Summer is here, and there’s nothing relatively better to beat the heat of the sun than going to the beach. For kids, they’re the perfect spot to soak in the waters and frolic in the sand while the whole family can enjoy the outdoors for fun and relaxation. From tranquil shorelines to bustling waterfront areas, you can find the best kid-friendly beaches near San Jose that offer exciting activities the entire family can enjoy!
Looking for a perfect beach summer trip for the entire family? The South Bay area has plenty of choices, from rocky beaches, sandy beaches, and famous urban beaches that will delight everyone in your family. Pack up your kids and drive to the coast for an ultimate family beach day getaway. Here’s our list of the best kid-friendly beaches near San Jose so that you can map out your coastal adventures this summer!
18627 Cull Canyon Rd., Castro Valley, CA 94552
Phone Number: (888) 327-2757
Nestled 37.5 miles away from San Jose, this oasis is the nearest beach spot to the city. If you’re looking for lake beaches nearby, you’ll love Cull Canyon. This haven is an ideal day trip for families, featuring a white sand beach and a slew of amenities. There are also lifeguards on duty and gentle waves, making it one of the best kid-friendly beaches for swimming near San Jose.
A gentle gradient makes this lagoon ideal for smaller kids. They can splash around in the shallows and build up their confidence in the water while you enjoy the white, sandy beach and dig in for the day. Older kids might like to try out the diving platform and just have to pass a quick swim test with a lifeguard. For more information, please visit their website.
399 Beach St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone Number: (831) 420-5270
Santa Cruz Main Beach is quite famous, especially in summer. With many amenities, this free-admission strip is one of the best kid-friendly beaches near San Jose for families. Lifeguards are on hand most of the time, making it safer for kids to play in the waves. The bustling stretch is known as ‘Boardwalk Beach’ for its lively oceanfront promenade, with an amusement park and several tasty seafood restaurants.
Behind the beach, you’ll find roller coasters and other amusement park rides, an arcade, mini-golf, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, and many restaurant options. After exploring the boardwalk, consider walking out to the end of the wharf to see the shops and look back at the city. For more information, please visit their website.
2531 W Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone Number: (831) 423-4609
Encompassing 65 acres, Natural Bridges State Beach is named for the natural arch in the vast rock on the shore break. This is one of the most photographed beach icons and the kid-friendly beaches near San Jose. The park also offers a monarch butterfly migration preserve and exhibit, picnic areas, hiking trails, an accessible boardwalk, and a great sandy beach.
Natural Bridges State Beach is a popular family park with lots to explore, including great tide pools at low tide. Consult tide charts to plan your trip if you want to go tide pooling. A lagoon forms where the creek backs up, and birds pose for photographs in this area. For more information, please visit their website.
E Cliff Dr. and 9th Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Phone Number: (831) 427-4868
The beach has a mile of sandy shoreline and is famous for swimming and picnicking. It’s next to Santa Cruz Harbor and is one of the area’s most popular local beaches. At the harbor entrance are sand volleyball courts, shops, and restaurants overlooking the beach and the jetty. This is a dog-friendly beach.
The beach features soft sand, playful surf, a fantastic view of Walton Lighthouse, and a handful of fire pits to choose from. It’s a great spot to spend the entire day with friends and family, so plan on getting there early to secure a fire pit. The beach is also adjacent to Schwan Lagoon – a great spot to do some bird watching. For more information, please visit their website.
San Jose Ave. and Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010
Phone Number: (831) 475-6522
Capitola’s intimate beach is shielded on either end by cliffs rather than the long expanses of sand that you find at many other beaches. In the winter Soquel Creek empties into the ocean through the middle of the beach, but in the summer, the creek becomes an inland lagoon, its diminished flow seeping into the sand rather than crossing it.
This south-facing beach has a large fishing pier, Capitola Wharf, that sticks out into Soquel Cove, where the water is usually calm due to protection from land west. With pastel-colored buildings, it’s undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable weekend beach trips from San Jose. For more information, please visit their website.
