Surfers and sun worshippers alike flock to San Diego for its breathtaking 70 miles of coastline and reliably perfect weather, making it a popular destination for a beach getaway.
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.
If you thought California couldn't live up to its hype, just check out one of these five incredible San Diego beaches.
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.
Cardiff State Beach
This laid back state beach is home to some of the best surfing in San Diego. Keen surfers should make for the north side to catch waves with locals like Rob Machado and other pro surfers who congregate at Cardiff Reef. For a slower pace, visitors go south to the tide pools at low tide to spot starfish, sea-snails and other creatures. Cardiff State Beach is also dog-friendly, as long as your pup is leashed.
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.
Most commonly known as “The Strand”," this two-mile stretch of beach is one of the top destinations in San Diego, drawing crowds every season of the year. Often catching the attention of the younger crowds, Pacific Beach has an abundance of shops and restaurants along its north end. Come night, the beach lights up from the glow of bonfires and beach parties.