The Best San Diego Beaches for Families

March 18, 2016

Just as the state California has so much diversity in geography, weather, and populations, the San Diego beaches each have their unique spirit and offerings, so it’s good to know which are best to for you and your family. 

Whether your family is young, and you have toddlers waddling their way to the water, or your kids are teens, and they want to learn how to surf, San Diego has a great beach for you! Here is my list for the best San Diego beaches for families.

Coronado Beach

Dusk at Coronado Beach - San Diego, California, USABest for: All Ages

This beach is my favorite beach in San Diego, simply because of how massive it is. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you can always find your own space to layout, play paddleball or play football. You might not be too close to the water, but if you want some relaxation time AND the opportunity to play in the calm waves, this beach is perfect. You won’t have people stepping over you. The coolest thing about this beach, however, is the fact that just north of it is the landing strip to the Navy airport. On working days, you can watch massive fighter jets fly around and land.

Insider tips: Parking is tough near the beach, but the entire pseudo island of Coronado has parking throughout the residential streets, and it’s free! Dogs are welcome on the north end of the beach.

Mission Beachview of sandy beach coastline on a sunny day at Mission Beach in San Diego, California, USA
Best for: Teens and older

At Mission Beach, you’ll find your quintessential SoCal boardwalk, a historic amusement park with rides and games, small waves for the novice surfer, and a bayside to the east for boat launching, picnics in the grass, and biking. Since there is so much to do in Mission Beach, that it attracts thousands of people during the summer, and that’s why I think it’s a great beach for teens. They can bike around, learn how to surf, and get burritos after riding the historic rollercoaster at Belmont Park.

Insider tips: If you decide to stay at the beach, or in the area after sunset, be sure to stay for the firework show at Sea World at 9pm.

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores
Best for: All Ages

This beach has shark-infested waters that do not pose any threats to beach visitors. You can rent snorkels to get a glance of the bottom-feeding leopard sharks, and tell all of your friends and family at home that you swam with sharks in San Diego! This beautiful beach sits in between the Torrey Pines cliffs and the 7 Caves of La Jolla, offering visitors incredible sunset views and a thrilling kayak experience.

Insider tips: There are bonfire pits, a grassy area for picnicking near the water, but parking is tough. You may want to consider taking a kayak tour with one of the tour companies off of Avenida de la Playa.

Moonlight State Beach Photo Credit: Bjorn/flickr

Moonlight State Beach
Best for: All Ages

This North County beach is a popular one amongst the locals. It has a play area for kids, volleyball nets, bonfires, picnic tables, and a beach rental shop. The waves don’t get huge, making it a great place for surfers and swimmers. It does get crowded, but the beach is long, so you may have to walk north or south to get the perfect spot to set up camp.

Insider tips: Parking is limited, and you will have to walk back uphill to your car. There is one way in and out of the beach, so I would suggest against trying to park in their parking lot past 10am in the summer. Kids and teens can take surf lessons at this beach.

view of del mar powerhouse beach in San Diego, California, USA

Del Mar Powerhouse Park at the Beach
Best for: All Ages

This patch of grassy area just above the sand to the beach is a huge family favorite. You will find families of all sizes with picnics on the grass while kids play in the sand and in the water. The train track is situated just behind the grass, making it a fun way for young kids to learn about trains, and watch them in action.

Insider tips: I would suggest grabbing lunch or dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. You can walk up to the Plaza for sunset and outdoor dining.
Now that you have a good idea of which beaches to visit while you’re in San Diego, you can start prepping for your big beach day! Don’t forget your sunscreen, towels , nd toys! And, remember to check the weather because even the best San Diego beaches can be cooler than expected, even in the middle of summer!

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