Motherhood

Beach Packing List

Beach Packing List

This summer will be forever known in our family as the summer we fell in love with the beach. In the past, Toby felt restless, Anton seemed too little, I got too hot and Alex was annoyed by all of us. But somehow this year everything clicked. We’ve discovered the awesomeness of Rockaway Beach in Queens, which is less than an hour from us but feels a world away.

One reason is that we’ve figured out what to pack to make everything seamless. It has made all the difference. We bring a beach tent and two chairs, so Alex and I can relax while the boys splash around. Plus, a flotation swimsuit for Anton (I SWEAR by these; they work so well for toddlers), and Turkish towels that fold up paper thin and dry in two seconds.

We’ve also learned tricks from other parents at the beach. A mom-of-five told me her secret: She immediately digs a giant hole with a real shovel upon arrival. (That’s her handiwork in the photo above.) Then her kids will play happily the whole time while she watches over them and reads her book. Genius!

And a reader, Maureen, told us that sprinkling baby powder on yourselves at the end of the day will make sticky sand fall right off. I had never heard that! (Instead, our apartment is usually covered in sand for the week afterward.)

There are five more weeks of summer, and although you can always just bring a bath towel to the beach and go for it, here’s a little guide of how to pack like the Griswolds:

What do you pack for the beach? What would you add or take away from this list? Side note: Do you have a swimsuit (especially a one-piece) you love? I’m ready to switch from my decades-old white bikini. :)

(Instagram photo at Rockaway Beach in Queens. Grid layout by Miss Moss.)

  1. Nikki says...

    I went to the beach with my family last March. I wasn’t prepared at all. I brought way to much and not enough at the same time. I wish I had found your blog sooner! Thankfully I am here now and here to stay!

  2. Michelle says...

    I always take a small blow-up pool with. Great for toddlers to cool down and relax next to you, and super handy to sit in and have lunch in. Wet hands are better than sand covered ones!

  3. Sarah says...

    The giant hole trick is genius! Also, I was always lugging a bag full of beach tots and trucks, until one mom told me she just lets her kids play with “the natural elements” at the beach. Pretty minimalist, but my kids were just as happy with driftwood and sandollars as they were with trucks and shovels, so something to try every once in awhile, and spare yourself a mommy Sherpa moment;). I also always keep beach towels and extra clothes in the car so we can stop by the beach whenever the fog abates (we live in SF, so have to strike while the sun is out)!

  4. Dorothy DeMaria says...

    Rockaway is great but so is Jacob Reiss Park and Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Brooklyn has everything

  5. We are also fans of the nerdy beach tent and turkish towels! The big IKEA blue bags work great for beach toys. I stick two fresh towels in the car and a big jug of water for rinse offs before loading the kids into the car. Bringing a little travel potty (amazon) for the kids has been a lifesaver for us as well, especially when I’m at the beach with the kids by myself.

  6. Food, drinks and shade are the key to being able to stay from late morning to late afternoon. Besides an insulated bag with ice, drinks, snacks, and an umbrella and two chairs, we also bring a thin colorful Mexican blanket For stretching out on, two towels (we share), sunscreen, a few digging toys, and stuff to read. It’s a cinch once you get your routine down and it’s the most relaxing, fun, free, day by far. Glad you guys have found your groove too!

  7. Megan says...

    Just this past weekend, my sister, daughter and I went to the beach. As always, finding a parking spot on the Jersey Shore can pose as a challenge. Our luck when we came upon a women and her family about to disembark. Her response…”We are leaving, but we just have to de-sand.” She then proceeded to pull out a large bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder and began to sprinkle it over her children’s lower legs. I was amazed. Upon reading your post I could not help to think…did I meet Maureen?!

  8. mimi says...

    I was at the beach last week and saw one family bring their beach toys in a collapsible mesh hamper. I thought that was a great idea, since everything can drain before you leave the beach.

    As for swimsuits, I love my suits from JCrew and Athleta. My friend also has a beautiful suit from Anthropologie.

  9. We are lucky enough to have a beach house which we go to every weekend. Even though we thought we were beach people, having a little one had us reconfigure our whole packing system. Yours is a pro list, especially compared to ours! We put him a beach stroller (so he can nap and it’s easier to drag down the beach), and have wagon FULL of stuff. A tapestry to set down on our area, an umbrella, towels, toys, sunscreen, diaper bag (which is really a large designated so we don’t get anything sandy), change of clothes and a sweater for little guy, cooler with beverages for adults and little guy… and probably other stuff I’m missing. The wagon also has a license plate with his name on it, and a little American flag hanging off the back. That said, you can’t miss us walking down the block to the beach!

