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The Best OC Beaches For Family Fun

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll have noticed we have a thing for beaches. (And if you don’t follow us, head over to find us. It’s worth it!) Living in Southern California, we have access to some truly beautiful beaches. And we love to visit different ones, though there are some that are better than others. If you like beautiful beaches of all shapes and sizes, read on. This is your go-to guide for the best OC beaches to visit with your family.

One thing I must stress is that many of the addresses listed below take you directly to the beach, which you obviously cannot park on. A few involve street parking, so going early is definitely advised. 

Shaw’s Cove, Laguna Beach

Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

The parking for this tiny beach is in a residential area and when we went it was a case of every man for themselves. We went before 10am and parking was fine. If you have very little ones this may not be the beach for you. That is because, depending on where you park, there is definitely going to be some walking involved. However, once we got there the kids LOVED this beach. There is a natural sand step which the kids used to ‘cliff jump!’ 

 

Best OC Beaches
Best OC Beaches

 Best OC Beaches

 

Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach

Bolsa Chica State Beach is a beach in Huntington Beach. Because it is a state beach, there is a $15 fee to enter and park. This is not one of our favourite beaches but it’s often quiet and it has a lot of sand which makes it great for families with little ones who don’t want to go in the sea. There’s also lots of seagulls to chase if you are that way inclined (I have a seagull chaser; don’t judge!)

 

Best OC Beaches
Best OC Beaches

 

Best OC Beaches

We usually bring an umbrella to Bolsa Chica because it can get quite windy!

 

Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach

8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

Best OC Beaches
Best OC Beaches

Like Bolsa Chica, Crystal Cove is one of the beaches that belong to the state parks. This means they are very well kept, but it also means you’ll pay $15 to park. You could park in the shops opposite, but $15 is a great way to support our local state parks. The beach itself is breathtaking.

 

Best OC Beaches

It’s a very ‘SoCal’ beach with golden sands, crystal clear water, and beautiful high cliffs. 

 

Treasure Island/Goff Island, Laguna Beach

7 Montage Way, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 

 

Best OC Beaches

These two beaches are next to each other and both equally as beautiful.

 

Best OC Beaches

The sand under this rock formation disappears at higher tide. Trust me on that. We once lost a pair of shoes!

 

Best OC Beaches

The tides here are great for beginner body boarders!

 

Best OC Beaches
Best OC Beaches

Please note that the address of this beach isn’t driveable and will take you to the housing above the beach! If you visit this beach it HAS to be in the morning. It’s very difficult to find parking, but it’s SO worth it. This really is one of the best OC beaches and is my personal favorite beach by far. So much so that I considered leaving it out to keep it a secret! It’s quite a walk from the parking lot to the beach, but you get the most beautiful views so it makes that walk worth it. You also walk past the stunning Montage Hotel which is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen! Nip in for a cocktail and some nachos if you have time.

 

Best OC Beaches

 

Main Beach, Laguna

107 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

Best OC Beaches

The beach is right on the main road in Laguna so it’s easy to walk and get lunch or ice cream!

 

Best OC Beaches

Further down the beach you’ll find some great tide pools and rocks to explore.

 

Best OC Beaches
Best OC Beaches

When we want to go to the beach, but we want minimal effort we either hit Laguna or Newport’s main beaches (see below for Newport). The main beach in Laguna is long, sprawling and FUN! There are tide pools to explore at the far end of the beach. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes within walking distance and some delicious ice cream shops for a cold treat. As with many beaches in the OC, parking isn’t the easiest to come by. But there is street parking to be found all over Laguna. I would recommend going early to the main beach in Laguna if you plan to visit in summer or at the weekend. 

 

Marina Park, Newport Beach

1600 W Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663

 

Best OC Beaches

Practising his swimming.

 

Best OC Beaches

Watching the boats!

 

Marina Park is one of the beaches in the marina where there are no waves. This makes it perfect for taking little ones to. Whilst it isn’t the most beautiful beach, it’s a great place to bring the kids if they are little, if you are on your own and want the peace of mind of no waves, or if they want to try paddle boarding. You can bring along floaties and the water is shallow enough for little ones to play or for bigger ones to practise swimming. There is also an awesome park where the kids can play. The park centerpiece is a lighthouse ad my boys just LOVE it there!

