San Diego has no shortage of incredible beaches — which can make it nearly impossible to pick just one or two to see during a trip to this West Coast city. But the top beaches in San Diego stand out because they’re so much more than attractive stretches of coastline.
We looked at beach destinations that had fun things to do like boardwalks with shops and restaurants, excellent kayaking, surfing, or paddleboarding, or other unique diversions. Of course, the best beaches will always deliver an Instagram-worthy view, whether they’re surrounded by sandy dunes or famous for their spectacular sunsets.
Located in San Diego’s North Country, Solana Beach is a secluded spot that has a number of hidden coves (accessible by staircase on nearly every street corner). For fans of surfing, head straight toward Seaside or Fletcher Cove — the former has a popular outer reef, and the latter has an exposed beach break. Solana is also home to the Cedros Design District, making it a great place for antique and vintage shoppers.
Perhaps the most special part of Coronado Beach is what’s right underneath your feet. Because mica is mixed into the golden sand here, the beach quite literally sparkles in California sun. Sunbathers will be pleased to know there is no shortage of room for umbrellas, as the beach is wide and flat. After a long day of lounging, take a trip across the 200-foot tall San Diego-Coronado Bridge, where you’ll be treated to a striking view of the San Diego skyline (and a room at an elegant resort like Hotel del Coronado).
La Jolla Beach
One of San Diego’s best beach destinations for families, La Jolla offers the gentlest waves along its mile-long shore. At this beach, you can join a scuba class and watch sea lions and seals lounging along the coves. Somewhat hidden by the curving coastline is La Jolla Cove — one of the most photographed spots in San Diego. Visitors can snorkel in the calm, turquoise waters, which are filled with colorful Garibaldi fish and other sea creatures.
One of the liveliest beaches along San Diego’s shores is Mission Beach. You’ll want to skateboard or bike your way down the boardwalk, join a game of beach volleyball, or take a ride on the iconic beachfront roller coaster. With two miles of oceanfront boardwalk and a wide range of activities, it’s hard for anyone to be bored at this beachfront amusement park. But if all the action here doesn’t suit you, it’s still totally acceptable to grab a drink and park your flip flops on the sand.