Best Beaches in San Diego for Families
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7 of the Best Beaches in San Diego for Families

When traveling with children, your top priority (aside from their safety and wellbeing) is that they have the time of their lives. In San Diego, attractions such as LEGOLAND and the San Diego Zoo are fun, but you know what’s ten times better? (And ten times cheaper…)

The beach.

At the beach, children’s imaginations run wild as they splash in the waves, build a sand castle, and explore tidepools. It’s also the perfect place for quality family time under the sun. However, with 70+ miles of coastline spots to choose from, you’re probably wondering which are the best beaches in San Diego for families?

If you’re bringing the kids to San Diego, these family-friendly beaches are sure to be the highlight of their trip.

Moonlight Beach
Photo Credit: Tim Buss / Flickr

1. Moonlight Beach

Over in Encinitas, CA, you’ll find Moonlight Beach. In addition to beachfront bliss, the state park offers grassy areas for picnicking and kids to play in. Additional family-friendly amenities include onsite bathroom, a snack bar, and a playground.

Families also love the gradual slope of the beach, meaning kids can play safely without a significant drop-off. Plus, even with such a slow slope, lifeguards are on duty to keep an eye on beachgoers.

Do know that this beach gets packed during peak seasons such as summer. Either visit in the off-season or arrive early to claim your spot by the water. Free street parking is available as well as a paid parking lot.

Hotel Del Coronado and Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach starts right as you step out of the Hotel Del Coronado.

2. Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is among the best beaches in San Diego for families due to its proximity to the Hotel del Coronado. In fact, the beach starts right on the hotel’s property line!

This particular beach is ideal for families who enjoy surfing, boogie boarding, paddle boarding, or just splashing around in the waves. Tidepools are also at the beach. Make a family activity out of spotting aquatic life and plants within each tidepool!

With a mile and a half of beachfront, the beach also boasts a rather flat and gradual slope. Parents won’t have to worry about their children suddenly dropping off into the water. Although, if something were to happen, the beach has lifeguards on duty during the peak season.

Torrey Pines Beach and the road that leads to it
Photo Credit: ANDR3W A / Flickr

3. Torrey Pines State Beach

Is your family more of the adventurous type? If so, spend your beach day at Torrey Pines State Beach. In addition to the beach, families can traverse the Torrey Pines hiking trails for extra adventures. Be sure to peruse the tidepools, too. Plenty of interesting aquatic life is known to inhabit the Torrey Pines tide pools!

You’ll also love seeing the waves crash against the diverse beach landscape rather than the typical sandy shores. Keep a watchful eye on children around the bluffs and trails, just in case.

Families should stick to the north end of the beach for kid-friendly crowds. The other side of the beach tends to attract more of the adult and party crowds.

La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores is a great choice for families with kids of all ages.

4. La Jolla Shores

Since you’re interested in finding the best beaches in San Diego for families, you might already know about La Jolla Shores. This San Diego hotspot is a popular beach choice for families—and for a good reason!

Your kids will have the opportunity to spot seals and sea lions while at La Jolla Shores. If they do, remind your kids to give the animals respect and keep their distance. It’s okay to take a picture from afar, but do not get too close!

Since La Jolla Shores is right in front of Kellogg Park, you’re also never too far from sandwich shops, ice cream parlors, and other seaside treats. The park also boasts bathrooms, play structures for the kids, and picnic areas for families. And, with snorkel shops also close by, your family can rent snorkeling gear for the day!

An empty Mission beach
Photo Credit: Patrickcam / Flickr

5. Mission Beach

Another top family-friendly destination is Mission Beach. Due to its location near Belmont Park, this beach draws massive crowds during the summer. If you’re looking for a calmer beach for younger children, Mission Bay is only a block away.

While at Mission Beach, kids love to go boogie boarding, construct elaborate sand sculptures, and search for aquatic life. Between the crowds and the mile length of beach, Mission Beach also has nine permanent lifeguard stations to control the area. You can have peace of mind that an extra set of eyes is watching over your children as they splash around.

Photo Credit: Chad MacDonald / Flickr

6. South Ponto Beach

Located over in Carlsbad, South Ponto Beach is the south end of South Carlsbad State Beach. The beach is divided up into North Ponto and South Ponto. This beach is gigantic! In the summer, the beach will fill up, but due to its enormous size, it doesn’t feel overcrowded. However, to have the beach all to yourself, visiting in the off-season is always recommended for families.

If you visit during the right season, you may also get a glimpse of a whale or two! Whale watching plus the ample swimming and surfing opportunities are among the reasons why South Ponto Beach is one of the best beaches in San Diego for families.

The beach offers free street parking as well as a paid lot.

Silver Strand State Beach
By Niceley [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

7. Silver Strand State Beach

Last but certainly not least is Silver Strand State Beach. With beaches along the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, Silver Strand offers plenty of beachfront fun for all. Families can enjoy a game of beach volleyball, bring a picnic, or go boating, among other kid-friendly beachside activities.

Since the beach is so large in size, four parking lots are onsite, which accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles. It is recommended that families arrive early to claim a parking spot and a great place along the beach. Additional beach amenities include bathrooms, the Silver Strand Beach Café open only in the summer, and spaces for camping.

With so much to do, it’s not hard to see why families love visiting Silver Strand State Beach.

The Best Beaches in San Diego for Families: 7 Spots You Cannot Miss

Which beach will your family visit? Let us know below!

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