Family Adventures: Exploring Imperial Sand Dunes With A Toddler & What To Pack For a Day Trip

Can’t decide where to travel to next?

How about Imperial Sand Dunes? It is 3.5 hours away from Orange County. Imperial Sand Dunes was never on my bucket list, but it was added and crossed out last weekend when my husband and I decided to pay a visit! Initially my husband wanted to only “stop-by” for a hour, but we ended up staying all day (kidding, we walked around for 5 hours total).

Once you arrive at Imperial Sand Dunes there is a recreation area where you can park and then from there you can walk everywhere! It is the Sand Dunes so expect to use your leg muscles! It is Mommy Approved – Olivia (my 18 month old) had the best time out there with plenty of room to run around! She was running up and down the hills & flipping all over the place, but the sand was so soft she didn’t get hurt. It was a great day, indeed! Because it is out of nowhere (there are a few gas stations near by) I highly recommend you bring some light snacks for your family! Another recommendation is to bring/carry your drinks and snacks with you instead of leaving them in your car because one mile literally feels like 1 hour and you might be out longer than you expected.

Tips on what to bring: You will need a maxpack to keep your water and baby’s milk cold. One of our current favorites at the moment is the Igloo MaxCold Maxpack from Target! It’s light and easy to carry on your back and keeps your water cold for hours!

We also took with us a small picnic basket we purchased from amazon that was no bigger than my diaper bag. We were able to pack the basket with Olivia’s blanket, some outfits in case she needed to change, healthy snacks both for mommy, daddy and baby Olivia, including fruits and sandwiches.

Needless to say, I hope this not only inspires you to add Imperial Sand Dunes to your bucket list, but let your next family adventure take you here! We want to take you around Southern California – where should we go next?

Leave a Comment


  1. 11.30.18

    How beautiful is this! I have never been to the sand dunes but I have heard a lot about them and am dying to go! Thanks for sharing and you have a beautiful family!

  2. 12.1.18

    Hi Katie! Thanks for dropping by! I have no words to describe how incredibly beautiful the Sand Dunes is in person! I hope you visit soon and share your photos too! ❤️

  3. 12.1.18

    Gorgeous! Added to my bucket list!

    xo, Ilse

  4. 12.1.18

    Thank you for dropping by <3 & you will love the Sand Dunes!

  5. 12.31.18
    Unknown said:

    Oh my gosh! The photography is stunning and I love how your blog is laid out. Well done girl! Found you on the #scsister facebook page!
    Happy New Year!!

  6. 12.31.18
    Unknown said:

    This is so beautiful and your family is so cute, Did you all have sand everywhere once it was finished?

  7. 12.31.18

    Oh my GOSH the images you were able to capture out there are absolutely unreal!!! They look otherworldly!!!!!!! We have Jockey's Ridge which is a sand dune about four hours from where I live. I love visiting!

  8. 10.23.19
    Andy said:

    Is there any particular entrance you used? There seem to be many and we are going with a toddler. Yeey

    • 10.24.19
      admin said:

      Yes, sweetie! Great question- There is only one rest area around here & that is where you want to park. There are only 4 parking space with a 1-2 hour limit (I forgot!) But with little ones, I highly recommend you to just rest here, walk around in this area, and move your car but stay in this area so you don’t get tow. We saw people park on the side of the road and walked around, but it doesn’t look safe to me. I also recommend going 2-3 hours before sunset! 🙂 Have fun & take lots of photos! I wanna go back now.

  9. 6.21.20

    Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

    • 6.22.20
      admin said:

      I am glad you enjoyed it!!! Please share with your family and friends 🙂

  10. 9.30.20

    Exactly that’s close to my heart… Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?

  11. 10.19.20

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