We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read my full disclosure here.
I’m pretty reserved, and normally wouldn’t brag about being an expert in anything but one thing I can say I have down pat!
I am definitely an expert in getting a family ready for the beach and on to the sand!
Little man has a March birthday, and I started taking him to the beach his very first summer. When he was 5 months old, we spent a week at the Outer Banks with #thegirlfriends. We are so lucky to travel often to Atlantic City, NJ and Naples, FL; and to have spent last August in Hawaii. But we are even luckier that we live a 10-minute drive from an Atlantic Ocean beach!
We love hitting the beach as a family, and here are our Beach Vacation must haves for any family beach trip!
pin for later:
Beach Vacation Must Haves
Beach Cart. Now six years ago, when I was pregnant with baby girl I was taking little man to the beach about once a week. I started schlepping all of our beach stuff in a rolling laundry cart. About a year after that, Tommy Bahama slapped some big wheels on basically the same cart, added a cooler and BAM – the best beach invention ever.
Why can’t I think of these things?
Seriously, if you don’t buy anything else this summer, BUY A BEACH CART! It is singlehandedly the reason I can take both kids to the beach by myself.
The Tommy Bahama beach cart is the one we have. It comes with an attachable cooler, has a rack to hang your beach chairs, and a pocket to stick your beach umbrella. There is a large mesh bag where you can throw everything else, and not have to worry about sand collecting at the bottom. This cart is light and easy to fold. It’s truly a Godsend.
Good beach chairs. For grown ups, we have two of these Tommy Bahama backpack chairs. I always use the beach cart when going to the beach, but the backpack feature is great when I take these chairs to little man’s baseball games (or any other outdoor venue where you need seats). There are pouches in the back to hold your valuables, and one of the pockets is even insulated if you have food or drinks.
Our kids each have a Freeport chair from Pottery Barn Kids. I got them late one summer on clearance. Little man has an octopus design and baby girl has a princess chair. These are light, easy to fold and easy to clean. They come with a carrying sleeve and fit nicely in the beach cart.
Beach Umbrella. I love to bake in the sun, but hubby and the kids sometimes need shade. Last year I picked up this Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella and we love it! It folds up and fits on the beach cart, and is easy to set up! Perfect for when you need a little cover.
Toys. Every year we get a new crop of sand toys. The pails, molds and sifters sort of accumulate. Our kids’ favorite beach toys are the long and wide shovels. I highly recommend THESE long shovels, and they come in a 3-pack so no fighting. My kids also LOVE THESE wide shovels. They are only $4 so buy one for each kid! We never hit the beach without these shovels!
This summer I purchased THIS TOY and honestly, its the most popular beach toy I have ever seen. So simple but will entertain your kids FOR HOURS!
Boogey Board. Okay I will admit, I got these for the kids – and little man is pretty good on the board, but I have to say last year, I think I used the boogey boards more than the children! I love riding the waves! I also have been know to grab the board, paddle out and just float and relax on the board! We have two of these boogey boards and we love them!
Tervis Tumbler. If you read my Surviving Long Flights with Kids post, you know that our family never ventures out without a ton of food and snacks. Same is true when we hit the beach (I’ll get the specifics in a minute), but the one thing I always bring to the beach, no matter what, is some iced coffee in my Tervis tumbler (with straw attachment). I have a Tervis I got in Florida, with a golf course’s logo, but you can get all sort of cute ones on Amazon (like THIS and THIS) or Bed, Bath and Beyond always has a big selection. I don’t know, an iced coffee in my Tervis is something I always associate with a day at the beach.
PRO-TIP: Brew extra coffee in the morning, let it sit in the fridge, then pour into your Tervis over ice!
RENTING A BEACH HOUSE? THEN CHECK OUT MY BEACH HOUSE PACKING LIST
Other items not to forget:
Water – We try to always use a Camelbak bottle, but in the summer do we keep a case of plastic water bottles in our extra refrigerator ready to be taken to the beach or other outdoor activity. One Camelbak of water is never enough for me, and sometimes there isn’t a convenient location to re-fill.
** Check out the price on this pink Camelbak! Super cheap!
PRO-TIP: Freeze a bottle or two to use as an ice pack, and to drink nice and cold late in the day.
Snacks & Lunch – To the beach, we usually bring bagels for the kids and sandwiches for the adults. THIS WRAP is one of my favorites to make ahead and bring to the beach. I’m also always down for an old school PB&J or a homemade pasta salad! We always have a ton of bagged snacks including chips, pretzels, pirate booty, apples, and cut up carrots/cucumbers. I love eating Cool Ranch Doritos at the beach.
PRO-TIP: Bring extra paper towels, and a small plastic bag for garbage.
Hats –we bring a hat (and sunglasses) for everyone. I am more of a baseball cap kinda girl, but I am thinking about getting one of these fun, fancy beach hats!
Sunscreen – Our family is super loyal to Neutrogena Beach Defense spray sunscreen and FACE STICK. Hey, we spent three weeks in the Hawaiian sun and no one got burned! And I just realized you can Subscribe & Save these products on AMAZON! I always keep a ziplock bag of sunscreen in our garage, and our family rule is we have to apply sunscreen BEFORE we leave the house.
Towels – We have a random assortment of cute Pottery Barn Kids Beach towels and ones from the $2 rack at Target.
BEACH VACATION MUST-HAVES FOR INFANTS & TODDLERS:
Our kids are out of this stage, but for those first years, we always had with us:
Pacific Play Lil Nursery Portable Pop-Up tent. This was my favorite gift to receive at our baby shower! This tent is so compact and easy to put up. Its a great place for the baby to lay down and nap, or just chill out when they need a sun break. Toddlers will love playing in this tent as well! One winter we even had it set up in our living room as a play fort.
Since we live close to the beach, we usually go and come home in our bathing suits. If I think we are going to be venturing out post-beach, I might pack a bag of dry clothes to leave in the car. We always pack our own food and drinks, but we will often splurge for an ice cream treat at the end of a long beach day!
A good sunhat – I always made my son wear this hat from iplay with the flaps that cover his ears and neck!
Needless to say, we CANNOT wait for summer to really get underway here on Long Island! What are your best beach essentials and beach-packing tips?
SHOP THIS POST:
UPDATE: Many commenters have noted you also need a good beach tote! Totally, and I wrote about my favorite family beach tote HERE. Although when I am going to the beach solo (or just with girlfriends) I love this beach tote!
OTHER AWESOME PACKING TIPS:
Read about our favorite beaches here:
hover over image to pin for later: