Top Three Kid-Friendly San Diego Beaches

Published on March 17, 2020 - Updated on April 23, 2020

Fresh Air Fun for Locals, or Food for Thought As You Plan Your Next Adventure

It's no surprise that San Diego has a lot of beautiful beaches to choose from, but we've narrowed it down to the brightest and most charming! A major highlight to major San Diego beaches is they are in close proximity to restaurants, shops, and various activities, giving beachgoers the best of everything!

La Jolla Shores

The first on the list, this beach is a mile-long stretch of perfect beach real estate, leaving room to roam. At the far north end is Scripps Oceanography Pier, and it is a beautiful sight to stand under and watch the waves crash against the pillars. At the south end, the beach is shielded by the La Jolla Bay, creating a prime location for scuba divers to enter the underwater wonderland that is the protected La Jolla, Underwater Park.

When you aren't busy snorkeling or collecting seashells, enjoy the beachside playground, designed with all ages in mind, so your kids will have a blast. Afterward, take a stroll through the cute little town nestled alongside this beautiful stretch of sand and enjoy the few shops and delicious restaurants like Shorehouse Kitchen, Cheese Shop, Shore Rider and Piatti's.

Looking to rent beach toys? Look no further than Everyday California or Bike and Kayak Tours, they'll have everything you're looking for. This beach offers a parking lot, but it fills up very quickly. It is advised to come early to snag a spot there or you can find untimed neighborhood street parking. There are restrooms available and a good lifeguard presence along the shore.

La Jolla.jpeg

La Jolla Cove

This iconic beach easily made our list, it is San Diego's most desirable spot for swimming, diving, and snorkeling, as well as many more family-friendly activities. As you first descend the stairs to the beach you'll instantly take in the beauty in front of you. This short stretch of sand is surrounded by beautiful coastal bluffs with sea lions typically on the farther stands barking and flopping around, a fun sight to see and hear. Also, on this beach is a small cave you can walk through and see tidepools during low tide.

As mentioned before, La Jolla Cove is the best snorkeling spot in California, mainly because it is part of the protected La Jolla Underwater Park. After you suction your mask to your face and dive into the water you will immediately see multiple types of fish surrounding you, all friendly of course! Lifeguards are on duty from about 9 am to sunset, daily. There are showers located just above the stairs and picnic tables are scattered throughout the green grass above you.

If you're interested in renting snorkel gear, try La Jolla Outpost. It’s a small souvenir shop on the corner of Prospect and Coast Blvd, just a few minutes away on foot. If you have questions regarding pricing give them a call as they do not have a website. Another rental option is La Jolla Swim and Sport. Beyond snorkel gear they offers chairs, wetsuits, surfboards, boogie boards, umbrellas and more. This shop is farther away and is best to stop on your way to the beach. 

Take a break from swimming with the fish to enjoy a short stroll through Ellen Browning Park to the Children's pool. This little beach was built with a beautiful stone sea wall that you can walk out on. Its initial intent was to block large waves from children swimming on the beach, however, after the wall's creation, the beach was quickly taken over by seals and to this day remains a seal only swimming area protected by animal rights laws. While usually not allowed on the beach, you get a great view of the seals on the sea wall and from the boardwalk that you approached on.

Back towards the La Jolla Cove beach, you will also find a quaint little shop called The Cave Store where they sell clothes, jewelry, etc and allow you to take a short tour down into one of the caves that lead to the water! Definitely a cool adventure for the kids.

Unfortunately, your biggest battle visiting this beautiful swimming spot is going to be parking. There is very limited free street parking, which you can find along Coast Blvd, but those spots come with a 2-3 hour limit. And trust me, the parking attendants are very punctual. These spots are more available during nonpeak times of course, during the week or early mornings. If you're looking for a more relaxed parking experience, there are multiple paid parking areas. You'll find the closest to La Jolla Cove is in ACE parking at the La Jolla Financial Building.

La Jolla is also blessed with delicious food. If the family is hungry you can take a walk through town and find multiple restaurants. A few local favorites are Brockton Villa (directly above the cove), Jose's, George's, Duke's and Cody's and all offer kid-friendly options.

Mission Beach

A 3-mile beach break, a boardwalk runs along Mission Beach, lined with cafes, family hotels, resorts, funky surf shops, and restaurants. Between building sandcastles and swimming in the waves, grab your boogie board or surfboard and catch a few rides onto the shore. This beach area truly has something for the entire family. 

If you're looking for a quieter shore, walk a few blocks south to the Bayside and enjoy calm waters and beautiful bay views. Make sure to visit Mission Beach's iconic Belmont Park amusement park, your children will be entertained for hours! The park is filled with carnival rides, games, mini-golf, food and so much more. Connecting restaurants to check out are Cannonball (with live music!), Draft, and Beach house, each with kid-friendly options and highchairs.

Whichever beach you chose, slip off your shoes, dip your toes in the water and take a seat in the sand, life is good at the beach!

Please check out the blog for more inspiration from a list of March Weeknight Meals, or join us as we Disconnect to Reconnect with more time at home as a result of necessary social distancing. If time outside is what you need, try out one of the hikes listed in Fresh Air Family Fun: San Diego. If you are looking for family team-building at home, we recommend 100 Things: A Rewarding and Fun Family Activity.

Take a moment to explore suggestions from the happyly team aboutKeeping Kids Active while Protecting Them, Yourself and the Community from the Coronavirus as well as our Daily Schedule For Pre-School and Grade School. As always, we welcome your family's highlights! Tag us on Instagram @gethappyly!

If you are enjoying our active lifestyle content, please take a moment to download the happyly app for fast access to all of our weekend roundups, frequent blog content, and favorite activities, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country. 

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Thoughtfully captured by:
Brittany B Ricketts
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