Beach Vacation "Must Haves"

Updated on June 15, 2010
M.C. asks from Murfreesboro, TN
15 answers

My husband and I are taking our kids on our very first big family vacation to the beach (Atlantic's Cinnamon Beach in Palm Coast, we will be safe from the oil!). Our daughter is 6 and our son is 4. We are going with my brother and his family (their girls are 15 & 12). Since this is our first big vacation and our kids' first ever trip to the beach, I am looking for the bests of the best. Best toys to take, best water/beach shoes for the kids, things you wish you would've remembered to bring, etc. Any and all advice and experience will be greatly appreciated! I want the kids to have a BLAST! They are both SO SO SO excited about going to the beach. My daughter wants to build sand castles and my son wants to go out with flashlights at night to find crabs! LOL

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answers from Raleigh on

Bring baby powder... wish I'd learned of this long ago! It makes the sand just FALL off. I keep it in the car for leaving the beach, or sandboxes at the playground. Doesn't work as well if you're really wet, but amazing for that sand sticking from perspiration and salt air.

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answers from Norfolk on

Sunscreen - SPF 50 or higher - make sure it's the kind that doesn't sting the eyes. It's a good idea for them to wear swim vests. Waves can get big and can sweep them off they're feet. You can never be too careful near the water.
Any sand bucket will do - I'm sure they'll be selling them there (too big makes it hard to carry when filled with water/sand). They usually have these hand scoop things that are great for digging (I use them myself more than the shovel). Forget the cheap plastic shovel on a stick - they break in no time flat every single time! It's better to go to a hardware store or Home Depot and get a smallest gardening spade (we have one about 2.5 ft tall) and is perfect for digging in the sand or digging out the moat around the sand castle. It'll last for years and you can use it in your garden, too.
A supply of glow sticks is great on a beach at night (and they work well as night lights, too). It's great to have the kids easily visible in the dark. Get a few small ones and you can tie them to a kite and fly them at dusk and night. We keep a kite-in-a-bag in the car at all times. The pocket sled kites are the easiest. They have nothing to break and practically fly themselves. You never know when you'll have perfect conditions to send one up.

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answers from Washington DC on

OMG! My kids and I are going there the last weekend in June!

I like to go to the beach early in the morning until about 10. Then between 10 and 3 I like to do other things. Swim in the indoor pool, etc. Then around 3 when the sun isnt so bright on the sand I go to the beach. This works out for us becuase then you don't have to lug a beach umbrella. My kids have light blue eyes so they ALWAYS wear sunglasses when on the beach or they can't see.

DON'T take pool toys to the beach, the lifeguard will probably say something to you.
DONT let you kids wander down to the Ocean without an adult. Its not a pool, the current can/will pull them.
Good luck and have fun.

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answers from Nashville on

hi, i think the best thing for you to give your kids for the vacation is 100% of mom mpm and dad time. the memories they make won't be a their shoes or their toys. it will be the things they did with you. jumping in the waves, walking on the beach like the gulls, etc. you can find so much to do and be silly about at the beach. don't sweat the beach toys. a shovel and a bucket will do. you are the inportant part of the playing. just be with them makeing the castles etc. good luck and have a great time. mom of 7, R.

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answers from Indianapolis on

We just returned from a week at Hilton Head and our kids' first trip to the beach (2 and almost 4).

They were so much more excited about being in the pool at the house instead of the beach to our chagrin. Regardless, we made them go to the beach at least a few hours each day. They didn't love the water, but they loved digging in the sand with Daddy.

So, my recommendation is a good shovel. Not the ones that come with the play sets. If you're driving, take a good shovel. Take a wagon to get around if it's not all centrally located where you're staying.

Our son loved playing with a water gun the whole time. We also took a large frisbee ($10) that he had fun with on the beach when the winds weren't too high. Water shoes weren't necessary. Neither of our kids really cared about having them on. We'd gotten some at Target for $8, and they did fine. A Boogie Board would probably be good for your kids at their ages as well as something to put shells into. A large sand bar kept almost all the shells from washing onto the beaches in Hilton Head. Bummer for the kids.

Our friends brought beach chairs and a few umbrellas which were REALLY nice. Otherwise, the kids went out, did their thing and had a great time. Just being there and letting them experience a different environment will be a huge step towards having a blast.

Have a great vacation.

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answers from Fayetteville on

Shade! We have a pop-up sun shelter that is great, it has a large foot print, offers some wind protection, makes a nice shady place to hang out and to keep the picnic items cooler.
I also agree with the suggestion of another mom to go out early in the morning for a few hours (that's a great time, the beach will appear 'fresh and almost untouched', until 11 am at the latest, then go back inside, have lunch, take a nap, do an excursion to a museum or some stores (out of the sun as much as possible) and then go back to the beach at maybe 4 pm for a few more hours of fun. The hot mid-day sun is not much fun and the danger of sunburn is real.
Bring a few games to play in the room or the lounge, for the mid-day break, that's great family time, too.
And be sure to bring some water to the beach, and a light cover-up: after an extended time in the water and with the constant breeze it may be welcome for a little while despite the warm weather.
For the kids it would be best if they wore light shirts while playing on the beach, best are clothes with a SPF but even a regular T-shirt will offer more protection than no clothes.
Oh, and be sure to have Aloe Vera gel to soothe the skin after sun exposure. Sun burn is real and sneaks up on you, take it seriously! It can ruin the whole vacation if everybody turns red like a lobster at the end of day 1.