  10. chellefisshh says...

    I luuuurve that swimsuit but have sadly sworn off buying white bathing suits – I always sweat in them and end up with yellow stains! Black on the other hand makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn.

  11. I’d swap out that BKR bottle for a S’well! They are my new obsession – they’re double walled so they keep water cold for up to a day. I took mine to the beach last week, and it still had ice in it that night.

  12. erica says...

    I line the floorboard of the car with towels. A hand towel in the driver and passenger floor boards, one big one across the floorboard in the back and a sheet in the trunk space. Then, I can easily toss them all into the laundry when we get home with all the other ‘beach laundry’ when we get home. This saves a good half hour of vacuuming the car after.

    Also, I carry a mesh bag. It’s the size of a huge tote, but mesh. All the sand falls right out.

  13. yael steren says...

    I actually found a great beach bag on amazon.com. It’s super cheap but does the trick and it has plenty of pockets. I also always bring snacks with me to the beach and of course, I also always wear a hat. I particularly love this one because it has SPF protection in it (http://www.yaelsteren.com/work-wardrobe-no-38/). xoxo yael

    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog/

  14. Danielle says...

    I have never heard of the baby powder trick. In a couple of weeks I will go to the beach and will try it. I also would like to have the nerdy beach tent or the pop up umbrella Melissa found. Have a great week!

    http://www.spring2spring.com

  15. Cherie says...

    We live in Australia and spend a lot of time at the beach in summer. The best beach bag of all is the IKEA blue shopper bag, it fits everything (although I swear half of all beach goers are onto this and spotting your IKEA bag in the crowd is a skill!)

  16. maja says...

    I wouldn’t let my toddler sun go without uv-protection clothes + hat. He wears it all the time unless it’s like late afternoon, then he can be without for a little while. But the sun is so strong in the summer and spf cream doesn’t block the sun out completely (I use spf 50 on all of us and I do get a tan on the parts that arent clothed). We have a beach tent but for some reason he doesn’t want to sit still in it :)

  17. What a fabulous idea about digging a huge hole upon arrival!! That pic just says it all and they look so entertained (and refreshed!).

    One thing I ALWAYS pack with us when we head to the beach is FOOD! We usually camp out for the day, so I like to pack tons of food and liquids to keep our energy up so we can keep swimming with the waves and sun bathe :)

    xo, Bev

  18. Celia says...

    My tricks include jumping into the water right when you arrive, so you dont get too hot fot the rest of the day. And whiping your body with baby whipes before getting in the car so you feel fresh and saltless.
    Sorry about my english, but this tips come from Andalucía ;)

  19. Lisa says...

    Esther Williams vintage swimsuits! I googled through the entire internet to find an online shop that delivered to my country without paying crazy customs fees, and boy was it worth it! I bought 2 straight away and it was a gamble as I didnt know about the size, plus I have a pretty long torso apparently. Both fit and I have never felt so confident! They are a bit ruffly on the belly and it keeps in all the wobbly, there booby area is slightly padded and keeps even breastfeeding boobs in place. And you can wear it with or without the strap that goes behind the neck. I have it in green and blue, and when I wear the green one random people stop me and compliment it. YEY!

  20. The foldable backpack umbrella was KEY during my honeymoon. Perfect place to inconspicuously keep belongings. We had a striped Tommy Bahamas version, which was adorable. :)

    Cheers!

  21. Lucy says...

    We’re currently living at the beach (well, not technically, but we can hear the ocean from the house, so pretty close). We swear by those puddle jumpers. Also, rash guards. Lands’ End is our go-to for those. They’re good quality and limit the amount of sunscreen we go through. We stock up at the end of summer for bigger sizes for the kids. With slightly bigger kids, we also found these chairs: http://www.amazon.com/Kelsyus-80316-Kids-Canopy-Chair/dp/B006DEH0KA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1439878215&sr=8-2&keywords=kids+beach+chair
    which fold into a backpack that they can carry themselves.

  22. Mia says...

    I’ve been packing two 1 gallon jugs of water and leaving them in the car for post beach rinse off. That and a little dr bronner soap lets me bathe the kids before we head home so they can just go straight to bed.

    • Amy P says...

