San Diego, California, offers an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures year-round and 70 miles of glorious coastline. Nestled in the hills lies the neighborhood of La Jolla where sandy beaches – find out why our Military TravelingMom says it’s one of the best beaches in Southern California for families.

La Jolla Beach is one of the best beaches in Southern California for families.

Families and Snorkelers share the waters with sea lions at La Jolla Cove – Photo By Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

Discover the Best Beaches in Southern California for Families

With tweens and a teen in the house, it’s unusual for everyone to agree on anything, but hitting the beach is something they all enjoy. And lucky, for them (and my sanity) we live within minutes from 10 or more beaches. The kids most requested destinations are the beaches of La Jolla.

La Jolla Cove

Our favorite little spot is the La Jolla Cove. Walking down a short staircase leads us to the small sandy beach with bright blue waters. This area is perfect for families to spend the afternoon playing in the sand and water.

The cove is very popular for snorkeling and a great spot to see the wonders of sea life. The La Jolla Sea lions like to play in the waters within the cove. Snorkelers and swimmers can get within just a few feet of these impressive beasts.

Boomer Beach and Shell Beach

See the sea lions of La Jolla beach, one of the best beaches in Southern California.

Some of the Sea Lions love to show off to the crowds – Photo by Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

Just a short jaunt down the upper walkway is a small rocky area where we find colonies of sea lions and the occasional seal. I was blown away by how close we got to these magnificent creatures the first time we went to La Jolla. And oh, how the sea lions love to show off when there is a crowd. They’ll preen and pose as visitors snap away.


TravelingMom Tip: While you are able to walk right up to the sea lions and seals, remember they are wild animals — and please, be respectful of their space. I always try to stay at least 10 feet away from them and zoom in with my camera to take a few snapshots.

Tide pools entertain kids along the La Jolla beaches.

The tide pools can entertain kids for hours – Photo by Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

The beaches are small, but the combination of rocks and high tides allow for some awesome tide pools to form. It’s mind-blowing to be able to walk out on the rocks and then just a few hours or even minutes later the ocean tide puts the same rocks completely under water.

Children’s Pool

When visiting the Children's Pool at La Jolla beach you'll see many seals.

Children’s Pool during seal pupping season – Photo by Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

My tweens love to plop themselves down and build sandcastles in the Children’s Pool area. It has a much longer sandy area compared to some of the other beaches in La Jolla.

Scuba diving is a foreign concept to me, but I’m told that there are some incredible reefs located right outside the Children’s Pool area. While popular with the scuba divers the reefs can cause the water to be a little rough during high tide, so it’s best to monitor the water conditions if you have little ones.

TravelingMom Tip: The Children’s Pool is closed to the public December 15th to May 15th during pupping season. But take a walk along the seawall and you’ll get a wonderful view of the La Jolla seals.

La Jolla Shores Beach

Enjoy the water at La Jolla Shores Beach.

Boogie boarding fun at La Jolla Shores – Photo by Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

This spot is perfect for those looking for the typical beach scene. When surfing or boogie boarding are on our must do list this is where we head. The smaller waves make it great for beginner surfers or younger boogie boarders. During the summer months, we gather around the fire pits in the evenings for s’mores.
Looking for a water adventure? La Jolla Shores beach is home to many tour companies that offer a wide variety of water activities including kayaking to the Sea Caves or leopard shark snorkeling expedition.

TravelingMom Tip: Groupon is a great place for discounts on La Jolla water activities. The local companies have great reviews and offer up to 60% off through Groupon.

Picnics in the Park

Home to the original Dr. Seuss Lorax Tree Ellen Browning Scripps Park is perfect for a picnic lunch.

Ellen Browning Scripps Park is the perfect spot for a picnic – Photo by Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

While, I love the beach I hate sand, so eating while on the beach isn’t something I particularly enjoy. This love hate relationship makes Ellen Browning Scripps Park with its lush grassy areas perfect for our “beach” picnics. Besides being gorgeous, it is right by La Jolla Coves and just a short distance from the other beaches in the area.

We keep our cooler filled with drinks and sandwich makings in the car and grab it when we’re ready for lunch. Ok, truthfully my husband gets it while I take the kids to clean up in the restrooms. The family then sits down on a blanket for a good old fashion picnic on the grass.

And now with the new Pokemon Go phenomenon, we love to go Poke hunting while at the park. On our most recent visit, my kids were over the moon to discover that Scripps Park is a Scyther nest. I get a kick out of walking around the park listening to everyone announcing what Pokemon are where.

Venturing Off the Beach

Burger Lounge is within walking distance of La Jolla beach and serves yummy food.

Scrumptious free-range turkey burger from Burger Lounge – Photo by Renee Virata / Military TravelingMom

Sometimes picnics just don’t cut it for us. Like those times my husband and I sneak off to La Jolla by ourselves. That’s right, no kids. We love to walk the coastline and then head to one of our favorite lunch spots.

Burger Lounge is a modern burger joint that serves healthier burgers. Fitting into the stereotypical “California healthy lifestyle”, Burger Lounge serves grass-fed burgers, free-range turkey and organic salads. The best part is that it all tastes amazing.

I will admit that I could care less if my burger is grass-fed or organic, but the burgers here are unlike any I’ve ever had. My favorite is the free-range turkey burger that is bursting with flavor. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Depending on our mood we’ll eat there or we’ll take it to go and head back to Scripps Park for a picnic lunch.

The La Jolla coastline is breathtaking and each beach offers unique opportunities. Whether we’re looking for a family beach day or a romantic lunch La Jolla meets all our needs.

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