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12 Best California Beach Resorts for Families

As a native Californian, I grew up visiting beautiful beaches up and down the state. Some are lively, packed with sunbathers and surfers, while others are serene and wild, tucked away in coves with tide pools to search through. There are hundreds of resorts and hotels that provide easy access to some of the best beaches from San Diego to the Mendocino coast and beyond, but these are the very best for families, offering activities for all ages and much more.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club - San Diego La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club
Credit: La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club by ljbtc.com

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club - San Diego

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club offers a private stretch of beach that’s ideal for everything from learning to surf to stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling, with beach towels, beach chairs, and umbrellas that are all complimentary. Enjoy food and drink service here too. The property also has championship tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, and an outdoor pool. When it comes to dining, enjoy fun nightly barbecues and two oceanfront restaurants. Rooms include options that are great for families, with everything from studios to three-bedroom units. All come with private balconies or patios, and some boast ocean views.

Key Amenities:

  • Private beach with food and drink service, beach chairs & umbrellas

  • Outdoor pool, 9-hole golf course, and championship tennis courts

  • Nightly barbecues + oceanfront restaurants

  • One of the best beach hotels in San Diego

Hotel del Coronado - San Diego Hotel Del Coronado
Credit: Hotel Del Coronado by hoteldel.com

Hotel del Coronado - San Diego

The legendary oceanfront Hotel del Coronado is a National Historic Landmark that dates back to 1888. A popular pick in Southern California, it’s had an impressive roster of guests that have included U.S. presidents and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe – it was filming location for the 1959 classic, “Some Like It Hot,” starring the blonde bombshell. Today, it’s a Hilton property with many modern amenities, including an award-winning spa with an infinity pool, two outdoor pools, and a fitness center. Guests can also enjoy a wide range of activities, from surfing lessons to paddleboarding, along with private beach bonfires for roasting S’mores. There are multiple bars and eateries and a lounge that hosts live music too. Plus, family suites include themed kids’ rooms with bunk beds.

Key Amenities:

  • Two outdoor pools

  • A spa with an infinity pool

  • Surfing lessons, paddleboarding, and other water sports

  • Multiple bars and eateries on-site

Pier South Resort - Imperial Beach Pier South Resort
Credit: Pier South Resort by Pier South Resort

Pier South Resort - Imperial Beach

Located in California’s southernmost beach town, Pier South Resort offers direct access to 3.5 miles of uncrowded, white sandy beaches and panoramic ocean views from many vantage points, including its rooftop terrace. There’s an oceanfront outdoor pool and hot tub as well as a full-service spa with an extensive list of offerings from body scrubs and massages to beauty services like mani/peds. Enjoy all sorts of water sports, including boogie boarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding, with rentals available. Look forward to dining on Baja-Mediterranean dishes at the popular SEA180 Coastal Tavern with gorgeous water views and enjoy a comfortable stay in beach-style suites that offers plenty of space. All come with living rooms that have sofabeds, minibars, coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies with partial or full ocean views.

Key Amenities:

  • Direct access to sandy beach

  • Rentals available for watersports, including paddleboarding

  • Full-service spa

  • Ocean-view restaurant on-site

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa - Mission Bay Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
Credit: Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa by Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa - Mission Bay

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is a Polynesian-themed resort that offers many activities for families, including sailing, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming in the outdoor pool. Complimentary game rentals are available too, such as corn hole, ladder ball toss, Frisbees, and footballs. The waterfront spa is the perfect place for parents to enjoy some pampering, and there are multiple eateries from a poolside bar and grill to the signature Oceana Coastal Kitchen for dining with a view. Accommodation options include rooms with patios or balconies, studios with kitchens, and suites with separate bedrooms and living areas.

Key Amenities:

  • Outdoor pool and hot tub

  • Waterfront spa

  • Private beach with watersport equipment rentals

Terranea - Rancho Palos Verdes Terranea Resort
Credit: Terranea Resort by terranea.com

Terranea - Rancho Palos Verdes

Terranea is a luxury family-friendly resort located in the exclusive community of Rancho Palos Verdes along one of the area’s most scenic stretches of coastline. It boasts an especially relaxing atmosphere that makes it seem worlds away from L.A., yet it’s just 20 miles from the airport, along with panoramic ocean views in an unparalleled setting. The massive 50,000-square-foot spa also provides magnificent water vistas along with 25 treatment rooms. Activities include horseback riding, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Guests can also golf on a 9-hole course, play on a 140-foot waterslide and dine at outstanding restaurants featuring farm-to-table cuisine at Mar’sel and a great microbrew beer menu at Nelson’s.

Key Amenities:

  • Large spa on-site

  • Multiple dining options

  • Activities like horseback riding, kayaking, and SUP

  • Access to a 9-hole golf course and pool with a 140-foot waterslide

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club - Dana Point Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club
Credit: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club by waldorfastoriamonarchbeach.com

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club - Dana Point

Families looking for luxury and a long list of things to do might want to choose the Tuscan-inspired Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club. It offers a private beach club accessed by shuttle, a golf course with ocean views, a world-class spa, and a kids’ club so parents can indulge in some relaxation while the younger ones enjoy supervised fun. There are three outdoor pools, and excursions are available too, including catamaran whale-watching cruises and guided wildlife tours. Enjoy dining at seven eateries ranging from casual bites to the elegant Bourbon Steak, while rooms and suites are notably spacious and include options with butler service, balconies, fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs.

