Hot Destinations

5 Best California Beaches for Ultimate Family Fun

Beautiful coastline, soft sand and family attractions to amuse all.

California is the place to go when seeking a beach vacation, whether you are going solo, with friends, a partner or with your family. It can be challenging to find a destination that is family-friendly and somewhere that everyone will enjoy. Luckily, there are some great spots in California with something for everyone and that would be make for the perfect setting for some family fun at the beach.

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Long Beach

Long Beach has long been a beach favorite for families, but it wasn’t always the easiest to access. Thanks to the new Long Beach bridge, getting there is much easier so this destination has quickly become more popular for family vacations. The Aquarium of the Pacific alone draws visitors every year, along with the beautiful beaches, Queen Mary and the tours you can actually go on at the cruise ship, and the El Dorado Nature Center with its cute turtles, floras and faunas.

See our guide to visiting The Queen Mary

Things to do with kids on Newport Coast OC

Newport Beach

Located in southern California, Newport Beach offers those classic family beach activities in a city that is charming and big enough, but not too big. While you’re here and want a little break from playing in the sand, visit Centennial Farm where you can explore fresh food and see some animals, play at Balboa Fun Zone and ride the waterfront Ferris Wheel, and if your kids love princesses and mermaids, the Once Upon An Island event location is a must where they can see the characters, play dress up and more.

See our full guide of things to do in Newport with Kids.

Santa Monica 

Santa Monica is another charming beachside town that has the beautiful beaches and water to play in, but it also has a great downtown area where you can walk around the shops, restaurants and cafes when you want something a little different too. You can go on a Scavenger Hunt at the Santa Monica Pier so you can play and explore together with a map in hand, go to the Cayton’s Children Museum that has over 30 exhibitions, and stop by Douglas Park if you want a little break where you can picnic, bike, play a little tennis and more.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a popular beachside city in California that draws many tourists every year, year-round. For families the most popular spot to go to is the Beach Boardwalk, with its long stretches of sandy beaches as well as the amusement park area where you can all go on sorts of rides and play games together. Another fun family activity if you want something indoors is the marine science museum, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, with its interactive displays and activities for kids.

glamping in Big Sur California

Big Sur

Located along the Central Coast, Big Sur is a beautiful destination that many people make their primary destination, while it also makes for a great place to spot at if you are driving from southern to northern California. While you’re here, visit Sand Dollar Beach for some time playing in the sand by the water, and for a beautiful walk through the redwoods head to Limekiln State Park.

See our list of best glamping sites in Big Sur

That’s A Wrap!

There are so many great beaches in California, but these are just 5 worth checking out if you are planning your next family beach vacation. Have you ever been to any of these beaches? What family-friendly activities do you recommend here?

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I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

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