      Genius – and the water in the jugs is probably nice and warm by the end of the day to keep the kids from complaining!

  23. Cindy says...

    The best thing to eat at the beach is cold fruit: grapes, nectarines, and/or peaches especially!
    We bring a small, soft-bristled whisk broom to remove final clinging sand before getting into the car (in addition to baby powder, of course).
    Have you tried the S’well bottle? It’s metal, but its ability to keep water cold even when it’s lying directly in the sun is legendary.

    • Maria says...

      freeze the grapes, they are AWESOME! bring baby powder and a paint brush ( for walls not art) to get the sand off.

  24. We live in in Southern California and as a sahm I’m at the beach multiple times a week. I’ve been taking my kids since they were newborns and have basically the exact same set up as you (plus surfboards/boogie boards). Turkish towels are the best! And baby power an absolute must. I too noticed that the beach got the most fun when my boys were 5 and 2 — I think it’s because no one is eating sand anymore :). And it’s the BEST way to wear out energetic little people!

    • Victoria says...

      Any tips for going with teeny ones? I have a 3yo and a 2 month old who doesn’t do much, but I’d be nervous about him getting all sandy. Is this a stupid idea? Should we just wait til next year? I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 9 years and never gone to any NYC beaches.

  25. Bek says...

    this post made me SO excited! It’s two weeks (!!!!) from the beginning of spring here in Aus and I’m predicting this summer will be our best beach summer ever! Last few years our girls have been too little – this year they’ll be 3 and 1.5 years! I think I need new bathers, towels, bag, lip balms, beach umbrella…………. ;) hooray for warm weather!!

  26. I’ll add a tube of sunblock… I never go out without sunblock on my body, especially my face because the Aussie sun is so harmful ;)

  27. Kate says...

    I cracked up at this sentence: “Toby felt restless, Anton seemed too little, I got too hot and Alex was annoyed by all of us.”

    I have long been the restless, too hot person at the beach with any friend or partner ending up annoyed with me. But, this year I moved to a new place that is 4 blocks from a perfect little beach on Lake Michigan, and at the beginning of summer, I firmly committed myself to becoming the kind of person who can handle a few hours at the beach. And like you said, it’s all about prep. This list is fantastic and will definitely help my quest. :)

  28. Cynthia says...

    I bought my bathing suit at Kroger Marketplace! I needed a new suit, and my daughter recommended this one, which she bought for herself. It’s a tankini, but the top covers my midsection and the pants have a cute attached skirt to hide a multitude of sins. It’s not matronly at all! I bought the top and bottom separately, so I got a good fit, and the top has an underwire bra for support. I bought it on sale, and I really enjoyed on vacation, as it was comfortable for swimming. I never thought I would buy a bathing suit at the supermarket!

  29. Kaitlin says...

    I am a professional beach go-er because I grew up in a beachside town.
    -My family is huge fans of mini tables (Christmas Tree Shops usually have them) that collapse so you have something to rest your book/kindle/sunblock/snack/cocktail on. (like this: http://www.amazon.com/Adams-Manufacturing-8500-48-3700-Quik-Fold%C2%AE-Table)
    -We also like 2 towels per person b/c inevitably one gets sandy and gross and it’s never any fun drying off with a sandy towel.
    -I love La Roche Posay Anthelios cream for post-beach soothing
    -An umbrella is so nice during the heat of the day, and an umbrella screw (we use one like this with the nice screw threads: http://www.amazon.com/Sand-Grabber-Umbrella-Mainstays-Packaging) makes me less nervous about wind coming and blowing it out of the sand and impaling someone behind me. Hahaha.

    Pro tip: hang your swimsuit from your rearview mirror to dry off on the trip home (possibly not on the highway, though ;))

    • lilly says...

      Co-signing Anthelios, and that table idea is completely genius!

  30. susanne says...

    Hej! On my last visit in New York i took a surfing lesson in rockaway Beach which was one oft the best things i ve ever done. ( not possible in Austria ; ). ) my personal beach here is my inflatable stand-up-paddle board. I bring a dry bag, suncream, water and food. Sometimes even a book! Best picknicks in the middle of the lake Traunsee. : )

  31. Maureen says...

    Hey, thanks for the shoutout!

    I’m glad so many of your readers will know the baby powder trick now. I grew up spending the whole summer at the beach with my mom and two brothers. Fond memories! :)

  32. Allie says...

    Thanks to a recommendation you gave earlier this year we are now stomp rocket fanatics. And I have to say it is the perfect beach toy. I’ve never seen friendships form faster than over that toy. It is a total hit (and so easy to throw into a beach bag).