Key Amenities:

  • Private beach club and a kids’ club

  • Three outdoor pools

  • World-class spa

  • Multiple dining venues

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach
Credit: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach by Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa

The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa offers access to miles of sandy beach while providing sweeping Pacific Ocean views and a great location for visiting the area’s most popular attractions, including Disneyland, about 30 minutes away. Surf lessons with pros are available, and there’s also an outdoor heated pool, a water park for the kids, and a spa for indulging in pampering treatments. Multiple restaurants and a grab-and-go market are on-site, while all rooms come with patios or balconies, some of which are right along the oceanfront.

Key Amenities:

  • Beachfront resort with access to miles of sandy beach

  • Spa, outdoor heated pool, and kids’ water park

  • Multiple on-site restaurants + a grab-and-go market

Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa - Pismo Beach Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa
Credit: Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa by Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa

Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa - Pismo Beach

There’s plenty of room for the whole family at Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa. It offers one- and two-bedroom guest rooms along with penthouse suites. You’ll enjoy all the comforts of home, including a full kitchen, living room, and a washer/dryer. All units include private balconies or terraces too, and some include additional perks like fireplaces or jetted tubs. Property amenities include an outdoor infinity pool with an ocean view, a spa, a fitness center that hosts yoga classes, and complimentary loaner bikes. The Lido Restaurant & Lounge offers locally sourced cuisine that can be paired with over 800 local and international wines and enjoyed with a view of the Pacific.

Key Amenities:

  • Outdoor infinity pool with an ocean view

  • Spa and fitness center

  • Complimentary loaner bikes

  • Ocean view restaurant

Sanctuary Beach Resort - Marina The Sanctuary Beach Resort
Credit: The Sanctuary Beach Resort by The Sanctuary Beach Resort

Sanctuary Beach Resort - Marina

Located just north of Monterey, Sanctuary Beach Resort sits atop windswept dunes that frame Monterey Bay, providing direct access to the beach. It’s great for the kids to splash around and build sandcastles, although swimming is best in the heated pool as the water is chilly here. Just before dusk, come back and enjoy the fire pits while watching the sun go down. The Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette is a great place to dine focused on coastal California fare, including fresh seafood. Rooms include connecting options providing more space for families, and all have private decks or patios with full or partial ocean views and gas fireplaces.

Key Amenities:

  • Beachfront resort with direct access to the sand

  • Heated outdoor pool

  • On-site restaurant serving coastal California cuisine

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay - Half Moon Bay The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay by ritzcarlton.com

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay - Half Moon Bay

Offering some of the best hotel views in California, the beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay sits dramatically atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific, less than an hour’s drive south of San Francisco. While it attracts plenty of romance-seeking couples, it’s great for families too. The local beach sits just below, and there are miles of hiking trails right on the surrounding cliffs, plus the resort has an award-winning kids’ program with all sorts of activities. Surfing and horseback riding are available and there are also indoor and outdoor pools, two championship golf courses, and a spa that draws from the surroundings for signature treatments like the Redwood Forest Ritual. The oceanside hot chocolate stand is sure to be a hit, perfect for warming up on the frequent foggy days. There are cozy fire pits to gather around and even a bagpiper who plays while the sun goes down. Accommodation is luxurious and includes an option for ocean views, with suites providing more space thanks to the separate living rooms.

Key Amenities:

  • Indoor and outdoor pools

  • Championship golf courses

  • Spa with treatments and rituals drawing from the resort’s surroundings

Stanford Inn by the Sea - Mendocino Stanford Inn by the Sea
Credit: Stanford Inn by the Sea by Stanford Inn by the Sea

Stanford Inn by the Sea - Mendocino

Stanford Inn by the Sea overlooks Mendocino Bay along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the state. It’s one of the rare family- and pet-friendly properties in the area, offering an ideal base for family adventures that can include everything from sea kayaking and searching through tide pools to hiking in the redwoods. The eco-friendly inn is wellness-focused and offers a wide range of experiences that include yoga classes, nature and canoe tours, cooking classes, gardening classes, and more. There’s a spa offering massages and Ayurvedic treatments, while accommodation includes options for two-bedroom suites that can accommodate up to six and include private decks with beautiful views.

Key Amenities:

  • Wide variety of tours + classes available

  • Spa with Ayurvedic treatments and massages

  • On-site restaurant serving farm-to-table plant-based dining

The Lodge at Pebble Beach - Carmel by the Sea The Lodge at Pebble Beach
Credit: The Lodge at Pebble Beach by The Lodge at Pebble Beach

The Lodge at Pebble Beach - Carmel by the Sea

Located along a world-famous 17-mile drive, The Lodge at Pebble Beach draws many golfers to enjoy some of the world’s best golf at The Links at Spanish Bay, but it also offers plenty for the entire family, with private beach access, opportunities for nature walks, bike rides, horseback riding, and swimming in the large outdoor pool. There are multiple restaurants, including a steakhouse and a casual bar and grill, while accommodation options are wide-ranging with luxurious rooms and suites as well as two stand-alone cottages with up to four bedrooms.

Key Amenities:

  • Access to The Links at Spanish Bay

  • Private beach and large outdoor pool

  • Multiple eateries, including a steakhouse

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