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4 Best Beaches to Visit in San Diego this Summer

Updated: 5 hours ago

Summer has arrived in San Diego and one of my favorite things to do during the Summer is relaxing at the beach.  San Diego is home to miles of coastline and San Diego beaches are consistently ranked among the USA's best beaches.  Whether you're looking to surf or relax San Diego offers a variety of stunning beaches to suit every preference. Here are four must-visit beaches that promise to make your summer unforgettable.

In this post, I've included affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you.

Local Tip: If you want to swim in the Pacific Ocean, you might be surprised by how cold the water is even during the Summer. The average temperature of San Diego's coastal water hangs around 60 F and peaks around low to mid-70s F in September. There are two reasons for this phenomenon, upwelling- which causes the warm water on the surface to be replaced by the deeper cooler water below, and water currents off the coast of Alaska mixing with the water currents off the coast of California.

# 4 La Jolla Shores Beach

     La Jolla Shores is a beautiful 1-mile beach located in the coastal community of La Jolla. The beach is popular with visitors and tourists alike and is a popular destination for surfing, and meeting up with friends. What I like most about this beach is the beautiful views of the cove, beachside cliffs and the availability of picnic tables where families can gather to spend time with each other. 

Where to Park: Parking is available and free, but during the weekends and summer months, parking can be very challenging, so I recommend arriving early. If the parking lot is full street parking is available, but be sure to pay attention to street signs to avoid parking tickets. 

What to do: Relaxing on the beach, surfing, snorkeling, or scuba diving. If you are looking for a fun activity to do with family or friends check out one of the many kayaking tours that leave from this beach.  The tours are guided and led by local experts who share interesting facts about La Jolla and part of the tour includes a journey through a sea cave.  Just 7 minutes south is La Jolla Cove and the coast walk trail. Both are great places to explore La Jolla and view San Diego's famous sea lions. Just 15 minutes north is the popular Torrey Pines State Beach which boasts miles of hiking trails and beautiful ocean views. 

Where to eat: La Jolla Cove is surrounded by a neighborhood, so unfortunately there are not any restaurants along the beach but there are several within walking distance along Avenida De La Playa. I recommend packing food or eating at a nearby restaurant in La Jolla before going to the beach. You can find some ideas on where to eat for brunch in my, The Best Spots for Weekend Brunch in La Jolla post.

Kayaking Tour - La Jolla Shores

# 3 Moonlight State Beach

    Moonlight Beach is located 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego in the beach town of Encinitas. This hidden gem has gorgeous views of coastal cliffs and is just a few steps from shopping and restaurants along Highway 101. 

Where to Park: Free parking is available in a nearby parking lot on C Street. There is usually street parking available. 

What to do: After lounging for a few hours, I highly recommend walking less than 5 minutes to explore the shops and restaurants along Highway 101. If you are looking for a unique activity to do check out Candles on Tap,  San Diego's first custom candle bar. 

What to eat: My favorites are The Taco Stand and  URBN Pizza.  The Taco Stand is a local favorite serving up some of the best tacos and California Burritos in San Diego. URBN pizza is another local favorite with a few locations throughout the city serving delicious coal-fired pizzas.

Encinitas HWY 101

# 2 Coronado Beach 

A short drive from downtown San Diego, Coronado Beach is ranked among the top beaches in the USA and is the perfect place to experience full-on vacation vibes. This beach has miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Coronado Beach is located on the famous Coronado Island and is home to the iconic Hotel Del Coronado which was constructed in the late 1800s.

Where to Park: There is plenty of free street parking near and around the beach. Like the other beaches on this list, parking fills quickly, so it's best to get there early.  

What to do: Relax, unwind and explore. This beach is so relaxing and has a nice family-friendly atmosphere. There is a lot to do nearby, so when you are done relaxing, take a short walk to one of the many shops and restaurants. If you want to do something active, hop on your bike or rent a bike and ride along the Coronado Bike Loop.

What to eat: Coronado is home to a few delicious restaurants. One of my favorite places to eat is The Little Frenchie a Persian-style cafe that has won several Michelin awards!

Hotel Del Coronado

#1 Mission Beach 

Located just 15 minutes from downtown San Diego, Mission Beach is a popular beach in San Diego.  If you want that So Cal beach vibe experience, this is the place to visit.  This beach has it all, from an amusement park, beachside bars/restaurants, shops, and a boardwalk. 

Where to Park: There is plenty of free parking located near the beach and there is also street parking available. During the Summer months, parking can be a challenge and I have noticed that many of the parking spots are made for smaller compact cars. 

What to do: There is so much to do at this beach. This is a popular place for beach volleyball, surfing, lounging, picnic areas, and bonfires. The boardwalk is a lively place and has several restaurants that line the boardwalk. It is also a great place to bike ride, walk or run. One of my favorite things to do is rollerblade on the boardwalk. A fun place to visit is Belmont Park San Diego's only beachside amusement park. For more ideas, check out my San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Mission Beach, blog post for more ideas on fun things to do!

What to Eat: You can find many restaurants to try along the boardwalk. One place I like is Cannonball and another option is Draft. For more ideas, check out my San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Mission Beach, blog post for more ideas on places to eat in Mission Beach!

Local Tip: Take a bike ride or walk up the boardwalk! The boardwalk links the nearby beach communities of Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach. These beach communities are also very lively and are popular with the local college students.

Mission Beach Board Walk at Sunset
Mission Beach Boardwalk

If you are a local, let me know which San Diego Beach is your favorite. If you will be visiting San Diego soon, let me know which beach you plan to visit.

Happy Summer!


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