aerial photo of beach
Children's Pool Beach in La Jolla, San Diego, is unique for its seawall, built in the 1930s to create a calm swimming area.

11 Best Beaches in San Diego for Families With Small Kids in 2024


If you’re planning a trip to San Diego with your little ones in tow, you’re in for a treat. This sunny city is not just a surfer’s paradise; it’s a wonderland for families seeking the perfect beach day.

In this blog post, we’re diving into the Best Beaches in San Diego for Families With Small Kids. We’ve scoured the coast to find spots that are not only beautiful but also super kid-friendly.

San Diego’s coast offers a wide range of family-friendly beaches, from those with calm waters and soft sand to those with picnic areas and playgrounds.

These beaches are ideal for a super fun family day out! You can build epic sandcastles, splash around in the waves, or just chill and soak up the beachy vibes.

Top 3: Best Beaches in San Diego for Families in San Diego

La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shores Beach

✔️ Shallow waters
✔️ Lifeguards
✔️ Showers

Oceanfront condos on Coronado beach

Coronado Central Beach

✔️ Sparkling mica sand
✔️ Lifeguards
✔️ Designated dog area

Mission Bay, San Diego

Mission Bay

✔️ 19 miles of sandy beaches
✔️ Wide array of playgrounds
✔️ Lifeguards

Best Beaches in San Diego for Families

1. La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla Shores Beach is renowned for its gentle waves and shallow waters.

La Jolla Shores Beach stands out as a top pick for families with small kids visiting San Diego. Its gentle waves are perfect for little swimmers and those just getting their feet wet. The beach’s expansive, soft sand is ideal for building sandcastles, a classic beach day activity that never gets old for kids.

What makes La Jolla Shores especially kid-friendly is the ample space and clean environment. There’s plenty of room for kids to run around, fly kites, or even join a casual game of beach volleyball. The beach is also well-equipped with lifeguards on duty, ensuring a safer environment for water play.

A unique aspect of La Jolla Shores is its proximity to the La Jolla Underwater Park, a marine reserve where families can snorkel and explore sea life. It’s a fantastic way to introduce kids to marine biology in a fun and interactive way.

Travel tip: Pack a picnic with plenty of snacks and hydration, as beach activities can really ramp up kids’ appetites and energy levels. Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy a family meal with a scenic view!

2. Coronado Central Beach

Oceanfront condos on Coronado beach
Oceanfront condos on Coronado Beach.

Coronado Central Beach is a gem for families visiting San Diego with small kids. Its wide, flat expanse makes it perfect for little ones to play, build sandcastles, or even try beachcombing for shells and sea glass. The waves here are generally calm, offering a safe environment for paddling and splashing around.

What sets Coronado Beach apart is its sparkling mica sand, which literally glimmers in the sunlight, adding a bit of magic to your beach day. Plus, the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado adds to the charm and provides a great photo op!

For families, the beach’s cleanliness and the presence of lifeguards make it a stress-free zone to relax and enjoy. There’s also a designated dog area, so if you’re a pet-friendly family, it’s a bonus!

Travel tip: Don’t forget to explore the quaint Coronado town after your beach time. It’s just a short walk away and offers lovely spots for a family meal or ice cream treat!

3. Mission Bay

Mission Bay, San Diego
Mission Bay in San Diego is a vast waterfront park boasting 27 miles of shoreline, making it the largest man-made aquatic park in the United States.

Mission Bay is a fantastic spot for families with small kids in San Diego. Known for its calm waters, it’s ideal for tots who are just getting their toes wet. The bay’s gentle environment is perfect for a variety of activities, from paddling to a simple splash in the water.

What makes Mission Bay particularly appealing for families is its wide array of playgrounds and picnic areas. These spots provide a great break from the beach where kids can play and families can enjoy a meal together. The well-maintained pathways around the bay are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a family bike ride.

A unique feature of Mission Bay is its proximity to SeaWorld, offering an additional adventure for the family. It’s a great way to combine beach fun with some educational entertainment.

