Beach with Kids Guide, Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Remember the days when you went to the beach and your only worry was what bathing suit to wear? You were able to read a book, relax in the sun and even (gasp!) take a cat nap. With little ones now in the equation, that carefree lifestyle is a distant memory, and your day at the beach has become, well, not such a day at the beach.

But don’t fret mamas. It may not be quite as relaxing, but a day at the beach with your kids can still be a blast. You just need a little extra planning. Okay, who are we kidding, you need a heck of a lot of extra planning. But don’t let that deter you – simply follow our tips and tricks, and you’ll be beachin’ it like a pro in no time.

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Beach Hacks, Tips and Tricks | The best clever ideas to keep kids happy at the beach this summer. Good tips for families with babies, toddlers and teens.



If you’re attempting to get an early start to your epic beach day (and we certainly suggest you do – see #33), you’ve got to bite the bullet and get as much of your packing done the night before. Once your kids are tucked in for the night, push through that urge to immediately put your feet up and turn on Real Housewives. Take 10 minutes to prep and it will ultimately save you ½ an hour in the morning, as once your kiddos are up, everything will take at least 3 times as long.


Let’s face it, the less skin exposed to the sun’s powerful rays, the better. That’s less skin to potentially get burned, and less skin you have to worry about re-applying sunscreen to all day long. There are plenty of stylish sun protection swimwear options for babies, toddlers and big kids out there, just make sure you get one with UPF 30+.

RELATED: Be A Role Model For Sun Safety With Cabana Life (While Being Stylish To Boot!)


Guys, this one is a must-do. We know it’s just one more thing to think about as you frantically try to get out the door, but if you don’t do it before you hit the sand, you’re going to start your beach day totally frazzled by trying to chase excited we’re-finally-at-the-beach-mode kids to stop and get covered in white gunk. Not. Going. To. Happen. Well, not without major bribes or consequences that is, and who wants to start off your enjoyable day at the beach like that. Plus, rubbing in sunscreen on sandy legs is a lesson in exfoliation your kids aren’t interested in learning.

So, practice those wrestler-like holds before you hit the road – or, try this sneaky trick: buckle them into their car seats, then say “oh, I almost forgot the sunscreen!” Break it out and lather away while they can’t escape.


Visit the NOAA website and look-up your area to see what time high and low tide will be. Knowing if the tide is coming in or going out will ultimately help you decide where to set-up “camp” for the day. You don’t want to be those people who get all settled only to realize they’ll eventually be washed out and have to squeeze into a tiny spot on the now-crowded beach.



Well the hardest part is over, right? The initial application is on, so you’ve got approximately 60-80 minutes until it’s time to touch-up. Carry a small-sized tube of SPF 30+ sunscreen in an easy-to-access pocket of your beach bag so you’ll be ready when it’s time for the next layer.

RELATED: Our Top Safe Sunscreens For Babies and Kids That Won’t Leave Them With
That Ghostly White Residue


Kinda goes without saying, but you can’t assume your kids will “share” a towel, or that your youngest won’t get wet. It’s gonna happen, so plan ahead and bring enough towels so everyone can “own” them for the day.

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. Umbrella Hook. Pottery Barn Kids Hooded Towels.

Put older kids in charge of their own towel, which means “hanging” it somewhere to dry after they use it (instead of leaving it in a crumpled wet heap on the sand, which is what will inevitably happen if you don’t instruct them beforehand). We love these Umbrella Hooks which you can slip around the top of your umbrella pole to create a great spot to hang towels. 

Our favorite towels for kids are these Hooded Beach Wraps from Pottery Barn Kids, which will not only keep them warm, but will stay on while they play much better than a traditional towel.


Even with Rash Guards and sunscreen, if you’re spending the whole day at the beach, you need to protect your child’s eyes. The glare and reflection off the sand and ocean is so strong and can do major harm with constant exposure.

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. Sun Protective Hat.

Our favorite beach hat by Sunday Afternoon’s will do the trick, as will any of our recommended 100% UV protective sunglasses for babies or kids.

RELATED: The Best Kids’ Sun Hats To Keep Them Cool This Summer
RELATED: Seriously Cool Sunglasses For Tweens And Teens (That They’ll Actually Want to Wear)
RELATED: 5 Stylish and Safe Baby & Toddler Sunglasses For Your Burgeoning Hipster


Your kids will get wet. Your kids will get sandy. Your kids will get fed up of being wet and sandy. So when that time comes (and trust us, it will sneak up on you), make sure you have a fresh change of clothes on-hand. It can be another rash guard and swim trunks/bottoms, or a loose-fitting, easy-on outfit.

