Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in San Diego
April 19, 2024

Grab your suits and towels with sunscreen, and get ready to kick off your flip-flops this summer as we explore the best kid-friendly beaches in San Diego!

The smell of summer is enticing everyone to go to the beach and have fun under the sun. Kids are excited to swim, build sandcastles, and do other fun activities at the beach. And when it comes to identifying which beach suits your kids, you’ll be spoiled with many options. Discover the best kid-friendly beaches in San Diego for a relaxing summer trip for the whole family as you create unforgettable memories together!

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San Diego is a haven for families wanting to spend a summer getaway at the beach. With its incredible 70 miles of coastline and abundant sunshine, America’s finest city is perfect for families with kids looking for a fun-filled beach experience. Whether building sandcastles, snorkeling, tide pooling, surfing, collecting seashells, or just having fun catching a wave, you can easily find the best kid-friendly beaches in San Diego!

With so many beaches to explore in San Diego, choosing which one is best to go to with kids in tow can be challenging. To help you find the ideal beach spot, we’ve handpicked the best selection of kid-friendly beaches in San Diego for every type of family adventure. From La Jolla to Point Loma, each beach listed below offers excellent outdoor activities for kids and unlimited fun for everyone!

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in San Diego

Children’s Pool Beach

Children’s Pool Beach

850 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone Number: (619) 221-8899

One of the most outstanding kid-friendly beaches in lovely La Jolla, Children’s Pool Beach is a beautiful place to visit in San Diego if your children are interested in seeing sea lions and harbor seals up close and personal. This small beach occasionally gets subjected to strong currents —it’s not a let’s-go-swimming or roll-out-the-beach-towels-on-the-sand type of beach—but it’s a fantastic place for nature lovers.

The Children’s Pool is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. The original intention was to create a fully protected swimming area, but in recent years sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall. This is also a famous beach for scuba divers because of the reefs just offshore. Combine a visit here with a trip to the nearby Birch Aquarium, and now you’re talking about the makings of a particular day.

Coronado Beach

Isabella Ave & Ocean Blvd., Coronado, CA 92118
Phone Number: (619) 522-7346

Coronado Beach, aka Central Beach, starts at the famous Hotel del Coronado and continues north to Sunset Park. It’s one of the most popular beaches near downtown San Diego and one of the best beaches in California. This family-friendly beach gets crowded, but it is wide enough to find a place to spread out comfortably.

Frequently professional sandcastle builders are near the hotel carving elaborate sand castles to view and photograph (the creators love donations). Coronado Beach gets protection from the waves by Point Loma to the west and is generally a safe place to swim and wade in the surf. This famous beach is beautiful, easy to reach, and perfect for children because of the slow slope into the ocean.

Del Mar City Beach

1660 Coast Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014
Phone Number: (858) 755-1556

The beach in Del Mar is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable in San Diego. The two-plus miles of sandy beach offer a great place to relax, walk, or run. Two coastal parks, Powerhouse and Seagrove Parks, are located just above the 15th Street surf break, providing a great spot to picnic with friends and family. The Powerhouse Park also features a barefoot-friendly, dog-free “tot lot,” where kids can play on swings, slides, and climb.

During peak season, it can get crowded. Still, it’s a consistent favorite with families who know San Diego because of the clean restrooms, strong lifeguard presence, and nearby Powerhouse Park, which contains a fabulous playground and picnic area. Ask ten locals for their take on San Diego’s best beach, and you’ll likely get ten different answers—that’s how intense the scene is here.

La Jolla Shores Beach

Camino Del Oro & Calle Frescota, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone Number: (619) 221-8899

Not only is La Jolla Shores considered by many to be one of the foremost kid-friendly beaches in the greater San Diego area, but it’s also typically ranked near the top of any list of best beaches in the entire country. La Jolla Shores is known for its gentle waves, which makes it a popular place to rent kayaks or go scuba diving. And if the little ones need a break from all that sand, nearby Kellogg Park has a fun playground just feet from the ocean.

Known to locals as The Shores, the beach starts at the cliffs north of La Jolla Cove and ends at the south end of Black’s Beach. The Shores begin a continuous stretch of beach all along the San Diego County coastline that ends at Oceanside Harbor. The active center of La Jolla Shores Beach is anchored on one end by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier and on the other by the La Jolla Shores Hotel.

Mission Bay

386 B St., Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone Number: (760) 633-2740

No matter how old your kids are, if they love the great outdoors, they will love Mission Bay, a large, water-based park with a little bit of something for everyone. At the heart of Mission Bay is a human-made saltwater bay where you can take sailing lessons, learn how to paddleboard, go fishing, or soak up the good vibes along the area’s 27 miles of shoreline. You can jump into jet skiing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, and more.

