There are many things I dislike about living on the East Coast (versus the Midwest)

  • The sun is up at 4am (in the summer months)
  • The sun is down at 4pm (in the winter months)
  • The people are nice, but Midwest people are THE NICEST!
  • There are way too many people, and therefore too many cars, and therefore too much traffic.

However, there are also some serious perks

  • The season changes are beyond gorgeous
  • They know how to prepare for a snowstorm (most of the time)
  • I’ve yet to get a speeding ticket
  • We’re near the beach

I’ve never lived near a beach. We spent our summers either at the pool or Cumberland lake in Kentucky. So having the option to take my kids to the beach for the morning is totally foreign to me. It took some getting used to when figuring out what to pack each trip. After lots of trial and error, here are the items I pack into my beach bag every trip.

Beach Bag

Well I guess I should first start with the actual bag… In my opinion, a beach bag is all about personal preference. Some prefer a small shoulder strap, others like it long, some prefer a backpack, while others like a wagon. And honestly, I don’t think it really matters. As long as it’s big enough to hold everything and comfortable for you to carry, go with it!

I really like the L. L. Bean Boat and Tote bag (large, with zipper) because of the long straps and it’s comfortable to carry. It easily fits everything we need, is light, and cleans up easily. I rarely use the zipper option on the top but I like having it so I can contain everything inside if need be.

Beach Toys

Sometimes I don’t even know why I bring these. J almost always end up playing with the treasures he finds on the beach, while N just eats sand repeatedly. However, this simple little bag is loaded with a variety of beach toys and is so easy to bring, I honestly don’t mind if they use it or not.

The toys compact nicely into the mesh bag, which can be rinsed off in the water, or at a shower station, to avoid bringing additional sand into your car. Also, the bag comes with little backpack straps so if you have a toddler who loves helping (sometimes, when the moon is in just the right location and they’re well fed and well rested, and there isn’t something more interesting to do), they are happy to carry their toys to the beach. But, since that isn’t always the case, it’s a small enough size that it can fit nicely into a beach bag as well.

Cooler/Snack Bag

I swear, the only time my boys eat is at the beach. They devour everything in sight once we get there. So despite them being a combined weight of just over 55lbs, I feel I need to pack about 25lbs of food and drinks.

I have yet to find a cooler as convenient as this one anywhere else on the market. It’s size and shape make it super easy to toss in a beach bag, but it also has plenty of space within it.

You can’t really tell in this picture but there is tons of extra space in the cooler. The only drawback with this cooler, is it came with a larger kit we got a couple years ago (see post on Beachmate here) Why doesn’t anyone else make a cooler like this?? Does anyone know of another company that sells something this size? I found this one from REI, and this one on Amazon that may compare, but I haven’t used them before.

Foldable Blanket

If I only brought one thing, this would likely be it. I gave up on chairs a long time ago and this blanket is a great alternative. Sand and water wipe right off of it, and it folds up easily (not always beautifully, but easily) It also comes with a strap so if it doesn’t fit in your beach bag it’s easy to carry, or loop around your bag strap and carry.

Brit insisted I pull my shorts lower so Noah and I could have matching plumber cracks, I refused to go that low, but they’re definitely lower than normal

I got mine (J.J. Cole) on Amazon, but they are also sold at Wal-Mart, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Turkish Towel

Turkish (or Peshtemal, Hammam or Fouta) towels are perfect for the beach. They are thin and light, taking up barely any space in a bag, and dry very quickly. Also, sand comes right off of them with a simple shake.

You can easily find them sold on Etsy, or Amazon. They are a few dollars more than a regular beach towel, however I have found that they last much longer and just get softer with time. Also, the ones I’ve found on Etsy are much cheaper than what you’d pay at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Toiletry Bag

I also love this bag because it’s waterproof, zips up completely, and closes easily, even when stuffed with everything. Here is a list of everything I fit in it, without even struggling to close it.

  • Sunscreen (spray)
  • Sunscreen (lotion)
  • Sunscreen for faces
  • Wipes
  • Diapers x2
  • Baby powder
  • Benadryl spray
  • Bug spray
  • First aid kit (small pack from CVS)
  • Cell phone
  • Wallet
  • Keys

I also love this because it makes it super easy to grab when I’m taking the boys for a walk, or heading to the park, or anything else where we’ll be outside. I typically store it in the beach bag in our garage, then grab it when needed for other things.

Wet Bag

This is where I throw everything when the beach trip is done, the bathing suits, hats, swim diapers, and towel if it isn’t dry yet. The bag rolls up really small so I can pack it easily, then it has a snap handle I’ll either wrap around my beach bag strap or carry (depending on kids and tantrums and demands to be held). The bag I use is actually meant for cloth diapers, but whatever, it keeps the wet things separate and keeps the sand contained. When we get home, I empty the contents into the washing machine and toss in the bag as well (I don’t dry the bag or bathing suits though).

Mine isn’t nearly as cute as this, and mine didn’t come with the other smaller bag, but I just couldn’t resist sharing those owls. They’re so cute!

So here’s the bag all packed up. I can throw this over my should, carry N on my hip, hold J’s hand, and head to the beach.

Please note, I only have two kids, 2.5 and under. My needs for the beach may be very different from your needs. These are simply the items that make it easiest for me to manage a couple hours at the beach with two littles.

So what are your go-to beach items? Do you bag it or wagon it?

And just in case you missed it (and were interested in seeing the awkwardness) here’s a link to the news segment where I shared these products first!

Thanks for visiting!

Stef Jones

Stef Jones

Welcome! I'm Stef and am so excited you've stopped by my blog! I am a mother of two little boys, 3yo and 1.5yo, simply trying to survive each day. I love keeping an organized home, but understand that does not mean my home is magazine worthy! I like to stick to simple organizing methods that help prevent clutter and reduce stress. Read more about me, my blog, and my company on the About page. Thanks so much for visiting!

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