Once they’re into fresh clothes, don’t just shove the wet, sandy ones away in your bag just yet. Hang them over your beach chairs to dry. This way you’ll easily be able to shake off the sand when you are ready to pack up, and, if your little one decides they want to go for one last dip, they’ll at least have a semi-dry outfit to change back into.

9.)  WET BAG

Speaking of wet, sandy clothes – who wants to put that hot mess directly into their beach bag? Instead, take along a gallon-sized Ziploc baggie, a plastic grocery bag, or one of these handy-dandy re-useable wet bags to cart your wet clothes back home.


Ever seen a conveniently placed trash can near your beach spot? Us either. Save yourself several trips to the garbage by bringing along your own trash bag that you can easily dispose of on your way out.


By the time your beach day is over, your kids will be covered in sand. It will be stuck in every crevice on their sweaty little bodies, and ready to make its way back home with you – dropping off grains in your car, in your house, and in your kids’ beds. Ugh.

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. Baby Powder. Sand Off Mitt.

But fear not, there is an easy solution for this. Sprinkle your kids with baby powder and that once-sticky sand magically turns into a dry dust that simply brushes off. Seriously friends, this one is a total life saver. Even more so if your kids are in diapers and you want to get their little tush sand-free before the long car-ride home.

We love California Baby’s Talc-Free Baby Powder  or try Sand-Off which integrates the powder inside a handy slip-on mitt. 


Even if you keep your cell phone inside your beach bag, sand will mysteriously find it and stick its teeny tiny grains into any nook and cranny it can find. Protect it from the sand (and water for that matter), by slipping it into a small plastic baggie, along with your keys and wallet.


You probably never thought you’d need bug spray at the beach, but every year, a new pesky sort of biting beach bug seems to come out of no-where to try and put an end to our happily playing children. And mosquitos will come out and hunt you down before you can say “dusk”.

So carry bug spray in your beach bag and you’ll always to be ready to fend off any insects before they can ruin your fun. We recommend this travel-sized Natural Repellant by California Baby


Whether you have stinky diapers to change or not, having a pack of baby wipes on-hand is never a bad idea. From sticky fingers to runny noses, you’ll have a wipe for that.


If you have young kids who aren’t fully capable swimmers, and you want them to be able to enjoy the water without you necessarily being by their side the whole day, bringing a floatation device is a wise choice. Whether it’s a full lifejacket, or a Puddle Jumper (which, by the way, are totally awesome), clip one of their buckles around the strap of your beach bag and you’ll be smooth sailing. 

And what, you may ask, is possibly ever going to hold all of this “gear”?


Having tried countless different bags, after years and years of summers at the beach, we have finally found the perfect one. 

Beach Guide with Kids - Tips and Tricks. LandsEnd Extra-Large Canvas Beach Tote.

This Extra-Large Canvas Tote from Lands’End is the only bag you’ll ever need. It has tons of interior pockets so you can keep your essentials at-hand, a zip-top, is made from sturdy canvas that stays opens for easy packing, and it can easily fit everything you need for a day at the beach for a family of 5.



Staying hydrated is essential for a long day in the hot sun, so pack a re-usable water bottle for each family member with plenty of ice. Throw in a couple frozen water bottles that can act as ice-packs, but can also re-fill your re-usable bottles once they start to melt.

RELATED: 5 Safe, No-Leak, Easy-to-Clean Water Bottles For Big Kids (Yes, They Do Exist!)


The combination of sun and salty air make for particularly ravenous kids at the beach. Ours will generally eat anything they can get their hands on, so we make sure to capitalize on this by packing a healthy lunch they can eat at the first signs of hunger. A sandwich with some form of protein, plus some cut up veggies and fruit will do just the job.


Once you’ve got a healthy lunch in your kids’ belly, you can relax a little about their snacking for the rest of the day. Because really, what’s a day at the beach without some fun snacks – chips, popcorn, pretzels, cookies – do it up! And unless you like sand on your chips, we suggest bringing individual portions for your kiddos so their sandy fingers don’t go into the Costco-sized bag.


Don’t just plop the cooler down on the sand when you arrive without some strategic thinking. Find a nice shady spot for it – whether it’s under an umbrella, a beach tent or simply in the shadows behind your chair – that way your precious food and beverages will stay cold for the long haul.



These Backpack Chairs are an absolute lifesaver when it comes to toting all the aforementioned stuff onto the beach. They slip comfortably onto your back so both hands are free to carry your cooler, beach bag, umbrella, and any small, exhausted children. 

