A few days ago the Seattle Times published an article titled “The Best Beaches in Southern California” which was posted by a luxury broker in Beverly Hills, Christophe Choo. I read it hoping to see one of my San Diego favorites on there and to my dismay not one San Diego Countybeach was mentioned. I’ve been to the ones mentioned in the article and they’re very nice, especially Laguna Beach which is one of my top 5 nationally.
Being a year round resident of Carlsbad, California I am honestly partial to the San Diego beach communities. Nothing is better than rolling down the windows and driving down the coast with the sun and surf to my right, and people running and cycling in both directions. It’s the epitome of health and wellness. I also have a family with two small kids (5 and 10 months) so my beach choices have to be “family friendly,” maybe with a bathroom, park, or lots of room to run around.
With that being said, here are my top 5 beaches in San Diego County, California.
Number 5. Coronado- This long stretch of white sandy beach anchored by the Hotel Del is flat, and easy to walk. There’s a nice rocky section by the hotel where you can find the occassional crab. You can grab a quick bite or cocktail at the hotel’s outdoor bar area which is a nice pit stop during your shell finding expedition. There’s only a couple of negatives which make it number 5 (even though it’s held the number one position in other top beaches posts). In the beach section just north of the hotel where the public can park,the beach is really wide, almost as wide as Huntington Beach. If you have kids and a wagon full of stuff, it makes for a long trek to the water and then back up to the bathrooms. You also cannot fly a kite because of the proximity to the air base. See how long the walk is from the sidewalk.
Number 4. Sail Bay in Mission Bay- There’s a little park called Fanuel Park (off Fanuel Street in Pacific Beach). You park there and walk over to the beach and it’s perfect if you want a nice combination of park and beach. There’s a grassy area for picnics or throwing the football. The beach has a lifeguard, a roped off section for the kids to swim, there’s no waves (it’s part of Sail Bay), there’s also a great cement walking/running/bike path all the way around the bay which is fantastic if you want to go exercise. You can walk over to the Catamaran Hotel and eat lunch outside. On Friday nights they do a beachside luau so you can sit on the sand and watch if you’d like. There’s also bathrooms (not super clean, but very convenient) right by the park. It’s really a great area to set up camp for the day and enjoy a day at the beach without worrying about waves taking your small kids out to sea. It’s also much quieter over here compared to Pacific Beach which tends to draw the large college crowds on the weekends.
Number 3. Cardiff-By-The-Sea- Moving up the coast, away from downtown and the crowds you’ll start driving through classic surf towns like La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Cardiff-By-The-Sea which borders Encinitas. Each town has their own beautiful beach vibes. La Jolla is beautiful but fairly crowded. Del Mar is gorgeous but in my opinion the beach is a little too rocky and doesn’t have enough access to the sand. Cardiff-By-The-Sea is a long stretch of flat narrow beach where you can park by the road or you can pay to park ($10/day). The beaches aren’t super crowded, the water is clear and clean and the sand is perfect for a game of bocce ball. You can also grab some Mexican food at Las Olas, then head back to your beach chair for the rest of the afternoon. Now my 5 year old son even knows what the little white ball is called when playing Bocce Ball, do you?
Number 2. Encinitas/Leucadia- Whether it’s world famous Swami’s or Stone Steps, the beaches in this part of San Diego are flat and extremely walkable. There’s plenty of surf, lots of shell and rock collecting, beautiful cliffside homes to admire from below, tidepools and oftentimes solitude. What’s nice about these beaches is you can shower off, go up the stairs, and grab a bite to eat, then head back down for the sunset. These beaches are designed to spend the day if your kids can take it. It’s also nice because they don’t get as crowded as some parts of Southern California during the summertime. It feels like you’re escaping the 9-5 and getting a little sanctuary from your busy lives. This is what it feels like to be on vacation every single day.
Number 1. Carlsbad Beaches- All of them. Whether it’s South Ponto with its beach volleyball; Tamarack with it’s beach walk and surf spots; or the village with shops and restaurants and beautiful sunset views; Carlsbad, California is the number one location for the real beach aficionado. The beaches are sandy and clean, medium sized clear waves, decent surf but still safe for the young kids. There’s 4 miles of walking sidewalks and 2 of them are right down on the beach level. There’s multiple bathroom locations which are easy to find. You’ll find plenty of parking. All season long the lifeguards are patroling up and down the beach. You can fly kites, picnic, eat in the village if you’d like, get ice cream and bring it to the beach, paddleboard, hunt for shells, the list goes on and on. Carlsbad is 35 miles North of Downtown San Diego and has maintained the small town beach vibe of the Beach Boys era. It’s a fantastic place to raise a family and it truly deserves the recognition as the number one beach destination in Southern California.
If you’d like more information about any of these beach towns you can contact me directly at: Chris@NCSanDiego.com