Best beaches in San Diego

For a week, life was a beach (and a soccer field). We spent a laid-back week in and around San Diego for the State Games of America. Our fav beaches stretched from Silver Strand, just 3 miles from the Mexico border, to Carlsbad. Highlights:

Silver Strand State Park

Nice long beach, all sand, a few tidepools. Quieter, family-focus, no shopping or restaruants. Quick access to Bay beaches on the other side of this thin land strip south of San Diego. Wouldn’t visit after dark.

Least crowded beach: Silver Strand State Park Beach. That's Julia, Matt. Caroline taking a break from the waves.

Julia stuck a little closer to shore
Matt was all in!
Caroline, part fish, was right at home. Even the lifeguards' "riptide" warnings didn't deter her from the water.

Coronado Beach

By far our fav, because it had a bit of everything: Navy Seal sightings in the morning, sand dollar discoveries (locals told us it was a rare batch washing up!), dolphin sightings, gorgeous sand-castle creations by beach artists (and aspiring creators), sand and rock areas, great sunsets and of course the iconic HotelDel. It’s a great beach to start and end the day.

The boys and I early one morning

Arguably, the girls' best game was their evening match on the beach.

A couple of the little sisters at work
Our hockey boy held is own in the beach soccer match, then took a little sand time
One of our family's last evenings, spent on Coronado. You can have Disney: To me, THIS is Magic.

Quintessential California

Mission Beach has a boardwalk, beach shops (fudge, ice cream, shell anklets), a couple very good restaurants (The Wave House rocks — or is it rolls?), plenty of surfers, adjacent Belmont Park amusement park (the roller coaster looked great) and lots of beachgoers. Biggest waves we encountered were here.

Another mom mentioned that the next time the girls are together on an ocean beach, it may be Spring Break. +yikes

Carlsbad Beach

After a lovely drive up a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway, we landed at Carlsbad. More great waves, surfers, dolphins! — and the best meal we had while in Cali was our picnic on the beach.

Yes, that's a dolphin in the distance

LaJolla Cove

Very different than the sandy spots we enjoyed, this area is more rocky. Great snorkeling, cute shops, excellent restaurants and of course watching the seals was delightful. Note: Parking here on weekends is very, very tight. Our weekday trip there was much better.

Beaches were one of the best parts of our Cali vacation. And in January, when the wind chill drops, I have many happy beach memories to warm me up.

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