Travel tip: Bring along some beach toys and floaties to enhance your kids’ experience in the calm bay waters. It’s a simple addition that can lead to hours of fun!

4. Children’s Pool Beach

aerial photo of beach
Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla, San Diego, is unique for its seawall, built in the 1930s to create a calm swimming area.

Children’s Pool Beach in San Diego is a delightful spot for families, especially those with small kids. This beach is famous for its protective seawall, creating a sheltered area with calmer waters that are great for young swimmers. The gentle waves make it a safe place for kids to paddle and play.

What’s truly unique about Children’s Pool is its resident seal population. Kids are often thrilled to watch these playful creatures from a safe distance, making it an educational and fun experience. However, it’s important to remember that during seal pupping season, the beach may be closed to protect the wildlife.

The beach’s small size makes it easy for parents to keep an eye on their little ones. Plus, the scenic views and clear waters are a bonus for the whole family.

Travel tip: Bring binoculars for a closer look at the seals and other marine life, turning your beach day into a mini wildlife safari!

5. Del Mar City Beach

Aerial view of Del Mar coastline and beach
Del Mar City Beach stretches from 15th Street to the River Mouth (Dog Beach) and is ideal for sunbathing, surfing, and exploring tide pools.

Del Mar City Beach is a favorite for families with small kids in San Diego. Known for its long stretches of sand and gentle surf, it’s a great place for children to play and explore safely. The northern part of the beach, in particular, is ideal for younger kids due to its calmer waters.

What makes Del Mar City Beach kid-friendly is not just the safe swimming conditions, but also the playground located right next to the beach in the coastal park. This adds an extra element of fun for kids who might want a break from the water. Plus, the grassy areas nearby are perfect for picnics or a quick nap under the sun.

A unique aspect of Del Mar is its proximity to the Del Mar Village, where families can stroll and enjoy local eateries and shops. It’s a nice way to wind down after a day at the beach.

Travel tip: When visiting Del Mar City Beach, aim to arrive early, especially during summer or on weekends. Parking can be limited, and getting there early ensures a good spot both for your car and on the beach.

6. Mission Beach

The Mission Beach boardwalk
The Mission Beach Boardwalk is an iconic place in San Diego.

Mission Beach in San Diego is a vibrant and fun destination for families with small kids. This beach is known for its lively boardwalk, which offers endless entertainment for children, from watching street performers to grabbing a bite at family-friendly eateries.

The beach itself is a haven for young ones, with its soft sand and moderate waves making it suitable for building sandcastles or dipping toes in the ocean. The presence of lifeguards adds an extra layer of safety for parents’ peace of mind.

A standout feature of Mission Beach is the Belmont Park, located right on the beach. This amusement park, with its kid-friendly rides and games, is a unique attraction that sets Mission Beach apart from other San Diego beaches.

Travel tip: Arrive early to find convenient parking and secure a good spot on the beach. It gets busier as the day progresses, especially during summer!

7. La Jolla Cove Beach

a group of people standing on top of a sandy beach
La Jolla Cove, part of a protected marine reserve, offers a safe and exciting environment where children can swim alongside colorful fish and maybe even spot a friendly sea lion.

La Jolla Cove Beach is a charming spot in San Diego that’s perfect for families with small kids. This small, picturesque cove is known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, making it an excellent place for snorkeling and tide-pooling. The calm waters here are ideal for introducing little ones to the wonders of the ocean in a safe environment.

What makes La Jolla Cove particularly kid-friendly is its manageable size, allowing parents to easily keep an eye on their children.

A unique aspect of La Jolla Cove is its proximity to the sea lions and seals that often lounge on the nearby rocks, providing a delightful wildlife viewing experience for the whole family.

Travel tip: Bring along snorkeling gear and water shoes to enhance your beach experience, especially if you plan to explore the tide pools or swim with the fish!

8. Pacific Beach

a crowded beach filled with lots of people
During the high season, Pacific Beach and other bigger beaches can get quite crowded.

Pacific Beach is a fantastic choice for families visiting San Diego with small kids. This beach is celebrated for its long, wide shoreline and gentle waves, making it a safe and enjoyable place for little ones to play in the sand and paddle in the water. The beach’s expansive area means there’s plenty of space for building sandcastles, playing beach games, or simply relaxing under the sun.

