The Adventure Starts Here: A Day at the Beach... with Kids!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Day at the Beach... with Kids!

Who doesn't love spending the day at the beach!?  But a day at the beach means very different things if kids are involved or not.  Before having Noah, the most important thing to bring to the beach (other than sunscreen) was my iPod and headphones and a good book.  These days, my packing list has grown and the essentials have changed quite a bit!  But honestly, I still enjoy going to the beach just as much, just for different reasons.  

We are lucky enough to live just about an hour away from a beach.  While there are many beautiful beaches along the Jersey Shore that are further away, I am so happy that we have found the perfect beach for a day trip with the kids.  Many people in New Jersey will rent a house "down the shore" for 1-2 weeks each summer.  And while that sounds nice, I prefer to spend our weeklong vacations a little further from home and do multiple day trips instead.   This particular beach (7 Presidents in Long Branch) is a public beach where you pay for admission and to park.  What I love about this beach compared to the beaches that are filled with house rentals, is that they have bathrooms, showers, and a food pavilion.  This makes it super easy to take the kids down for the day without having to pack a huge cooler full of food and worry about where you are going to use the restroom.    But even with all these conveniences, there's still a lot to pack when kids are involved.  Here are a few of my must haves...

1. Bring the essentials

When going to the beach for the day, there's a few things I must bring.  A beach umbrella and chair are an absolute must for me.  Noah recently decided he likes to sit in a chair as well for snacks, so we got him a kid beach chair (he has the same chair but different print).  And once you are bringing chairs and an umbrella, I highly suggest you invest in a beach cart to make lugging it all to the water that much easier.  This is the only way I'm able to take Noah to the beach with friends on my own. 

note: while I linked to Amazon, we got our Tommy Bahama chairs, umbrella, and cart at Costco (for cheaper).  

2.  Protect yourself from the sun

For Noah, I love that he wants to wear a rash guard and hat, it means I don't have to apply so much sunscreen.  I use spray for his legs and arms (when he's wearing a short sleeve rash guard) and lotion for his face.  We usually get to the beach at 10 and I apply first thing (either in the parking lot or at the beach).  I then usually reapply after we've had lunch.  I use the same sunscreen spray I use on Noah, but use a face lotion that "prevents breakouts" since my skin is prone to acne with regular sunscreen products.  Once I forgot to do my face, and my nose and forehead got a little redder than I'd like.  Thankfully, after I peel, it turns to a tan!  A hat, sunglasses, and sitting in the shade also come in handy!  

Noah's rash guard | swim suit and hat are also Hanna Andersson, but no longer available

3.  Be prepared to play

Bring lots of sand toys!  You can never have too many pails and shovels!  We got this set at Costco this year and it's perfect!  In addition to bringing lots of toys, I also like to go with people so Noah has someone to play with.  Whether that's going with friends, Daddy, or Grandma & Papa ;)    Noah is actually really good at playing on his own, but he has way more fun with a play mate!   

While I enjoy playing with Noah in the sand, he quickly gets tired of my "simple" sand castles and digging little holes.  That's why I like to bring reinforcements who are up for anything... like being buried!  There's something about burying someone that is just so much fun.  And if you do it right, it will keep them occupied for quite a while, from digging the big hole to sit in to then covering the person up all the way to their neck... good times!  Thank goodness Papa and Daddy are both great sports and up for the messy occasion!

4.  Take photos

And while the boys get down in dirty in the sand, I'm happy to be the designated photographer.  While I would love to be in more photos, I much prefer being behind the camera if it means I keep sand from getting all up in my bathing suit!  

I know that shooting in direct sun isn't the easiest, but trust me, you'll love being able to look back at your fun days at the beach.  I usually bring my DSLR for photos and use my iPhone for videos.  If I plan to go in the water, I will put my phone in this waterproof pouch to keep it safe.  While I love my new waterproof camera at the pool, I don't really need it at the beach since I tend to stay on the sand anyway.  I also make sure to edit my photos when I get home to keep my subjects bright without blowing out my skies completely.  

5.  Stay hydrated!

I don't know about you, but Noah is prone to forgetting about eating and drinking when he's playing in the sand.  I think it has something to do with his hands being messy, but I have to remind him constantly to have a drink and take a break.  When we go for the day, I like to pack a cooler filled with waters.   Our beach cart has an insulated pouch, so I grab a bunch of waters to bring down with us to the beach.  I then leave the big cooler in the car (less to carry), so that we have a few cold drinks for our drive home.

