are exactly what you’d expect: two buoyant, nylon-coated balls that bounce on water. They come in orange or blue, are designed to fit tiny kid hands (age five+), and gameplay involves little more than throwing and bouncing them around the beach or pool. But, man, do people rave about them.
Skip Fun Bouncy Water Balls
Another portable adaptation of bean bag, Sandhole! is all about incorporating the surroundings for maximum fun and minimum cleanup. The bags get filled with sand while the lightweight nylon tarp is easily staked down. Otherwise, same game, same scoring.
Made popular on Shark Tank (although, apparently, the deal with Damon ended up falling through), Spike Ball revolves around a mini trampoline-style net. Teams of two take turns spiking the ball at the net as hard (and strategically) as possible so that the opponent can’t get it or spike it back. It’s fast-paced, aggressive, and, admittedly, looks difficult to play at first. That said, you are guaranteed an active day at the beach.
Zume Bottle Battle
Because you can only toss the disc so much before everybody’s ready to go get a funnel cake, Zume Bottle Battle is a disc-throwing target game focused on accuracy. Teams of two take turns trying to knock their opponents plastic bottle off a ski pole that’s set up 20 to 40 feet away (depending on player’s skill level). Points are awarded or deducted for catching/dropping the frisbee or the bottle before it hits the ground. The first team to 21 wins the funnel cake.
If you’re sick of lugging clunky beach games around, TidalBall may be right for you. The rules are simple: there are three balls for each team, and you throw them with the goal of having them fall in a hole in the sand or a crescent-shaped pit you dig behind it. Similar to cornhole, but without the huge boards. TidalBall even includes a small shovel for you to dig the holes in the sand.
Wicked Big Pong
Wicked Big Pong is pretty much what it sounds like. Beer pong Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-style minus the alcohol. The six “cups” fold up and can be put in carrying cases. In addition, it comes with a pump and a ball for throwing. Enjoy reliving your college days on the beach, without the awful hangovers.
For when sunlight starts fading away, take out Tangle NightBalls. LED lights inside the balls make them glow, so you can see them in the dark and still play catch or other games. They light up when they are in motion or hit something. Footballs, softballs, frisbees and more are available.
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