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7 of the Best California Beaches for Kids

7 of the Best California Beaches for Kids

7 of the best California beaches for kids whether you are in NorCal, Central Coast, or SoCal for the best family trips.

Dikran Seferian


5 min read

May 22, 2022

Disclaimer: is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products mentioned in this article.

When you think California, you think beaches. The myriad of azure waters and sandy shores adorned with palm trees essentially define the Golden State. It is no surprise that swimming, surfing, and other beach activities are a major part of the California lifestyle — and who else to enjoy it all better than kids? Whether it’s snorkeling, collecting seashells, building sandcastles, or splashing around the shoreline, family fun awaits you and the little ones at some of the best beaches for kids in California.

1. Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica

With an eclectic combination of fun activities, Santa Monica State Beach is a popular destination for the whole family.

Home to the Santa Monica Pier where the iconic Route 66 comes to an end, the Santa Monica State Beach welcomes beachgoers of all ages. This three-mile stretch of golden sands features a ton of fun activities from aquariums to bike rides, making it one of the best family beaches in California. Kids can get their daily dose of adrenaline by riding the roller coaster or the Ferris wheel at the Pacific Park which stands on the Pier.

Another interesting attraction to see at the Santa Monica beach is the Pier Aquarium. The facility exhibits over a hundred local species and provides a great opportunity for the younger generation to learn about marine wildlife. You and the kids can also work up a sweat by going for a bike ride on the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail that runs along the beach.

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2. La Jolla Shores, San Diego

Your kids will absolutely love the variety of seaside activities that await them at La Jolla Shores.

Another one of the best family beaches California has to offer is La Jolla Shores in San Diego. This 1-mile-long beach that makes up part of the scenic La Jolla coast is known for its gentle waves and soft sands. What makes it particularly ideal for kids is the playground, the picnic area, and a year-round team of lifeguards keeping the place safe. A walking trail connects La Jolla Shores to La Jolla Cove, a smaller beach where the little ones can play around tide pools full of crabs and minnows. 

A short distance away from the cove is Children’s Pool. Protected from stronger currents by a seawall, this calm strand is actually a haven for seal pups. Although swimming here isn’t allowed, it’s always a treat to watch the young water doggos as they waddle around the shoreline. 

3. Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Venice Beach is one California destination that needs no introduction.

Bustling with vibrant street life, the iconic Venice Beach is among the best beaches for kids in Los Angeles. This popular California landmark is where you’ll find street performers entertaining crowds, skateboarders doing tricks, and much, much more. Of course, we can’t forget the Venice Art Walls, a colorful combination of concrete slabs and cones adorned with murals and graffiti.

Enjoy the coastal vibes by skateboarding, roller skating, or riding a bicycle along the beachside bike trail that extends over 22 miles. Much to the delight of your kids, this Los Angeles beach is also home to not one, but two playgrounds — good luck telling them it’s time to go home. 

4. Coronado Beach, San Diego

Coronado Beach is characterized by a spacious shore and sand that sparkles.

Tiny mica particles in the sand give Coronado beach its sparkly appearance. Located on an island across mainland San Diego, this mile-and-a-half-long SoCal beach is accessible by ferry or the Coronado Bridge and is a hotspot for families who are drawn to the wide shore. Kids can go skimboarding, collecting seashells, and spotting anemones as well as hermit crabs in tidepools.

When you and the young’uns have worked up an appetite, choose from a variety of dishes including seafood, barbeque, sushi, and hamburgers. The island is also home to Coronado Dog Beach, where you can watch happy puppies prancing around the shoreline off-leash, making it one of the best beaches for kids.

5. East Beach, Santa Barbara

From stunning views to fun pastimes, East Beach is definitely a family favorite.

Boasting idyllic views and picturesque beaches, Santa Barbara beaches make a perfect getaway for families. One of the quieter shores in the area is East Beach, with West Beach offering vibes of its own. While younger kids can have their fun in the sand or at the nearby playground, teens can go for a game of volleyball at one of the beachside courts.

Other fun activities include kayaking and paddleboarding. A grassy picnic area lined with towering palm trees is also available for your convenience. Just across the street from the shore, you and the little ones can go for a bike ride along the Cabrillo Bike Path. It’s safe to say that East Beach is easily one of the best beaches for families in California

6. Zuma Beach, Malibu

Hiking, spotting whales, and having a cozy picnic are all activities you can enjoy at Zuma Beach.

Located in upscale Malibu, Zuma Beach is famous for its pristine sands and active tides. Although the strong waves make this coastal haven ideal for surfing, kids can have their fair share of fun building sandcastles and watching surfers ride waves. For a really special treat, visit this beach in the winter to spot gray whales as they migrate along the Pacific Ocean.

The clean sands of Zuma Beach are especially ideal for family picnics, and you can find all the snacks you need from the nearby Trancas Market Shopping Center. Afterward, consider going for a hike on the uphill trail for a chance to enjoy sweeping views of the north Malibu coast, Santa Monica Bay, and Catalina Island.

7. Mission Beach, San Diego

Combining classic amusement park rides with some fun in the sun, Mission Beach is a must-visit for kids of all ages.

South of Pacific Beach Drive, Mission Beach is packed with a variety of fun things to do and earns its place on the list of best California beaches for families. The sandy stretch offers a two-mile-long boardwalk where you and the little ones can go for a stroll or ride a bicycle. It is also home to Belmont Park, where you can find the classic Giant Dipper — a 75-foot-high wooden roller coaster that reaches speeds of up to 48 mph. Other fun rides include the Zero Gravity tower, the boat-like swing called the Beach Blaster, in addition to a train, and a carousel.

The quieter side of this San Diego beach features grassy lawns where families can enjoy a calm picnic. Don’t hesitate to go for a swim at Mission Beach as the waves are always gentle and lifeguards monitor the place year-round.

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