Best Beach Packing List for Families – Busy Toddler



WHAT'S THE BEACH PACKING LIST FOR FAMILIES? Check out this list! This is THE BEACH GEAR to help make your next day at the beach a great one.


It’s beach weather (or at least it is wherever you are because you clicked this link).

Heading for a day at the beach with kids doesn’t need to be overwhelming – but it is nice to be prepared. Over the years, I’ve found my balance between just prepared enough… versus drowning in so much stuff that I can barely walk to the car.

What should a family bring to the beach?

I can’t say.

How’s that for a really great starting line of a blog post?

But it’s true: I can’t say exactly what you need to bring to the beach for things to be successful and fantastic for your family. WHAT I CAN SHARE is the items that we have or had over the years that made for some magical beach moments.

This beach packing list is tried and true.

Everything on this list is things my family or my friends owns and brings with us on beach days. This list has been through the ringer over the years… each item has helped countless families on their beach trips.

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A day at the beach doesn’t need to overwhelm you

I said it before and I’ll say it again: you need to find your balance between bringing too little to the beach (and missing crucial items) and bringing too much (and things go unused).

It’s great to feel prepared at the beach.

It’s not great to feel like you’re drowning in gear, need to take multiple trips to the car, and can’t find the important things that you do need when you need them.

The beach packing list for families that you need to see

First off, this isn’t a packing list of basics. You know to bring towels, flip flops, and sun screen.

These are very curated items to make family beach day a rousing success – things that go beyond “bring sunglasses” and into some of the nitty, gritty, and random items we’ve stumbled across over the years.


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I set up this list in two chunks. The “big ticket item” half and the “small ticket item” list. Enjoy!

Collapsible Wagon

This is a 10/10 item that I can’t imagine NOT owning. We use this wagon for everything: trips to the beach, concerts in the park, even traveling to a vacation (this folds up and can be checked onto a plane). It hauls all our beach gear and makes life so manageable.

Pop Up Beach Tent

My husband bought me this in 2019 and bless him for it. Having a shaded spot as “home base” at the beach has been EVERYTHING.

Beach Umbrella

If the pop up tent isn’t your style, many of my friends have this umbrella and it casts so much shade onto the sand. It’s also super visible and makes finding the group even easier.

I don’t know why it took me until my oldest was EIGHT to buy a beach chair, but thank goodness I finally got one. They’re easy to carry in on your back or fit nicely inside the collapsible wagon (wink wink).

Have a baby at the beach this summer? This was heavenly to own “back in the day” when we were all juggling babies at the beach. A place to rest, shade, sand-free, safe space for baby to play and explore.

Portable Grill

Not for every beach trip, but we bring this if it’s a whole family, whole day adventure. We also use this on camping trips, when a VRBO doesn’t have a grill, and at parks. Our friends also borrow this from us all the time – it’s such a little gem to own.

Portable Air Pump

I’m too old and I have too many kids to be blowing up all the beach toys. I can’t. I finally broke down and bought this last summer. I wish Past Susie had always had this.

Kid-Sized Nets

Laugh all you want at this random item, but I can’t think of any supply that gets more beach play (park play, creek play, backyard play) than these nets. I keep them in my car all summer long because they’re such a hit in the water and out.

LunchBots Boxes

These are my holy grail of lunch containers. They’re smaller, simpler, lighter weight and easier to clean that so many of the other plastic versions. We have lots of different sizes but this one seems to be used the most.

Thanks to my friend Jennifer from Kid.Eat.In.Color who got me hooked on these.

Waterproof Blanket

These blankets are the best – they’re waterproof on one side and soft, comfy on the other. They machine wash, fold up tight, and they make for a great center square at any beach or park day. This lives in my car year-round.

Collapsible Buckets

The best beach gear is the collapsible kind – clearly space is an issue. With three kids, one set of these is perfection.

Beach Tools

My kids literally cannot go anywhere in the summer without shovels. This set is plenty for all 3 to share.

Best Water Bottle Ever

This keeps the water ice cold. It was 116 degrees where we live last summer (gross, too hot) and my drink still had ice cubes in it by the day’s end. I have so many of these.

Cooler Bag

A giant, fancy, hard sided cooler just isn’t manageable for me at the beach alone with my kids. This soft-sided one is plenty to keep our food cool. It’s another “why did it take me so long to buy this” purchase that I’ve ended up using all year.

Small Water Blasters

These are clutch. They’re the right size and usable even for kids under age 2. We have so many sets (and yep, a set lives in my car all summer long).

The Baking Bucket

Here’s an easy one-stop toy option (and everything stores inside). This is a great set especially if you have a dedicated-to-sand-play little one. This theme is so good for the beach.

What’s your must have gear for the beach? Comment below to help other families!

The Best Beach Gear for Families - a must see beach packing list for stress-free days at the beach


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