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Taking the kids to the beach?

Last minute?

By yourself Dad?

Sounds like fun, but in the excitement of deciding to go, it’s easy to overlook a few essentials.

Dad’s beach items:

  1. Sunblock
  2. One Towel per kid
  3. Water shirt for each kid
  4. Beach blanket, for them
  5. 1 Beach chair, for you only
  6. Umbrella or Half tent for shade, plus 5-10 binder clips
  7. Water bottle for each kid
  8. Snacks (individual)
  9. Baby wipes and Disposable toilet seat covers
  10. Hat
  11. Sunglasses
  12. Portable charger
  13. Backpack


Of course! Forgetting this will end in 3-5 days worth of painful, then itchy sunburns on little faces, shoulders, and feet. Ever try to dress a 3 year old with burned feet?

I recommend putting the Sunblock on just before you leave the house. That way the kids are still in a small, controllable location, making it easier to wrestle them to put on sunblock. Also, you can apply it before they put on their UV Protectant shirt or rash guards, believe me it’s easier that way. And finally, they don’t even have a grain of sand on them yet, so it’s not like you’re sandpapering their back… they just act like it.

One Towel/kid:

I’ve done it. Maybe you have too. Forgotten to pack Towels. It’s not the end of the world, especially here in Manhattan Beach in the middle of July. But if you spend all day in the water and leave near the afternoon, you’re little ducklings are gonna have goosebumps. That is until they warm up on your absorbent and now sandy car seats!

Dad tip: If you can, have each kid carry his own towel around his shoulders. It’s less for you to fit in your bag.

Water shirt/ Rash guard:

Water shirts are an extra layer of UV protection. Get the turtleneck style to protect those little throats. These shirts also act as rash guards when boogey boarding or surfing and they dry pretty quickly.

Dad tip: Buy them water shirts that are brightly colored to help you pick them out of the crowd.

Manhattan Beach ocean and sand

Beach blanket, for them:

It’s rare for my kids to want to sit still at the beach on a blanket. But when I don’t bring one… they suddenly want to lay out and get tans.

Go figure.

Anyways just make sure it’s big enough for each kid to lay down on. And make sure it’s a thin blanket that will roll up and pack easily.

Beach chair, for you:

Train them early Dad. “If you want a chair, you carry it yourself!” Same goes for any extra toys that they HAVE to bring… what are you their sherpa? You know that they won’t sit for very long, so why bother? Just make sure you have a lightweight beach Chair, that’s easy to carry and has a cup holder for your drink of choice!

Dad tip: Use your t-shirt to wrap around your phone/devices and stow it in the pouch of your chair. This keeps it out of the sand, and the heat of the sun, which drains your battery.

Umbrella or Half shade:

Not easy to pack, but worth it’s weight, especially on those extra hot days. It’s nice to alternate between sun and shade, plus you can keep your food and gear cool.

Dad tip: Use binder clips to attach wet towels and clothes to the top of your shade. Your stuff will dry quicker!

Water bottles:

I’m a Hydro Flask fan and I recommend building up a cache of various sizes and colors. A Hydro Flask bottle will keep your water cold all day long which is worth it, even though they are a little heavy.

These are better than standard plastic water bottles. Plastic bottles don’t stay cold and they sweat from condensation, causing excess sand to stick to the outside. And the little lids to plastic bottles magically ‘jump’ out of your kids hands, disappear, and leave you with a wasted bottle of water. With HydroFlask lids, they are big, black and easy to spot in the sand.

Dad tip: By using Hydro Flasks, you avoid carrying a cooler, which only collects sand anyways!


Always choose snacks that are individual, this avoids fighting over the “Family Size” bag of Lays potato chips. Small cracker bags, granola bars (without chocolate), popcorn, pretzels etc.

Don’t bring anything that will melt or get sticky!

Dad tip: If planning to stay all day, get Subway sandwiches, go easy on the mayo, have them cut into quarters and ask them to wrap them separately. Grab extra napkins on the way out the door!

Baby wipes and Disposable seat covers:

Baby wipes make life so much easier. Keep a pack in your beach bag, for the inevitable need to use to public bathroom, even though you asked them 5 times before you left the house…

Also a pack of disposable toilet seat covers can really make “going” more sanitary.

Dad tip: If you happen to be in the area, the Manhattan beach Pier bathroom is the cleanest I’ve ever seen. Pick your beach spot near the Pier bathroom for a more pleasant experience!


Any ball cap will do. But a Lifeguard hat or Straw hat will cover your neck and shoulders as well as your face.


Protect those peepers! The glare of the sun off of the water and sand can cause photokeratitis… a long word for messed up eyes. Grab a pair of quality sunglasses that are polarized for the best protection.

Portable charger:

A day at the beach will likely mean a few pictures of the kids, and streaming your favorite music as you lounge. You’ll probably burn through your battery faster than expected, especially when your phone heats up in the direct sunlight.


I like backpacks for ease of carry, and they can be zipped up to keep those pesky seagulls from stealing your snacks right from your bag. Stuff a plastic trash bag for those wet kids clothes later on, and avoid soggy back seats!

Also, I recommend designating one bag as your beach bag. Don’t use a nice laptop style bag, or any bag that you wouldn’t want sand in.

You KNOW how hard it is to get sand out of those…spaces.


Lifeguard Tower in Manhattan beach at sunset.

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