  33. Kate says...

    As a heads up, please please make sure any flotation suits/devices used for young children are coast guard approved. I used to work at a pool and this was a big problem, most parents were not aware of the risks that can be associated with these kinds of wearables. If there is not a correct distribution of padding children can potentially be tipped forward and stuck face-down in the water–not good! You can read more and find a link to check whether a product is coast guard approved on this site: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5214/pfdselection.asp#selection

  34. Vanessa says...

    I always freeze juice boxes the night before. Helps keep our cooler food cold and acts as a slushy for the kids. I also freeze bottles of water for the grown-ups.
    We carry sand toys in a mesh bag so the sand (most of it anyway) falls out between our spot on the beach and the car.
    Grocery bag to carry out our trash.
    Baby wipes for sand (and cookie) covered faces.
    Large Ziploc bag for each kid to bring home his and her seashells and two sandwich size to keep our cell phones safe.

    • Emily says...

      You are clearly the master at this.

  35. Elizabeth says...

    Wonderful post! Thank you! I just brought my two small children to the beach today. I packed a little tote bag with a few small trucks that kept them busy and happy! I also always pack a change of clothes for each little one and a wet bag to hold our wet swimsuits/clothes on the drive home. We have sensitive eyes in our family, so baby and adult sunglasses are a must for us, too.

  36. estelle says...

    P.S. Crazy thing – I heard the beach closed for a few hours on Sunday after a shark siting. Yikes!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, so crazy!!! our friends were there and said it was nuts.

  37. We just went to the beach yesterday (our favorite in oregon is indian beach!! Its in cannon beach town, under ecola state park. They filmed the goonies there!!)

    If you go rent some wet suit and surf board!!! Its super fun even for toby (we have a 4yo and 4mo old boys)

    I would recommend princesse tam tam for swim suit!!!! They have a great fit!

    I would add to the list:
    sunglasses for the whole fam

    Sunscreen

    A paper bag for trash

    Some ziplocks for shells

    Snacks

    Magazines!!! Because why not!!

    Waterproof or big plastic bag for all wet things (we use ikea ugly one…)

  38. Meghan says...

    this is the second post that you’ve referred to those beach tents as “dorky.” While they’re not as sexy as a private cabana, you should give them some cred for the shade they give you and how awesomely portable they are! They’re also great for shade-less parks.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, yes, i’m just teasing myself, since we walk onto a beach carrying all our gear like the Griswolds. the tents are amazing and i’m so grateful for them! :)

    • Kathleen says...

      Just as long as you use them with proper beach etiquette and don’t put them up in front of those who are already settled on the beach blocking their ocean view with your tent. :) they’re great for littles!

  39. estelle says...

    That float swimsuit looks genius!! I would totally try that out on my 2 yr old boy for when we take him to the local Brooklyn pool. I can’t find that cute boy version of the stripy one you posted though. Did you actually get yours from Amazon or is there a local shop that sells them maybe?

  40. Roxana says...

    Love this! We have totally clicked with the beach this year, too. Last summer was a disaster. Our kids are 4 and almost 2. We live just north of Chicago and since I’m a SAHM I take the kids a few times a week. Then, if weather permits, we go on the weekends when daddy is not working.

    We take: tent or umbrellas, bag of towels and sheet (to lay in the tent) bag of toys (including that exact same kite. I mean $9?! :) and diaper bag with the usual essentials as well as snacks (fruit, nuts, pretzels, Larabars, cheese, etc.). I try to give the kids a good breakfast before we go and then have them snack/lunch before we leave. We shower when we get home and then everyone usually takes a nice nap :).

    Did not know about the baby powder trick! Our car and condo are both FULL of sand. Will have to try.

    I love J. Crew bandeau one-pieces. No shoulder tan lines. I put the suit strap on when I get in the water. Once I forgot and my daughter helped me flash the whole beach. I’m not crazy about sunscreen so I love, love, love these shirts from Old Navy: http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=1&pid=978511002 I bought 3 earlier in the summer for like $10 (they’ve since raised the price). When I feel like I’m getting too much sun, I throw one on. This is my sunhat: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/321003413894?lpid=82&chn=ps

    LOVE THE BEACH!

    • Trish O says...

