Best San Diego Family Beaches

Moonlight 7 1 family beach san diego featured image

Welcome to San Diego Beach Secrets! Today I would like to concentrate on the best San Diego family beaches. There are so many different types of beaches in San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline. The variety is endless,  and some of which you can only reach four times a year. But what does constitute a great family beach? My first pick would be calm waters, followed by soft sand, maybe a playground? But most definitely a restroom and showers. So, today I will be highlighting where, when, and how each beach is ideal for a spectacular family day at the beach.

Ready?

Let’s go!

—>Beaches of San Diego County<—

Best North County San Diego Beaches for Families

Oh, how I love North County San Diego Beaches! You see, these beaches (sans Oceanside) have huge and gorgeous sandstone bluffs to accent the already beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Down below, I have three wonderful family beaches to share with you!

Let’s go!

Oceanside Harbor Beach- Family Fun in Oceanside

oceanside pier sand ocean waves

button map buccaneer beach oceanside

Oceanside Harbor beach is great for families because there are so many amenities to choose from. What I think is the main draw is the extensive sandy beach.

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Plants at the Beach-San Onofre

San Onofre State Beach May Trails Beach

Boy, was I excited to finally go to the beach on May 24, 2020? Anyone else happy to get out of their houses, too? Well, I was so happy that I actually went to San Onofre State Beach twice in one week. You see, because of the lockdown in California, I could not witness the beginning of wildflower season. So my main objective on this first day back to the beach was to see as many plants as I could! The first time we headed to Trestles, and the following Friday, I explored the southern section, just under San Onofre Campground at Bluffs Beach (or Trails Beach). Below, I would love to share with you what I saw, in other words, all of the plants at the beach that I encountered.

Previous to this beach adventure, I had just finished a post on Southern California Native Plants. Within this post, I have documented all of the plants and wildflowers I encountered in the chaparral and Southern Oak Woodland behind my neighborhood during Quarantine 2020.  After hours and hours of research, I sure learned a tremendous amount!

Plant Names Given by San Diego Native Inhabitants 

I have recently been fascinated with Native American uses of the native plants in the area (Ethnobotany), so I thought I would continue with the same format I followed for my previous native plant post.

The Kumeyaay people were the first known original inhabitants of San Diego. Kumeyaay translates to ‘those who face the water from a cliff.” (Click on the link to hear the correct way to pronounce Kumeyaay)

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Five More San Diego Hidden Gems

Ocean sunset san diego hidden gems

San Diego, otherwise known as  “America’s Finest City,” has one of the most beautiful coastlines, if I may dare say, in the world. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, over 35 million people visited San Diego in 2018 and 36.5 million in 2019. I am afraid to see the numbers for 2020, but I digress. One of my favorite things to do on this website is introducing you all to the many, many San Diego hidden gems. I will be the first to admit that I am biased as I have been exploring the San Diego coastline for over thirty-five years. So today, I would like to share with you a few more, in fact, five more San Diego Hidden Gems, so you too can experience San Diego as a native.

When I say San Diego, I refer to the entire 70 miles of the San Diego County coast. From San Onofre State Beach all the way down to the US/Mexico border, the coast of San Diego has something for everyone!

Let us now take a look, shall we?

#Click on any photo in the gallery to view a larger image


Old Man’s Beach at San Onofre State Beach

Old Man Secret Spot Hidden gems San Diego

button map Old Mans San Onofre State Beach

I wasn’t sure if I would share this little gem because this has been my little secret for years, but here we go. Old Man’s Beach is found over at San Onofre State Beach and is honestly one of my favorite places to be. Local’s refer to this beach as  San O as well as San Onofre Surfing Beach.

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Sea Caves at La Jolla Underwater Park

Cave window la jolla underwater park

Wow! Do I have some exciting information for you all! Many of you may have somewhat of an idea of my complete, somewhat obsessive love of King Tides. For all others, a King Tide is when you have the highest and lowest tides of the year (click on the link for more in-depth information.) Most attention is ordinarily given to the high tide, as people seem to enjoy seeing just how far the ocean will reach on land.

I absolutely love going to the beach during the lowest of the tides, so I can examine what is usually covered by the ocean and have rare access to beaches that are usually not accessible.  And let me tell you, today is one of those days.

Yes! My girls and I were able to explore two caves at the La Jolla Underwater Park!

Now I must say this right up front that getting to these caves is no easy feat. You have to have tremendous balance as there is at least a quarter-mile of rocks to walk over until you reach the semi-sandy beach over at Caves Beach.

Would you like to see what we saw?

Let’s go!

