9 Best Beaches for Families in San Diego

Discover the best beaches in San Diego for families perfect for young kids, teens & adults. Enjoy the sand, sun & surf as you make lasting memories together!
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
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The Best San Diego Beaches for the Entire Family!

If you’re planning a family trip to San Diego, then there’s a large probability that you’re looking to visit a few of the gorgeous San Diego beaches. The beautiful beaches and exquisite year-round weather are a few of the main things southern California and San Diego are known for!

While there are many options for popular family-friendly attractions, restaurants and events in San Diego, the beach is one of the most popular destinations for travelers and locals alike. There’s really no better way to kick back and relax than alongside the coast of California with views of the Pacific Ocean gleaming in the distance.

Whether visitors are searching for a relaxing day at the beach with the sand between their toes building sand castles with the kids, or a thrilling encounter with watersport adventures the entire family will love, San Diego offers it all!

San Diego definitely isn’t lacking in family-friendly beaches to choose from.

If you’re on the hunt for the best beach in San Diego for families, then you have come to the right place! There’s Coronado Beach, North Pacific Beach and La Jolla Shores to name a few, which can make for a difficult decision.

Each family-friendly beach offers its own unique set of benefits, outdoor activities and fun for everyone - so there’s no wrong choice! Read on to find the best family-friendly beach for you and your entire family!

The 9 Best Family-friendly Beaches in San Diego

San Diego is filled with pristine beaches, perfect for a day in the sun and sand with family. Explore our list of the best in the area to choose the beach that makes the most sense for you and your family!

Coronado Central Beach
Amazing Sand Castel in Front Hotel Del Coronado

1) Coronado Central Beach

Coronado Island

First up on the list of family friend San Diego beaches is Coronado Central Beach which runs along the popular Ocean Boulevard is a family-friendly San Diego beach you and your family will love. The beach is 1.5 miles long and begins at Hotel del Coronado. To say the beach is beautiful is a bit of an understatement considering it was dubbed one of the top beaches in America in 2020 by Dr. Beach!

Coronado Central Beach is a popular spot for families visiting San Diego who want to swim, sunbathe, walk or just check out the view. As if the area doesn’t offer enough, there’s also an area at the north end of the beach named North Beach or Dog Run Beach where pets are allowed to roam and play.

Parents can rest a little easier knowing there are several well-trained lifeguards scouring the beach and keeping a watchful eye on all those who are swimming. Not to mention, Coronado Central Beach has restrooms, shower facilities, and all is free of charge!

North Pacific Beach
Relax at North Pacific Beach

2) North Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Another great beach for families in San Diego is North Pacific Beach which runs north of Crystal Pier and south of Tourmaline Beach. While Pacific Beach is known to be the “endless summer beach party” area, North Pacific Beach is the calmer area that is more suitable for families.

Many visitors love the view North Pacific Beach boasts. Beachgoers will instantly notice the cliffs that surround the beach, some soaring up to 75 foot high! It’s important to note that parking can be a bit challenging, so the best advice is to head to the parking spaces located on Tourmaline Street or park in the neighborhood streets and walk a few blocks to the beach.

There are lifeguards all year from Tourmaline in the north to Mission Beach in the south. In addition, this family-friendly beach has bathrooms and showers located near the pier.

If you want to stay nearby, checkout the 4-star Pacific Terrace Hotel which offers free WIFI, easy beach access and is very family-friendly!

La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores Boardwalk and Main Lifeguard Tower

3) La Jolla Shores

La Jolla

La Jolla Shores is an excellent choice for families featuring a mile long sandy white beach. One thing that makes La Jolla Shores popular (and safer than some) for families is the waves tend to be lighter than other San Diego beaches.

La Jolla Shores is a great beach for families who are interested in taking a scuba class. In fact, it is considered one of the “must-see” spots for scuba divers, snorkelers and kayakers. So, for visitors searching to partake in watersport activities or with teens onboard, La Jolla Shores may just be the perfect beach location!

In addition to gentle waves and being a prime watersport activity location, La Jolla Shores has permanent lifeguard stands that are patrolled by San Diego lifeguards. It’s important to arrive early to snag one of the 350 free parking spots that are available next to the beach.

Del Mar City Beach
Surfer at Del Mar City Beach

4) Del Mar City Beach

Del Mar

For visitors searching for amazing views, Del Mar City Beach is where those can be found!

The city of Del Mar is considered to be one of San Diego county’s best communities and is practically picture perfect. Visitors will immediately take in the unique scenery that features historic coast Highway 101, sandy white beaches, cliffs, bluffs and oceanfront parks.

Del Mar City Beach has various hot spots for locals and travelers in the area. The River Mouth, also known as Del Mar Dog Beach, is popular for families and a great area to play volleyball games or bring the family dog to join in on the fun.

However, the swimming at River Mouth isn’t the best considering there are shallow sandbars and the currents can be unpredictable.

Head to the north part of Del Mar City Beach for great swimming and moderate surfing swells. Del Mar City Beach is a popular location, so be sure to arrive early because parking spaces fill up quickly!

Moonlight State Beach
Moonlight Beach and Waves

5) Moonlight State Beach


Moonlight State Beach gets its name from a bit of southern California history due to being a popular spot for midnight picnics in the 1900s. Currently, Moonlight State Beach is a state park that is operated by the city of Encinitas and is highly popular for families.

