Top 13 Beaches to Visit in San Diego County

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The best beaches in almost all of California actually exist here in San Diego. So if you’re visiting, then be sure to check out the top 13 best beaches to visit in San Diego.

Even if you’re slightly thinking about taking a trip to Southern California, or say you are a local and already live here, there is no reason why these shouldn’t be on your list.

 San Diego beaches are known for its warm sunshine temperatures and strong ocean waves. It’s no wonder surfing has become so popular in California. The waves at the San Diego beaches are “gnarly”. As some surfers have said before.

If you are visiting the San Diego beaches of California I say give surfing a try. There are plenty of surf lessons offered throughout many of the beaches.

Hey you never know! You may just fall in love with a sport you have never tried.

Fun beaches to visit in San Diego

There really is no shortage of beaches in San Diego. After all, San Diego is located on the west coast of Southern California. Hence, sweet temperatures exist almost year-round and the beach vibe is a real thing. Here, we break down the fun beaches to visit in San Diego.

Ocean Beach

Located in southern San Diego, Ocean Beach is definitely one of the best beaches to visit, especially if you have a dog! Ocean Beach dog beach is like no other beach because its been super pet friendly since the early 1950s.

In fact, it has risen in popularity among dog owners and their fur babies. Whether you have or don’t have a pet, it is a gorgeous beach made of relaxing waters and beautiful scenery.

Not only will you enjoy the waters, but one of the gorgeous beach piers that exists in all of San Diego.

Sunset Cliffs National Park

Photo by Matteo Paganelli

This is by far one of my favorite locations in all of San Diego beaches. It’s amazing to experience the beauty of what the San Diego beaches are really made of.

The beaches are centered off these gorgeous cliffs. And every time the water hits the cliffs, it feels like your in a movie! All your worries go away and it has really become an aesthetically beach travel destination for many people.

Remember let’s keep this beach along with many others alive, by picking up our trash!

Read more about how our carbon footprint impacts these beaches, but what we can do to continue to travel these gorgeous destinations.

La Jolla Shores

Definitely La Jolla Beach has become a dynamic fun-filled beach for many families. Whether you have children with you or not, it is one of those perfect beach vacations you may experience.

This beach is indeed very popular, and I’ve been fortunate to see celebrities around the area. La Jolla Beach and Cove is one of the most popular beaches in all of San Diego County!

There is a children’s pool where many seals sunbathe.

You can enjoy all sorts of open activities such as scuba diving, paddle boarding, and kayaking. What I really enjoy about the beach is its nearby shops and food places you can literally walk to!

Read more here on why La Jolla is a family-oriented beach in San Diego.

Del Mar Beach

Photo by Bobby Stevenson

Maybe you’ve heard of this beach or maybe you haven’t! What has made this beach along with Ocean Beach such an amazing place is the fact that your fur babies are free to roam here.

Many pet owners flock to this beach because of the free range for dogs. This was one of my favorite beaches to really have playtime for my dog.

There are many different sections of the beach that enforces on and off leash areas. I highly recommend that you read this article on what to expect when visiting the dog-friendly beach of Del Mar.

Even if you don’t have a dog, I also enjoy coming here and seeing the dogs roam around.

After all, It is open to humans too! Watching the dogs play and roam freely is a rewarding experience. There is an swimming and surfing area here as well. So enjoy both.

Torrey Pines State Reserve

One of the west coast beaches in San Diego is nestled somewhere on a hill and this beach is Torrey Pines. Having been here multiple times, my favorite thing to do in the fall is to hike.

The weather is nice to check out, and with cooler temperatures there is no reason why you shouldn’t get out there! For a guide to hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve be sure to read about it here.

It really is a great place to get some exercise and hiking in. You won’t regret the panoramic views and amazing views to experience along the way.

Moonlight State Beach

Endless Summer barbecues and children racing around the playground. It’s no wonder Moonlight State Beach is also known as one of the most family-oriented beaches in all of San Diego.

And yes it does fall in the top beaches to visit year-round. If you have children then be sure to take them here. If you don’t, bring your friends, family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, significant other, or heck yourself.

There are plenty of volleyball nets to enjoy while visiting along with bonfire pits scattered throughout. It really is a nice area to just relax and enjoy.

Read the 7 things every family should know about visiting Moonlight State Beach. 

Leucadia State Beach aka Beacon Beach

This beach is more on the quieter end, since it is tucked away atop high bluffs.  The staircase to these high bluffs are gorgeous. To see the structure of these beautiful Cliffs is mind-boggling.

Although, most people also fail to recognize that you need to take precautions when visiting. Since, they are unstable its best to admire from afar.

