Location: San Diego County Coastline from Del Mar to Camp Pendleton (20 Miles – 55 Miles North of Downtown San Diego)
Features: Dozens of Beaches to Choose From, Each With Its Own Character; Get Information on Attractions Near Each Beach.
San Diego North County Beach Highlights:
Del Mar Beach – Enjoy a great view from Seagrove Park atop ocean side cliffs. Kids will keep busy at the playground at Powerhouse Park. Beware that there is steep descent to the beach below Powerhouse Park. Upscale shops and restaurants are just a block away from the beach. Dog Beach is at the north end of town. There are a couple hiking trails along the bluffs. Directions from Google Maps to Seagrove Park at 15th Street and Coast Boulevard in Del Mar, CA (20 Miles / 25 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego).
Solana Beach – The beach is convenient for those without a car because it is within walking distance of an AMTRAK and Coaster train station. Shoppers can enjoy the eclectic mix of offerings in the Cedros Design District. The Belly Up Tavern is a popular concert venue hosting national acts. There are a number of restaurants to choose from including Pizza Port, a local favorite. Directions from Google Maps to Fletcher Cove Park at South Sierra Avenue and West Plaza Street in Solana Beach, CA 92075 (23 Miles / 30 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego).
Cardiff State Beach – There are several sit-down restaurants with ocean views at the north end of the beach. You can visit the nearby community of Cardiff by the Sea. Directions from Google Maps to Cardiff State Beach along South Coast Highway 101 in Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007 (24 Miles / 30 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego). Select South Cardiff Beach (Seaside) if Google asks for a more specific address when calculating directions.)
San Elijo State Beach – Enjoy the view of beach side bluffs. There is an offshore reef for Snorkeling and Divers. Camping and RV sites are available. At the north side of the beach, you will see a gold temple. This is the Self Realization Fellowship Ashram Center, built by Indian Yogi Guru Paramahansa Yogananda in the early 20th century. The public is welcome to find their spiritual being in their meditation garden. Directions from Google Maps to 1600 South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas, CA 92024 (25 Miles / 30 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego).
Moonlight State Beach / Encinitas Beaches – Even though it is a State Beach, Moonlight Beach and the surrounding Encinitas Beaches are operated by the City of Encinitas. The City web site provides details for each of the beaches and notes the location of several Bluff-Top Viewpoints overlooking the beaches. Competitive cyclists and triathletes will want to visit Nytro, the supplier of choice among several world champion triathletes who live and train in the area. Those wanting to try surfing can take a lesson from Kahuna Bob’s Surf School or Surfin Fire. Directions from Google Maps to Moonlight State Beach at 400 B Street in Encinitas, CA 92024 (26 Miles / 30 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego).
Leucadia State Beach / Beacon’s Beach – Leucadia State Beach is better known locally as Beacon’s Beach, which is operated by the City of Encinitas. Be prepared to walk down a fairly steep beach bluff trail to reach the beach. Directions from Google Maps to 948 Neptune Avenue in Encinitas, CA 92024 (27 Miles / 35 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego).
South Carlsbad State Beach – Campsites sit on the bluffs above the beach. Directions from Google Maps to the intersection of Carlsbad Boulevard and Poinsettia Lane in Carlsbad, CA 92011 (30 Miles / 40 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego). At the end of Poinsettia Lane, you will not be able to cross straight over Carlsbad Boulevard to enter the State Beach. You will need to turn right on Carlsbad Boulevard and then make a U-Turn or you can use the Palomar Airport Road Exit off highway I-5 and then drive south on Carlsbad Boulevard to the State Beach entrance. For those visiting just for the day, there is a parking lot on Carlsbad Boulevard, north of the campground.
Carlsbad State Beach – Joggers, bikers, and in-line skaters will find a half mile paved trail that runs from Pine Street to Tamarack Avenue. Look for free Friday night Jazz Concerts at a nearby park that attracts 4,000+ guests starting at 6PM from the end of June to the end of August. Directions from Google Maps to the intersection of Carlsbad Boulevard and Tamarack Avenue in Carlsbad, CA 92011 (34 Miles / 40 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego).
Oceanside Beaches – Eight beaches spread over 3.5 miles. Harbor Beach is the largest beach. It is also adjacent to the Oceanside Harbor with a number of marinas where tourists can partake in boating and deep sea fishing. Both pay and free parking is available. Pier View South is the most popular beach and is adjacent to the Oceanside Pier, where several surfing contests are held during the year. It is also home to the Oceanside Pier Amphitheater and near many food options. The Strand is a paved beach access road just over a mile long where you will see joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters. The Oceanside Pier is located near the middle of the Strand. Learn more about Oceanside and local attractions. Directions from Google Maps to Pier View South Beach at the intersection of Mission Avenue and Pacific Street in Oceanside, CA 92054. Oceanside Visitor Maps. (38 Miles / 45 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)
San Onofre State Beach – 3,000 Acre (4.7 Square Miles) Coastal Park next to the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. San Onofre Bluffs on the south side is the only area for swimming and can only be accessed by walking down steep bluff trails. Camp sites and day use parking is available at the top of the bluffs. Farther north is San Onofre Surf Beach, which is for surfers and is easily accessible from the roadway. Trestles surfing area even farther to the north is one of the more notable surfing spots in Southern California. Directions from Google Maps to the intersection of Basilone Road and Old Highway 101, 92672. From here, you will drive south past the Nuclear Power Plant to reach the campground. There is a great bike trail through the campground and the adjacent Camp Pendleton. (Be sure to obey any orders given by military personnel if you enter the base to ride your bike or you may find yourself riding down the shoulder of highway I-5 for your return trip. Highway I-5 and the road through Camp Pendleton are the only options for getting between San Diego and Orange Counties in this area.) (55 Miles / 1 Hour North of Downtown San Diego)
More San Diego Beaches – To find information on more San Diego County beaches that are closer to downtown San Diego, select the “Beaches” Theme below.
San Diego Beach Information
Beach Weather – Visitors can enjoy the beaches in San Diego year-round. However, finding ideal beach weather during the winter and spring is hit or miss. The best beach weather occurs from July to October. Ocean water temperatures are usually around 70 degrees during the summer and 60 degrees during the winter. Learn more about San Diego weather.
No Smoking – Most beaches and parks in San Diego County prohibit smoking. However, state operated beaches do permit smoking. (As noted in the beach descriptions above, some state beaches are operated by local communities and thus ban smoking.) There are giant ashtrays available for visitors to properly dispose of their cigarette butts and avoid fines for littering. Rules can change so be sure to check all posted signs for the most current information.
No Alcohol – All public beaches in San Diego County prohibit alcohol during the summer. This includes the last beach to have allowed alcohol, Silver Strand State Beach in the South Bay area of San Diego. Del Mar allows alcohol during the winter months, starting two days after Labor Day through the end of February. Rules can change so be sure to check all posted signs for the most recent information.
State Beach Fees – The state operated beaches do charge a per vehicle fee for entry. The entry fee is generally $8. You can find the current day-use fee at the state parks web site. Locally operated beaches do not charge day use fees.
San Diego Beach Communities – If you would like to get more details on North County beach communities, TourGuideTim Reveals San Diego recommends the San Diego Coast Life web site.