What are the best beaches in San Diego?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Julia Weiler

La Jolla is home to some of San Diego’s most picturesque beaches.  Perhaps the most stunning of all is the petite strand of sand known as La Jolla Cove.  Nestled between striking sandstone cliffs, this lovely little bay boasts spectacular scenery popular among plein air painters and photographers alike.  The waves are generally calm and the gentle water is reserved for swimmers, snokelesr, and divers only.  La Jolla Cove is located at 1100 Coast Boulevard.

The Children’s Pool, also known as Casa, is another one La Jolla's little gems.  The small beach is partially protected by a seawall and was originally meant to serve as a sheltered swimming area for families with youngsters.  Over time the area filled with beach sand, then eventually sea lions and harbor seals.  It’s a great spot to watch the lumbering wildlife, or to walk along the seawall and enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific.  The Children’s Pool is located at 850 Coast Boulevard.


Oceanside boasts some of the widest and most welcoming beaches in San Diego County.  Access to these golden swathes of sand is plentiful and there is seldom any hassle when it comes to finding a place to park your car.  There are plenty of pay lots to choose from and all are located conveniently close to the sand. Other facilities such as fire pits, volleyball courts picnic areas, restroom and showers are abundant as well.  Dining options, gear rentals and surfing lessons are all in close proximity.

Visit northernmost Harbor Beach and relax on squeaky white sand that stretches for nearly a quarter mile from street to sea.  Fire pits and picnic areas are abundant here but the shoreline is rarely crowded.   The jetties, which flank the beach, create breaks that are perfect for surfing.  Swimmers and body boarders can also enjoy the waves in areas designated just for them.  The nearby harbor offers plenty of shopping along with several great dining options.  Beach-close parking is only $5 for an all day ticket.  RVs are welcome on a first come first serve basis for a mere $15 per night.

Further down the coastline Pier View North and Pier View South form the heart of Oceanside beaches.  As the name suggests, the historic Oceanside Pier splits sea and shore right down the middle.  Both sides boast excellent surf breaks as well as long golden strands or sand dotted by soaring palm trees.  The south side is most popular and offers a wide variety of family-friendly facilities such as playgrounds, parks and recreation areas.  Have lunch atop the pier at Ruby's and scout for pods of dolphin or dine beneath the boardwalk at The Tin Fish and enjoy the colorful beach scene.  Nearby food carts vend a variety of street treats and Oceanside shops are just a stroll away.  Parking is plentiful, accessible and easy on the wallet.


Coronado’s sparkling stretches of mica-enriched sand are consistently classed among America’s top beaches.  Mellow waves lap wide glistening shorelines and there are plenty of gorgeous views to enjoy from the seashore.  Whether you wish to walk your pooch on North Beach, sea gaze from Glorietta Bay or stroll for sand dollars along the Silver Strand, there’s an idyllic strand of sand for everyone in “The Crown City.”

• Coronado Central Beach runs along Ocean Boulevard and boasts a backdrop of high-end beach homes and sweeping views of the Pacific.  Visitors can relax on two miles of golden sand or explore interesting sea life in the tide pools during low tide.  Lifeguards are on duty, which makes this a safe beach for families to play in the surf.  Beach accessible wheelchairs are available gratis at the Central Beach Lifeguard Tower.

• Fido-friendly North Beach is popular among locals and their surf-seeking canine companions.  Dogs must arrive on a leash but there is a designated free zone where pups can splash in the waves untethered.  North Beach is located in the northernmost part of Central Beach at the end of Ocean Boulevard near Sunset Park and is the only section equipped with rings for a sunset bonfire.

• Situated near the iconic Hotel Del, Coronado South Beach is particularly picturesque and a popular spot for shutterbugs.  It is also the seaside standard when it comes to saying, “I do” to the tune of ocean waves.  Whether you’re there to celebrate that special day, take advantage of a photo op or just sink your toes in the sand, South Beach is a lovely and scenic place to play by the sea.

• Glorietta Bay Park offers a unique peek of the city skyline and stunning views of the soaring San Diego-Coronado Bridge.  While the beach itself is a tad on the petite side, there is a grand and grassy park area that is perfect for family picnics.  Playground equipment, restroom facilities and fabulous water views dotted by passing sailboats makes this a great spot to spend the day.

• Silver Strand State Beach is one of Coronado’s best stretches of shoreline with extensive beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. Surfing, boogie boarding and beach volleyball are popular activities on the Pacific side while the warmer waters of the bay side are perfect for sailing and swimming.  Those who wish to walk the beach can stroll for miles along the surf and spot sand dollars, moon snail and cockle shells lying in the golden sand.

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