      I am also a HUGE fan of the JCrew bandeau one-piece. I have 4 in various colors. I take the strap off unless I am in the water. Some of mine are 2 years old and it still is going strong.

  41. Patrisha Z says...

    i absolutely love my lisa marie fernandez one-piece. it’s black with a low-cut scoop back and a zipper down the front. it has a vintage look, but still feels modern and sexy.

  42. Sara Wilson says...

    great post, thanks so much! we keep it pretty simple when we hit the beach here in SF. pretty flat sheet to sit/ lay on. sheets are so much lighter to pack and cooler to sit on at the beach. we have one that we have been toting around to the beach, parks, etc for ages. we always bring sand toys for the kids – always helps our boys make instant friends when they have toys to share :) . and of course snacks are a must.

  43. Ingrid says...

    Don’t forget sunscreen!

  44. Audra says...

    As someone who grew up 2 miles from the beach in NJ, I have memories of being completely drenched in baby powder after long beach days. I thought everyone knew that trick! I’ll have to tell my mom that she’s a smart cookie, which she’ll really enjoy hearing.

  45. Sara says...

    I’ve been looking for a one piece too! My oldest is 5 and I’ve been wearing the same J Crew one piece since he was teeny. It’s time for an upgrade! Would love to know what you find!

  46. Not too much further from rockaway beach is Long Beach. We lived there for a decade and I think you guys would enjoy it as a day trip. The beach is about 2.5 miles long and although it’s not physically divided, each beach is known by its street name (although it’s not marked or anything) Seek out Pacific Beach all the way down the end (heading east). There’s a sweet playground, a cute concession stand to get treats and its quieter than the rest of long beach (since so many people come by train and hang out in the middle). And if you’re driving, then end your day with a stop for soft serve ice cream at Marvel. It’s a favorite of anyone who lives around here. You can google the area for more info or I’d be happy to tell u more. PS…great coffee at Gentle Brew on Park Avenue. Order a macchiato. Yum :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for this tip; long beach sounds wonderful.

    • Melissa says...

      Also Lido beach is my very favorite beach in that area!

  47. Kate says...

    I second the bags of chips comment! My grandparents lived on Cape Cod and we spent every summer of my childhood there. We ways made a big thing of tuna salad, and brought a bag of rye bread to make the sandwiches there so they don’t get soggy, plus chips, an assortment of Pepperidge Farm cookies, and a huge thermos of sweet lemony iced tea. So satisfying when you’re that special hungry that only sun and salt can make you. Ah nostalgia!

  48. Anitra Sweet says...

    love this post!!!

  49. I LOVE Rockaway Beach. I hadn’t been there since my early 20s (now in my late 20s)…but my husband and I have been a couple of times this summer. It’s family friendly and grown up friendly (we don’t have kids yet so we take advantage of the cool new bars that are popping up). Anyway, I have NEVER heard of baby powder helping remove sand from your skin. I’m def. going to have to give that a try. Also I was just admiring some Turkish Towels on the beach stand on Beach 97 this weekend. Def. should get one of those as well. Also my cousin and I use to dig a hole and a little stream so that we created our own little pool on the beach. We also then would build castle and bridges around it. :)

    <3
    heather
    fashionistanygirl.com

  50. Sandra says...

    Chairs are fine for relaxing, but what if you want to cuddle your kids and read a book to them, when they get tired? We just spent four weeks in the Netherlands at the beach – and on most days we built a beach couch. If possible look for a part of the beach, where there is a hill. Simply dig a long hole, not too deep, one wall of the hole is your backrest, the opposite wall is for your legs (I hope you can picture it). Smooth the edges, put a blanket in it, so you do not have to sit in the sand – voilà you own personal beach couch for reading, cuddling, resting.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love this. Thank you, Sandra.

  51. Gwen says...

    Is glass allowed on beaches in the Northeast? My Texas beach does not allow glass, for the reason that it’s a pretty big safety concern to have broken glass in a place where people of all ages run around barefoot. I’ve always thought it would be difficult to actually break glass on the beach but I imagine that IF it broke, it’d be pretty difficult to find shards in the sand.

    I would def take the glass bottle off the list and sub it with an insulated plastic or stainless steel bottle. Bonus points: if you aren’t taking a cooler, freeze the bottles before you go. It won’t last long obviously, but even that first bit of ice cold water will be worth it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Good point! These glass bottles have a cool silicone cover so they don’t break, even if you drop them from a significant height (we actually used Lifefactory’s silicone baby bottles for Anton and Toby when they were little). But if the rules say no glass, it would be better to bring a different kind for sure! Thank you!

