Cold Weather Beach Activities for Families

Weather in Southwest Florida is beautiful year round, but now that the temperature has dropped a little bit the water might be too cold for most of us to venture into but there are still many activities the whole family can enjoy doing at the beach during the cooler winter months.

Shell covered beach on Sanibel Island. Image: Growing Up Bilingual.

Shell covered beach on Sanibel Island. Image: Growing Up Bilingual.


Southwest Florida beaches include some of the best shelling beaches in the world. For the best shelling arrive at the beach at the earliest low tide, when the water recedes uncovering thousands of shells. Shells are especially abundant after winter storms stir up the ocean water. You can find a tide chart for the area beaches at ILoveShelling.come HERE.

The best place to find shells is Sanibel Island. Sanibel is not only considered one of the best shelling beaches in the US, but one of the best in the world. Try the Lighthouse Beach where you will find some of the smaller varieties of shells. While you are in Sanibel you can visit The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. For larger conch, cockle and scallop shells head to Captiva’s Turner Beach. Remember that it’s illegal to collect “live” shells so make sure that the shells are empty before you take them home.

You can purchase a shell identification card on any of the beach souvenir shops or visit and print it out to start your collection. For a fun craft take a picture of the family at the beach and use the shells you picked together to decorate a picture frame. Put the photo on the frame and you will have a beautiful keepsake of the fun memories at the beach.

Enjoying the Wildlife

There are many spots along that Southwest Florida seashore that are ideal for bird watching. Bring some binoculars and head out to one of the less populated beaches. Take a stroll with the family early in the morning and you will run into all sorts of birds and marine life from crabs and live sand dollars to dolphins. has an awesome web page that identifies all the “Sea Life and Beach Bling” you might find at the sea shore including birds and wildlife. Print it and bring it along so the kids can identify everything they see and find turn this into a fun and educational activity.

Our favorite spots for watching birds and marine life are Sanibel, Captiva, Lover’s Key and Bunche Beach. On Lover’s Key and Sanibel we have seen a wide variety of birds and encounter dolphins regularly. Bunche Beach is a natural preserve and is perfect for winter exploration as the sand is dotted with rocks and branches where water get’s trapped when the tide is low and you will find many critters in these small pools.

Great Blue Heron at Sanibel Beach. Image: Growing Up Bilingual.

Great Blue Heron at Sanibel Beach. Image: Growing Up Bilingual.

Having A Sunset Pick Nick

There is nothing like watching a sunset at the beach and the colder months offer the most spectacular views, with the skies turning all shades of pink, red and orange. Make some sandwiches and pack a thermos with hot cocoa and enjoy a pick nick at the beach while you watch the sun disappear into the ocean.

Treasure Hunting

Head out to the beach armed with small pails and shovels and embark on a treasure hunt. Take a walk along the beach to see what you can find and you can then use those new treasures that might include sea, glass, rocks, driftwood, etc. as materials for free craft supplies. If you want to get more serious bring a metal detector and have an fun time looking for “pirate” treasure with the kids. You might not find a gold doubloon but you are bound to have a lot of fun.

Making Sand Angels

Since we don’t get any snow in Southwest Florida why not make some sand angels instead? Pick a nice spot on the sand and move those arms up and down. Bring a camera and take some pictures of your sand angels so you can share with friends and family up north and show them how we spend our winters here in Southwest Florida.

Kite Flying

The windy shore-side is the perfect place for kite flying. You can buy a kite or make one at home with the kids. Make kite competitions and experiment with different kids of kites to see which one goes higher or stays up longer.

What winner beach activities do you enjoy doing?

Follow 365 Things to Do In Southwest Florida on Facebook for more great ideas, events and activities for the whole family.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this review.  My opinions are honest and sincere and may differ from your opinions.

cold weather beach activities for families




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  1. My children are older, but, we love to collect shells. Thank you for the tips.

  2. I cannot wait for things to defrost where I live on Cape Cod so I can go shelling again. I love taking my kids to the beach to collect shells and beach glass.

  3. Treasure hunting is the best on the beach. It’s one of the things I miss the most about living in the Caribbean.

  4. I wish I was at the beach right now! My kids love making shell houses.

  5. What a coincidence that you mention sand angels. Today’s Wordless Wednesday post is my daughter and her friend making sand angels on the beach here in Texas.

  6. My son loves to collect shells 🙂

  7. I went to Sanibel just a few years ago. As soon as I saw that picture I knew exactly where it was taken. I enjoyed the Seashell Museum there. I LOVE shelling so that was like pure heaven for me.

  8. Does it get cold in Florida? Sounds like nice family time!

  9. Sounds fun, I wish we lived near a beach. My daughter had a lot of fun collection shells last time we visited a beach.

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