11 Things to Pack for a Family Beach Day

Going to the beach is a great way to get outside and spend quality time with family this summer.

 With vaccinations in full swing, we know everyone is eager to get out of the house and have some fun. If you live within driving distance of a beach, a day trip to the shore is the perfect family activity. If you don’t have an ocean nearby, see if you can find a lake, river, quarry, or man-made beach within driving distance. A well-planned beach day includes a well-thought-out beach bag! It’s essential to pack everything you need to keep you and your family safe and happy for your exciting beach day.  We made this list of 11 essentials to pack for a family beach day to make things easier for you.

  1.  Plenty of H20

Water is first on our list for a good reason! Spending the day at the beach with your family will require a lot of hydration for everyone. We recommend packing one large reusable water bottle per family member, plus a few extra gallons for refills. Bonus beach tip: Fill the water bottles mostly with ice; that way, the ice will melt throughout the day, and your water will stay nice and cold!

  1.  A Family Beach Bag

To pack for the perfect beach day, you have to have the perfect beach bag! It can be challenging to find a beach bag that will fit everything you need, especially if you have a larger family. Luckily, there are plenty of options available. Itz a Family Thing created a list of the best beach bags for moms and families that we highly recommend checking out! Not only do they provide a detailed explanation of their top 5 family beach bags, but they also provide a pros and cons list of each. The bag you purchase is crucial as you will likely use it several times throughout the summer, so take your time and do your research.

  1.  Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an absolute must when it comes to packing for a beach day. Everyone in the family should protect themselves with sunscreen, no matter what their age. Using sunscreen has been proven to decrease the risk of skin cancer, pre-cancer, and premature aging. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any outdoor activities. The entire family should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before arriving at the beach and make sure to reapply every two hours to ensure the sunscreen is working hard all day long! We recommend bringing along a waterproof sunscreen, so the family can splash around without worrying about washing away any SPF.

  1.  Towels

This may seem like a no-brainer, but often we forget to bring enough towels when heading to the beach. Chances are, one of your towels is going to get pretty sandy from being out of the bag all day. To avoid leaving the beach covered in sand, we recommend packing two towels per family member. One towel should be a standard beach towel to lay on the sand and use throughout the day. The second should be a smaller microfiber towel for quick and clean drying when the day is over.

  1.  Hats

SPF isn’t the only way to protect you and your family from the harmful effects of the sun! There are plenty of clothing options to add an extra layer of protection. One option we recommend packing in your family beach bag is a hat for every family member. Not only will this help protect everyone, but it’s a great way to add an extra ounce of fun to your family beach day. Turn this into a fun beach-day theme by getting the entire crew matching hats, or task everyone with picking the silliest hat they can find to pack along for your beach day. Don’t forget to take pics!

  1.  Hairbrush

A hairbrush is a beach-day essential we often forget until later that night when we are trying to comb through our tangly, salt-water-filled hair. Pack a hairbrush in your family beach bag so everyone can comb through their hair before and after swimming. This will prevent any gnarly tangles (and possible tantrums) that you will have to work your way through later. There is no need to take up a lot of space in your beach bag with this item, as there are plenty of mini hair brushes you can pack along! Bonus beach tip: Pack some cheap conditioner or a detangler spray to help get through the tangles without tears.

  1.  Zip-Top Bags

Zip-top bags are an absolute beach bag MUST. Dream Dinners zip-top bags are perfect for repurposing for the beach. If you’re a current Dream Dinners customer or are placing an order in the future, make sure you save the outer zip-top bags that don’t touch any food! These are perfect for packing in your beach bag to use in a variety of ways. Keep anything you want to avoid getting sandy or wet in your zip-top bag, including cell phones, snacks, and anything valuable. Keeping any valuables separate in your Dream Dinners bags will avoid any damage. Our bags are also perfect for storing wet swimsuits at the end of your beach day! Bring a spare change of clothes, so nobody has to ride home uncomfortable and wet. Place the wet swimsuits in your zip-top to avoid getting anything else in the beach bag wet. Do you enjoy collecting shells and sea glass? Bring an extra zip-top bag for your new treasures!

  1.  Sunglasses

Sunglasses are another beach day essential to protect your family from the sun. Pack a pair of sunglasses for every family member to decrease exposure to UV Rays and chances of developing eye problems from direct sunlight. When shopping for sunglasses for the family, remember that not every pair provides protection from the sun! The FDA says to choose sunglasses with a UV400 rating or a label that says “100% UV protection”.

  1.  Books

A relaxing day at the beach is the perfect opportunity to dive into a new book. Relax and read while the kids build sandcastles and play in the water. Another great idea is encouraging the entire family to read during downtime or a swim break to avoid anyone getting over-tired. Whatever activities your family chooses to do on your beach day, a good book or two is a must-pack for any downtime. Check out our summer reading list for ideas on what books to pack for a family beach day.

  1.  Snacks

Water is essential to rehydrate, and snacks are essential to pack to refuel. Snacks are a beach day necessity for a lot of reasons. For one, spending the day in the sun is tiring, and a well-thought-out snack is a great way to refuel the family. Packing snacks will also avoid any family members becoming “hangry” (hunger-fueled crankiness). To ensure the entire family stays in high spirits and high energy, pack some beach snacks like watermelon, cookies, and our Summer Grilled Pesto Chicken Pizza for lunch. Turn the pizza into mini flatbreads, pack in a zip-top bag, and surround with ice packs, and voila! You have your family beach snack!

  1.  First Aid Kit

While we hope for a smooth-sailing beach day for your family that includes zero injuries, it’s essential to pack a first aid kit (better safe than sorry!). Repurpose one of your Dream Dinners zip-top bags into a DIY first aid kit for the beach. Ideas for beach first aid kit items include aloe vera gel, saline solution, tweezers, a mini-towel, bug spray, bug bite ointment, ice pack, bandages, alcohol wipes, or sanitizer. Do some research and include numbers and addresses of local urgent cares, so you have their information on hand!


Is there something you always pack for a family beach day that isn’t on this list? Let us know in the comments or on social media! Don’t forget to place a Dream Dinners order, so you are prepared with plenty of beach day snacks and zip-top bags.