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. Rio Backpack Beach Chair.

Better yet, they come with a large pouch in the back of the chair that you can stuff with any overflow items. We often stick towels that can make our beach bag too heavy or larger buckets in ours.


If you’re an avid beach-goer, you might want to invest in one of these fantastic carts that will make the task of schlepping all your stuff from the parking lot to your beach spot much easier (especially if you have less adults than kids). The cart’s large wheels can be easily pulled through the sand, the enormous mesh basket fits a ton of gear, and there’s even a special spot for that awkward umbrella.


Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. One Step Ahead Beach Tent Family Cabana


Bringing an umbrella to the beach is a no-brainer, but many people don’t bring the right “tools” to keep it safely in the sand. With only as much as a little breeze, your umbrella can easily be lifted up and transformed into a dangerous impaling weapon. But with this handy-dandy Sand Anchor, you can safely secure your umbrella’s pole into the sand with just a few twists.

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. Umbrella Sand Anchor Auger. Noblo Umbrella Buddy.

We like to be extra cautious and tie one end of a piece of rope to the inside of our umbrella, and the other end to a heavy item like a beach bag or cooler. Or try this nifty product from Noblo that can be filled with sand to create a heavy weight. That way you can rest assured that your umbrella ain’t gonna ruin anyone’s party.


You always, always, want to make sure there will be enough shade for everyone throughout the course of the day. Sometimes an umbrella only casts enough shadow for 2 people, and the battle for those spots ain’t pretty.

Forget bringing multiple umbrellas and instead create a cool area for your kids with a small pop-up tent. It becomes a fun spot for them to eat, take a break, quietly play or better yet, take a nap!

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. One Step Ahead Beach Tent Family Cabana

We’ve been using this one from One Step Ahead for years. Once you get the hang of folding it up, it is very easy to use and tucks away into a compact carrying pouch. 


Pack some awesome sand toys and your kids will stay occupied all day. You don’t need a ton, just a carefully chosen selection that will allow their imaginations to go to work. We love the engaging choices from Melissa and Doug, but have also found that measuring cups and spoons can be a big hit!

Beach Guide with Kids. Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch Sand Ice Cream Set

And try having your kids pack their own ziploc baggie of smaller “figurines” like army guys, matchbox cars, animals or Little People which can inhabit their sand creations – think army bases, race tracks, zoos or castles! 


There are so many fun things you can do at the beach just with a simple tennis ball. Try making a “ball run” where you carve out a path along the sand and try to have the ball roll from top to bottom. Or how about Sand Corn Hole where you dig a hole and try to throw in the ball from a distance. You can even create your own Skee Ball game, or simply use it for an ol’ fashioned game of catch. 


If you have older kids or love to build things in the sand with your little ones, try packing a sturdy, larger shovel. Use it to build epic sand castles with large moats, bury people, or create your own baby “tide pools”. The possibilities are endless with the right tools!

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. Large Toysmith Shovels.


You’ll want an easy way to tote your beach toys, and we highly recommend a mesh bag so the excess sand can slip through the holes, lightening your load, and keeping the trunk of your car from turning into a sand box.

Beach Guide with Kids. Mesh Sand Away bag for beach toys. Pyrus.

We love this Sand Away Beach Bag from Pyrus or you can even use a mesh laundry hamper!


You’ll want to set-up an area where your group can sit to eat, relax or play that’s not directly in the sand. Sure you can try and lay out your towels for this purpose, but they’ll ultimately end up a sandy, scrunched up mess.

Beach Guide with Kids. Tips and Tricks. JJCole Outdoor Beach Blanket.

Instead, try a sturdier blanket like this one from JJCole – it’s waterproof lining will keep you dry if the sand is damp, it’s durable enough so it won’t blow up at the corners, and it folds up neatly. We suggest popping this into the back of one of your backpack chairs!


If you’re heading to the ocean with older kids who want to ride the waves, a Body Board is a must-have. Alternatively, if there aren’t many waves, try a Skim Board. Kids can “carve” out turns with them in just a few inches of water. This one from D6 Sports has a detachable handle and is perfect for younger kids who are just starting out. Both are super fun and will keep your kids active and enjoying the ocean.

Beach Guide with Kids. Lucky Bums Body Board. D6 Surf Skimmer Skim Board.



I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve arrived at the beach and the temperature is 15 degrees cooler then when we left our house. Depending on the ocean breeze, the difference can be drastic, so make sure you’re prepared by throwing in a few long sleeve sweaters or cover-ups for each person into your car. That way if the wind shifts, you won’t have to huddle together wrapped in towels.


