The Best Beaches in and Around San Diego, California

Pacific Beach is one of several popular beaches in and around San Diego
Pacific Beach is one of several popular beaches in and around San Diego | © Niebrugge Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kathryn Beeson
13 July 2020

Do you want to go to a beach while you’re visiting California? Of course you do. San Diego and the surrounding area offers miles upon miles of gorgeous coastline to explore. So, whether you’re looking for top surfing spots, romantic date locations or just a great day out with the family, Culture Trip’s local insiders have got you covered.

Leucadia State Beach (Beacon’s)

Natural Feature
Map View

Local favorite Leucadia State Beach is the perfect spot for that sun-drenched Californian experience. It’s a small, relatively secluded area located in the Encinitas neighborhood which majors on hippie, surfy vibes and a fun dining scene. Come here for the swimming, sunbathing and surfing (there’s a well-regarded local surf school for beginners). However, make sure to check the tides before you do – the beach is narrow when the tide is in, so come at low tide for more space. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

Cardiff State Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Two surfers entering the ocean at sunset at Cardiff State Beach near San Diego, California.
© Sandra Foyt / Alamy Stock Photo

Cardiff State Beach, locally known as Seaside, is Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s neighboring beach. Just half an hour north of San Diego, it’s the perfect day trip for active types – the beach is a popular spot for volleyball, surfing and swimming. If you feel like something more relaxing, browse the famous market just across the road for freshly made, artisanal carry-out food options for a beachside picnic like no other. Recommended by local insider Lauren Rogers

Coronado Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Lifeguard tower on the Coronado Beach during sunset time. San Diego, California, USA.
© Bonandbon / Alamy Stock Photo

Coronado Island is located just off San Diego Bay. You can access it via a bridge or take a ferry across for bonus views of the harbor. Coronado is consistently voted one of the best beaches in the US and offers attractive, sandy shores set against a picturesque backdrop of period mansions and hotels (you might recognize the Hotel del Coronado from the 1958 Marilyn Monroe film Some Like It Hot). To explore more of Coronado, take a stroll down Orange Avenue to browse through chic boutiques and restaurants, or hire a bike to cover more ground. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

La Jolla Shores Park

Park
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USA, California, La Jolla Cove
© Photononstop / Alamy Stock Photo

The beauty of palm-tree-lined La Jolla Shores Park certainly draws in the crowds during summer, so come ready to enjoy the hubbub and good vibes of a popular seaside resort. Most people come to spend the afternoon here, and parking can be an issue so arrive before lunch to get a spot. If you do want to beat the crowds, come for an evening stroll followed by dinner, or enjoy a sunrise picnic with friends or a date. Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

Pacific Beach

Natural Feature
Map View

Pacific Beach is a popular urban beach in San Diego with good surfing opportunities. Come here for the surfing, swimming and sunbathing, or simply take a stroll along the boardwalk, which stretches 3.2mi (5.1km) to Mission Beach. The Pacific Beach neighborhood is also known for its nightlife and fun bar scene, so why not stay late and make a pre-dinner beach walk the start of your evening? Recommended by local insider Hebah Bukhari

These recommendations were updated on July 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.