Never get too close to the bluffs.

And it’s important to know that there is caution signs everywhere of unstable cliffs.

Furthermore, the downtown of Leucadia is smaller than most, but you can still find a great place to eat or a delicious treat to munch on. Read more about learning how Beacon Beach is a Hidden Gem in San Diego County.

Coronado Island

Photo by Alejandro Luengo

There are more than enough reasons to enjoy the most beautiful beaches of San Diego.

Coronado Beach definitely makes the top 13 beaches to visit!


Many have called it the  “Crown City” of San Diego. But it was not nicknamed that for no reason, Coronado has more history that people have yet to realize!

Many people know Coronado Beach as an island, but in reality it’s a peninsula. Not only does Coronado have a lot of history, but it has also been a great inspiration for many authors including L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz.

There is an area in Coronado Beach where dogs can freely play. The dog beach of Coronado is a must-visit for you and your dog. You can see the gorgeous historical background of Hotel Del Coronado.


Photo by Mikela Garza

This beach is located in Encinitas and definitely ranks in the top 30 beaches to visit in all of California. It’s become a popular beach destination for not only tourists but also wedding go-ers and photographers.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a gorgeous place because of the many activities you can do while visiting here. Be sure to check out what other new things you can do at Cardiff-by-the-Sea here.

Carlsbad Beach

Carlsbad Beach is another must-see beaches to visit. Every beach is unique in its own way.

Carlsbad Beach is perfect places to experience some beach vacation or day trip.

There is so much you can do here!

Besides it’s gorgeous sunset and serene views, there is much more that this beach offers!

My favorite places is to walk around Carlsbad Village and visit all neat little shops that have food, boutiques, rentals and desserts. Even though your dog may not be allowed in the beach area itself, keep in mind that you can most certainly walk your pup around other places near the Carlsbad Beach Area!

Check out the beautiful seawall that Carlsbad Beach has here. If you would like to learn how to experience Carlsbad like local, then learn more here.


Photo by Mikela Garza

Many people disregard Oceanside Beach because the city is not too well developed. But do not be fast to disregard this beach because it offers everything you may be looking for.

The amazing Oceanside Pier is just one of the many reasons why you should be visiting this beach.

The panoramic views and endless surfing is a reason why many beach-goers and surfers flock to it. The beach is perfect for anyone.

The pier is filled with many fishermen who purchase a license for the day.

On the pier itself you can even find a delicious restaurant to eat if you want to.

If you would like to read more about this Oceanside Beach be sure to check out the blog that breaks down the best beaches with pier views in San Diego. This is one of the many northern beaches in San Diego County that people often miss. Don’t forget that you can also take the Amtrak or Sprinter to this location.

Black’s Beach

A quieter beach that is often missed because of the type of beach it is. Blacks beach is actually a “clothing optional” beach. It is often quieter than most beaches since people prefer something else.

I have seen families who do enjoy the quietness at this beach because there are less crowds and more room to find a place to sit. If you don’t mind a nude beach then definitely come here to take advantage of the serenity. 

San Onofre Beach

The last and final beach that makes the top 13 beaches to see is called San Onofre Beach.

This beach is found in North County as opposed to the other beaches found closer the city of San Diego.

This beach is thus often quieter and more tranquil than most beaches. What makes this beach amazing and nice is that camping is very popular, especially in the summer months!

It’s a quieter and nicer place to check out some local camping in the area.  This beach along with a couple other beaches in San Diego have the best camping spots you have yet to try. Read more about other camping beaches in San Diego here. 


Whether you choose to visit only one or all of these beaches is really up to you. They are all gorgeous and beautiful and each have a unique twist of them!

The history of each one is different and these are my top 13 beaches I visit frequently. I am a beach go-er and living here has allowed me to visit more each of these beaches! One of the things I have noticed is that the best time to go visit the beaches is really anytime! 

Of course, if your more of a swimmer then definitely go in the summer, where water temperatures are better! 

If you enjoy beach hiking then check out the beaches in the fall! The weather is perfect and temperatures are ideal! 

Spring time is perfect to go too since the weather is just warming up and the beaches are perfect! 

So there really is no perfect time to go. All in all these top 13 beaches in San Diego to visit are relaxing and flawless to just check out and have some fun.

So tell me? Are you a local or a visitor? Have you ever visited these beaches before? What your favorite! 😉 

Remember always help protect your beaches so they can be enjoyed for future generations to come!!! 


Jess & Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette, two sisters who founded Unseen Beaches, were inspired by their family’s beach vacations while growing up.

Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the U.S., while also protecting and preserving these beautiful coastal treasures! 🌊❤️

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