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Touring Ocean Beach Park-Lompoc, CA

Ocean Beach Park Lompoc featured image

Did I ever mention that my husband is originally from Lompoc? It is an inside joke between us- a small-town boy meeting a city girl. So, where is Lompoc, which is pronounced LOM-poke? Located 268 miles northwest of San Diego, Lompoc is often referred to as the flower seed capital of the world.  The town was established in 1888 and is located in Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast of California. It is a small agricultural town that the Vandenberg Airforce Base surrounds. I informed my husband that if we were going to visit,  my one desire is to go to the ocean. So we ended up going to Ocean Beach Park in Lompoc, CA, and I am here to share.

Why Lompoc?

Lompoc Map central southern california

A little back story-We just celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary this past July 4, so we decided to go to Las Vegas to commemorate the joyous occasion.

It was nice to revisit where we were married (Treasure Island) and reminisce. On a side note, it was not pleasant to go to Las Vegas during Quarantine 2020, but that is not what this post is about, so I digress.

After we were done with the ridiculous heat of Nevada (100 degrees plus), we headed northwest for six hours to see family in  Lompoc. As a rule, it is almost always chilly and overcast there. And to say that I was looking forward to not being so hot is an understatement!

Noting that we were only in town for less than a day, I thought it would be an outstanding idea to have all of the family meet us over at and Ocean Beach Park for a pizza picnic.

It was perfect timing without even knowing just how lucky we were. If this had been any other time before 2020, we would not have been able to enter Ocean Beach Park at all.

More on this later.

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San Diego Summer Fun- 2019

Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Panoramic

For as long as I can remember, summer has always been my favorite season! It could be that my Birthday is on July 1st, but to be honest, I think it is more than that. You see, my favorite place on this Earth is the beach. So can you think of a better time to visit the beach but in summer? Me neither! Join my daughters and me and see where we explored during our San Diego Summer of 2019!

The Best  Summer Possible!

Heermans gulls encinitas moonlight beach
Heerman’s gulls on Moonlight Beach

This San Diego Summer I wanted to make it super special because it was the last summer with my girls before they are both off to college.

My eldest daughter has been in college for two years already and came home for the summer, but my youngest was just about to start. I have been a stay at home Mom for over twenty years, so the thought of not have any children home puts the panic of God into me.

However, I was not going to let my anxiety of missing my kids get in the way of us having the best San Diego summer possible.

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California Super Bloom at San Onofre

Trestles Beach April 2019 California Super Bloom

Over three weeks ago, I had the supreme pleasure of taking the opportunity to get out and see what was happening on the coast of North County San Diego. Amidst all of the rain that we got this winter season, I was extremely excited to see how all of the plants on the coast looked. Did the California super bloom affect the coast?

So I grabbed my backpack and filled it with plant ID books, my iPad, water, sunscreen, and ran out the door.  Well, maybe not running, but I was super excited!

My two daughters and I headed first to Trestles Beach Trail and afterward, doubled back and explored Bluffs Beach at San Onofre State Beach.  I have to say, what I saw, took my breath away.

San Onofre State Beach Google Map
Trestles Beach Trail to the north- San Onofre Bluff Campground south

button map trestles beach trail google map

Ok, are you ready to check out all of the plants at San Onofre State Beach in North County San Diego!

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Best San Diego Hikes on the Coast

Encinitas Bluff Tree Best San Diego Hikes

San Diego County has some of the best coastlines on the entire coast of California. From the rugged seashore, with towering sandstone cliffs found in North County San Diego, all the way down to the open estuaries and sandy beaches located in South County San Diego. Today I would like to list you some of my favorite San Diego hikes that you too can experience on the coast of San Diego.

All San Diego hikes listed are to be taken only with a negative low tide. Please make sure to check out the tide chart before embarking on your adventure, as some of these walks are dangerous if the tide comes upon you. A good rule of thumb would be to allow a couple of hours before the high tide comes back in. Remember, a very high tide always follows a shallow tide.

One more thing. I have written extensively on all of these sites previously, and have linked each post appropriately, so click on the underlined links for more information.

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San Diego Bay-A Photo Tour

San Diego Bay Naval Ship Leaving

Today I would like to take you on a mini photo tour of San Diego Bay! Will you join me?

First off, fun fact.

Did you know that San Diego Bay mentioned in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848?

 After the U.S-Mexican War, the Treaty (which is still in effect) specifically pointed out that the entirety of the San Diego Bay would belong to the United States.

San Diego Bay Google Map Satellite

Discovering San Diego Bay Via Photos

Sailing San Diego Bay
Sailing San Diego Bay

The San Diego Bay is a natural deepwater harbor that is found minutes away from Mexico and the United States border and is the third-largest bay in California after San Fransico Bay and Humboldt Bay.

The  San Diego Bay is over 12 miles long and 1-3 miles wide and is separated into two sections:

  1. North Bay-North Island, Shelter Island, Spanish Landing, Harbor Island, Coronado, Embarcadero
  2. South Bay -National City, Chula Vista, Siver Strand, Imperial Beach

So today, we will be starting our tour up north at the mouth of the bay. We will then continue to make our way on the east shore of the Bay, going south and finally making our way back up north on the western shore of San Diego Bay.