  52. That beach in Queens sounds awesome! I also bring a cooler with water and lemonade to the beach. Nothing beats a cold drink on a warm day!

    -Nicole
    Meet Me in Midtown

  53. We use a similar dorky beach tent to the one you have but I like yours better because it has a covering for the floor. Ours is just a sun shade. My husband recently discovered helinox chairs for camping/ the beach/ taking out doors and they are wonderful and fold down to nothing.

    As for the bathing suit, I discovered this website http://www.figleaves.com/us/swimwear/?show=1&noc=1. My post baby boobs don’t fit in to my bikins like they used to! Fig leaves bikinis give coverage but also fit well and you still feel like you are wearing a bikini.

  54. Angela says...

    How timely!
    I’m just enjoying a lunch break with my kids while we are at the beach in NC!
    As a mom of three, my beach rules are
    1. Epic snacks, and the crappy food you don’t normally eat . Everyone gets a bag of chips every day. Buy the big assorted pack. Nothing worse than cranky kids. Full tummies of fun food wards off meltdowns. And no big bags to share. Sand in the communal bag is a no no. Everyone gets their own.
    2. My go to swim suit brand – anything by PRANA. Their athletic style works well for a Mom on the go.
    3. Spend the money on chairs that are light. You are hauling all the gear and a heavy chair along with all the other stuff is not worth it.
    4. Shade:
    http://www.cool-cabanas.com
    Just saw this on the beach this week and plan to order one. 6 lbs and it takes no time to assemble.
    5. Small nets – a must for catching fish during low tide

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “Epic snacks, and the crappy food you don’t normally eat . Everyone gets a bag of chips every day. Buy the big assorted pack….Sand in the communal bag is a no no.” = LOVE this tip. Totally doing this next time. Growing up, we would visit my grandparents’ fishing village every summer, and I remember those assorted packs so clearly/dearly. I always went for salt & vinegar.

  55. Campbell says...

    love this – first thing: i’m twenty-five and have already become a one-piece lover. recently bought a becca by rebecca virtue piece (without cups) and it’s perfect! not at all matronly, and very flattering. i sometimes feel like one-pieces can be tough to get right, so i’d recommend one that is not dependent on cup size (since you’re hoping your butt and boobs are the same proportions that some random brand thinks they should be?!) and ALWAYS pick a pattern or ruching- they’ll hide any little bumps on your body. my mom swears by carmen marc valvo one-pieces, too.

  56. Katie says...

    When my kids were younger, we used to bring a really small inflatable pool – like table-top size. We’d blow it up, fill with water and our toddlers would stay occupied for hours!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is brilliant!

    • cait says...

      we just did this with my 9 month old for his first week at the beach and it was a total life-saver. it allowed us to go to beaches with more impressive surf, but he still got to play in the water to his heart’s content!

    • Anna says...

      So many ways! I am from Rockaway and so I really can only speak to the old school NYC transit options — they all can get pretty crowded but it’s better to go early anyway so you get a primo spot. This Gothamist article lists all the ways: http://gothamist.com/2015/05/27/how_to_get_to_rockaway.php

  57. MC says...

    Out of curiosity, how do you get there? I’ve been wanting to try the beach bus but it always sells out!

    • eg says...

      A train

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Our friends take the subway from the UWS and it takes about 1.5 hours (and less from downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn obviously). If you get out around 75th street, the beach is lovely there and not too crowded; plus, there is great food that’s you can walk to (like Tocaway Beach on 87th st: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacoway-beach-rockaway-beach; or the Surf Club with yummy fish sandwiches and juices: http://www.rockawaybeachsurfclub.com/#new-page-3 — which has a playground right next to it, as well)

      We usually rent a zip car for the day and drive there, so there’s that option, too! Hope that helps!

  58. Madie says...

    We have the same beach tent as above, and we love it! It pops open in 2 seconds and gives great shade – we bought it when our son was a baby and we just had to have somewhere cool and out of the sun (and SPF’d) for him. It’s also great to take camping, when you want a 2nd shady spot to play and don’t want to get in and out of your actual (sleeping) tent. We take it everywhere!

