Favorite Family Beach Gear

So we have some big news! We’re driving to Mississippi for Emma’s spring break. We are in desperate need of some sunshine, warmth and fresh air—and while I’m not exactly looking forward to a 14.5-hour car ride with two kids under the age of five, we’ve done it before and can do it again!

We chose Mississippi because it’s a “yellow” state, the gulf area is close to Patrick’s house in New Orleans, and it has BEACHES. Our particular Airbnb is across the street from the beach, actually! It’s also on a lot of land and has a big front porch and backyard, which should be perfect for our family. I’m so excited. I’m also not sure we’d ever go to Mississippi were it not for these circumstances, so I’m grateful to see another part of the country. :)

Anyway, I thought I’d share our favorite family beach gear today on the blog. This is the stuff we swear by, and most of it has the ability to make or break a trip. 🙈

Folding beach wagon: THE BEST. First, this one folds up, so it won’t take up a ton of space in your car or garage/storage space where it will live for most of the year. It also features big beach wheels, which is why it handles sand better than other wagons we’ve tried. It also holds a lot—up to 300 pounds to be exact! (Both Emma and Lucy fit in there if need be, too.) But this thing is essential if we want to bring anything to the beach with us. I also love that you can detach the fabric and wash it.

Folding beach chairs: These are another must-have. They have a very small footprint and they fold up and fit in a little bag. They’re also perfect for toddlers as they can safely climb in and out without assistance. Before we had these, I was constantly helping Lucy up onto her chair and then off again, sometimes 30+ times in 15 minutes, haha. These chairs solve that problem and are also so much easier to transport! We’ll be using them in the backyard, too.

Zip-top L.L.Bean tote: If you don’t have this already, add to cart immediately. I highly recommend the size large with the long straps. It’s the best baby bag, travel bag and beach bag. (It also fits perfectly under a plane seat for when the world opens back up!) My other recommendation would be this MZ Large Deluxe Tote, which comes with a carrying strap, and MZ Wallace backpacks. (MZ Wallace is so squishy and also fits so easily under strollers!)

Backpack baby/toddler carrier: I can’t speak to this yet because we just bought it. But I’m hoping that Lucy likes it, and that it’ll help with getting her down to the water so we can use the wagon for the gear. (I also feel like this would be great for hiking?!)

Umbrella or Beach tent: We personally loved the pop-up beach tent for when the girls were little—it really does just pop up!—but now that they’re older, they have no interest. They just want to be sitting on the beach chairs out in the open like big kids. The best sun protection is the one you actually use, though, so now we’re an umbrella family. :)

Beach towels: I credit my parents for these. They’ve been buying these beach towels for years, and they’re by far the most well-made we’ve ever used. Love that they can be monogrammed, too. There’s no mistaking a towel with “LARKIN” embroidered across it!

Shovels: Another find from my parents! They bought similar beach shovels for my brothers and me in the early 90s, and they’re so robust that we still use the exact same ones in Ocean City every summer. It’s wild! (Also wild that they were never misplaced, haha.) They also make digging holes a cinch.

Collapsible buckets: Mitch and I swear by anything that collapses or folds up into a tiny footprint, and these are great. They ensure that you don’t accidentally take home five pounds of sand, too.

Ice cream beach toys: The girls’ favorite make-believe game at home is playing ice cream shop, so I figure that these toys will be a huge hit in Mississippi!

Mesh toy tote: This is a must for all the beach toys. I used to just throw them in my regular tote, but that was a sandy disaster. With a the mesh tote, the sand falls right out and allows everything to dry, thus avoiding mold issues.

RuffleButts Gingham Swimsuit: RUFFLEBUTTS FOR THE WIN! They feature UPF 50+ and a ton of them have long sleeves, which has been a game-changer for us in terms of sun protection. We’ve been wearing them for years and they hold up so well, too. I’ve passed all of Emma’s old suits down to Lucy, and they still look fantastic. This particular one is great for very hot days.

