Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in Southern California

Posted by Rhea Cortado on

A sunny day at the beach is guaranteed summer fun no matter your age, but there are a few Southern California beaches that rise to the top of the list for parents with little kids. Simple amenities — ease of parking, bathrooms, shady trees around, and loads of free or budget conscious activities for the little ones to frolic — make a big difference when a toddler is in play.

In Seea’s backyard of Southern California, we’ve rounded up our top five beach destinations where our families go to cool off in the water and enjoy sun-kissed weekend fun. 

Best for groms to catch their first waves: Doheny State Beach in Dana Point

Why parents love it: Generations of kids have caught their first waves at Doheny Beach and have fond memories of family camping weekends as the waves crash from the view of your tent.

There’s a wide variety of pastimes to keep busy with grassy lawns, picnic tables, and ample beach, but surfing is one of the most popular activities because the protected shoreline creates friendly rolling whitewater. You’ll see kids surfing tandem with mom or dad, or gliding on a boogie board by themselves without worry of scary rogue waves. Just in case, lifeguards are on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend too. Furry members of the family don’t have to be left out. The beach is dog-friendly in the day use and picnic areas.

Best for a theme birthday party: The Holidays Camp Community in San Clemente State Beach

Why parents love it: Get that destination vacation rental vibe on a budget, in the fresh air and with charming personality at The Holidays Camp Community. These vintage trailers available to rent in San Clemente State Beach are the perfect spot for a low-maintenance kid’s birthday party or long weekend away.
Easier than setting up a car camping site, modern essentials are included and ready-to-go (running water, refrigerator, store area, USB hookups, bathrooms nearby) and magnificently decorated to create the cutest photo ops. S’mores roasting, cornhole, and bocce games galore, there are no limits to the imagination of what theme parties you can come up with tailored your kid’s interests!
The Holidays rents vintage trailers for camping in San Clemente. Perfect for kid's parties! Photo courtesy of HolidasCA.com 
Best for future marine biologists: Shell Beach and La Jolla Cove Tide Pools in San Diego

Why parents love it: Take your aspiring mermaids and merman to see starfish, anemones, and sea snails up close in the tide pools or observe seals sunbathing on the beach at Seal Rock Preserve. With ample mossy rocks to wander and explore, your little ones will have a sun-soaked day between exploring sea life, shell hunting and rolling around in the sand. Make sure to check the tide charts and surf report to go during low tide, negative low tide, and when the waves are calm to see the most critters at the safest distance from crashing waves.

Best combo of beach and playground: Marina Park in Newport Beach


Why parents love it: Big families will appreciate the copious number of activities and shiny new amenities offered at Marina Park for all ages. The tykes can make plenty of friends in the nautical theme playground with jungle gyms, swings, and slides on recycled rubber surfaces, while older kids can play at the basketball courts or find a kayak or SUP rental to paddle.

The marina’s glassy and still water make it the perfect beach for toddlers who are skittish around the waves. When they are tuckered out, head to the on-site café for a snack, or bring your own lunch and relax in the shaded picnic area. Run out of parking meter time? There's an app for that! Seriously, this park has is an app where you can extend the amount of time on your meter from your mobile device.

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