Everybody loves the beach, but let's be real, sitting in the sand staring at the ocean can go awry real quick without the proper accoutrements — especially when little kids are involved. Luckily, all it takes is a few key items to really get the beach party started.
We rounded up the best products out there to make this summer's beach trips the best ever.
Remember these from back in the day? Who knew a tennis ball and a little bit of velcro was all we needed for hours of entertainment. (Amazon, $9)
How can you have fun with your kids if all you can worry about is someone stepping on your sunglasses or losing your keys? Umbrella hooks don't seem essential, but they really are — if only for peace of mind. (Amazon, $10)
This cooler bag is perfect for stowing essentials, or use it as a small extra cooler for beverages or fruit. (SoYoung, $35)
This baby wrap is made especially for warm weather, so you and your child won't overheat. It's also quick dry and perfect to take in the water. (Amazon, $43)
Leave the sand at the beach with this clever gadget that makes getting clean super easy. (Walmart, $9)
Nothing will ruin your day faster than a ruined phone. Keep your iPhone safe from sand and surf with this dry bag that floats. (Amazon, $10)
Ditto for the iPad. If you're using this waterproof tablet case, you don't need to worry. (Walmart, $21)
This clever clamp can be used in hundreds of ways. Use it to keep a towel wrapped around your toddler, to hold your sunglasses while you're in the water or anchor your beach blanket. (Amazon, $10 for two clips)
Yes, this neat little chair is really called Beach Thingy. This chair has prongs — just stick it in the sand, set it to the most comfortable angle and sit back and relax. (Beach Thing, $20)
This lightweight backpack chair comes in fun colors and is made of polyester-covered cushion for maximum durability and comfort. It can be adjusted to six different positions. (Amazon, $60)
Why should the grown-ups be the only ones who get to sit in a beach chair? The KidCo GoPod Activity Seat folds up into a bag with a shoulder strap. Perfect for keeping curious toddlers contained. (Target, $50)
If a beach blanket is more your style, how about one that repels sand, dries fast and weighs next to nothing? A carry bag is included with this washable blanket. (Amazon, $30)
Don’t waste your money on cheap beach towels that shred after one season. Instead consider investing in a Vertty, which comes in a unique shape, with a waterproof pocket and in a size large enough to cozy up in with a friend — or to use as a nursing cover on the go. (Vertty, $59)
While a full-size towel is great, they can be hard to tote. Keep a couple of these full-size towels, compressed to the size of a hockey puck, tucked in your beach bag for an extra-wet day. (Amazon, $10)
Keeping the sun off baby's delicate skin is a snap with this blanket, designed to provide lightweight coverage at SPF 50+. (Sunsnapz, $39)
This cool shovel toy lets kids use their hands and feet to help move enough sand to build some amazing castles. And, the hollow handle doubles as a water funnel and the design makes it easy for little hands to use. (Magic Cabin, $30)
Perfect for digging huge moats or burying Mom or Dad in the sand, the HandTrux Backhoe gives kids (and grown-ups) extra excavating power for hours of fun. (Amazon, $18)
This camera is a bit of a splurge, but underwater family photos are the coolest. (Amazon, $84)
Don't fret about leaving your keys, smartphone and wallet on the shore while you go for a dip. Lock them all up in this small, portable safe. (Safego, $40)
If you still feel guilty about the plastic shovel you left on the beach in 1987, these eco-friendly sand toys are for you. (Walmart, $15)
This unique ball-shaped bucket will make building sand castles and washing hands so much easier. The round design helps prevent spills. (Amazon, $20)
Stay safe from the sun and also ward off insect bites with these handy towelettes from SmartShield. They contain SPF 30, are free of DEET and only need to be reapplied every four hours. (SmartShield, $13)
You can never have too much sunscreen. This 18-ounce pump bottle will keep your kids — and you — safe all summer. (Dermstore, $48)
These lightweight toys make playing in the sand more creative than ever. Use them to make different textures and patterns. (Amazon, $25 for 5)
This twist on paddleball turns your paddle into a slingshot that launches the ball at your opponent. (Amazon, $23)
This fun little toy bounces on water, making it perfect for playing in the waves. (Amazon, $9)
If you’d rather relax in the shade, bring along these plastic playing cards. They're waterproof and perfect for a game of solitaire. (Amazon, $7)
Answer the question, "Hey, Mom, what's this?" in a snap with this handy guide to marine life. (Amazon, $18)
These leakproof zippered bags are perfect for toting diapers, wet bathing suits and even sandy shoes with a minimum of mess. (Itzy Ritzy, $18)
Make it easy for everyone to stay together with this beach flag, which can be personalized to mark your turf by the surf. (Displays2Go, $109)
Keep your toddler's eyes protected and keep them looking stylish. (Babiators, $20)
OK, this tote is definitely an investment, but it's totally well worth it. (Beachstore.com, $266)
Keep your can out of the sand with these cute, personalized drink holders. (Etsy, $16)
Bring the party to the beach with this portable cooler that keeps food and drink above sea level. (Amazon, $52)
Originally published July 2014. Updated April 2017.
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