Ready? Let’s go!

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Best San Diego Birding Hotspots

Loma Alta Creek San Diego Birding

Here I  present to you a comprehensive list of the best San Diego birding hotspots. I will be including all of San Diego County, starting first to the north and making my way south. Each site will consist of a link to an address and habitat type, amenities,  tour information (if available,) and finally, any notable birds of interest.

Did you know that there are many free San Diego birding tours offered all over San Diego County? I will also be including any insider information that I turn up in my research, such as prime locations within each site.

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Slough What? Discovering Famosa Slough

Famosa slough sign ocean beach california

Hi! Have you ever explored a wetland before? Well, today, I would like to share with you a place that you would never expect to be so wonderful-Famosa Slough in Ocean Beach. First off, what is a slough? According to the dictionary, a slough (pronounced slōō)  is a swamp or shallow lake, usually the backwater of a larger body of water with relatively low water circulation.

In other words, we can think of a  slough as a wetland a little farther from the shore compared to, say, a lagoon where the mouth opens to the ocean. Another way to look at is, is that a slough is the part of the estuary where fresh water from creeks and urban runoff mix with the salty ocean water transported by the tides.

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Touring The Living Coast Discovery Center

Living Coast Discovery Center featured image san diego bay

At the beginning of Summer, I took my two daughters to go and check out the Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I had not been there for over 30 years, so needless to say, I was super excited to go back!

Where is the Living Coast Discovery Center?

First off, The Living Coast Discovery Center is in South Bay, San Diego-Chula Vista, which is 12.4 miles from Downtown San Diego.

San Diego South Bay consists of everything south of Downtown San Diego to the Mexican Border, including National City, Chula Vista, Coronado, and Imperial Beach.

San-Diego-Bay-Map-Living-Coast-Discovery-Center

1000 Gunpowder Point Dr, Chula Vista, CA 91910

(619) 409-5900

http://www.thelivingcoast.org

Hours- 10 am-5 pm daily

Adults (13+)            $16
Children (3-12)        $11
Children (0-2)          Free

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Whale Watching in Southern California

Short Beaked Common Dolphin Whale Watching In Southern California

On July 9th, 2018, my husband and I set off to Newport Beach to go whale watching for my 50th birthday present. You see, we both agreed to do something out of the ordinary for our monumental birthdays, I mean how often do you turn 50? Ok once, yes I know, but it is a big deal right?

If you asked anyone who knows me they will tell you that I am a little crazy when it comes to whales. I also love the summer, so summer plus whales, now that calls for a celebration! Summertime whale watching in Southern California is an opportune time to see the most majestic whale there is- the blue whale. Oh, did I happen to mention that the blue whale is my totem animal? More on that later.

Before this trip, I had not been whale watching in Southern California for over 20 years, so I was extremely excited for this day!

First off, I didn’t want to go on the traditional whale watching cruise; I wanted to try something different. So today we would be going on a RIB- a rigid inflatable boat out of Newport Landing, in Newport Beach Harbor in Orange County.

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Walking the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail

Batiquitos Lagoon sitting bench plants lagoon hills

Are you looking for a relatively easy trail to go hiking on in San Diego? Well, look no further as I have found the perfect spot! The Batiquitos Lagoon is between Carlsbad and Encinitas. It is one of the last saltwater marshes in Southern California. Today I will be taking you on a tour of the 3.14-mile Batiquitos Lagoon Trail.

Batiquitos Lagoon Map topography

Let’s go!

7380 Gabbiano Lane, Carlsbad

760-931-0800

Nature Center-9am-3pm daily

Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Information

Batiquitos Lagoon Trail-A Photo Tour

I was so happy to come here for the first time. I have always been curious about this lagoon, as you can see from the Interstate 5 freeway. Here are a couple of references for you. The first is a map of the lagoon and a list of all possible birds that are seen here. Finally, I have also added the Self-Guided Batiquitos Trail Map, which highlights several sites.

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Exploring Trestles Beach Trail

Surfer trestles beach trail san onofre state beach

Trestles Beach is a collection of surf breaks located at the northern border of San Onofre State Beach. Saying that this beach is world-famous is an understatement! In fact, the Hurley Pro is held here!

I went over this area a bit in a previous post on San Onofre State Beach, but today I would like to concentrate on the Beach Trail leading to Trestles Beach.

The Beach Trail going east also becomes the Panhe Nature trail, which I have also written about if you are interested.

Recently, I have been teaching myself about all of the Southern California native plant species, so today, I would like to point out a few to you if you do not mind. It helps me!

Once we arrive at Trestles, I will also be showcasing the San Mateo Creek/ Lagoon, which ends at the beach and checking out the surfers and the dunes.

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