Best Beaches in California for Families

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

California is home to some of the country’s most stunning beaches and boasts more than a thousand miles of coastline. From SoCal to NorCal, we’ve selected some of the best family-friendly beaches the state has to offer. 

Whether your family is looking for a quiet place to enjoy the natural splendor of a rugged coastline, or lively playgrounds and amusement parks with activities for the whole family – The Golden State has you covered! All you have to do is pack your beach bag and hit the coast. 

La Jolla Shores Beach, La Jolla 

La Jolla Shores in La Jolla San Diego, Southern California Coast
La Jolla Shores in La Jolla San Diego, Southern California Coast

The beaches of La Jolla in Southern California are worth a full day of exploration and perhaps even a long weekend if your schedule allows. 

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Just outside of San Diego, La Jolla is a beautiful community with rocky shores, wildlife, and a variety of awesome swimming spots. 

La Jolla Shores Beach has lifeguards on duty and nice sandy areas to relax and build sandcastles in between swims. There are nice friendly waves in this area, perfect for older kids to catch some surf on boogie boards. 

There is also a nearby playground, Beachside Kellogg Park, to keep younger kids entertained if they tire of the beach itself. Families can enjoy a nice walk under the Scripps Pier and the Golden Hour is a particularly perfect time to snag some family photos. 

La Jolla Shores Beach is also home to San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park if your family is interested in kayaking, snorkeling, or diving. They also have surf lessons that are perfect for families. 

A few minutes away by car, in the Village neighborhood, families can view seals and sea lions at home in their natural habitat. Most afternoons, hundreds of seals and sea lions can be seen relaxing on the rocky shores. 

Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica 

Sunset in Santa Monica, view on the amusement park
Sunset in Santa Monica, view on the amusement park

A family favorite, Santa Monica State Beach has an amazing playground, an amusement park, and 3.5 miles of coastline to enjoy. 

The North Beach Playground is a popular place for families, especially because it is a universally accessible playground – everyone can be included in the fun! 

The Santa Monica Pier amusement park is another great place to spend a full day or a half-day and can add some variety for families once they’ve gotten their fill of sand and surf. 

At the playground kids of all ages can enjoy endless entertainment, including rides, an aquarium, and lots of delicious amusement park food.

East Beach, Santa Barbara 

East Beach, Santa Barbara California Aerial Photo
East Beach, Santa Barbara California Aerial Photo

For active families, East Beach is an awesome choice for a fabulous beach day. This beach has an awesome waterfront that is perfect for bicycling along the coast or visiting the Andree Clark Bird Refuge. 

There are volleyball courts that are open to the public, just make sure you bring your own ball. If you’re looking for even more fun, you can rent boogie boards, paddleboards, and kayaks at East Beach rentals. 

For grown-ups who want to lounge the day away while watching their kids play in the sand and surf, beach chairs and umbrellas are also available for rent. 

Arroyo Burro Beach, Santa Barbara

Arroyo Burro Beach
Arroyo Burro Beach

For many families, a day at the beach isn’t complete without their four-legged family members. Arroyo Burro is the perfect dog-friendly choice so that the entire family can enjoy California’s splendid coasts. 

Locals call this area Hendry’s Beach, which is great to keep in mind if you have to stop for directions. It’s a well-known surf spot, so families can enjoy watching surfers catch waves while playing fetch and building sandcastles. 

Lovers Point Park, Monterey 

Lovers Point Park on the Monterey Peninsula in Pacific Grove
Lovers Point Park on the Monterey Peninsula in Pacific Grove

For families with small kids who may want to escape the bigger waves, Lovers Point Park is perfect. The water is incredibly calm and clear.

It’s very shallow, so this is a great swimming beach where you won’t have to worry about the powerful crashing waves that are present at many California beaches. 

This is a great place to rent some kayaks or paddle boards and explore the cove or play some beach volleyball. There is also a nice park with a picnic area, snacks, and a swimming pool for kids. 

Crispy Field, San Francisco 

Crispy Field, San Francisco 
Crispy Field, San Francisco

For families looking for a beach day close to San Francisco, Crispy Field is an excellent place to spend the day by the water. This stretch of beach is part of the Golden Gate Promenade and is part of the San Francisco Bike Trail. 

Take a break from the many urban attractions that San Francisco has to offer, and enjoy a day outside with your family. It can add some nice variety to round out a vacation to the San Francisco area. 

Families can enjoy biking along and taking in the sites including the Golden Gate Bridge. This is a dog-friendly beach, making it perfect for the entire family – four-legged kids included! 

The water in Northern California is rather chilly – if not downright frigid. In the summer months, you will still see plenty of people brave enough to take a dip. 

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

Another NorCal favorite, Glass Beach offers a truly unique beach day. As its name implies, this beach is one of the best places in the country to collect beach glass. 

Instead of sand, the entire beach is made up of colorful tiny pieces of glass. The water is very cold and the surf can be rough, so swimming at Glass Beach is not encouraged, but families will hardly miss splashing around when there are so many treasures to discover. 

Spend hours strolling the coast, and discovering unique colorful glass – remnants of early glass bottles that have been reshaped from years of pounding waves. 

With over a thousand miles of beaches to choose from, California has a variety of beaches for the entire family to enjoy. A trip along the coastline of the Golden State’s coastline makes for an unforgettable experience for families. The hardest part will likely be choosing which of the many wonderful beaches to visit. 

With plenty of activists and options to keep everyone entertained, you can’t go wrong! All of these beloved California beaches make excellent choices for all types of families. There is something for everyone. The only thing left to do is pack up, and hit the beach! 

See Also

US Beaches

Best Beaches in California for Families

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!