Park Ave. and McGregor Dr., Capitola, CA 95010
Phone Number: (831) 464-6329
New Brighton State Beach is a wide sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay that features picnic areas, swimming, and fishing. This state park has a large hillside campground in a wooded area surrounded by homes in Capitola and Aptos. The beautiful, lush vegetation of towering pine trees, Monterey cypress, oak, eucalyptus trees, and wild berry vines surround campers with peaceful tranquility.
While the beach is narrow and somewhat rocky, it is set in an undeveloped stretch of shore with a beautiful backdrop. The day-use parking area can get crowded on weekends and even on lovely days in the winter. Inside the park are hiking trails to explore, and they are open to dogs if they are on a leash. For more information, please visit their website.
20063 Cabrillo Hwy S., San Gregorio, CA 94019
Phone Number: (650) 726-8819
San Gregorio State Beach is a stunning beach in a valley about 10 miles south of Half Moon Bay and a short drive from Silicon Valley in the South Bay Area. The scenery is unbeatable. From exquisite cliffs to driftwood, there’s a pleasant sight at every turn on this beach. You’ll also spot a bundle of colorful birds year-round in this oceanfront destination. It’s perfect for anyone looking for scenic and nice beaches.
The beach has a big parking lot and a popular picnic area on the bluff above the beach. San Gregorio Creek flows down to the beach and pools before creating an exit route through the sand. At times this lagoon will fill most of the cove. For more information, please visit their website.
Beach Dr., Rio Del Mar, CA 95003
Phone Number: (831) 685-6500
Rio Del Mar Beach is the main beach in the community of Rio Del Mar in Aptos. It starts in the waterfront area at the end of Rio Del Mar Boulevard and continues south for almost a mile on Beach Drive to the end. There are public parking lots at both ends of Rio Del Mar Beach. Between these lots are street parking spaces along Beach Drive, where a sidewalk promenade has stairs to the beach in various spots.
With its free parking and easy access, it’s no wonder this beach draws many visitors throughout the year. Add in fire pits and other amenities, and you’ve got a fantastic beach trip recipe. For more information, please visit their website.
335 Davenport Landing Rd., Davenport, CA 95017
Phone Number: (831) 454-7938
Davenport Landing Beach is a small ocean beach located just north of the town of Davenport. It is one of the best kid-friendly beaches near San Jose and is a great place to sit and enjoy a sunset or just waves crashing. A swing set is built just above the beach where kids and adults alike can swing carefree. Several benches are also dotted around the bluffs that overlook the beach.
The beach is sandy and wide, with rock walls capping the ends of the cove. A few homes and other structures are found at the back of this beach, so it doesn’t have that remote feel, but it’s a nice beach and not that busy except on sunny summer weekends. For more information, please visit their website.
Photo by: Outdoor Project
Cabrillo Hwy., Davenport, CA 95017
Scott Creek Beach lies on Highway 1 and the northern part of Davenport. It’s a paradise for kitesurfing and windsurfing enthusiasts. It is also a fantastic location to relax and watch the sunset. Scott Creek runs into the ocean at the north end of the beach, and Molino Creek crosses the coast at the south end.
The shallow channel formed in the sand when Scott Creek is flowing can be fun for kids to play in. Most people settle on the beach between the creeks, but this beautiful coastline invites exploration north and south. There are tide pools to investigate if you walk north at low tides. For more information, please visit their website.
A summer trip to the beach is a classic way to spend quality time with your family. And when you’re traveling with kids, you need more than just the sun and the sand to make your vacation worthwhile. From building sandcastles and splashing in the gentle waves to thrilling watersports – there’s so much to see and do with kids. Take your pick among the best kid-friendly beaches near San Jose. Indeed, you’ll be packing your bags in no time!
San Jose offers so 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 Jose with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Jose? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended outdoor blog posts.
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