The Best Family Beach Vacation Spots in California

family jumping in the ocean

If you’re looking for an exciting and fun-filled beach vacation destination for the whole family, the California coast is tough to beat. The Golden State boasts some truly breathtaking beaches perfect for travelers of all ages, with phenomenal resorts and accommodations, and plenty of exciting activities and attractions to enjoy together.

These are some of the best destinations in California for a family beach vacation.

San Diego

Nicknamed “America's Finest City,” San Diego is known for its wonderful weather year- round, colorful and unique architecture, more than 70 miles of pristine beaches, and countless family-friendly attractions.

Plan a visit to San Diego Zoo or take a ride through San Diego Safari Park and marvel at the myriad creatures on display. Visit Old Town San Diego and bask in the vibrant glow of its historic buildings and shops. Tour the city by trolly, or spend the day at LEGOLAND or SeaWorld for a fun and exciting time for the entire family.

Best Family-Friendly Beaches

Mission Bay Park is the largest of its kind in the country, with more than 4,200 acres split equally between water and land. Just south of San Diego, its popular bay consists of 27 gorgeous miles of shoreline replete with coves, nearby islands, and a whopping 19 beaches. Swimming, boating, windsurfing, water skiing—you can do it all and much more here, making it perfect for unending family fun!

Mission Bay is also the home of Belmont Park, the city’s only beachfront amusement park. Check out never-ending activities such as mini golf and rock climbing, iconic rides such as the famous Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, enjoy Monster Waffle Cones while perusing the boardwalk, and much more! Parents can even kick back and enjoy beachside dining and a selection of more than 70 beers on tap at Draft.

La Jolla Shores is another favorite for families. Its mile-long stretch of beach is known for being a great spot for easy swimming, boogie boarding, and picnicking. Located in Kellogg Park, this quiet, scenic area has crystal-clear water, a playground area and ice cream shop nearby—making it ideal for some quality time with loved ones.

Best Resorts & Hotels

Hilton San Diego Bayfront boasts an incredible view of San Diego Bay and the city skyline, and features a wide selection of large rooms and suites with a comfortable, luxurious decor and high quality facilities and amenities perfect for families.  

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa offers guests spectacular ocean views, comfortable roomy suites, and premium amenities for children and adults alike, including free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, a gaming arcade, and even poolside drinks for adults!

Paradise Point Resort & Spa is a 44-acre retreat on Mission Bay that brings a touch of island resort charm to your California trip. The bungalow-style rooms are luxurious and cozy, and the resort hosts water activities such as sailboating, kayaking, paddle-boarding, jet skiing, and even daily surf lessons at the Paradise Surf Academy. Its island-themed Spa at Paradise Point is a great spot to relax and de-stress during your vacation.


Malibu is home to some truly incredible beaches, shopping, and sightseeing—making it a primo site for a family adventure!

Tour celebrity hotspots, trendy restaurants, and fantastic sights making Malibu so famous. Walk along the Malibu Pier and take in the glorious scenery. Go shopping with the family at the Malibu Country Mart. Attend a show or performance at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts. Malibu has plenty to offer families looking for a great time.

Best Family-Friendly Beaches

If you’re looking for warm, sandy beaches sporting beautiful California landscapes, Zuma Beach is just the place, featuring clear waters, iconic coastal scenery, and plenty of fun, family-friendly activities including windsurfing, bodyboarding, body surfing, scuba diving, surfing, and more.

El Matador Beach’s pristine shoreline was made for fun watersports and activities, along with picturesque picnicking areas with some extraordinary views. Snorkeling and cave exploring are also available for families with older kids looking for some adventure.

Best Resorts & Hotels

The Surfrider features lovely beachfront accommodations, great amenities, and 20 luxurious rooms inspired by the vivid surf culture of Malibu. Each room feels as if it's your own personal beach house, with panoramic views, a kitchenette, and terrance with hammock and balcony dining areas. It’s also conveniently located by the famous Surfrider Beach, and offers surf lessons and water sport activities for everybody in the family to enjoy.

Newport Beach

This coastal city has everything you could want in a family beach destination. Located only 20 minutes away from Disneyland, Newport Beach is perfectly positioned for visitors to take advantage of all of the magical rides and attractions, fantastic facilities, and adventurous experiences that will make for an unforgettable California vacation for the whole family.

Try your hand at surfing, canoeing, or kayaking at Newport Aquatic Center, learn paddle boarding at Pirate Coast Paddle Company, or ride the roller coasters of Knott's Berry Farm. There are plenty of safe and fun activities for travelers of all ages.

Best Family-Friendly Beaches

Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula is perfect for spending the day outside with your little ones. Lounge on the beach, romp around its nautical-themed playground, and let your kids play in the easy-going waves without a worry.

Pirate’s Cove Beach is another fun and safe option for visitors with kids, with shallow, calm waters for visitors to gently float or swim. It also offers amazing sightseeing opportunities, with awe-inspiring views of the ocean, several cave alcoves for intrepid travelers to enjoy, and close proximity to Corona Del Mar State Beach for water sports and other activities.

Best Resorts & Hotels

For one of the best family accommodations around Newport Beach, check out Hyatt Regency Newport Beach. Book one of its large villa suite bedrooms and enjoy access to your own private pool; a variety of fresh, locally-sourced cuisine; and exclusive activities, facilities, and events for a fun family stay.


This popular resort city sits along the coast of San Diego Bay and boasts some of the best family-friendly beaches and activities around. Coronado is a fun and affordable option for visitors to the San Diego Bay area, with easy access to nearby hotspots. Take a trip to the markets along Orange Ave and do some shopping, or make a quick stop at Mootime Creamery for some authentic, hand-rolled ice cream.

There’s plenty to do and see to keep your whole family entertained.

Best Family-Friendly Beaches

Coronado Beach boasts more than a mile and a half of magnificent coastline; beautifully clean and comfortable sand and sea; fun features such as picnic areas, bonfire pits, and tidepools; and great water sport activities including surfing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding, and more. With plenty of lifeguards on duty and easy swimming, it is considered one of the safest beaches in the entire state, even for toddlers.

Best Resorts & Hotels

If you’re staying in Coronado, Loews Coronado Bay Resort is a favorite for family fun times, featuring ample amenities such as pools, hot tubs, and a kids’ club—complete with supervised games, sports and activities to keep them happy and entertained. Kids can enjoy ladder ball, cornhole, giant chess, limbo, hula hoop contests, poolside “dive-in” movies, and plenty of other indoor and outdoor fun for guests of any age.

Work With an InteleTravel Advisor to Plan Your California Family Beach Vacation!

No matter when you’re planning to travel or what you’re all looking to do, working with an InteleTravel Advisor is undoubtedly the best way to get the most value out of your family vacation experience.

Enlist our team of certified travel professionals to plan your ideal family escape. We’ll arrange the perfect itinerary according to your preferences, handle the research and booking process, and will even provide additional information and support throughout your travels.

InteleTravel Advisor never charges travelers for their services—meaning you’ll gain access to a dedicated travel partner who knows your destinations inside and out, and will work behind the scenes to ensure you have the best time possible, all at no additional cost to you!

Contact an InteleTravel Advisor today to embark on your perfect California family beach vacation!

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