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Santa Cruz,California,USA - July 20, 2015 : View of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

California is well-known for it’s wide selection of amusement parks and waterparks. Some of the best parks are inland and require a drive to the coast. For example, it would take some research to find the best beaches near Disneyland (luckily we’ve already done that research for you!). There are some amusement parks that have rides, arcades, and other attractions that are just a short walk to a shoreline where you can put your toes in the sand. While many of these parks don’t rival Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, or Magic Mountain, they are still a great option for kids and families.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The Boardwalk is right on one of the most popular beaches in all of California, Santa Cruz Main Beach. Here there are roller coasters (big and small), arcade games, putt-putt golf course, a bowling alley, restaurants, and even a steam train that departs from the beach for a trip through redwood forests and a river gorge.

Belmont Park

Belmont Park is at Mission Beach in San Diego. This popular beach keeps this compact amusement park busy in the evenings and on weekends. Hit it during the week for no lines at the rides, zip-line, climbing wall, mini-golf, laser tag, lazer maze, and the wave rider.

Belmont Park Roller Coaster Bryce apr16 (Custom)Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park

SeaWorld San Diego

Well-known SeaWorld is on the shores of the largest man-made aquatic park in America. Mission Bay Park has 17 beaches and parks on the calm saltwater bay. Mission Beach and Ocean Beach are both nearby with waves to play in.

Pacific Park

This is the amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier. They have a Ferris Wheel with stunning views, other rides, games, and many food options. Under the carousel you’ll find the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Just south of the pier there is an area known as the Original Muscle Beach. Here you’ll find swings, bars, ropes and more for working out or just having fun. The North Beach and South Beach of Santa Monica State Beach are adjacent to the pier.

Balboa Fun Zone

This tiny fun park is on the shore of Newport Bay next to the Balboa Island Ferry. It has a small Ferris Wheel that claims to have one of the longest rides around. They have an arcade and many water-based activities that begin nearby. Balboa Pier Beach is just two short blocks away.

Trees of Mystery

This unique park is the only option near the coast of Northern California. They have a gondola ride that climbs about 600 feet in 1/3 of a mile through a redwood forest canopy. Nature is the theme of this fun attraction near Klamath. Hiking trails meander through the property to various sites including huge named trees. Across the highway from the north parking lot there is a trail that leads to an absolutely stunning Hidden Beach.

Legoland California

Legoland isn’t right on the beach, but it’s not far from many beaches in Carlsbad. North Ponto is a sandy beach that is great for families and Terramar Beach has tide pools that are fun visit at low tides.

Beaches on this list

  • Santa Cruz Main Beach

    Santa Cruz Main Beach is known as Boardwalk Beach because of the popular boardwalk and amusement park at the beach on the Santa Cruz waterfront. Main Beach is a south-facing […]

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  • Mission Beach

    Mission Beach (the beach) is a long wide sandy beach in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. The beaches here are continuous, but Mission Beach is typically considered the […]

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  • Ocean Beach City Beach

    Ocean Beach City Beach is the main beach in the San Diego neighborhood of Ocean Beach. This is a wide sandy beach that has formed at the south side of […]

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  • Santa Monica State Beach – North Beach

    The north part of Santa Monica State Beach is a wide sandy beach that runs north from the Santa Monica Pier to the city border where Will Rogers State Beach […]

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  • Santa Monica State Beach – South Beach

    The south part of Santa Monica State Beach is located south of the Santa Monica Pier and north of Venice Beach. On the other side of the pier you’ll find […]

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  • Balboa Pier Beach

    The beach at Newport Beach’s Balboa Pier is a popular place with many nice amenities nearby. The pier is open to fishing, however most visitors will just want to walk […]

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  • Hidden Beach

    Hidden Beach is a small cove beach in Del Norte County, Northern California. It is tucked away below a tree-covered hillside not far from the town of Klamath. This is […]

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  • Terramar Beach

    Terramar Beach is the narrow beach in front of the Carlsbad California community of Terramar. Technically this beach is part of South Carlsbad State Beach, but there are no signs […]

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  • North Ponto Beach

    North Ponto Beach is the northern day-use beach access point at South Carlsbad State Beach. The North Ponto parking lot is located on the southbound lanes of Carlsbad Boulevard at […]

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Related Attractions

  • Disneyland

    Disneyland vacations are some of the most popular California family experiences. You can stay at the theme park in the Craftsman-style Disney’s Grand Californian with a room overlooking the theme […]

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  • Disney California Adventure Park

    Are you looking for an adventure that includes fun rides to sweep you off your feet? California Adventure will do that to you. Soar in a ride that takes you […]

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  • Knott’s Berry Farm

    Welcome to the land of Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy. Knott’s Berry Farm is a mix of the Old West entertainment and extreme thrill. Six themed areas…Ghost Town, Camp Snoopy, […]

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  • Knott’s Soak City Water Park

    Soak City is one of Orange County’s top theme park attractions and there are several great ones nearby including Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, and Knott’s other nearby park Knott’s Berry […]

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  • Six Flags Magic Mountain

    Six Flags Magic Mountain has the largest collection of XTREME roller coasters on the Planet! Known world wide as a thrill ride haven, Six Flags Magic Mountain features world-class roller […]

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  • Legoland California

    LEGOLAND theme park in Carlsbad, California should be added to your vacation list, especially if you have kids. While bigger kids can have fun here, youngsters from ages “baby” to […]

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  • Legoland Water Park

    Legoland Water Park is located inside Legoland California and like the main park, it has Lego-themed rides. They have created a water park aimed at all ages with rides and […]

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  • Santa Cruz Boardwalk

    Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk offers more than 30 amusement park rides from roller coasters to kiddie rides, four arcades with both vintage machines and hundreds of modern video games, a […]

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  • Belmont Park

    San Diego’s Mission Beach Belmont Park is a beach amusement park reminiscent of traditional thrill parks that Americans enjoyed in the early 1900s. Filled with fun kiddie boat rides and […]

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  • SeaWorld San Diego

    SeaWorld San Diego is on the shores of Mission Bay north of Downtown San Diego. The park opened in 1964 and has been thriving ever since. It’s a popular park […]

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  • Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier

    Pacific Park is Santa Monica’s amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier. On a beautiful, sunny Southern California afternoon thousands of people stroll onto the pier to enjoy a sprawling […]

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  • Balboa Fun Zone

    The Newport Beach Balboa Fun Zone with its small Ferris Wheel has long been a tradition for families with kids who come to play near the ocean. For years it was […]

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  • Trees of Mystery

    Trees of Mystery is a nature based theme park in Klamath along the northern coast of California. They have a gondola ride that climbs nearly 600 feet in a third of a […]

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