6.  Bring snacks

While I often have to remind Noah to take a break from playing, once he does, he wants a snack!  I have found that bringing the individual size bags are ideal.  You can hand them out to each kid (or adult) and there's less chance of ruining an entire bag with the sandy hands.  Just remember to bring a plastic bag to corral all the garbage when you are done... no one wants a littered beach!

kid beach chair
swim suit, rash guard, and hat are from Hanna Andersson - no longer available

7.  Don't forget about clean up

I'm not really a fan of swimming in the ocean, so I rarely end up wet after the day at the beach.  Even so, I make sure to bring one or two towels for each of us.  We use them to wipe off sand, a blanket for the sand, and even to play tug of war ;)  They are also needed when we end up hosing Noah down in the showers before we leave.  Noah just got this new beach towel and LOVES it!

And while you've probably heard this tip before, bring some baby powder!  It works wonders at helping get the sand off their wet and sweaty feet and hands!  Trust me!

dress, no longer available on Loft - similar | hat, no longer available on Old Navy - similar

8.  Bring home a souvenir

We love collecting sand and seashells (or rocks) whenever we go to the beach.  We like to bring a little plastic baggie for the sand and mesh bags to collect seashells.  Last year we bought these seashell mesh bags for Noah and his cousins to use at Narragansett beach.  The bags are adjustable, so they are perfect for kids and adults to use and make it really easy to bring some sandy shells home!

Do you live close enough to the beach to do day trips?


  1. CAN'T wait to hit up the beach on vacation. It is calling my name and the girls have NEVER seen the ocean. It is going to be AWESOME! Thanks for the tips.

  2. I used to go to that beach as a kid! Great post too.

  3. Great tips! I have a similar post scheduled soon. I can't wait to go to the beach in a few weeks. Love your fun pictures!

  4. The weather looks amazing. We are headed to the beach at the end of August and it cannot get here fast enough. :) excited to follow your blog!

  5. Great tips! And great photos as well! What's your favorite beach at the Jersey Shore for a day trip? We're about 2 hours from the shore (give or take depending on which beach) and I'm trying to plan a day trip next month. Some coworkers suggested Spring Lake or Ocean City. I actually never heard of 7 Presidents, but it looks very nice! My only requirement is easy access to food and bathrooms since we're not planning on staying over.

  6. Love this post! Awesome photos and great tips! I'm totally jealous that you have a beach so close. The nearest one to us is about a 12 hour drive. Womp womp. There are always lake beaches, although totally not the same. Also, your husband has to be the funnest dad in the world.

  7. I never knew that I was such a big fan of the beach until our most recent vacation. I have been longing for the beach something fierce since the day we left. I wish we had nicer/cleaner beaches closer to us. I am usually not one to get in the ocean either, but this trip we spent hours just hanging out in the water. It was too hot otherwise. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked to. Ugh! I agree! I feel like we took everything but the kitchen sink when Mason was smaller. He’s a little easier now, I mean besides his arsenal of beach toys. That beach you guys frequent sounds perfect for families. A bathroom and a food pavilion? Yes, please. Great post and amazing photos, friend!

  8. What a fun day at the beach! I used to live in Oregon where I was a mere 1hr 45min from my favorite beach but I am not in Texas and the closest beach is over three hours away :( I miss the seaside smells, sounds, and sights. Glad you have the beach relatively close by!

  9. I need to book mark this!! Believe it or not, I think we've taken Mason to the beach MAYBE once in his whole life. Yep. And we live 15 min from the beach. Terrible parents! And the one time we went, we didn't go TO the beach, we more went to the city by the beach and just happened to visit the beach for a few min. Yeah, terrible. I will need to reference this for sure!

  10. Such a difference between East Coast/West Coast- I dont know where theres a beach in California you would have to pay to access. And you are seriously prepared! I guess the perks to living 5 minutes from the beach is packing lightly, but I know I also take it for granted. How fun is Chris?! I dont think I could handle being buried up to my neck lol

  11. You have the perfect list! We are going in September and while we are driving for vacation (12 hours!), I hope to have all our beach goods with us and not find ourselves missing something.


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