What adds to Pacific Beach’s family-friendly vibe is the bustling boardwalk, lined with casual eateries and shops. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll with a stroller or for grabbing a quick ice cream treat with the kids.

A unique feature of Pacific Beach is its vibrant atmosphere, with a mix of locals and tourists, which adds to the lively beach experience.

Travel tip: If you’re planning to spend the whole day, consider renting a beach umbrella or a cabana for some shade and comfort, especially for the little ones.

9. Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand State Beach is a fantastic choice for families with small kids in San Diego. This beach is renowned for its gentle waves and soft, fine sand, making it a safe and enjoyable place for children to play. The long, wide beach offers ample space for sandcastle building, beach games, and shoreline walks.

What makes Silver Strand State Beach particularly appealing for families is its clean facilities and well-maintained picnic areas. These amenities provide convenience and comfort for a full day of family fun. Additionally, the beach is typically less crowded than some of the more popular spots, offering a more relaxed atmosphere for families.

A unique feature of Silver Strand is its location, as it’s nestled between the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. This provides a choice of calmer bay waters or ocean waves for different beach experiences.

Travel tip: Consider bringing a kite on breezy days. The open space and consistent winds at Silver Strand make it an ideal spot for kite flying!

10. Torrey Pines State Beach

a lifeguard tower on the beach at sunset
Torrey Pines State Beach is an ideal spot for beach activities, with opportunities for hiking in the nearby reserve, adding an adventurous twist to a beach day.

Torrey Pines State Beach is an excellent choice for families visiting San Diego with small kids. This beach is celebrated for its stunning natural beauty and spacious sandy shores, providing a perfect playground for children. The gentle waves here are ideal for young ones to splash around safely under the sun.

What makes Torrey Pines State Beach kid-friendly is not just the beach itself but also the adjacent Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This offers a unique opportunity for families to combine a beach day with some easy, kid-friendly hiking, where they can explore the area’s famous pine trees and enjoy spectacular ocean views.

The beach’s relatively quiet and laid-back atmosphere is a big plus for families looking for a more peaceful beach experience.

Travel tip: Bring along a pair of binoculars – the reserve is a great spot for bird watching, and you might also catch a glimpse of dolphins or whales off the coast!

11. Moonlight Beach

Moonlight State Beach
Moonlight State Beach is known for its excellent amenities, including volleyball courts, restrooms, and fire pits, making it an ideal spot for a full day of beach fun with kids.

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is a superb choice for families with small kids looking for a beach day in San Diego. This beach is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and wide, sandy shores, making it perfect for kids to play, build sandcastles, or just frolic in the gentle surf.

What sets Moonlight Beach apart is its array of amenities, including playground equipment, picnic areas, and public restrooms, all of which contribute to a hassle-free beach experience for families. The presence of lifeguards also adds an extra layer of safety for those little swimmers.

A unique aspect of Moonlight Beach is its community vibe, often hosting family-friendly events and beach bonfires, which can be a delightful experience for both kids and adults.

Travel tip: Pack a cooler with snacks and refreshments, and maybe even some marshmallows for roasting if you stay for a bonfire. It’s a great way to extend your beach day into a memorable evening!

woman wearing water goggles underwater
The La Jolla Underwater Park serves as a unique snorkeling spot, offering a chance to explore an ecological reserve rich in marine life.

Best Beaches in San Diego for Families: Frequently Asked Questions

Is San Diego worth visiting with kids?

Absolutely, San Diego is a fantastic destination for families with kids. The city boasts a wide array of kid-friendly beaches, each with its unique charm, from the gentle waves at La Jolla Shores to the exciting tide pools at Tide Beach Park.

Beyond the beaches, San Diego offers attractions like the world-famous San Diego Zoo, interactive museums at Balboa Park, and fun-filled days at SeaWorld. The city’s laid-back vibe and consistently sunny weather make it ideal for family vacations.

What is the safest beach in San Diego?

