I grew up in a family that always collected Sea Shells.
When we lived in Pennsylvania, we'd drive to the Jersey Shore every few weeks in the summer. On the weekend. Along with thousands of others. Getting there was a clear shot, but coming home was a traffic jam as all the day trippers (us) and the people who had rented for a week were all driving back home. So, the two hour drive to get there was a three or four hour drive home - two parents and four children. (We lived in Pottstown, just outside of Philadelphia. at that time.)
Side note- When my brother Don was a preschooler, he would wander the shore. Mom could always find him because he wore the tiniest bathing suit there. Also he kept asking girls and ladies to marry him. One year we stayed a week across the street from Grace Kelly's family's house in Stone Harbor, NJ. (you know - the one who married the prince of Monaco.) Yes, he asked her to marry him, too. The year she married the prince, my father teased my brother that he should sue for breach of promise. :)
At that time, the Jersey shore at Ocean City, New Jersey always had large (5 inch or more) clam shells on the beach. (The other interesting shore thing was the sand crabs we could dig up and let crawl on our hands. Or go beach walking at night and see thousands of them up on the beach crawling around.) Yes, there were also Sand Pipers that we kids would chase and make fly away.
My dad would use these large clam shells as ash trays at home - he smoked Chesterfield cigarettes and no he didn't die of lung cancer - he died after having a heart attack.
Those were the only shells we found in those days at the Jersey shore. But later, when my parents moved to Florida and I brought my own children there to swim in the bathtub warm water, we found lots of different shells which we collected.
And now that I live near southern California beaches, I've collected more. Yes, I still do have one of dad's ashtray clam shells, plus the Florida shells, and here in California I collect beautiful scallop shells plus sand dollars and some other odd ones. I have them on display on my (gas) fireplace mantle.
Why did my father insist we swim in the ocean instead of the local city pool? Because in that time Polio was rampant and one of the places people thought you could catch it was in the crowded public pools - so he'd rather protect us by taking that long drive to the shore. No, I do not remember how our family fit in the car, especially considering the bassinet for baby Marion took up so much space.