  59. ashley says...

    i take loads and loads of water. rockaway is expensive and the lines are long for the essential food and drink.

    and joanna, while they only have one style (two colors), meg on atlantic avenue has a great one piece this season! i own the striped one, and despite the horizontalness of the stripes it’s CRAZY FLATTERING.

    megshops.com

  60. grace says...

    my boyfriend and I live in Brooklyn and just discovered rockaway yesterday! it was glorious and we plan to go back a few more times before the fall arrives (but after our vacation next week to his hometown of Portland, Oregon, no less!).
    I love the baby powder tip – it’s awful finding sand all over our apartment for days after the beach (although it is a sweet reminder of the easy, lazy weekend). and eres has the most amazing one piece swimsuits: http://www.boutique.eresparis.com/fr/home.aspx
    xo

  61. Jaclyn says...

    Even though I live in the Ocean State and I grew up going to the beach almost every single day in the summers, when I became an adult and I no longer had my mom to pack up everything for me I fell out of love with the beach.
    I’d feel sick from the heat, I hated the feeling of the salt and sand on my skin, the wind blowing my hair into crazy knots, it was all bad.

    But then somehow this summer, I bought a beach pass for my town beach, finally whittled down the required items to one tote bag’s worth plus my beach chair and I’ve been going just about every weekend Saturday and Sunday and it’s been lovely. My reading list is finally dwindling also!

    The thing that I recommend for solo beachgoers is a small clip on umbrella that attaches right to your beach chair. It’s so easy, folds up tiny and it perfect for a little shade cover and it’s foil lined for sun protection. I got mine for $5 at the local hardware store.

    Similar can be found here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Icetek-Sports-Clamp-On-Beach-Umbrella/dp/B00YHYEMNG/ref=pd_sim_200_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=18T8AKN254WB0K0JSA9J

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i didn’t even know those existed — great tip, thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      whoa, so sexy!!

  62. Bring food! Nothing is worse than getting hungry then having to tramp down an unknown beach in search of decent food options… then settling for the ice cream truck.

    Other than that I think you’ve got it covered!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we learned that the hard way this weekend, haha. we figured there would be food stands at the beach, but no such luck, so instead alex and i were sharing bananas with the boys ;)

  63. we go to the beach EVERY weekend, at least one day (we live near SF, lots of beaches to explore!) We have a pop up tent that is light weight and awesome! and we recently bought our toddler a beach chair too, and now he will sit down for a few minutes. :-)
    great list!

  64. Jenny Rose says...

    This may seem like a silly question, but I’m intrigued by the Turkish towels. What does it feel like? Is it soft or a bit rough? I’m so used to fluffy cotton towels and trying to imagine making the switch.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good question! they’re kind of stiff at the beginning, but after a few washes, they are super soft.

      it’s funny, we used to bring bath towels to the beach and we could only cram 2 towels into a duffel bag. now we can fit 4 turkish towels into a tote bag and they dry right away. they’re so great for the beach.

    • Julianna says...

      I love turkish towels, I started using them as blankies for my newborn and now as beach towels, I love the simple elegance of them.

  65. Thanks!! This is perfect. Love the baby powder and hole digging tips!

  66. Dawn says...

    A good sunscreen is an essential pack for us: La Roche Posay Anthelios is our favorite and we love La Roche-Posay Posthelios After Sun moisturizer. And a mini speaker + good tunes tunes! (Also, my family tried powder trick when we visited Coney Island. It worked like a charm!)

  67. Kelsey says...

    My mom used to douse us in baby powder before we were allowed to get into the car after a beach day, esp. our feet.

    Sand hair is a different issue.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      sand hair! i hear you!

  68. Amy says...

    So fun! Our daughters are 5 and 3 and I agree, this year felt so much easier to actually enjoy the beach with the girls being a bit older and able to play and not have us worry about them constantly.
    For bathing suits in a one piece- I got 2 from J.Crew as they’ve been having amazing sales lately. But I’m about 5″7ish and had to buy the Long Torso size which I found surprising, but the regular suits were soo short on me. But I find them stylish and non-frumpy. I just can’t do bikini’s anymore, at least when I’m trying to play with my kids on the beach, I just feel too exposed :)

  69. Ali says...

    I just moved to Florida, so this list is very helpful! My husband and I are looking at the SportBrella tent because it comes with stakes. We don’t have kids, but we will need it to spend any amount of time on the beaches. The sun here is no joke.

    • Auste says...

      The Sportbrella is great (we have the XL… It’s comically huge), but living in Southern California with two little ones it’s perfect.