Here are some of our favorite beaches for toddlers to explore. Here in Southern California we have plenty of warm days to enjoy the sunshine. And with so many miles of beautiful coastline, there’s no better way to let your toddlers splash and explore than a day at the beach.
The Seal Beach Pier at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Main Street
Seal Beach is a small, cozy town at the north end of Orange County. Main Street is lined with shops and restaurants. The shell shop is a favorite stop for little ones who can pick their favorite shell to take home. Down on the sand located next to the pier is a fun playground complete with a seal to climb on and bucket swings. The playground was renovated in 2016, has a rubber ground cover, and of course plenty of sand. The play area is enclosed by a low wall so it’s easy to keep little ones from wandering away. The restrooms are under the pier just steps away. A short walk from the playground is plenty of warm sand to lay blankets for time splashing in the waves and building sand castles near the waters edge.
1600 W Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula is a fun, newly renovated nautical-themed park on the edge of Newport Bay. There are no waves here, so toddlers can splash safely in the water. The playground features a large lighthouse structure with a big tunnel slide with restrooms on the bottom level. There are lots of climbing elements, bucket spinners, sand play areas, a boardwalk, a large grassy area, and picnic tables. Most elements are low to the ground so it’s perfect for younger children. There are no swings and you have to pay for parking here, but it’s worth the trip.
Pacific Coast Highway, 26th Street to Warner Avenue
If you don’t need playgrounds and are just looking for a great day at the beach, Sunset Beach is the place to go. It can get crowded on weekends, especially during the summer, but parking along the greenbelt is free. It’s about a five-minute walk from your car to the water, but this is a great beach for splashing in the waves, playing in the sand, and soaking up the sun. Restrooms and showers are located along the greenbelt.
Corona Del Mar
Ocean Boulevard and Iris Street, Corona Del Mar
This is one of our favorite beaches because it has several options. Again, this one is all beach, no playground, but it is a beautiful location. Little Corona is at the south end, off Ocean and Poppy. To get to this spot, you’ll have to walk down the paved pathway to get to the sand. It’s a little steep, but most toddlers do fine with the walk. I don’t recommend taking a stroller since you will end up in the sand, but I’ve seen people with them, and wagons as well. Restrooms are on the paved path before you get to the sand. Little corona has small caves, tidepool areas, and lots of room to splash and play. The main beach, just north of Little Corona is closer to the main parking lot, which you’ll have to pay for. Street parking is free if you can find a spot. The main beach features plenty of open space along the sand, and nearby restrooms. At the north end of the beach is the third option, Pirate’s Cove. You can get to this spot by taking the stairs from the top of the bluff. Here in the cove, the water is much calmer so it’s a better option for water play for the smaller set. It’s a fun adventure, just use caution descending with the little ones.
There really isn’t a “worst” beach in Orange County. We’re lucky to have so many miles of beautiful beaches. But our least favorites are the ones that are pricey for parking or require long distance walks. Huntington City and State beaches are great, but parking can be up to $15 and it’s a long walk to the water. Aliso Beach has a great playground for kids, but we had a hard time finding parking when we went, and the waves were way too strong for the kids to go near the water. Wherever you decide, enjoy the sun and the sand and don’t forget your sunblock!