Located a short drive to the north of Downtown San Diego and the San Diego International Airport, this beach is just far enough from the city feel while still offering those activities just a short drive away!

The beach can be found at the end of Encinitas Boulevard, and is undoubtedly the easiest beach in Encinitas to locate. Beachgoers will have access to a recreational playground, snack bar, bathrooms, showers and volleyball courts. In addition, the beach is a great place to try out watersport activities like surfing, paddle boarding or boogie boarding.

Head to Moonlight State Beach for a relaxing, laid-back day on the beach with family. Lifeguards can be found all year at Moonlight State Beach, while other Encinitas beaches are staffed seasonally.

Sail Bay
Sail Bay Beach in Front of Catamaran Resort

6) Sail Bay in Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay Park

Visitors will find the largest man-made aquatic park in the United States when they visit Sail Bay in Mission Bay Park. This family-friendly beach in San Diego is popularly known for being the area’s “water wonderland” due to being a 4,600 acres aquatic playground.

Mission Bay Park has over 27 miles of shoreline that boasts various waterways, inlets and islets that beachgoers can explore. For families searching to create lasting memories, Mission Bay has sailing lessons, kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, jet ski rentals and other water sport activities.

For family members who prefer being onshore, there are bike paths, volleyball courts and picnic areas. In addition, there are public restrooms, showers and lifeguard stations in designated areas.

The waters in the park are generally calmer and smoother than those located on the Pacific Ocean, perfect for wading and building sand castles. The Sail Bay offers safe options for young children with enough activities to keep teens engaged as well!

Mission Beach
Aerial Shot of Mission Beach with South Mission in Distance

7) Mission Beach

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is one of San Diego’s largest beaches. This wide sandy beach stretches all the way to Pacific Beach. It is a popular beach for surfing, swimming, sunbathing or even playing a pick-up game of volleyball.

If you are looking to spread out and get away from the people all you need to do is walk a bit north on Mission Beach and you will find plenty of open space.

Mission Beach is also just next to Belmont Park that is a perfect attraction for kids. There is even a wooden roller coaster that the entire family will enjoy.

Parking is also easy as there is tons of parking!

South Ponto Beach
Beach Umbrellas at South Ponto Beach

8) South Ponto Beach


South Ponto Beach is one of the best beaches in San Diego for families and is a bit of a hidden gem! The beach is located in an undeveloped area and offers a number of activities including swimming, tanning and volleyball.

This is one of the widest beaches in San Diego county which makes it a popular destination for locals and travelers. In addition, this beach is popular for surfing and is home to various surfing events.

Parking can be found at the southern end of South Carlsbad for a small fee of $8 per vehicle. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of free parking spots but that’s about the only downside of South Ponto Beach.

South Ponto Beach is located less than a 15-minute drive from one of the most popular attractions in San Diego for families with young children, LEGOLAND California!

Make sure to get Go City San Diego passes for your entire family in advance and purchase via our website to get an additional discount on the already huge discount on standard admission prices!

Silver Strand State Beach
Lone Beach Umbrella at Silver Strand State Beach

9) Silver Strand State Beach

Coronado Island

From surfing to swimming to boating to picnicking, Silver Strand State Beach is a family-friendly beach in San Diego that offers it all! Not to mention, Silver Strand State Beach is a great location for overnight RV camping.

This unique San Diego location is named after the silver oyster shells that can be found covering the beach and dunes.

It’s important to note that Silver Strand State Beach is in a remote location so this may be out of the way for some travelers. Away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ may be just what some families are looking for and if so, this could be the perfect choice for you and your family!

The park has four parking lots which total around 1,000 spots, so parking may be a bit easier at this location. In addition, there are fire rings around the beach so families can cook out and enjoy time together!

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Coronado - Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
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Local Tips
What is the cheapest way to buy a Go City San Diego pass?

The cheapest way to purchase a Go City San Diego pass is to combine Go Visit San Diego’s exclusive 5% discount with the Go San Diego passes already great deals!

Simply follow our link & use code GVSD5OFF to purchase your pass and begin saving!

Tips for Saving on Hotels & Tours near Family-friendly Beaches

Stay Near the Best Family Beaches

Looking for the best hotels for families on the best family beaches in San Diego?

Consider The Dana on Mission Bay. The hotel is located walking distance from one of the most popular attractions in San Diego, SeaWorld San Diego, as well as to multiple family-friendly beaches.

Located in Mission Bay Park, the beaches in the area are calm, perfect for swimming and sunbathing and safe for young children. The Mission Beach Beaches are just over a mile away and about a 20-minute walk for those looking for a little more time in the sun and livelier ocean water rather than the smoother bay water!

Checkout our complete article on the Best Family-friendly Hotels in San Diego for more great options for your family near the best family-friendly beaches in San Diego!

Get Discounts on the Beach Gear You Will Need

If you’re looking to spend some of your San Diego vacation exploring the family-friendly beaches, you’ll likely want some beach gear like snorkels, surfboards or perhaps to rent bikes to explore the area!

The Go San Diego pass provides steep discounts on gear rentals when purchased in advance!

Combine gear rentals with the most popular area attractions like SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay, the family-friendly San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park just a few miles away and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, located just above some very family oriented La Jolla beaches!

If you purchase the Go City San Diego pass via our website you can save even more with our exclusive discount!

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The Dana on Mission Bay
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Located on Mission Bay with a marina, on-site fire pits, pools, spa, and numerous popular attractions within walking distance, The Dana checks all the boxes!
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