And have fun, it really is about shared times and experiences, shared adventures, making memories together.

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answers from Roanoke on

One thing you might not have thought about would be bringing some warm clothes, sweatshirts,jackets, etc for when you are inside. My dad used to always freeze us out with the AC haha. Have a wonderful vacation. :)

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answers from Memphis on

We just got back from FL and had so much fun!!! We took our boys who are 7 & 4 (left our 9 month old daughter with my parents). This was our third year for a beach trip and it was by far the best time! The past 2 years we've been to the gulf which is much calmer waters, but this year we went to the east coast and they loved all the waves! You will definitely want a boogie board or some type of raft to ride the waves...that is all my 7 year old wanted to do...and my husband! :o) He even just used a kick board in the beginning. We always fly to the beach and don't want to lug around beach toys so we go to a dollar store and stock up with buckets and such. The only thing we do take is a shovel we got at Target last year because it fits in our suitcase. It is about 2 ft long and is perfect for digging big holes in the sand and works much better than the little ones. My boys also like to take a net to play with (they have them at all the beach stores). They use them when the waves recede back into the ocean or at low tide in the tide pools to try and catch little minnows and sea shells. We also take a frisbee or ball too just to give them something else to do. I would make sure they have sunglasses. My 4 year old always wears them when he's on the beach. Otherwise, he constantly complains about the sun being too bright and it also keeps the sand out of his eyes. I wouldn't worry with taking too much stuff because it's just more for you to carry there and back. Have fun...I wish we were going back again! Just don't plan on too much relaxation for's all about playing with the kids, but it is so worth it to see how much fun they have!!!

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answers from Philadelphia on

different shaped buckets for the sandcastle making, My daughter thought it was the coolest when my husband and I used 5 different buckets and build her a cinderella castle in the sand....don't forget a spray bottle of water for keeping the sand wet while you are carving. (It's also great for spraying yourself down while you are building the sand castle.)

Check the local peirs for your son. Your husband can rent a couple of crab traps and drop them off the peir and your son can help daddy catch them.

Good luck and have a great time!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

pack a bag to bring but don't drag it on the plane. when you get to florida go to a dollar general type store. get one of those big laundry type baskets with a handle. in it put a bunch of beach toys (shovels, molds, flower watering can, buckets etc) after playing all day you rinse everything and then leave it outside the door to dry and wala your all ready for the next day. bring big beach towels to spread out to sit on but some smaller towels for wiping faces. bring a big gallon size thermos with warm water in it and a roll of paper towels. this is key for keeping faces washed and hands washed. my mom used to bring one with a washrag in it. I am super freaked out about germs lol so i don't put the washrag in i use papertowels. sunblock is a must and if you have the option a big umbrella or cabana type thing for shade. radio/music and some good books and your good to go oh yea the water shoes are a must but we bought cheapie ones from dollar general they outgrow them so quick no use in spending a big lot of money on water shoes unless your going to be climbing waterfalls like we did in jamaica

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answers from Charlotte on

Baby powder!! I learned this trick from my Mom and I never go to the beach without it. When you've got sand on you (such as on feet and legs just before getting in the car to leave) sprinkle on some baby powder and the sand just brushes right off! I also use baby wipes on the beach for those times you really need to get sand/salt water/ stickiness off of hands and face and out of eyes. Also a bottle of water that is not cold so you can wash off faces or rinse out eyes and it's not freezing cold from the cooler! And make sure beach shoes are the kind that can get wet and dry quickly. Have a blast and don't forget the sunscreen!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Keens are great, washable sandals that will be great for the beach. Umbrellas & sunscreen and don't forget a LARGE sand shovel! Look for a rental company near your destination to rent stuff you can't bring along.

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answers from Charleston on

I grew up in Va beach and my husbands family owns a house on the outer banks of NC so we still go every summer I love the ocean. I suggest a skim board. Its a sightly curved board and you use it at the very shallow part of the ocean (like 2 inches deep) you set it on top the water and run and jump on it and skim across the top of the water. You will find it at the shops on the beach.

Have fun!!

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answers from Columbus on

I just read your answer to the question on to cancel or not on the vaca to Destin, and we're going to the same place- Ocean Hammock! I just thought that was so ironic, we both cancelled our gulf vacations and are going to the same place. We'll be there the week before. One thing that I would take to the beach that we rely on is a HUGE blanket. It's the perfect place for laying on the beach, eating a picnic lunch with the kids, and keeping them off the sand when they start getting itchy from the salt water. Have fun!



answers from Charlotte on

im not telling the best of stuff but im going to say keep your eyes open my son walked off the beach and scared me to death and just a blink of an eye can scare you to death gl and have fun

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