It only took us one trip to Seaside, Florida to fall head over heels in love with the charming beachside community along 30A.
And as we approach our fifth annual Florida trip happening at the end of March, I can confidently call our family beach(Sea)side professionals, able to make a hike to the beach, two kids in tow, and remain there for hours without concern. A lot of this has to do with what I think is a low-maintenance approach to how we spend our time, not to mention it certainly helps to be in a season of having two able-bodied and independent kids, but nevertheless we are beach people through and through now!
I’ve soaked up my fair share of beachside checklists and I think the must-have lists for the beach can get a little long and tedious. Aside from basic crowd-pleasing snacks and water, which we usually pack in our bag or simply purchase from the beachside cabana or restaurant, we feel there’s really quite little to bring with us to the beach along 30A to have a good time. So for the sake of today’s post I want to share a few of my favorite Seaside-specific items; some tried and true, and a couple I’m lusting after for our next trip south.
And a small disclaimer about Seaside!
If you’ve been to Seaside you’ll get what I mean here but to us, it feels like an upper scale beach destination. Everything is a little fancier (and pricier) in Seaside and it’s quite a different experience from say, a day we might spend at the lake here in Michigan. We typically dress a little nicer in Seaside not because we feel like we have to but because it’s a way to mark the trip as something fun, special, and exciting out of our normal everyday routine. And we certainly love that the atmosphere in Seaside lends to a detour from the ordinary.
While both Andrew and I are what we consider ‘average’ clothing consumers, we DO save up for our spring and summer wardrobe needs each year so that we can shop for slightly more special pieces in anticipation of our Florida trip. Since we do more than just go to the beach in Seaside, we’re usually thinking more broadly about what to pack. We pack so much more than beach clothes because we love making our trip an experience, and this is a big part of the motivation behind why we financially prioritize this trip.
Ok, onto the good stuff!
MUSTARD TUNIC If I’m not in my morning run attire, pajamas, or swimming with the kids, I’m usually wearing breezy type of cover up while I’m in Seaside. This style of cover up – a fancier version of the more casual cotton options out there – is colorful for the beach or pool but also perfect to wear to lunch or dinner. Trade out your flip flops for wedges and throw on some earrings to switch up the look! Bonus: us short gals can get away with this cover up as a dress!
SUNGLASSES I snagged a pair of incredible sunglasses last summer at a local Grand Rapids boutique and everytime I wear them get asked where they are from. They are the exact shape and color of these and extremely flattering with my round face shape. Classic, timeless, stylish, and affordable! My kind of sunglasses and always on my face when I’m not wearing my big floppy sunhat!
RATTAN EARRINGS Anything rattan reads as coastal to me and these playful baubles would be perfect for a day trip to the town square or a socially distant dinner picnic by the beach. The size makes them the perfect lightweight earring option but the dangle-factor keeps them just a little bit fancier than studs.
LIP MASK I’m skeptical to try new beauty products because I like what I currently use and lean more on the low-maintenance side, but this lip mask treatment is really as spectacular as everyone claims. I have the strawberry version, which gets lathered on my lips religiously every night, but this lemon sorbet options feels appropriate for lips that have been in the hot sun all day.
CUYAYA CARD SLEEVE As we slowly start to transition away from carrying a tradition diaper bag to the essentials only in my purse, I’m drawn to seamless ways to fit in everything safely. I love Cuyana’s brand aesthetic, their approach to sustainability, and how long their products last because of their craftsmanship. This leather card sleeve is a sleek way to make sure you have your essentials on you, like your ID and bank card (for those beachside beverages of course!), while you-re beach-bound.
LITTLE UNICORN BEACH BLANKET If there is one thing on this list I love the most, it’s this. We purchased this beach blanket the first year we went to Seaside in 2017 and it’s held up beautifully for every trip so far plus four summer’s worth of picnics, lake days, forest adventures, and more. It’s a nice size at 5 by 7 feet, water-resistent to handle spills, and compact / foldable with an over the shoulder strap for easy transport to and from your destination. I actually keep ours in our car because we use it so much and always pack it on our carry on so we have easy right away access to it when we get to Seaside!
