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Best Family Beaches in Southern California – Kid Friendly Vacation Spots

Planning a family beach vacation? Head to Southern California! Whether you’re looking for action-packed fun or a relaxing, laid-back vibe, you’re sure to find your bliss along this wonderful coastline to have a great time with your kids. These ten sun-drenched stretches of sand are some of the best beaches in Southern California for families.

Anett Victoria - Author of SeaSpiration

Written by Anett Victoria

When it comes to a beach vacation, Anett is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, a romantic seaside getaway, or a fun family trip to the ocean. As a world traveler with years of experience in exploring tropical countries and a water sports fan, she creates this inspiring site where she writes travel guides, reviews and recommends beach gear, and gives travel tips to make planning your trip quicker and easier! Are you curious about where She wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!

Refugio State Beach

Find refuge from the hustle and bustle of your daily life at Refugio State Beach. This palm tree-lined oasis rests in a shallow cove along the Gaviota coastline and belongs to most private beaches in Santa Barbara where you can swim, scuba dive, or kayak in the protected waters. Anglers can enjoy some excellent coastal fishing.

Santa Barbara Refugio State Beach

Stroll the crescent-shaped beach with your kids. You may even spot harbor seals bobbing in the surf. Explore tide pools for colonies of diverse marine creatures. For more action, hike or bike the trails. Best of all, you can fall asleep to the symphony of crashing waves at the campground on this idyllic location. Amenities such as restrooms, showers, lifeguards, and picnic tables are also good reasons why this destination should be among the best beaches in Southern California for families.

Carpinteria State Beach

Located in the small California beach town of Carpinteria, 12 miles south of Santa Barbara, this white sandy expanse beckons visitors to unwind and reconnect with nature. This is a great place for couples who look for less-crowded beaches to enjoy long ocean walks, but the gentle swells and shallow, gradual slope make it a perfect spot for families too: kids can safely swim or surf here, and they can enjoy tide pooling too.

Carpinteria State Beach drone photo

Tomol Interpretive Play Area tucked into the northwest corner of the beach models a Chumash Indian village and can keep kids immersed in imaginative play for hours. What’s more, you have the unique opportunity to observe seals in their natural habitat at the nearby Carpinteria Harbor Seal Preserve and Rookery. Comfort features include on-site restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and camping facilities too.

San Buenaventura State Beach

Looking for kid-friendly beaches in Southern California with an easygoing vibe? Hit the sandy shores of San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura where the whole family can swim or explore the scenic sand dunes. Or simply dig your toes into the sand and soak up the sun while your kids romp in the water.

Lifeguard station San Buenaventura State Beach

After a day at the beach, enjoy a picnic in the picnic area equipped with tables, grills, and even wind and privacy screens. There’s also a beach playground with swings, slides, and climbing structures that is sure to keep the kids engaged. Don’t forget to log a few laps on California’s oldest pier, the 1600-foot-long Ventura Pier, for fishing and unparalleled coastal views.

Port Hueneme Beach Park

You have to add this beach in Port Hueneme to your places-to-visit list for the perfect beach getaway in California. This scenic location features a 1250-foot-long pier which is popular with anglers and worth a stroll for its sweeping views of the coastline even if you don’t fish. It is also a great spot for whale-watching during migration season.

Port Hueneme pier

Take a dip in the waters, surf the waves or walk the promenade trail from the pier to the historic lighthouse. Amenities are abundant and include restrooms, seasonal lifeguards, picnic areas, beach volleyball courts, and grassy areas for kids to play. A giant sundial commemorating Alaska Air crash victims adorns the beach park.

Leo Carrillo State Park

This uncrowded beach in Southern California along the Malibu coastline is not only a haven for outdoor enthusiasts but also an excellent kid-friendly destination where the whole family can grab your boogie board or surf the waves. The clear waters of Leo Carrillo are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving too.

Seabirds at Leo Carrillo State Beach

You can spend the day exploring coastal caves with your kids, observing seabirds, or inspecting tide pools for marine life. There are even hiking trails to suit different levels of experience. Enjoy untrammeled views of the ocean as you hike through wildflowers and various plant communities. Consider staying overnight at the campground and snuggling around a campfire with family for a truly memorable experience.

Zuma Beach

Look no further than Zuma Beach if you want the best beach to take kids in Malibu. Vaunting the cleanest ocean water in Los Angeles and some of the warmest water in California, this is a perfect spot for the entire family to go swimming. The exposed beach break brings in consistent waves, so you can enjoy some great surfing too. Go body boarding or skimboarding if you like.

Surfers at Zuma Beach

If you’d rather not be in the water, relax on the soft sands and enjoy panoramic views of the ocean. Or toss a Frisbee. With plentiful parking and extensive facilities like restrooms, showers, lifeguard stations, a kids play area, and volleyball courts, Zuma is certainly one of the best beaches in Southern California for families.

Bolsa Chica Beach

One of the best family beaches in Orange County that never gets too crowded, this sublime, sandy stretch in Huntingdon Beach is a great place to decompress with your kids. The array of amenities include showers, restrooms, volleyball courts, fire rings make your visit comfortable and there is even an RV camping which is open year-round.

Playing volleyball at Bolsa Chica State Beach

You can go jogging here or enjoy some surf fishing. The sheltered beach break makes it a perfect place to hone your surfing skills too. Should you want to experience something unique, schedule you visit between March and September, ideally during or following new moon and full moon because this is when Grunion runs and Bolsa Chica is one of the best places to watch it! In this period, this unique species, grunion come out at night to spawn on the beach, and you may catch a fish with your bare hands. But even if you don’t want to do that, it is such an interesting event to witness!

Moonlight State Beach

Named for its popularity as a late-night picnic spot in early 20th century, this seaside destination in Encinitas is one of the best family beaches in Southern California with good reason. Along with easy access, this place boasts a host of amenities such as lifeguards, restrooms, showers, snack shop, and picnic areas. Also, there is a beach playground that makes this place particularly appealing to families with kids.

Man is walking with surfboard on moonlight state beach

The gradual slope of the beach and a designated swimming-only zone is ideal for young swimmers. You can surf and fish too. Moreover, this is one of those San Diego beaches that have fire pits, so don’t miss the opportunity to cozy up around a bonfire with your family after the sun sets.

Torrey Pines State Beach

With towering, red-hued bluffs as the backdrop, Torrey Pines State Beach is one of the most impressive Southern California beaches for families. On-site facilities like lifeguards, restrooms, and showers make this spot a kid-friendly retreat. Stroll the shore, sunbathe, or build sandcastles with your children on this wild stretch of coastal land north of La Jolla in San Diego.

Ocean and cliffs at Torrey pines state beach

After a day of fun by the water, head to Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. Hike along with its network of trails for varying ages and abilities. Meander through wind-sculpted, rare Torrey Pine trees juxtaposed against unique geological formations as you enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean. You may even spot whales splashing.

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