Best Beaches for Families in California

California is famed for its beautiful beaches, which draw visitors from all over the world, and with so many possibilities, choosing which one to visit can be challenging. If you’re planning a family vacation, make sure you pick a beach that has something for everyone. California has many family-friendly beaches to choose from, with calm waters for young swimmers and engaging activities for both kids and adults. In this post, we’ll look at the top beaches in California for families so you can plan the perfect beach holiday for your loved ones.

1. Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach is an excellent choice for families seeking a traditional Southern California beach experience with various fun activities for all ages. The Santa Monica Pier, located at the end of the historic Route 66, is an ideal starting place for your beach journey.

Pacific Park, an amusement park featuring a variety of rides, including a rollercoaster and a Ferris wheel with amazing views of the coastline and the ocean, is one of Pier’s highlights. The rides will fascinate children of all ages, while parents may relax and enjoy the cool coastal wind. Don’t forget to ride the classic carousel and eat at one of the different food vendors and eateries.

The Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier is another must-see for families. The modest facility houses a wide range of marine life, including over 100 species local to Southern California. Children can learn about marine conservation and the necessity of conserving the oceans and their inhabitants at the Aquarium.

2. Windansea Beach

While Windansea Beach is not great for swimming, it is good for families who want to experience the thrill of seeing experienced surfers catch waves up to eight feet high. La Jolla’s short, narrow beach is a local favorite and a must-see for anyone interested in surfing or watching the sport.

The beach has a long history, having been known as Neptune Beach before becoming Windansea after the Windansea Hotel was erected in the 1920s. Despite the fact that the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1943, the name has survived, becoming linked with the beach’s legendary waves.

Families can watch the expert surfers from the sand or flat rocks, or they can seek shade under the raggedy palm frond roof of the Surf Shack. The four-poled open-air structure was built in 1947 by ex-military men and surfers and has since become a renowned local monument. In fact, it was named a San Diego historical landmark in 1998 and reconstructed in 2015 after being wrecked by a strong wave.

3. Moonstone Beach

Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California, is ideal for families with children who like collecting stones and sea glass. The name of the beach is derived from the popular stones found along the shoreline, giving it a distinctive and fascinating location for youngsters.

While the surf is usually too rough for swimming at Moonstone Beach, there are lots of other things for families to enjoy. Shamel Park is situated adjacent to the ocean and is a lovely location for kids to run around and have fun. Families can enjoy a game of horseshoes or cool down in the seasonal swimming pool, which provides a fun and refreshing activity on hot summer days.

Moonstone Beach provides an opportunity to witness marine life up close for families who enjoy exploring nature. The beach is excellent for bird viewing and whale watching, with frequent views of gray whales and dolphins. The beach also has a boardwalk that runs parallel to the beachfront, giving a lovely promenade for families to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

4. Huntington Beach

Huntington City Beach, also known as Surf City USA, is a favorite family getaway for a day of sun, sand, and surfing. Although the beach’s renowned surf break close to the pier draws surfers globally, the area surrounding the pier, as well as the beach to the north and south of it, provides a family-friendly atmosphere suitable for individuals of all ages.

On the large, sandy beach, families can enjoy boogie boarding, swimming, and making sandcastles. The beach also features fire pits for usage, which is ideal for roasting marshmallows and enjoying a comfortable bonfire while watching the sunset.

Volleyball, bike rentals, and surfing lessons are among the things available at the beach for those wishing to be active. Families can also enjoy the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean by taking a leisurely stroll along the Huntington Beach Pier.

The neighboring International Surfing Museum is a terrific site to learn about surfing’s history and culture, providing an educational experience for people of all ages. Families can also tour the local stores and restaurants, which provide an excellent opportunity to eat or buy souvenirs.

5. Mission Beach

Families searching for a thrilling beach day should consider Mission Beach in San Diego. Its wide sandy beach, vibrant boardwalk, and amusement park offer a variety of activities suitable for all ages.

Families can hire bikes and ride them along the boardwalk, admiring the beautiful coastal views and stopping for an ice cream treat along the route. Belmont Park, located directly on the boardwalk, is a popular amusement park with attractions such as California’s oldest wooden roller coaster and an arcade.

For those looking to surf, there are many options available, including surf rental shops and surf schools. These choices are suitable for both beginners and experienced surfers, providing an opportunity to learn or catch some waves.

In addition to the beach-related activities, the vicinity has many restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it an ideal spot to grab a meal or purchase some mementos.


6. La Jolla Coast

La Jolla Coast is an excellent choice for families seeking a balance of action and relaxation. The La Jolla Coast Walk Trail connects La Jolla Shores beach to La Jolla Cove and provides beautiful ocean vistas as well as a short, accessible walk to explore. 

La Jolla Shores is an ideal choice for families with small children, offering a one-mile stretch of sandy beach with gentle waves, soft sand, a playground, and year-round lifeguards. The beach is also renowned for beginner surfing classes, so the entire family can have fun trying to catch a wave.

The 6,000-acre San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park is accessible from La Jolla Shores. Families can go snorkeling or diving in the reserve to witness the schools of fish swimming around. La Jolla Cove is a smaller but equally charming, family-friendly beach. 

Kids may explore the tide pools, which are teeming with minnows and crabs, and they might even glimpse some lounging seals and sea lions. Another favorite activity in La Jolla Cove is kayaking, and families can paddle to nearby sea caves.

7. East Beach

East Beach in Santa Barbara is great for families seeking a pleasant and relaxed day at the beach. The beach’s eastern part is wider, creating an ideal area for children to play in the sand. There are also many volleyball courts on the beach that families can use for a fun game. Rentals for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available, and families may also visit the surrounding grassy park with picnic tables and a playground.

Cycling down the Cabrillo Bike Path across the street is among the top activities to enjoy with kids in Santa Barbara, and renting bikes or a surrey is a great way to do it. The 4.5-mile bike path connects East Beach to Leadbetter Beach to the west and Butterfly Beach to the east, providing spectacular coastal vistas and delightful family activities.

Chase Palm Park is another must-see in Santa Barbara, where kids and teens can test their skills on 14,600 square feet of rails, ledges, and quarterpipes or watch specialists at Skater’s Point Skate Park, while little ones may play at the park’s playground.

8. Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach in Malibu is a family-friendly beach with plenty of outdoor fun and excitement. Although the waves are too strong for swimming, the large expanse of pristine sand offers plenty of room for playing, running, and constructing sandcastles. Children can also have fun watching professional surfers ride the waves.

Families who intend to spend the entire day at Zuma Beach will find a range of food options for a picnic on the beach at the nearby Trancas Market Shopping Center. Visitors can relieve their hunger with sandwiches, chips, fruits, and other goodies.

After a day of sun fun, families can take a trek at Point Dume Nature Reserve. The upward walk offers panoramic views of Santa Monica Bay, the north Malibu Coast, and Catalina Island. The reserve also includes various picnic spots where guests may unwind and enjoy a meal while admiring the breathtaking environment.

There you have it – the most fun beaches in California for families! Whether you’re looking for gentle waves, playgrounds, bike paths, or exciting amusement parks, these beaches have it all. From San Diego to Santa Barbara, there’s a sandy spot for everyone to enjoy. Always remember to bring your sunscreen and a basket of food, and head to the beach with your family to enjoy a day of fun under the sunny California skies!