LEOPARD HEADBAND The headband trend came on strong last summer and I suspect it’ll be around for a while longer. This easy way to accessorize your hair, or in the very least keep it out of your face, can be done in so many ways! And what’s more fun than a leopard print headband with a classic knot? This is such an easy way to accessorize a look without looking too weighed down.
YELLOW SLIDES For years I used to pack plastic flip flops as my go to beach shoes but it’s been a nice change of pace over the last few years to consider bringing a slightly fancier pair in their place. For only a few dollars more than the big name brand flops you know I’m talking about, these charming yellow and white-piped bow slides are a steal.
FLORAL SUNDRESS The beautiful blue Tuckernuck dress I’m wearing in the above photos is unfortunately no longer stocked but this similar gown is just as beautiful, about a fraction of the cost, and a little more casual, too. The fabric is so breezy and light, and the fit is really flattering considering the cost. I know I’ll be getting good use of this dress far beyond our time in Seaside.
BLUSH SCRUNCHIE Another trend I can get behind? The scrunchie trend. My hair is currently quite long and unruly (I haven’t gotten it cut in almost a year!) so often it’s tossed up in a bun or pony tail held together with a scrunchie. I love how soft the scrunchie is around my hair but more so, how it can contribute to the look of my hair in a way that a regular elastic just can’t. Bonus point! A scrunchie is a better choice for tying up wet hair, and my hair is typically more wet in Seaside than it is here in Michigan.
MESH TOTE Next to the beach blanket, this is my second favorite item here. We use this mesh tote to get the boys’ beach toys between our rental and the water. It’s large enough to fit a good amount of toys but not too big that I feel like I’m carting a toy store around. But my favorite perk? When it’s time to leave the beach I throw everything in the bag, hold the handles closed, and then drag it through the water a couple times to rinse off the sand. This eliminates a soaked bag, unwanted sand in our house, and saves me a toy rinsing session later on. Oh! And all of those little trinkets your kids want to bring to the beach? Not with this bag!
OLIVE ONE PIECE I feel like I’m at an age where some swimsuits don’t feel appropriate as an almost 35-year-old mama of two but I also don’t think I’m ready for a tankini LOL. Even with a pretty boyish and muscular figure this swimsuit made me feel feminine, trim, and confident. The olive color is so beautiful, the ribbing makes the suit feel high-end, and the price tag was very reasonable considering I took a guess on the size and bought it online (I’m a small and this fit me like a glove!).
STRIPED FANNY PACK On our last Seaside trip, I was up every single morning at 7:00 am to run two miles of intervals around town. This was one of my most cherished parts of the trip and was so life-giving for me. Each morning I ended my run at the public ocean access and after soaking up the salty morning air, would walk to Amavida, buy an iced soy latte, and then walk back the half a mile to our rental listening to my music or just savoring the silence. My running fanny pack held my phone, hand sanitizer, debit card, and face mask, making my run AND little morning ritual a seamless treat.
BACKPACK MARKET TOTE I was thrilled to receive this leather handle market backpack as a Christmas gift. It’s really deep and sturdy making it a perfect (and chic!) option to get my essentials to the water. I also love a backpack-style bag as it frees up my hands for other things that are tricky to carry like kids! I know this will be put to good use well and beyond our stay in Florida.
While my dress is no longer available my earrings are! Find them here.
Do you have any beach or pool must haves? I realize the list above doesn’t dip into the realm of water-safety, kiddo gear and toys, or clothing, so feel free to share suggestions if you have any. It seems like kids gadgets and clothing are always changing at a rapid pace, much like the arena of women’s clothing and accessories! I’d love to hear from you below.