All around Mission Bay are family-friendly grass parks with excellent facilities to support thousands of active outdoor visitors daily. Most parks have picnic tables, barbecues, benches, restrooms, and showers. Some have larger covered group picnic areas, playgrounds for kids, fire pits for evening bonfires, and even lifeguards. Mission Bay is also home to SeaWorld San Diego—so, yes, you’ll need to make a whole day of it.

Best kid-friendly beaches in San Diego - Moonlight State Beach

Moonlight State Beach

386 B St., Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone Number: (760) 633-2740

Moonlight State Beach is the main central beach of Encinitas, great for family beach outings. Famous for its gradually sloping beach—which makes keeping a safe eye on the kids as they play near the shore much easier—Moonlight State Beach is anchored by a swimming-only zone, which steers surfers, kayakers, and clearer of the area.

You can rent recreational equipment here, and the fine facilities also include a snack bar, volleyball courts, picnic tables, and, if you’re feeling ambitious, tennis courts. Many clean picnic tables are provided behind the beach, and if you forget to pack a lunch, there is concessions stand at the beach during the spring and summer months.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

5156W W Point Loma Blvd., San Diego, CA 92107
Phone Number: (619) 525-8213

If you are visiting San Diego with kids and a beloved family pet along for the ride, when it comes to picking an area beach destination, you’ve got an easy decision on your hands—head straight for Ocean Beach Dog Beach. Beachgoers and dogs from all walks of life are welcome here. Enjoy playing fetch or meandering along the coast with other pet owners.

This lovely stretch of shore is situated at the northern edge of Ocean Beach along the Mission Bay Harbor Channel, and it’s an explicitly leash-free zone, meaning it’s the sort of welcoming space where your furry friends can swim and play and have every bit as much fun as the whole family. A lush, grassy area on the other side of the parking lot is an excellent place for picnicking.

Silver Strand State Beach

5000 Highway 75, Coronado, CA 92118
Phone Number: (619) 435-5184

Beach-going families who want to treat their kids to a less-hectic shore outing should think long and hard about spending the day at Silver Strand State Beach. This beach is enormous—located on the thin strip of the Coronado strand, it has beaches facing both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay—meaning regardless of the circumstances, you’ll have plenty of space to spread out and relax away from the hustle and bustle of your standard beach crowds.

Here you can enjoy swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking, water skiing, volleyball, camping, and picnicking. Anglers can fish for perch, corbina, grunion, and yellow-fin croaker. The area also features a beautiful bike path, part of the Bayshore Bikeway, that takes riders past the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and offers excellent bay and skyline views. Four large parking lots service it; you can even rent beach chairs and umbrellas for a reasonable fee.

South Ponto Beach

La Costa Ave., Hwy 101 Carlsbad, CA 92008
Phone Number: (619) 438-3143

South Ponto Beach is a rare gem in that it is one of the most expansive beaches in the county and exists in an undeveloped area. Coast Hwy 101 hugs the shoreline here, with Batiquitos Lagoon on the other side of the highway. The beach is a popular family destination and only one of the few beaches in the area with public restrooms and showers. The beach offers many activities, including swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and beach volleyball.

This prime location and the size of the beach (much more expansive than nearby beaches) will draw enough people in the summer to fill the parking lot here. At other times of the year, the free parking spaces along the southbound lanes of Coast Highway will be sufficient, and the paid lot will be empty. It is located at the south end of South Carlsbad State Beach at the city border of Encinitas and Carlsbad.

Torrey Pines State Beach

12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., San Diego, CA 92037
|Phone Number: (858) 755-2063

Located in La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Beach is one of San Diego’s most scenic beaches, and if you’re planning on picnicking somewhere along the shore, it’s a great option. Parking can sometimes prove tricky here, so if the kids have their hearts set on Torrey Pines State Beach, be sure and arrive early in the day. And for a truly unique San Diego beach experience, consider combining a trip to the beach with a hike through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

The Reserve has multiple family-friendly hiking trails; you can even hike some down to the beach. Eight miles of trails offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean while walking amid native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles, and butterflies. The park provides a great hiking experience for all levels, with family-friendly paths and more advanced trails.

Torrey Pines State Beach

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in San Diego

San Diego is a perfect destination for a family’s day out at the beach – thanks to its magnificent coastline and excellent climate. It will be great to explore the best kid-friendly beaches in San Diego. With its gorgeous weather, pristine sand, cool water, and scenic views, you can never go wrong to spend your long days of summer. So, grab your sunglasses and prepare your casual beach outfits for a fun and relaxing summer getaway!

San Diego offers many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Diego with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Diego? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended outdoor blog posts.

And if you’re in for some significant savings, such as coupon codes or any special offers and promotions for your kids in your area, check out our Deals and Discount category.

Read Next

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Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in Los Angeles           
Best Water Parks in San Diego for Kids

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