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas ranks as one of the safest beaches in San Diego, especially for families with small kids. Its well-maintained facilities, including clean restrooms and designated play areas, make it a top choice for a worry-free beach day.

The presence of lifeguards, gentle waves, and a flat, expansive sandy area ensure a safe environment for children to play and swim.

The beach’s family-friendly atmosphere is perfect for a relaxing day by the sea.

woman standing beside black cruiser bike on seashore during daytime
In San Diego you must try the Bayshore Bikeway, which offers a scenic 24-mile ride along Downtown, Coronado, and South Bay.

Which are the best beachfront hotels for families in San Diego?

For families looking for the best beachfront hotels in San Diego, a few stand out.

Hotel del Coronado is iconic, offering a luxurious stay with family-friendly amenities and easy beach access.

La Jolla Shores Hotel is another great choice, known for its stunning ocean views and proximity to a kid-friendly beach.

For a more laid-back vibe, the Pacific Terrace Hotel in Pacific Beach provides a comfortable stay with direct beach access and a pool.

Each of these hotels caters to families, ensuring a memorable beachfront experience in San Diego.

What is the prettiest beach in San Diego?

La Jolla Cove is often hailed as the prettiest beach in San Diego. Its stunning crystal-clear waters and picturesque cliffs create a breathtaking backdrop that’s hard to beat.

The cove’s intimate size and abundant marine life, visible through snorkeling or even from the shore, add to its charm.

What month can you swim in San Diego?

In San Diego, the ideal months for swimming typically range from late June to early October. During this period, the water temperatures are warmer and more comfortable for swimming.

July through September are particularly great, with August often being the warmest.

San Diego’s climate is generally mild, so even in the early summer months, you’ll find days perfect for a beach swim.

Travel tip: Even in these warmer months, it’s a good idea to check the daily water temperature and surf conditions, especially if you’re planning a family beach day with little swimmers.

people in white and black whale tail in blue sea during daytime
Focused on marine life education and conservation, SeaWorld San Diego offers interactive experiences with sea creatures like dolphins and sea lions.

What is the best time of year to visit San Diego with kids?

The best time to visit San Diego with kids is between late spring and early fall, specifically from May to October. During these months, you’ll enjoy warm, sunny weather perfect for beach outings and outdoor activities.

Summer (June to August) is ideal for beach lovers, offering the warmest water for swimming.

However, if you prefer fewer crowds and milder temperatures, consider May or September. These months strike a nice balance between pleasant weather and less busy attractions.

Travel tip: Visiting just before or after the peak summer season can also offer better hotel rates and more relaxed sightseeing.

What is there to do in San Diego for kids?

San Diego is a playground for kids with a variety of fun activities.

The San Diego Zoo is a must-visit, famous for its vast array of animals and interactive exhibits.

For a splash of fun, SeaWorld San Diego offers exciting shows and rides.

Young explorers will love the hands-on experiences at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

If your family enjoys the outdoors, the city’s many beaches and parks, like Mission Bay, provide ample space for picnics, play, and relaxation.

And don’t forget Legoland California, just a short drive away, for a day filled with creative and thrilling Lego-themed adventures.

seashore near buildings in La Jolla Beach, San Diego, USA

Final Thoughts: Best Beaches in San Diego for Families

As we wrap up our tour of kid-friendly beaches in San Diego, it’s clear that this sunny city is a treasure trove of family-friendly shores. From the calm waters of La Jolla Shores to the fun boardwalk in Mission Beach, there’s a beach to suit every family’s preference.

San Diego isn’t just about beautiful beaches; it’s a city filled with kid-friendly activities and attractions that can make your family trip truly memorable.

Families looking for a chill beach vacation with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained should definitely check out San Diego. From building sandcastles to discovering marine life, there’s something for everyone.

Plus, the laid-back beach vibes will help you relax and unwind.

Additional San Diego Travel Blogs:

9 Best Hotels Near SeaWorld San Diego With Free Breakfast

7 Hotels Near San Diego Zoo With Free Breakfast

5 Best Whale Watching Tours in San Diego