Balmy weather year round, miles of sunny coastline and ocean sunsets make Orange County the perfect place for families to hit the beach. Here are our favorite sandy spots in the area.
An OC family favorite, this lovely beach has easy swimming waves, dramatic landscapes and teeming tidepools for aspiring marine biologists to explore. Plenty of parking, playground structures and picnic tables add to the convenience and family fun — with fire pits another bonus on a rare foggy day.
This magical setting along the pristine Newport Coast is known for the surrounding bluffs, rich with flora, and the charming old cottages dotting the foothills. Dolphins can often be seen at play in the surf, and the Beachcomber café serves some of the best lunch fare in the county.
This charming stretch of sand in lovely Dana Point’s little harbor is perfect for toddlers, with unthreatening waves and a safe family vibe. Families with older kids might want to try standup paddle-boarding, a popular activity at the beach. Surrounded by lush bluffs and adjacent to the kid-friendly Ocean Institute, this is truly a quintessentially family-friendly beach setting.
This cozy little cove can get crowded on weekends, but the tide pools and gentle waves make it a hit with parents of younger children. The sunset views here are renowned, and you can also see Catalina Island in the distance on a cloudless day. Public restrooms and seasonal shower facilities make swimming easier for families as well.
This three-mile long paradise is made even more family-friendly by the presence of lifeguards year-round. Other popular activities include surfing, camping and surf-fishing — and the Ecological Reserve across the highway makes for an unforgettable family birdwatching trek.
This wildly popular beach is one of the most-visited in the entire state, and buzzing with activities of all kinds — including swimming, surfing, picnicking, fishing, hiking and even skin-diving. The beach is also home to campgrounds for both tent and RV camping. Wildlife watching is popular too, from seabirds to sea lions.
Tucked behind the Montage Resort with its public access not immediately obvious, this little oasis remains unknown to many. Gorgeous cliffs are part of the spectacular scenery and mellow waves make for inviting swim fun for the younger kids. This truly is a picture-perfect beach. Street parking is limited but a nearby parking garage is available.
One of the widest beaches in the region, Sunset Beach’s proximity to a pristine 14-acre greenbelt makes it an outdoorsy paradise. As part of the Sunset Beach community, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance, another plus. The beach is also relatively uncrowded and good for beachcombing and other serene activities.
By Zach Chouteau