Best Family Beaches in Southern California

Popular pier at Balboa peninsula
Popular pier at Balboa peninsula. Editorial credit: Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. Each year, tourists flock from around the world to experience the SoCal beach vibes and many of the beaches are perfect for families and kids of all ages. 

If you’re looking for Southern California’s best beaches for families, look no further! We’ve accumulated a list of the best locations for families and kids of all ages to enjoy all the magic the Golden State has to offer. 

Coronado Beach, Coronado 

Coronado Beach, Coronado 
Coronado Beach, Coronado. Editorial credit: Sherry V Smith / Shutterstock.com

Coronado Beach is one of the most popular beaches for families in California. Located in the San Diego Bay resort city of Coronado, it covers a mile and a half of the stunning coastline. 

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Families love this beach because it is expansive, making it easy to find space to spread out and play. The sand is soft and perfect for building sandcastles with little ones. 

Coronado Beach is also one of the best swimming beaches in California. Many areas can have big waves and strong currents, but the ocean in Coronado is usually calm and gentle. With clear water and plenty of lifeguards, this is a great place to spend a worry-free day in the ocean with your family. 

For older kids and adults, the area offers paddle boarding, surfing, and boogie boarding. Younger family members can play in the tidal pools and build sandcastles. 

The entire family will enjoy the facilities including picnic areas, bonfire rings, and clean bathrooms. 

When your beach day is through, the rest of the Coronado Island area offers plenty of other activists to keep the family busy. You can enjoy live theater, golf, great food, and shopping. 

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 are great for a full day of exploration and some families might consider spending a long weekend just in this area to make the most of all of the opportunities. 

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 smooth 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. 

Balboa Beach, Newport Beach 

Popular pier at Balboa peninsula
Popular pier at Balboa peninsula. Editorial credit: Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

With activities that family members of all ages will love, Balboa Beach makes for a perfect beach day. With a mile-long stretch of coastline, families can enjoy traditional beach fun like swimming, boogie boarding, and playing in the sand. 

Amenities at Balboa Beach include lifeguard stations, picnic areas, restrooms, and even a fishing pier. 

Older kids might enjoy trying out parasailing or surfing, and the entire family can experience the scenery and wildlife on a whale-watching tour. Adventurers can even rent their very own duff boat to coast around the water together. 

After enjoying the ocean, take your kids to the Balboa Fun Zone – California’s oldest amusement park. Enjoy the waterfront Ferris wheel and arcade games or rent bikes to get a bit of physical activity. 

For a fun and educational outing, your family might enjoy visiting a nearby nautical museum. 

South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad

South Carlsbad State Beach
South Carlsbad State Beach

Another SoCal favorite, South Carlsbad State Beach is perfect for families who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the more populated areas of SoCal. 

For a peaceful day at the beach to connect with your family, pack up and head to the pristine coastline. This area is much more remote, but there are still lifeguards on duty. 

Enjoy an uninterrupted day in nature strolling in the sand, splashing in the waves, or even enjoying a relaxing book while soaking up the sun. 

Once you arrive at South Carlsbad State Beach, your family might not want to leave! That’s okay because camping is allowed. You can rent a tent right at the park if you didn’t bring your own and wake up early with the California sun. 

Zuma Beach, Malibu 

Dume Cove Malibu, Zuma Beach
Dume Cove Malibu, Zuma Beach

Malibu may be known for its glamor as many celebrities call the area home, but Zuma Beach is actually one of the best beaches in Southern California for families with small children. 

The area is particularly popular for families with toddlers because of the soft sand, beautiful coastline, and amenities. 

Zuma has a fun play area for kids, snack bars, picnic tables, bathrooms, and lots of lifeguard stands. 

Zuma Beach is close to Trancas Canyon Park which is a perfect place for families to enjoy nature after a day at the beach. For outdoorsy types, nearby Zuma Canyon Trailhead is great for hiking. 

Cabrillo Beach, Los Angeles

The Cabrillo Beach Pier, at San Pedro, California
The Cabrillo Beach Pier, at San Pedro, California

Cabrillo Beach is great for families who are seeking a day with plenty of options outside of just surfing and sand. Plus, it’s just a short distance from the city of Los Angeles

There are options for everyone and two specific areas for beachgoers. One area has larger waves that are great for older kids to enjoy surfing and boogie boarding, and a harbor area with more gentle surf. 

Cabrillo Beach has plenty of tidal pools to explore and excellent views. For a well-rounded and educational day, check out the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium to learn about the many creatures that make their homes in the ocean. 

Southern California beaches offer plenty to keep the entire family entertained year-round. With so many stunning beaches to explore, your family can enjoy spending time together and making memories that will last a lifetime. The only thing left to do is gather up your family, and hit the beach! 

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!