5 Tips for Planning a Beach Bonfire with Kids
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When you think of summer fun, beach time probably tops the list. A close second, enjoying nighttime at the beach with a good old-fashion bonfire. Whether you DIY or leverage a hotel property with this as an amenity, it is a fun experience for all. Read on for tips for planning the perfect beach bonfire with kids.
1. Find a beach that allows bonfires.
First and foremost, do your homework and make sure bonfires are allowed at the beach you are planning to visit. To start, visit your state, county or city park’s website and you can usually filter by amenities to see if bonfires are allowed. Some will have designated fire pits and some will just ask that you use areas that have been previously used to avoid too much debris piling up from the fires.
Also, be sure to check the local weather forecast for any Spare the Air days (or red flag warnings) when wood-burning fires are typically not permitted.
2. Create the perfect ambiance.
You may need more than usual for a beach bonfire as you will typically get there when it is light outside and leave when it is dark. The stark contrast in weather alone can warrant an outfit change. Some recommended items to pack are:
- Firewood, kindling and something to start the fire
- Shovel (if you’ll be digging a pit or to help extinguish the flames)
- Beach chairs (maybe even a double chair to get cozy by the fire)
- Beach blanket for ground
- Warmer blankets for when it gets cold
- Warm clothing for the evening (we packed winter jackets and were happy we had them!)
- Portable speaker (Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is lightweight and packs a nice punch for its compact size)
- Portable table for food
- Bag for trash
- Beach toys
3. Gather your food and drink supplies.
At a minimum, bring supplies for S’mores so you can enjoy the classic campfire treat. Consider mixing it up with fun flavors of marshmallows, peanut butter or Nutella or different candy bars to swap in for Hersheys. Even better, bring some higher end chocolate for a more refined flavor.
It can be fun to also have dinner on the beach. Whether you grab takeout or bring a picnic, make sure to bring utensils, plates, cups and napkins to supplement your meal.
For drinks, check with your local government’s rules on alcohol on the beach.
4. Keeping Track of Kids
Most importantly, if you have kids in your party, you will want to choose a bonfire site slightly away from the water. We chose a spot further back which made clean-up and carrying tired kids to the car nice and easy. While the kids did have fun sitting in front of the fire and roasting marshmallows, they also wanted to run around and play. Consider bringing glow in the dark jewelry and cover the kids head to toe for an easy way to keep tabs on them.
5. Ending the Night
Please be sure to be a responsible beachgoer and clean-up after yourselves. Bringing a flashlight and trash bag can be tremendously helpful when trying to clean-up in the dark once the fire has been extinguished. If no trash cans are available, bring your trash home to dispose of.
Also ensure that your fire is fully extinguished and you follow any guidance from local authorities (ex. some places will not allow you to just cover the embers with sand as they still will remain hot). For our bonfire, we let it burn down, poured some water on it and waited until it was fully out.
READY TO BONFIRE? Here are some spots…
- Twin Lakes State Beach (Santa Cruz, California) – while parking can be daunting (there is a paid lot closer to the harbor), having a beach with multiple restaurants adjacent and bathrooms is worth it! There are not actual fire pits but they ask that you use a spot previously used for a bonfire to help keep people spread out and debris at bay. No reservation system – it is first come, first serve.
- Ocean Beach (San Francisco, California) – currently not available due to COVID and air quality but bookmark for 2021. There are 16 fire pits available for use.
- Seascape Resort (Aptos, California) – if you want to outsource, check out Seascape Resort which offer beach fire packages for groups. They will provide all supplies for the fire as well as chairs, bottled water and the fixings for S’mores. There is an option to add on pizza and other food, too.
- Sanctuary Beach Resort (Marina, California) – a high end resort nestled in a gorgeous, quiet spot on the Monterey Bay. They offer a similar experience to Seascape where they will set-up everything for you.
Do you have a favorite place to do beach bonfires? Please share your suggestions in the comments.