2021 marks our EIGHTH year living by the beach. It blows my mind that our family has been here in Southern California for that long – but now we can say it really is home for us. Everyone in our family loves to go to the beach, and over these past eight summers I’ve figured out the best things to bring for a happy beach day full of waves and sand and good, good memories.
So whether you live by the beach yourself, or you’re planning on a family beach vacation this summer, these are my top favorite beach items I would make sure to pack when you’re heading out to your sandy oasis!
In a hurry? Go straight to my picks below!
Table of Contents
What to bring to the beach: first and foremost, GOOD beach chairs! These are essential.
I found my favorite beach chairs years ago from Nordstrom. They actually stopped selling them for a couple years (right when we needed new ones) so we were STILL using our old ones even after they were a little worn out. They were just TOO good to replace with anything else! But THIS YEAR, I was ecstatic to find out they came out with new ones again! We bought them as soon as we found out. Add to cart, take my money, no questions asked, these chairs are IT.
I LOVE these chairs because they’re super, super lightweight. They’re made with aluminum rather than steel which makes them a lot lighter to carry. As in, 3 pounds vs. the beach chairs you’ll see most people hauling down to the beach that weigh 9 pounds each.
They also have a really great carrying strap which allows me to sling two on one arm, while carrying a whole bunch of other stuff – no sweat! This is a huge deal if you go to any local beaches no matter where you are because a lot of times you have a bit of a walk to get to your destination. Ain’t nobody got time for transporting heavy, clunky beach chairs!
Another plus to these chairs is that they have foam along the arms and the back, which make them super comfortable to sit in. You can get cheap beach chairs from other retailers that are slim like these, but they are going to be heavier and I promise you they won’t be as comfy.
Let’s just call these what they are, shall we? Magic. Chairs. Comfortable, lightweight, and easy to carry – what more could you want in a beach chair?! That’s perfection to me!
I am die hard about these. I have never found any other beach chair I like more – so it goes without saying that I’m SUPER happy that they’re back!
This is a tip you probably won’t hear anywhere else, but it’s one of my FAVORITE tips to give when it comes to deciding what to bring to the beach when you’re going with your whole family! This is a trick my family has used for several years now.
If you have a toddler that you don’t want to wander off, bring a kiddie pool. We bring ours down to our beach spot, inflate it, and use buckets to throw some ocean water in there. The water heats up pretty fast because it’s such a small area!
Once you have your kiddie pool ready, it helps SO much to keep your little toddlers close the whole entire day. It’s easier to watch them and make sure they’re safe, but it’s also just more relaxing for you, too! (The less chasing the better, am I right?)
I love using our kiddie pool because I know Millie and Harry aren’t missing out on the water, but I’m also not stressing through my beach day getaway. I promise this tip is a life saver with little kiddos!
This pool from Nordstrom is super, super pretty and it came with a carrying case, too! Our old pool finally got a hole in it after all of our beach adventures over the years, so I was super excited to get this cute new one that is a fun, neutral color. They have a couple of other colors to choose from as well!
These beach towels are new finds – I actually found them on our most recent trip that we took to Hawaii with our girls. I kept seeing them everywhere, so when I saw that Nordstrom carried them I knew I had to try them out ASAP!
I would describe these towels as SUPER high quality, really soft, and ultra comfortable to lay on – everything you could ever want in a beach towel. They are definitely a new fave for our whole entire family!
I am SO excited to have this backpack to take to the beach this year. When we go to the beach I always bring a big bag of towels and snacks and all the other things we use throughout the day, but I always make sure to bring a “dry” bag, too!
The “dry” bag holds everything that needs to stay dry and sand-free throughout the day. I like for this bag to be small and lightweight so that it’s easy to carry and transport, and it’s also easy to keep free from kids’ hands and out of the way so that it stays nice and clean while we play! Neil and I like to keep our cell phones, keys, and headphones in there especially.
