“What’s your favorite beach to go to in Laguna?” I love asking this question of my local friends who frequent the many beaches in this artistic town. There are so many coves, sandy stretches, and hidden spots along this beautiful stretch of Pacific Ocean that the options seem endless. I could spend a whole summer visiting a different beach each day. However, there are some stand-out awesome beaches that families especially love because of the amenities, waves, and kid-friendly aspects. Here are our top recommendations!
 

Crystal Cove

Best for few crowds, great waves, restrooms.

 

Details: This state park stretches several miles along the coast and has 4 entrances.

  • The northern entrance at Newport Cove Dr. - great for hiking trails and beautiful vistas. Take a long and steep trail to the beach from the parking lot. Restrooms are at the parking lots.
  • Historic District - parking lot is far from the beach although shuttles are available. Historic displays, a Christmas tree, the Beachcomber Cafe (very popular), Ruby’s Shake Shack, and access to tide pools are the highlights here. Restrooms are behind the cafe.?
  • Reef Point - This is a large parking lot with several access points to the beach down steep hills. Beautiful vistas, hiking trails, and tide pools are here. Restrooms are at the parking lot.
  • Moro Entrance - There is a campground with reservations, picnic area, snack shop (in season), and tunnel access to the beach along a gentle slope. Restrooms at the parking lot. The beach is  close to the parking lot.
Parking: $15 per day - in and out access included as well as moving to other parking lots.
Waves: Gentle to medium waves with a shallow shore break. Perfect for boogie boarding where there are not tide pools. High surf will make it more dangerous for young kids.
Tide Pools: Tide pools stretch across Crystal Cove. They are best to access from the northern entrance, Historic District, and Reef Point. 
Lifeguards: During summer months

Best for free parking, restrooms, and tide pools.
 
 
Parking: Free in residential streets although it can be difficult to find on busy days. Metered parking on PCH.
Distance walk: There is a steep, paved slope of about 100 yards to walk down to the beach. Walking back up can be difficult.
Amenities: Restrooms and showers are located at the base of the hill, right on the sand.
Waves: Medium to high waves make for great boogie boarding on gentle days. Large waves can be incredibly powerful during high surf. Rip currents can be present.
Tide Pools: At both the north and south ends of this crescent shaped cove are excellent tide pools to explore. Rocks are sharp so footwear and careful walking is a must.
Lifeguards: During summer months

Best for playground, restrooms, gentle waves, and access to restaurants and shops.
 
 
Parking: Several options: Metered parking along beachfront streets, paid parking in the parking garage (Glenneyre Structure - 501 Glenneyre St. $3 per hour, 3 hour limit), small metered parking lots (Parking Lot 1 between Coast Hardware and Mobil on Broadway St. and Parking Lot 3 at 242 Forest Ave.), and free residential parking on streets several blocks from the beach.
Distance walk: Depending on the parking spot, the walk to the beach can be about 2-3 blocks and will include crossing busy streets at the cross walks. If parking on residential streets, steep hills will be involved.
Waves: Gentle to medium waves with the most shallow sections of water in Laguna Beach. High surf and rip currents are occasionally present. 
Amenities: Restrooms and showers at the north and south ends, playground, swings, long boardwalk for a stroll, basketball courts, volleyball courts, grassy areas with chess boards, and close access to shops and restaurants.
Tide Pools: The north end of Main Beach under Heisler Park has a great tide pool section and is usually staffed by a docent during low tide with interpretive materials.
Lifeguards: During summer months.

Best for fewer crowds, boogie boarding, sunset views, and long stretches to walk.
 
 

Parking: Metered parking on streets or nearby free parking in residential areas.
Distance Walk: From the end of the street there is a set of stairs about 2-3 stories high to get to the beach. 
Amenities: No restrooms, rocks to climb on and explore, fewer crowds than Main Beach.
Waves: Medium waves good for boogie boarding. Can have strong back currents due to shallow shore break.
Tide Pools: None
Lifeguards: None

Best for playground, bonfires, sunset views, and close distance from parking.
 
 
 
Parking: $1 per hour, pay at the pay station. Open 6am - 10pm.
Distance: Parking lot is directly next to the sand and bonfire pits. This is the best beach to take persons who can’t walk far or need assistance. A favorite for parents with young kids.
Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, bonfire cement pits, snack bar (open in season), and a playground.
Waves: Strong waves with strong undertow. Not good for young kids. Perfect for skimboarders which are very fun to watch! 
Creek: Aliso Creek drains into the ocean at this beach and can be tempting to play in, but it is untreated water that can contain high levels of bacteria. It can also be difficult to cross as the water comes out and the waves crash in. The creek also creates steep sand cliffs which are very fun for kids to slide and jump down.
Tide Pools: There are tide pools at the beach below the Montage Hotel which is about a ½ mile walk to the north from Aliso Beach after crossing the creek. This can be a fun adventure.
Lifeguards: In season
 
 
Did we miss your favorite family day beach? Tell us in the comments.
 
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