Best Beaches in San Diego For Families

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

Eager to explore the fine sandy beaches of San Diego? We’ve compiled a list of the best family-friendly beaches in the city. 

Before we get into the list, though, let’s discuss what it means for a beach to be family-friendly. In order for you, your partner, your kids, and maybe even the grandparents to enjoy a beach, it must meet the following criteria.

What Makes A Beach Family-Friendly?

A beach becomes family-friendly when it has:

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  • Easy parking
  • Clean shores (i.e. no debris, garbage, or other waste)
  • Hygiene amenities (such as showers, restrooms, and foot showers)
  • Clean water
  • Child-friendly attractions such as playgrounds and grassy areas for ball games
  • Lifeguards on duty
  • Bars, restaurants, and cafes for refreshments 

All of the beaches featured on this list offer these facilities, so you don’t need to worry about refreshments or safety when you arrive.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the list. 

Best Beaches In San Diego For Families

Coronado Central Beach

Boulders along Coronado Central Beach with the Point Loma peninsula in the background.
Boulders along Coronado Central Beach with the Point Loma peninsula in the background.

The golden shores of Coronado Central Beach encapsulate everything California is known for. Its pristine sand, deep blue waters, and friendly atmosphere make it one of the best beaches in San Diego for families. 

Regarded as one of the country’s finest, Coronado Central Beach has several family-friendly amenities such as a playground and several small play areas. 

Parking is not an issue here as the lot is closeby to the shore, meaning that you don’t have to walk far to enjoy the pleasures of this wonderful beach. 

Del Mar City Beach 

A beautiful aerial, birds eye view of Del Mar in San Diego county California
A beautiful aerial, birds eye view of Del Mar in San Diego county California

Del Mar City Beach originates at Powerhouse Park and runs all the way to the San Dieguito River. It’s situated around 25 minutes from the center of San Diego. 

The beach itself is loaded with family-friendly sites such as a grassy playground, restrooms, foot showers, and on-duty lifeguards. You’ll find other families here too, so the beach is a great place to mingle and meet people. 

This does, however, mean that the beach gets very busy during peak times, so be sure to plan in advance and get there early. 

La Jolla Shores Beach 

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

Perhaps the crown jewel of San Diego beaches is La Jolla Shores Beach. Packed with natural beauty, its rich, golden sand and surfable waters are too good to miss. 

However, La Jolla Shores Beach offers a lot more than mere beauty, as it’s consistently ranked as one of California’s most family-friendly beaches. The clean waters are a great place to indulge in watersports whereas the on-site playground is ideal for entertaining the kids. 

There are designated areas for swimming and surfing and it’s even possible to kayak and canoe here. Simply put, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better beach in San Diego than La Jolla Shores.

After your beach day has concluded, you can head to the La Jolla Shores Business District for some shopping and refreshments.

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight beach, Encinitas, California, San Diego County
Moonlight beach, Encinitas, California, San Diego County

Moonlight Beach has all the bells and whistles of a high-quality beach from its on-site playground to its snack bar. The beach is on a gradual decline, making it safe from high tides, and the observant lifeguards are there for your safety. 

Moonlight Beach is located in Encinitas which is around 25 miles away from San Diego. 

Mission Beach 

Wonderful Christmas afternoon at Mission beach, San Diego
Wonderful Christmas afternoon at Mission beach, San Diego

There are actually two beaches in the laid-back community of Mission Beach – the regular beach and Mission Beach South. 

In our opinion, Mission Beach South is the spot to head to if you’re looking for family-friendly adventures. This is due to its proximity to holiday homes and suburban neighborhoods. Furthermore, it’s where you’ll find typical family beach facilities like volleyball courts, showers, and bathrooms. 

The other Mission Beach, the more northern one, is home to Belmont Park – an area the kids will love. You can ride bumper cars, a roller-coaster, visit an arcade, and play mini-golf in this charming seaside amusement park. 

Both Mission Beaches are wonderful places to take the family and it’s up to you to decide which one to visit. 

South Ponto Beach  

South Ponto Beach  
South Ponto Beach

Located on the border of Encinitas and Carlsbad, a visit to South Ponto Beach requires a small detour from San Diego, but this trip is certainly worth it. 

There’s a secluded vibe to this beach due to its underdeveloped surroundings, yet South Ponto beach has amenities such as showers and restrooms for you to use.

Due to its more remote location, there is as much action here as there is on other local beaches. This could either be a good or bad thing, depending on what you want, so be sure to stock up on refreshments and beach-going equipment. 

Cardiff Beach

A much more rustic offering than the o

Cardiff Beach
Cardiff Beach

ther beaches featured on this list, Cardiff Beach has rocky cliff edges and choppy, windswept waters. 

Though it may sound as if it’s located in the middle of nowhere, Cardiff Beach is actually very accessible and has easy access to parking. You’ll find eager locals scouring the sand to find sea cucumbers and starfish, whilst others will be making use of the winds on a surfboard. 

Cardiff Beach is located just off Highway 101 and is located near the much more populated San Elijo State Beach. 

Our Top Pick

With all these beaches in mind, it’s hard to pick a stand-out option for our best pick. However, if we had to choose, we’d go with La Jolla Shores Beach.

Why? That’s because it has everything you could want out of a family-friendly beach. The scenic beauty, handy amenities, and proximity to shops and restaurants make it the undisputed king of San Diego beaches.

This, however, does not mean that the other beaches on this list are inherently less good. There are bags of beachy fun to be had at every one of these shores, but we’re going with La Jolla Shores as our top pick. 

Final Thoughts 

San Diego is well-known for its beaches and coastal charm. You’ll find a number of stunning, highly unique beaches in this city, and eventually, you’ll find one that the whole family will fall in love with. 

See Also

US Beaches

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!