We FINALLY made it to the beach last week. We’re going on a week long vacation to OBX in October, but that’s not the same as a normal beach day here in New England. Last year we did a weekend in Maine at York Beach, but I had my mom and husband for backup and Fallou was only 3 months old, so he was pretty easy.
Our day started with an early, but not too early, wake up around 7am. We went on a weekday so I wasn’t too worried about traffic, and I was happy to ease into the day. We all got dressed, packed up the car and then made a few pit stops: my mom’s for chairs, the grocery store for some snacks and Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We were finally on our way about 9:30am.
We’re about 2 ½ hours from the coast, so it is a relatively long drive. Thankfully my toddler slept most of the way and Fota and I just jammed to the radio and gabbed. We hit a bit of traffic at one point, but other than that it was smooth sailing. We arrived at our destination about 11:45am and were on the beach by noon.
We went to Hampton Beach, NH. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid so I wanted my kids to have the same experience. While it’s not the classiest place in America — they have done a lot of improvements over the last several years that make it less of an eyesore and all that really matters is that we have a fun and safe day at the beach.
Something I knew I wanted to bring was our roll-away cooler with snacks to keep us nourished throughout the day without having to go up to the boardwalk. I love ours because it has a separate “dry” section on the top for crackers, paper plates and napkins as well as a front zipped pocket and several side mesh pockets. Oodles of storage! I think this kind of cooler is perfect for the beach because it’s big enough for plenty of snacks/drinks and easily portable. We packed ours with cheese sticks, crackers, a large container of watermelon with blueberries and plenty of water and some juice pouches.
I had set out a plan of strictly beach time with snacks from the cooler for most of the day, then we’d pack up and head back to the car to get changed, then stroll the boardwalk and have dinner and play some games. And we executed it perfectly.
Thankfully there were still prime spots available on the small hill just above the tide. I wanted this kind of spot so if Fallou and I were up at our site, I could still have a clear view of Fota in the water. Also if we were down at the water, I could still keep an eye on our site. While I’ve never personally been robbed at the beach, I know it happens and it never hurts to be vigilant.
Another must-have for families at the beach is some kind of shaded area. We have a small pop up tent that’s relatively simple to get up and down. I’ll admit, we’ve only used a few times so far, so it’s still a bit of a learning curve for me getting the thing up and down with ease. I’m sure our fellow beach goers were questioning whether we’d get ours up or not. I bought ours last year when Fallou was really little knowing he’d need to be in the shade most of the day. It’s got plenty of room for our bags and room to change him when needed or to take short beach snooze.
After getting our bags situated and blankets laid under the tent, we lathered up with SPF and headed down to the water!
BBBRRRRRR. The ocean water here in New England (NH & ME area for us mostly) is usually pretty chilly. On a rare occasion I have experienced bath-like temperatures, but more often than not it’s a shock to your system.
Fota ran right in to ride the waves while Fallou and I played ankle deep. He was so fascinated by the rushing ebb and flow of the tide. He would run towards the water, then retreat once it hit his little toes, squealing with excitement the whole time. Towards the end of the day he was getting braver and darting further out into the surf. I’m a water baby myself, so it was relief for me to see him develop his own love for the ocean.
We played in the water for about an hour and then headed back up to have a snack and play in the sand. I didn’t go crazy with beach toys – we just brought a large bucket with some sand tools and a water sprayer thing Fota brought. It was plenty for us and Fallou was happy to just play with his hands for the most part.
At about 4:30pm we started to pack up to head back to the car. We showered off at the spouts at the pavilion and got on our fresh clothes. A leisurely walk up the boardwalk brought back all the nostalgic sights and smells. Blink’s fried dough, the Ballroom Casino, the fresh squeezed lemonade stand (which I absolutely got for the ride home). We decided on one of the oceanfront restaurants to have a sit-down meal. After dinner we made our way to the arcade. Fota could barely contain her excitement while Fallou, well…
Playland Arcade was full of sugar high kids running from one end to other. The creaky old wood floors littered with sand and some stray candy wrappers. Somehow, Fallou slept peacefully the whole time (until I woke him up for the photo booth). Fota ran around to hop on different driving games until I wrangled over her to play some skee-ball so she’d get some tickets (and so I could play because I LOVE skee-ball).
Amazingly, I managed to get out of there only spending $10 ($5 of which was for the photo booth). She spent her 150 ticket points on a generous handful of candy (which was gone by the time we got home).
We strolled back to the car, got some snacks from the cooler for the ride home, buckled everybody in and then started the trek back home. Traffic was a breeze coming home, which was nice. One of my favorite parts of a beach trip are the radio stations. There’s a specific station that I LOVE and it’s out of Boston, so I only listen in when heading to and from the beach. It’s a throwback hip hop station called Hot 96.9 and it never disappoints. Even throughout me rocking out to some favorite old school jams Fallou slept most of the way (until we were about 10 minutes from home and he wanted OUT). We pulled into the driveway about 9:15pm.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day with my kids. It was my first time doing a solo day trip with them like this and to be honest I was a bit weary of how it would turn out. I don’t know why I was so worried about it, they were awesome. We had so much fun and made a ton of great memories together. I can’t wait to go on more day trips like this together.
What’s your favorite part of a beach day?