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The Best Beaches, According to Kids

A Kid-Sized, 70-Mile Sandbox

San Diego's 70 miles of coastline offer families a variety of beaches that are perfect for swimming, surfing, sandcastle building, and any other family beach activity.

Surf's Up in San Diego

For the Whole Family

  • Family-friendly La Jolla Shores is a perfect beach for kids of all ages. This mile-long sandy beach slopes gently and has small, slow waves that make it an ideal place for younger kids to play in the shallow water and older kids to learn surfing, body boarding and other water activities. A wide cement boardwalk separates the beach from a large grassy park ideal for picnicking and volleyball games.
  • Shell Beach, at the south end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park, offers excellent tide pooling at low (preferably minus) tides. Plus, kids can watch seals and sea lions play, rest and sun themselves on a big rock offshore and the sandy cove to the south of Shell Beach.
  • Torrey Pines State Beach in La Jolla is a popular beach right off the highway with bathrooms, showers, lifeguards and a safe spot for kids to play by the lagoon. The bluffs above the beach are part of the 1,750-acre Torrey Pines State Reserve Park that is dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree (which grows only here), and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. Eight miles of trails offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, while walking amid native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. With both family-friendly paths and more advanced trails, the park provides a great hiking experience for all levels.
  • Explore the tide pools at Swami's Beach in Encinitas at low tide and discover a plethora of aquatic life. Please note that the beach is only accessed via a long set of stairs from the small park and parking lot at the top.
  • Regularly recognized by the Travel Channel as "one of the 10 best family beaches in North America," Coronado Beach is perfect for an all-day stay for families. This long, wide, white sand beach offers plenty of space for paddleball, sandcastle building, kite flying and volleyball.

Teen-Friendly Beach Scenes

  • Favorite hangouts of active young sun-worshipers, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are connected by a three-mile boardwalk crowded with skaters, bicyclists and beachgoers just wanting "to be seen." During the day, the wide sandy beach becomes a colorful patchwork of towels, umbrellas, board shorts and bikinis. Nearby, oceanfront streets boast boutiques, surf shops and cheap eats that bustle with activity. Adjacent to Mission Beach is Belmont Park, featuring the vintage "Giant Dipper" roller coaster, an amusement arcade and the Wave House, home to San Diego's only FlowRide, a simulated surfing platform with a non-stop wave.
  • Coronado Beach has been recognized for many years as "one of the 10 best family beaches in North America" by the Travel Channel, but that doesn't mean it's just for kids. Along its vast expanse of white sand, impromptu football, volleyball and paddleball games spring up frequently, and the surf is generally gentle. In the village of Coronado, the small-town atmosphere is ideal for hanging out, shopping in the local boutiques and surf shops, and grabbing a burger or ice cream at an outdoor cafe. Bike rentals are available at the Coronado Ferry Landing and are the perfect way for teenagers to explore the island, with or without their parents.
  • A visit to La Jolla Shores offers up a spacious beach that slopes gently into the Pacific. This mile-long sandy shore is paralleled by a wide cement boardwalk that separates the beach from a large grassy park, ideal for picnicking and volleyball games. La Jolla Shores is a perfect place for first-time surfers to catch waves or kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders to discover the nearby La Jolla Sea Caves. The charming area is also home to numerous kayak and surf shops, where teenagers can rent equipment or pick up the latest beach and surf wear.

Read more about what to do on the beach and in the water here!

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