Note that while there is a large parking lot here, you do have to pay for the meters. However, they’ve got a neat mobile payment app called Parkmobile which you can use if you don’t have spare change in your purse. 

 

Best OC Beaches

A small part of the park at Marina Park.

 

Little Corona Beach, Corona Del Mar

Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

 

Best OC Beaches

 

We like this beach better than the main beach at Corona Del Mar because it is quieter, smaller, AND has great tide pools. We park on Ocean Blvd and there a short downhill walk to a beach surrounded by the most stunning houses. The walk means you don’t want to be carrying lots of stuff by hand. We pack up our wagon when we go to this beach. There are not really any places to eat nearby so be sure to bring a picnic!

 

Newport Pier, Newport Beach

 

Best OC Beaches

 

choppier. Park in the area around West Oceanfront. This part of Newport Beach has plenty of food options for all different budgets which makes it a great place for a family day out. 

 

Best OC Beaches

The beach to the left side of the pier with its steep sandy bank.

 

Best OC Beaches

 

Best OC Beaches

This is our favourite beach to visit in the winter!

 

Best OC Beaches

 

Mother’s Beach (also called Baby Beach), Dana Point

 

Like Marina Park, Mother’s Beach has no waves so is often favoured by families with little ones. Also like Marina Park, this beach is situated in the harbour. This might be a deal breaker for some, who consider the water in the harbour to be polluted. There is no doubting though that a beach with no waves make trips to the beach with little ones so much easier!

 

Victoria Beach (Pirate’s Tower), Laguna Beach

2705-2711 Victoria Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

Best OC Beaches

The famous Rapunzel/Pirate/Princess tower, which the children just love the magic of.

 

Best OC Beaches

Lots of caves to explore at this beach.

 

Best OC Beaches

The steps down to the beach are hidden away in this residential area, but so worth searching for!

 

We visited this beach for the first time recently and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. The kids loved Rapunzel’s Tower, which our friends call it. They also loved looking for dolphins and whales (of which we saw both!) and playing on the huge beach near to the tower. There is a man-made pool right by the beach, which if you go at the right time of day, you will find full of sea water! Be sure to check the tides for this beach as some of it is inaccessible during high tide

 

Best OC Beaches

 

Best OC Beaches

 

1000 Steps Beach, Laguna Beach

31972 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Still on our list to visit (thus no photo), this beach is actually accessed by 233 steps! It is one of the largest beaches in Laguna, where you can find volleyball courts, restrooms, and caves to explore. There is even a cave tunnel to Totuava Beach, one of the beaches that can only be accessed by tunnels at low tide!

 

Salt Creek, Dana Point

 

Best OC Beaches

The hill at the top of the beach – so fun to roll down!!

Salt Creek Beach is situated below the insanely beautiful Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dana Point. There is a large parking lot and a fun walk down to the beach with a giant grassy hill to run/walk/roll down. If you prefer not to walk, you can also pay $1 to take a cute tram up and down the hill to the beach. This beach is a great place to spot seals playing in the surf which our kids LOVE. There is a small food shack serving lite bites and drinks (which is great because the hill to walk back to the parking lot is a KILLER!)

 

Best OC Beaches

The Ritz Carlton in the background is the perfect place to enjoy a sea view cocktail!

 

San Clemente Pier Beach, San Clemente

 

Another beach we are yet to visit (and thus no photo), San Clemente Pier beach is situated in the gorgeous little town of San Clemente. There are some great restaurants by the beach and I am told it’s a lovely beach to visit in winter. We love winter beach trips, so I know what we’ll be doing this winter!! There is a paid parking lot near to the pier from 9am to 5pm daily (free outside of those times). There is also metered parking along streets near the pier.

 

So as you can see, we’ve got some of the most beautiful and best OC beaches here in Southern California. Which is your favourite beach? I’ll be visiting more this summer!

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