California: Best Beach Spots for a Southern California Family Vacation.
Just as no two families are alike, no two California beaches match the perfect beach formula. Except for sand, sun and water with an occasional fish or seabird which are fairly standard the options for fun remain varied. Some love people watching on Muscle Beach and the Boardwalk at Santa Monica and for others Pismo Beach is perfect. We have selected a few for the fun of it.
Laguna Beach – Sun, Sand, and Art.
In addition to being one of Orange County's most fashionable art colonies, this seven-mile span of coast has miles of cool, clean water and countless rocky coves waiting to be discovered. This is the place for playing beach volleyball, surfing, skim boarding, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, tide pooling, and picnicking. A favorite with families is Aliso Creek County Beach because of its fishing pier, restrooms, lifeguards and a snack bar. Off beach bonus:
Go for the beach and stay for the art. Each summer three major art festivals take place in Laguna Beach - Festival of the Arts, Art-A-Fair, and the Sawdust Festival. The city showcases more than 500 artists and the festivals offer more than 300 hands-on art workshops as well as dozens of special events. Discovery:
Heisler Park off Cliff Drive has a pathway along the top of the bluff which offers awesome views of the sea and the coves below. The park also has restrooms, lawn bowling, and picnic tables. (Laguna Beach Visitors Center 381 Forest Avenue Laguna Beach CA 92651. (949) 497-9229 or www.lagunabeachinfo.com
)La Jolla – Beach Time, Shopping, and Snorkeling.
This beach area was dubbed by "the jewel" and it is obvious why. Today it offers visitors a sophisticated beach atmosphere complete with shopping and nightlife. While there are several beaches from which to select three
make the grade for families and each is staffed year-round with lifeguards. La Jolla Shores Beach has a playground, park, volleyball courts and Scripps Shoreline Underwater Preserve. La Jolla Cove located near the shopping district is a smaller beach with huge rock formations that block large waves making it a more comfortable place for families with small children. Children's Pool Beach has clear, clean sand and is a popular snorkeling spot. Off beach bonus:
In addition sun, sand, and sea Mission Beach has a lively boardwalk area or add a trip to Stephen Birch Aquarium Museum at The Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Ellen Browning Scripps Park, and the Torrey Pines State Reserve. San Diego Zoo, Sea World of California, and the Space Theater and Science Center in Balboa Park are also in the vicinity. Discovery:
The San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve at La Jolla Cove is a popular spot for scuba-diving and snorkeling because of the underwater visibility. (San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau (619) 236-1212 or www.sandiego.org
Santa Barbara - Camp Stories, Swimming, and Surf.
The Family Vacation Center has a series of summer experiences designed to inspire and rejuvenate. The Family Vacation Center offers eight one-week sessions during the months of July and August. Families attend for a minimum of one week at a time. Children participate in activities with kids their own age, under supervision of enthusiastic UCSB student counselors. Programs include tennis, golf, swimming, childcare, age-group activities, fitness programs, crafts, sports, leisure, biking, reading, tours, wine tasting, beach trips, horseback riding, kayaking and surfing. Bonus points:
Younger children usually stay inside the camp, going for walks, doing arts and crafts, and making friends. Older children venture out into the community—with trips to local parks, the movies, the beach, and more. Teens have a great vacation experience with counselors who are “cool” enough to gear activities to their preferences. (UCSB Alumni Association, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-1120. (805) 893-3123 or www.familyvacationcenter.com
)San Onofre- Surfing, Camping, and a Clam Dig.
San Onofre is California vintage beach made famous by The Beach Boys during the ‘60s. You will find sunshine and sea breezes, windswept bluffs and native vegetation, and awesome starry nights. The 20-mile coastal span includes three beach areas - Trestles, Old Man's and Trails with good facilities and a safe, clean, sandy beach. Add a luscious California morning mist waking the sun, a picnic by the sea, a few Pacific sunsets and a perfect family vacation has been created. San Diego is sweatshirts and sunscreen; ice cream and tacos; San Diego is fun for families of all ages. Off beach bonus:
Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo cares for more than 4,000 individual animals representing 800 different species. It is recognized as one of the finest zoological parks in the entire world. The variety of interesting programs and animal encounter is endless. Discovery:
Families may take behind-the-scene tours, participate in mini wildlife workshops or make a visit at night. (2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, 92101. (619) 234-3153, 236 - 1212 or www.sandiegozoo.org
)Coronado - Sailing, Skakeboards, and Beach Volleyball.
Find the historic hotel Grand Coronado and the beach will be at your feet. Coronado Beach is always on the list of America's finest beaches. It is wide, clean, and family-friendly. Set along the edge of the delightful turn-of-the-century community of Coronado it exemplifies the best of Southern California. The entire beach is patrolled by lifeguards. Play volleyball at the beach, build a beach fire, try skateboarding in town. Silver Strand State Beach is south of Coronado on a seven-mile stretch that connects with Imperial Beach. It includes both the San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean sides of the strand. It offers quiet and glorious sunsets, and plenty of beach space. Recreational activities include camping, surfing, swimming, body boarding, jet skiing, sailing, water skiing, as well as fishing and beach volleyball. The bay side has a nature preserve and is a popular sailing and swimming area because the water is warmer and smoother than the ocean side. Off beach bonus:
There is a ten-mile path leading north to Coronado. It is ideal for bicyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters. Discovery:
The Navy SEALS train on this beach. (Coronado Beach (619) 435-4179 and Silver Strand State Beach (619) 435-5184 or www.parks.ca.gov
)Santa Cruz - Kites, Sandcastles, and Surf.
Twenty-nine miles of sun-drenched beaches make Santa Cruz a great place for any type of coastal activity. Hiking, picnicking, volleyball, surfing, and building sand castles are just some of the activities available. Off beach bonus:
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the most popular seaside amusement park on the west coast. Located at 400 Beach Street in Santa Cruz, the park features rides, games, restaurants, and free summer beach concerts. (Santa Cruz Boardwalk (831) 426-7433, www.beachboardwalk.com
or toll-free 1-800-833-3494 www.santacruzca.org
)Content researcded by FTF and images provided by staff. Copyright 2012.