The best beaches in San Diego aren’t just relegated to Mission Beach, PB, and Coronado. Head north into the coastal suburbs and you’ll find clean, wide, sandy North County San Diego beaches, some of which are refreshingly peaceful even during the height of summer tourism. Here are the North County San Diego beaches you should have on your radar.
North Beach is more commonly called Dog Beach and for good reason. The ½ mile beach allows dogs to roam leash-free from September through May. Canines delight in romping through the waves or the calm mouth of the San Dieguito River which divides part of North Beach. Humans will also have fun watching the dogs play, or they can play for themselves on the sandy beach area to the north or south of the lagoon.
Location: At the west end of 29th Street
This is the main beach in Solana Beach and is a great spot for sports enthusiasts both on land and in water since the beach has an adjacent basketball court and the waves are popular for surfing and boogie boarding. Lifeguards are on duty during the day year round and there are restrooms and showers onsite.
Location: 111 South Sierra Avenue
Tide Beach Park
Those looking for a more tranquil beach day should head to Tide Beach Park in Solana Beach. You’ll have to descend (and then tiringly ascend) a long wooden staircase to get to it, but it will be worth it to lay your beach towel out on the peaceful beach, which is encircled by a tall cliff behind it, giving the beach an almost cove-like atmosphere.
Location: 302 Solana Vista Drive
Swami’s Beach has one of the most popular surf breaks in the county so you’ll often be able to see surfers trying to catch a wave. The strip of sand on this beach isn't as soft as others in the county, but it's good for sunbathers who want to feel secluded from the world thanks to the rocky bluffs rising up behind it. Swami's Beach also has restrooms onsite and requires a jaunt down some stairs to get to.
Location: 1298 South Coast Highway 101
Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is a great place to spend an entire day thanks to picnic facilities, a play area for children, volleyball courts and restrooms. It is also one of the few beaches in San Diego County that allows bonfires, which makes this a fun beach after the sun sets, too. The bonfires must be in the onsite fire rings, which aren’t available to reserve so get there early if you want one, particularly on weekends.
Location: 400 B Street
South Ponto Beach
South Ponto Beach is one of the widest beaches in the county; that combined with the tall bluffs behind it make this beach stand out for its aesthetics. The sandy expanse is also ideal for families or groups of friends looking for a place to spend the day lounging in the sun and surf.
Location: Carlsbad Boulevard north of La Costa Boulevard
Tamarack State Beach
This is where the surfers head when they want to catch some big waves in Carlsbad. Non-surfers can still have fun watching the sport or enjoy the 4-mile spread of sand that sifts before the waves.
Location: Carlsbad Boulevard and Tamarack Avenue
The Oceanside Pier is what makes this Oceanside Beach so special. Take a break from the sand and walk down it for gorgeous views of the sparkling ocean and sun-soaked coastline. You can also fish off the pier if you have a fishing license or enjoy a milkshake with views of the sea in Ruby’s Diner, located at the end of the pier. The beach itself is lovely to relax on as its soft sand is framed by both palm trees and the waves.
Location: 301 N. The Strand