This backpack is the PERFECT “dry” bag because it weighs basically nothing before you put anything in it. If the bag is already heavy before you put your stuff in it, you know it’s a no-go! Not only is this bag super lightweight, but it also has zippers EVERYWHERE for lots of safe-keeping storage. (A lot of beach bags don’t have secure places to store things, so this backpack rocks!)
This may be an obvious item for a “what to bring to the beach” guide, but wearing the right swim attire is pivotal for a happy beach day! My kids truly beat the living daylights out of their swimsuits each year. They are SO hard on their swimsuits all throughout the summer, but especially when we go to the beach. If your kids are the same, here are a few tips from a seasoned beach mom on how to pick the best swimwear that will last the longest and give you the best value for your money!
TIP #1: I never buy my kids light-colored or white swimsuits if they are going to be worn at the beach. When you’re having a beach day, it’s inevitable that your kiddos are going to swim in the ocean, lay in the sand, and get sand allllll in their swimsuit. After that, it’s darn near impossible to get them to look clean again. All it takes is one time, trust me!
That’s why this summer I chose dark swimsuits for all of my kids – and every single suit you see in these photos is super high quality. I always want to invest in nicer swimsuits so that they last all summer long and stay looking as nice as possible!
TIP #2: Sun protection ALL day, especially for little babes! I specifically chose Harry’s rash guard for the UPF 50+ sun ray protection. Anytime you can put a baby in some type of sleeve means more sun protection, and less area that you have to sunscreen. Wins all around!
TIP #3: Get a suit your child loves so that they don’t get sick of it over the summer. Millie’s suit this year was for sure a winner in this category – it was SO sweet to hear her walking around saying “I so beautiful!” over and over again. I know she’s going to LOVE putting this suit on all summer long!
Anabelle’s getting into that tween phase where it’s harder to dress her, so the Zella Girls’ line (where her swimsuit is from) is SO great for her age range. Swimsuits from this line fit her well, while also being comfortable and modest – all things that are really important to her right now.
For sizing, I would say go up if your daughter is in-between sizing, I think the swimsuits run slightly small!
She obviously wants something that’s comfy to be in the whole day, but she’s also very particular about wanting to feel modest and appropriately covered up in everything she’s wearing. I’ve bought her some swimsuits from other brands recently and she just wasn’t a huge fan of them – but she really LOVES all things Zella Girls as you can see also in this post and this post!
And hey, mama needs a good coverup, too! This coverup is SO COMFY and casual. I love that you can easily throw this on for a last-minute beach or pool trip, and it always looks cute no matter what.
SOMEHOW I got Neil to wear this super cool colored swimsuit, and he actually really liked it! It’s hard for me to get that man to wear anything other than white, black, and gray, so I was excited to get him into something that had a tiny bit of color. I thought he looked really good in it, too!
This poncho towel gets its own number in this “what to bring to the beach” guide because it is SO great! This one-size-fits-all poncho towel fits all of my kids which is amazing. It has arm holes in it to wear, but it’s also large enough that you can change underneath it! I see a lot of people at the beach change from their wetsuit to their regular swimsuit and vice versa underneath something like this poncho.
But in our family, we’ll also use it to warm up! It’s super great for when your kids are freezing after playing in the ocean (especially our chilly Pacific Ocean here in California!), but really any setting where the water isn’t super warm, this poncho is a game changer!
It’s literally a wearable towel and my kids love it. In fact, they were all fighting over who got to wear it last time we were at the beach. We might need to grab a couple more!
ALSO, I wanted to let you know that you can buy these products in person at your local Nordstrom, online with free shipping and returns, OR you can schedule a curbside pickup so you never even have to go into a store! Be sure to sign up for Nordy Rewards as well so you can earn money towards future purchases. We’re all about convenience and saving money here at Mint Arrow, so I had to make sure you knew all about it.
I am SO happy summer is on the horizon which means MORE beach days with my family! I hope this summer you can make it to the beach, and that some of my best beach day tips and tricks will help you, too.