The soft yellow sunset of La Jolla Shores at sunset.

San Diego has always been one of my favorite destinations. But now that I have a family, I’ve discovered how great it is for kids and adults alike. This big city is sprinkled with beautiful beaches. So, what is the best family beach in San Diego? That may be a matter of opinion. But here you can discover what we think are some of the best beaches in San Diego for families!

The beach should be a part of any San Diego vacation! If you’re planning a trip to the San Diego area, or maybe you’ve recently moved there, it’s good to know where to find the best family friendly beaches. You’ll be excited to know that there are several San Diego beaches that fit the description.

Kids playing at Kellogg Park, a fun beachfront park in La Jolla.
Kellogg Park as seen from the Coastal View rooms at La Jolla Shores Hotel.

What makes a beach family friendly?

It is hard to find a beach that kids won’t like. But a beach with nice soft sand, good for building sand castles tops our list. Life guards may be important to some. Personally, we’re not going to let our kids get out of our sight so take on that responsibility ourselves. Restrooms are important. And, a park or play area for the kiddos is a bonus.

Here we’ve got beaches that have lifeguards on duty, restrooms nearby and plenty of water sports that are taken very seriously. Read on for our list of family-friendly beaches in the San Diego area.

The expansive shoreline of La Jolla San Diego from Birch Aquarium
The expansive La Jolla San Diego coastal view from Birch Aquarium.

Best Beaches in San Diego for Families

La Jolla Shores

One of the most beautiful beaches on our list, La Jolla Shores is a sight for sore eyes. It’s situated in a cove and sits right across from Kellogg Park. That’s great to know because it has two grassy areas for picnics, bathrooms and a playground.

Here you can discover tide pools, watch the kayakers go out and watch the sunset from La Jolla Shores restaurant. If you really want to spoil your family book a night or weekend at one of our favorite family hotels, the La Jolla Shores hotel!

Your kids will also be excited to know that when they are hungry and need refreshment, there’s a taco place, sandwich and ice cream shops just a couple of blocks away. Along with swimming here, many people like to boogie-board the waves too.

It is not to be confused with La Jolla Cove. The Cove area is fun for checking out the seals, but is not as relaxing a place to splash in the waves as La Jolla Shores.

Del Mar City Beach

The beach in Del Mar City is an excellent choice and a popular beach destination among families that live in the area. It’s situated about 25 minutes northwest of San Diego.

On the beach you’ll find restrooms, lifeguards on duty and also a playground with a grassy area to run around in. Like we mentioned earlier, Del Mar is a popular spot, so at times it can become really crowded with limited parking. Your best bet is to get there early.

A place to build sand castles is all our youngest needs to be happy at the beach.

Mission Bay Beach

At Mission Bay, it boasts the largest man-made park in the entire country, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. In this park your family can learn kayaking, sailing, wake surfing, paddle boarding and windsurfing. The aquatic center is also home to a youth day camp for kids ages 6-17.

There are plenty of picnic areas at Mission Beach, and well-manicured grass. People enjoy walking along the boardwalk, and it is a perfect spot for people and sunset watching.

Coronado Beach

We have friends who consider Coronado the best family beach in San Diego. Photo courtesy Canva.

Coronado Beach is a popular San Diego beach, and among the family-friendliest. In Glorietta Bay you’ll find calm waters that are suitable for smaller children, along with a playground and plenty of play areas.

The parking lot is very close to the water’s edge, along with bathrooms and picnic areas nearby. Sand castle building is also taken very seriously, as you’ll find several experts building masterpieces at times.

You can take the ferry here, which is also fun for kids.

Moonlight Beach

Another beach favorite on our list, Moonlight Beach has everything you can ask for in a beach. Your children can head off a pretty good distance out into the water before it begins getting too deep. There’s also a play area, restrooms, and a snack shack for when you get hungry.

Silver Strand State Beach

We like Silver Strand State Beach because if you visit at the right time, there are hardly any crowds and it’s also family-friendly. Not far from here you’ll find Crown Cove Beach, where there’s camping, along with boating, SUPing, and kayaking.

South Ponto Beach

Local families love South Ponto Beach, and we can’t blame them. It’s a beautiful stretch of beach, that has restrooms and lifeguards on duty. There’s also the convenience of free street parking. This is a great beach for surfing, volleyball and sandcastle making.

Cardiff State Beach

Cardiff State Beach is known for its surfing as it boasts some of the best San Diego surf breaks. But it is also a great place to try out stand-up paddleboarding. Kids will enjoy exploring the tide pools here.

Torrey Pines State Beach

This popular San Diego beach offers it all: lifeguards, bathrooms, showers and parking. There’s swimming, surfing and hang gliders to watch launching from the cliffs above. Here you can hike in Torrey Pines State Park. And, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park offers guided nature tours.

South Carlsbad State Beach

This beach is part of the state park system and thus is protected. It is popular for camping, swimming, bodyboarding, surfing and just enjoying the beach. It is also a nice place to take in the sunset.

Best Peninsula in San Diego: Shelter Island

We couldn’t name Shelter Island one of the best beaches because the sandy beach area is quite small and private. But Shelter Island San Diego is one of our favorite areas for kids in San Diego, so we wanted to give it an honorable mention. There’s lots to do right there, and it has a fantastic proximity to all of San Diego’s best family attractions.

Tell us which family beaches in San Diego are your favorites!

La Jolla Shores is our family’s favorite. We made special memories here on vacation, had fun playing at Kellogg Park and caught spectacular sunsets.

So which of these beaches will you plan on hanging out during your family time in San Diego? Or if you live in the area, which beaches would you recommend personally for families with children?

What is the Best Family Beach in San Diego?
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Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

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