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Here is a list of our favorite beaches in and around the city of San Diego. This list includes Coronado and La Jolla, but not the North County area (Del Mar to Oceanside). There are so many great beaches in this majestic city that it’s hard to create a best beaches list.

The editors of California Beaches have personally visited every San Diego beach and put a lot of hard thought into this. Luckily the beaches near San Diego have just about every beach-related activity covered. Here are the beaches listed by their best category. See our “Best Overall Beach” at the bottom of this list!

Best Tide Pools

Cabrillo National Monument
See all the San Diego Tide Pools

Best People Watching

Mission Beach

Best Surfing

Tourmaline Surf Park
See all the San Diego Surf Spots

Best Family-Friendly Beaches

Mission Bay Park

Best for Beach Walking

Silver Stand State Beach

Best Walking Path

La Jolla Coast Walk

Best Beach for Hiking

Flat Rock at Torrey Pines State Beach

Best Beach to Rappel Into

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Best Pier

Ocean Beach Pier
See all the San Diego Piers

Best Spot for Kayaking & SUP

La Jolla Caves (put in at La Jolla Shores)

Best Sunbathing

La Jolla Shores Beach

Best Volleyball Beach

South Mission Beach

Best Beach for Sunset Photos

Hospital Beach

Best Lighthouse

Cabrillo National Monument

Best Dog-Friendly Beach

Coronado Dog Run Beach
See all the San Diego Dog Beaches

Best Lodging on the Beach

Crystal Pier Cottages at Pacific Beach

Best Wildlife Watching

Children’s Pool Beach

Best Camping

Campland on the Bay
See all the San Diego Camping

Best Clothing-Optional Beach

Black’s Beach

And the Best Overall San Diego Beach is…

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is our current best beach in San Diego. Why you ask? Well it’s just a short drive over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge from downtown and has all the qualities of a top Southern California beach. The location is usually protected by Point Loma so the waves here are mellow. Add to that the constant presence of lifeguards and you have a safe family-friendly spot. The beach and the surrounding hotels, shops, and restaurants are clean and inviting. There are places to walk behind the beach and and the facilities are well-maintained. And even though Coronado Beach is popular, the beach is huge so there is always room for visitors to spread out and enjoy it!