You never know what the bathroom situation is going to be like at the beach, and often times they are quite a far walk. If you have toddlers who can’t “hold it” or are in the midst of potty training, a small folding travel potty will be a life saver. Keep it in your car (or even bring it with you on the beach if the parking lot is far away), and you’ll always be ready for when they are.



Try and get to the beach as early as you can. You’ll get the closer parking spots and can pick your plot of land for the day. You’ve already checked the tides (see #3), so once you arrive, you can easily determine your best placement. If the tide is going out you should sit as close to the edge of the water as possible, and if the tide is coming in, you should sit further back (try and look at the sand to see if you can tell where the water line will come up to).


Once you’ve found your perfect spot for the day, set-up your gear and create a “buffer zone” around you so no one encroaches too close to your personal space (trust us, it’s for their own good). Sprinkle some of your sand toys on the outskirts of your chairs, and lay out beach blankets in front and behind your main area. This will give your kids some open space to play and build, and protect you from those groups who haven’t checked the tides and inevitably end up having to squeeze their way into the crowded beach once they realize they sat too close to the water’s edge.


Grab a large bucket, fill it with water and half bury it in the sand by your cooler. Designate it the “hand washing” bucket which all sandy-fingered children (and adults!) must use before accessing the cooler.


If you have a baby or toddler who are drawn to the water, but you don’t want to be chasing them to the water’s edge all day, try burying a large bucket of water in the sand for them to splash in. It creates endless entertainment for our little ones, and the older kids even like to play with it too.

Beach Guide with Kids. Sun Shade Pop Up Pool.

Alternatively, if large waves have you concerned, try bringing a small pop-up pool that you can fill with a few buckets of ocean water for a great, contained splash zone. This one from HearthSong folds up small and even has its own sun shade!


At some point during all the craziness of your beach day, try and take a moment to think about the beauty that surrounds you. The water, the sand, and that glorious sun. Imagine what you would be doing with your kids if it were the middle of winter – cooped up indoors, or piling on layers upon layers of snow gear. And here you are, basking in the sun with your (hopefully!) happily-entertained children. Ahhh, this is the life.


Getting your family out the door for a day on the sand is no easy feat, so to make your life easier, we’ve put together the ultimate Day At The Beach With Kids printable checklist. Simply print and go down the list which includes:

  • What to put on before leaving
  • What to do before leaving
  • What to pack in your beach bag
  • What to pack in your cooler
  • What to pack in the car

Check the actionable items off as you go, and you’ll be prepared for whatever situation is thrown your way. Simple tell us where to send your checklist below:

Say no to beach meltdowns. Download the ultimate beach checklist:

Tell us where to send the link to instantly download your checklist.

(Say no to SPAM! We promise your email address will be safe.) Powered by ConvertKit

What tips, tricks or hacks do you use at the beach? Let us in on your best ideas in the comments below.



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  1. Packing hooded sweatshirts has been a lifesaver for us. The kids are always so cold at the end of the day. I just bought that sand away beach bag, too. I can’t wait to use it on our next vacation. Thanks for sharing such a great list!

    1. Thanks Kylie – you’ll love the Sand Away bag…light-weight and holds a ton of toys. Happy Beaching!

  2. This is awesome I love the zipbloc bag one!! I’m keeping this link for our family Tripp soon thank you!!

  3. THIS IS BRILLIANT!! I always put my phone in a baggy and bring a tent for the baby, but the idea of packing the night before is so smart!!!!

  4. Wow my family has beach down to a sceince (we live right near teh beach) and we have almost all of the products you mentioned! I am thinking about going for an umbrealla this year. Maybe one that attachs to the chair.

    1. Oh yes, an umbrella is a must…and if you’re on a breezy ocean, so is the umbrella anchor!

  5. You nailed my wishlist down to every last detail! This article is saving me countless hours in shopping research.. TY!

    The only thing I would add is a small backpack for the adults who like to go shelling, preferably something light with at least one mesh side and a small zipper pocket for the miniature treasures.

    Question: How do you secure the body boards when it’s windy? The kids like to hand them to me after dragging them through the wet sand. I usually just weight them down with something heavy but my 7 yr old can’t pick up the cooler to put it back herself and I want to relax! :/ I’m thinking maybe a large mesh laundry bag that’s secured to the cooler??

    1. Thanks for your kind words – so glad that this guide has been so helpful! For the body boards we often fill a bucket with a little sand and place it on top to act as a weight on those windy days. Happy beaching!

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