Beach Holidays

Best beaches in California for family holidays

Families in California head out for beach holidays whenever they want to wade in the waves, sunbathe, surf, or just enjoy the sunset. The difficult part of this holiday experience is usually deciding where to go – identifying beach which offers the best family beach holidays in California. After speaking to a lot of travelers and also doing our own research, we have listed our top five beaches in the whole of California.

Finding the best beaches in California was quite a task because it has 840 miles of coastline, thus giving birth to quite a few interesting beaches. With so much coastline, one doesn’t even need to travel to reach the beach…just put on your floaters, get your beach towel and start walking towards the water. It is one of those US states where sand, clean water and hotels/ resorts are so close to each other that they end up making a perfect vacation spot every two miles.

1. Mission Beach, San Diego, California

Bang in between Pacific beach and Belmont park, Mission beach offers a wide variety of activities both in the sand and in the water. With a good set of resorts and restaurants around, it also makes for a great beach holiday for families and couples alike. You will also find cool nightclubs, and late night shopping and fun lovers of all kinds along the beach, which is bound to make your vacation memorable. Don’t forget to ride the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, or the artificial wave at the Wave House. If you or your children love fishing make your beach holiday memorable by visiting the Mission Bay jetty.

Best romantic resort near Mission Beach: Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Best family resort near Mission Beach: The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Best value resort near Mission Beach: Pacific Terrace Hotel
Top attractions near Mission Beach: USS Midway Museum, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, La Jolla Cove
Top restaurants near Mission Beach: Bobboi Natural Gelato, A.R. Valentien (at Lodge at Torrey Pines), Oceana Coastal Kitchen, Plumeria, Cottage, Hodad’s

2. Santa Barbara Beach, California

Santa Barbara Beach, California
S.Borisov /

Santa Barbara beach is as natural a beach as it can get – pure and pristine, it begs to be walked upon. Santa Barbara beach in California fits in well both for families planning a beach holiday or romantic couples looking for that secluded walk on the sands. Do take a resort closer to the East Beach as it is more popular. Parts of these Californian beaches also offer rocky pools, seashells, starfish, turtles for kids to have fun with. Do check out the breathtaking cliff views that these beaches offer. Once you are done sunning and surfing (yes, this Californian beach is good for surfing!) you can always catch up on some fine dining, movies or shopping.

Best romantic resort near Santa Barbara Beach: Spanish Garden Inn
Best family resort near Santa Barbara Beach: Tropical paradise
Best value resort near Santa Barbara Beach: Simpson House Inn
Top attractions near Santa Barbara Beach: Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Lotusland, Old Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Waterfront,
Top restaurants near Santa Barbara Beach: Lilac Patisserie, Toma Restaurant and Bar, Backyard Bowls, Los Agaves

3. Santa Monica, California

The Santa Monica beach is almost three miles long, which in itself is a huge allure for Californian families (or families from elsewhere!) looking for a beach holiday. Everything about Santa Monica excites a vacation-lover. There are rows-upon-rows of shops, restaurants and pubs. Just so you know, the popular “Baywatch” was filmed at this beach. The sands are white and the water is blue, making it for a peaceful vacation spot – where you can just put on your sunscreen and lie down with a beer in hand. This Californian beach also has a lot of street performers, which your kids will love. Once you are done entertaining your kids, just wait for the sun to set so that the nightlife of Santa Monica beach gets kick-started.

Best romantic resort near Santa Monica Beach: Shore Hotel
Best family resort near Santa Monica Beach: Viceroy Santa Monica
Best value resort near Santa Monica Beach: Palihouse Santa Monica
Top attractions near Santa Monica Beach: Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Pier, Palisades Park, Montana Avenue, Pacific Park
Top restaurants near Santa Monica Beach: Tar and Roses, Hillstone Restaurant, Sugarfish, True Food Kitchen, Pono Burger

4. Laguna Beach, California

Laguna Beach, California
Gabriele Maltinti /

This is an oceanfront town as well and hence is quite laid-back. If you are the kind of family which doesn’t prefer to pack a holiday full of activities, this is just the right Californian beach for you. During the right season, you will also be able to see seals, sea lions, and dolphins – besides the multitudes of human beings who frequent this Californian beach often. The water at Laguna is pure, clean and calm. The soft sands of the beach also encourage beach volleyball – if you aren’t playing you can always lie down and watch.

Best romantic resort near Laguna Beach: Montage Laguna Beach
Best family resort near Laguna Beach: Crescent Bay Inn
Best value resort near Laguna Beach: Casa Laguna Inn & Spa
Top attractions near Laguna Beach: Heisler Park, Crystal Cove State Park, Pageant of the Masters, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, 1,000 Steps Beach, Laguna Art Museum
Top restaurants near Laguna Beach: Montage Lobby Lounge, Nick’s Laguna Beach, Watermarc Restaurant, Studio at Montage

5. Newport Beach, California

The seaside city of Newport beach in California can be an excellent beach holiday for your family – just a bit costlier than the other Californian beach holidays. Newport beach is for the rich, but this facet gets ignored because of the coastal charms Newport beach boasts of. The stretch of sand is wide, making for an excellent view. This stretch runs from Newport Pier to Balboa Pier and in between lies the best beach holiday destination in California. The Newport beach treats sunbathers, surfers, families, romantics, and children alike…so head for it right away.

Best romantic resort near Newport Beach: The Resort at Pelican Hill
Best family resort near Newport Beach: Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel
Best value resort near Newport Beach: Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas
Top attractions near Newport Beach: Balboa Island Ferry, Fashion Island, Sherman Library & Gardens, Inspiration Point, Balboa Village, Orange Coast Winery
Top restaurants near Newport Beach: Mama D’s Italian, Great MEX, The Beachcomber Café, Pescadou Bistro

If you feel we haven’t mentioned your favourite Californian beach, do leave a comment.

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