Remember when all you needed for a trip to the beach was a towel and a trashy paperback? Well, times have changed, haven't they, mama? With toddlers in tow, you're going to need to come prepared with ways to keep them busy and happy. Namely, sand toys. Buckets, sifters, molds and even trucks have been known to keep little ones engaged for hours as they scoop and dig. And entertained kids = more relaxed adults. (Of course, you're also going to need a metric ton of snacks, water, sunscreen, an entire armload of towels, a tent, umbrella...)

Related: Taking baby to the beach? 17 must-have products ⛱️

Not heading to the beach? (Why? It's so fun and easy! 😉) No problem. These awesome sand toys are also perfect for your backyard sandbox.

B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset

B. toys

$17.95

Wagon & Beach Playset

Everything they need for a day of fun at the beach, all packed up in a wagon they want to drag along themselves? Yes, please.

Hape Beach Toy Essential Set

Hape

$19.99

Beach Toy Essential Set

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop, the Hape beach toy essential set is it. Not only does it include 11 high-quality BPA-free sand toys, but they’re all conveniently packed up in a mesh backpack that even a toddler can carry.

Blue Ginkgo Silicone Beach Toys

Blue Ginkgo

$30.99

Silicone Beach Toys

Same idea, but make it aesthetic. I mean, just look at this gorgeous set. Even better, the pieces are made from silicone which you can crush inside a suitcase if you’re taking the show on the road.

Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set

Melissa & Doug

$11.99

Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set

Outdoor mess-making > indoor mess-making. Let them live out their Master Chef Junior fantasies at the beach instead of the kitchen with this super-fun sand baking kit which comes with shell-shaped measuring cups, octopus whisk, crab mixing spoon, and a mixing bowl. Bonus! The turtle lid on the mixing bowl doubles as a sifter.

Kisangel Silicone Bucket

Kisangel

$14.95

Collapsible Bucket

Perfectly tot-sized and oh-so-portable, these silica gel buckets are absolutely genius. Since they squish, they take up only their fair share of space!

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Cookie-Baking Set

Melissa & Doug

$13.99

Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Cookie-Baking Set

If your little baker just can’t get enough, this Melissa & Doug set has all the tools needed to make enough sand “cookies” to satiate Cookie Monster.

HABA Dinosaur Sand Glove

HABA

$19.99

Dinosaur Sand Glove

Budding paleontologists will be thrilled to dig for dino bones with the ultra-cool dinosaur sand glove from HABA. Let them scoop and explore or bury it for a big reveal.

Hape World Landmark Sand Molds

Hape

$19.99

World Landmark Sand Molds

It might be awhile before they’re traveling the world, but it’s never too early to learn about all the cool things there are to see out there. Take world architecture lessons to the beach with these fun molds of the Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Colosseum, and Eiffel Tower.

Matty's Toy Stop Scoops

Matty's Toy Stop

$14.95

Long Handle Scoops

These sturdy scoops are great for little hands and come as a set of three, so no worries if one goes missing.

Spielstabil

$19.99

Nesting Stacker

How much fun can five cups be? TONS, as it turns out. Not only do they fit together and build a colorful tower, but some have holes in the bottom for pouring water or sand. Kids will find endless ways to play while the thick construction means they’ll last a good long while. (And when sand play season is over, they make the perfect bath toy!)

Matty's Toy Stop Shovel

Matty's Toy Stop

$27.95

Heavy Duty Shovel

If digging a giant hole is part of the day’s activities, they’re going to need something more than a wimpy 6 inch plastic scoop. Equip them with one of the heavy duty wooden shovels from Matty’s Toy Stop. At 31 inches long, they’re a scaled down version of what you might use for gardening but work just as hard!

Spielstabil Watering Can

Spielstabil

$15.99

Classic Yellow Watering Can

Spielstabil shows up on this list a few times for good reason—their quality is unbeatable. Not only is this sweet little watering can dubbed “indestructible” but it also comes with a ten year guarantee. The two handle design is great for toddlers whether they’re playing in the sand or tending to the garden.

Collapsible beach buckets

Joyin

$20.99

Foldable Buckets

Filed under “what took so long,” these brilliant buckets collapse to make fun on-the-go easy-peasy. Made from BPA-free plastic and food-grade silicone, the space saving design is perfect for everything from sand lugging to keeping pups hydrated on adventures. It also comes with three scoops!

Cat Construction Truck Set

Cat

$14.99

Construction Truck Set

Toddlers have been known to spend hours scooping, dumping and driving trucks along the sand. Give yourself that gift of peace and quiet with this engaging construction set! The parts move to mimic the real thing and they’re designed to take a beating—after all, they are CAT!

SupMLC Mesh beach Bag

SupMLC

$10.99

Mesh Beach Bag

Pro-tip: Sequester the sand toys. Mixing and mingling guarantees sandy snacks and no one likes those. This super-affordable mesh bag makes it easy to collect all their toys and treasures without contaminating everything else or bringing the beach home with you. The generous opening makes it easy to get everything in there and it conveniently folds up into its own little pocket when you’re done.

A version of this story was originally published April 1, 2021. It has been updated.