North Beach is a calmer stretch of shoreline that families tend to prefer, thanks to its lifeguard-supervised swimming areas and amenities (including restrooms and showers). It’s a wide, sandy beach that sits below a series of bluffs, sheltering it from high winds and making it a great location to spread out and sunbathe for the day.
Tourmaline is a surfing-only beach, popular with novice surfers who are looking to get some practice in. The gentle, slow-rolling waves are perfect for beginners, longboarders, and even windsurfers and kiteboarders when the wind is high. Though you won’t see any swimmers here, many people like to come and watch the surfers at Tourmaline; especially at sunset as evening falls. There’s a small picnic area and parking lot here, as well.
South Mission Beach is just below Mission Beach, and easily walkable. There are plenty of amenities, including a big grassy park with picnic tables and even a basketball court and volleyball courts. The beach here is wide, sandy, and comfortable; even on the busiest days, you’ll have no problem finding a spot to spread out on! You can feel safe bringing the little ones, too: there is a big lifeguard building here that is manned every day until dusk. The Ocean Front Walk begins at South Mission Beach, so bikers and runners can start their day here and head north all the way up to Pacific Beach.
Mission Beach is a large, sandy beach that sits just south of La Jolla and Pacific Beach. It’s a great spot for families with children because of the nearby Belmont Park, which boasts a wooden roller coaster, swimming pool, surfing wave pools, a putt-putt golf course, and a game arcade. The wide boardwalk that travels along the beach, called the Ocean Front Walk, is great for biking, walking, running, and rollerblading. The Mission Beach area is always bustling with activity (even on weekdays!) and unlike other coastal spots in San Diego, the beach isn’t its only draw! Come here to spend the day walking around and exploring everything the area has to offer.
The small Ferry Landing beach area sits just next to the fishing/ferry pier. Complete with a large, grassy lawn and panoramic views of the San Diego Bay and downtown San Diego, this is a great place to take in views of downtown San Diego while enjoying a picnic on the grass.
Glorietta Bay Beach is part of Glorietta Park, which sits on a protected area of coast just above Silver Strand. This cove-like beach is perfect for families with small children, as the surf never gets too big and the current is always gentle. There are open grass areas and picnic tables all over the park, each with unobstructed views across the water to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Come for the afternoon and stay for a picnic and the sunset!
As Coronado’s main beach, this is the easiest to get to and definitely the most popular. Central Beach is wide, flat, and lies directly in front of the Hotel Del Coronado and is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports or activities. Complete with fire pits, picnic tables, and even some tide pools during low tide, Coronado Central Beach is the perfect place to start your exploration of the island.
Though it can be a bit confusing to differentiate between the Del Mar beaches, they are easy to find and walk between each one. South Beach is defined as south of Powerhouse Park all the way down to 6th Street at the southern end of Torrey Pines State Beach. This section is less popular for swimming and surfing than the neighboring Northern portion, but the high, jagged cliffs above it make for a beautiful and scenic beach walk.
North of Del Mar City Beach is one of just a few dog beaches in San Diego, and the locals are passionate about keeping it that way. Your pup is allowed on the beach year round, and off-leash for nine months out of the year, but must be leashed from June 16th until Labor Day. While this area is mostly known for being Fido-friendly, the San Dieguito River Mouth provides a natural wading pool that is great for children to play in.
Del Mar City Beach starts at Powerhouse Park or 15th Street and stretches all the way up to the lagoon entrance at the San Dieguito River (where it meets Dog Beach). It’s a hot spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, and is usually crowded on the weekends. There is almost always a lifeguard on duty, and the park above provides restrooms and picnic tables in addition to a large grassy area and a sandbox play area for children.