RuffleButts Seersucker Swimsuit: A longer-sleeve version!

Pink Minnow Swimsuit: I will preface this by saying that Minnow is very pricey. The quality is insane, though, and they’re absolutely darling. (I mean, the bow detailing on the back?! We have mostly RuffleButts since they’re so much more affordable, but sigh. Minnow is my true love, haha.) (They also have UPF 50+, in case you’re wondering!)

Green Minnow Swimsuit: I wish this one was available in Emma’s size. So beautiful. Note the bow!

Ralph Lauren Hat: Emma prefers baseball hats so she has an adorable seersucker one from The Black Dog, which is sadly sold out… and this one, which is a backup!

RuffleButts Hat: This is what Lucy wears. Love the strap so she’s less likely to pull it off!

Kids’ Sunglasses: Janie and Jack sunglasses crack me up. The 70s vibes are hilarious and I have to say: The girls look fab in them!

Sunblock: Obviously so important.

Water bottles: These are our favorite water bottles. We probably have 10-15 of them. They’re dishwasher-safe, indestructible and hard to miss (and therefore harder to lose).

Snack pack: Say goodbye to bags of food dumped in the sand. They work!

Swim diapers: Another option is reusable swim diapers, but each one we tried really cut off the circulation to Lucy’s legs?! Eventually I threw in the towel because I didn’t want her to be in pain, but my babies do have chunky legs—friends with smaller babies say they work great!

Black Dog sweatshirt: These make me think of our black labs growing up and all the fun we’ve had on Nantucket. (Trying to get back to the island this summer to see my fam. So excited!) We have several and they get SO much use. Fantastic beach sweatshirts!

Puddle jumper: I need to say that I am 100-percent puddle jumpers for regular use. They train kids to swim in the “perfect drowning position,” which is upright. But we do utilize them at the beach, or when swimming at the lake with lots of family around. My worst nightmare is that someone assumes someone else is watching a child and something tragic happens. For normal use, we have the girls in these back floats, which train kids to swim in the correct position! I really can’t recommend those more.

Clip-on bluetooth speaker: This is the speaker that I clip on to the stroller for happiness walks! Lucy loves it. We’ll be clipping this on to the wagon, for sure.

Scout cooler: Scout coolers are the best! They are totally squishy, so you can shove them into small spaces like under strollers and whatnot. They also hold a ton and are a pretty good deal. And come on: The Noodle dachshund on the front?! Huge fan.

Thule storage box: We plan on borrowing this from our neighbors, Dave and Natalie. Dave and Natalie, if you’re reading this, can we have that thing for a week? 😆

Little Nomad play mat: Love this thing so much. We bring this everywhere with us—to the park, to the beach, up on the deck, to the lake house; wherever we go, it goes. It folds up so nicely and fits right under the stroller, and you can wipe it down.

Portable potty: This thing comes in handy more than I ever thought it would! It’s wonderful for when we don’t have access to a bathroom for Emma, and it’s also really nice to have in our back pocket—not literally, of course, haha—this year, as we’re trying to limit how often we go inside. It comes with bags, too.

ChappyWrap blanket: For chillier days on the beach, you won’t do any better than a ChappyWrap! They’re fleece, so they’re ultra warm… and they wash wonderfully. We have several and they’re our most coveted blankets in our home and for travel!

BabyJogger Tour Strollers: These are the best travel strollers. They fold up into a tiny rectangle—even the doubles!—and they fit in the above-head storage compartments on planes. (For the future, of course.) This is also the only stroller we would consider bringing on a road trip because it doesn’t take up much space in the car. I should note that we don’t bring this stroller in the sand; it’s just great for travel in general. (Just out of curiosity, does anyone have a stroller they recommend for sand? Think it’d be so nice to have one at my parents’ home in Ocean City!)

Anything you swear by for beach trips?!