By Karen Ruffini
September 15, 2017
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Surfers and sun worshippers alike flock to San Diego for its breathtaking 70 miles of coastline and reliably perfect weather, making it a popular destination for a beach getaway. 

San Diego has no shortage of incredible beaches — which can make it nearly impossible to pick just one or two to see during a trip to this West Coast city. But the top beaches in San Diego stand out because they're so much more than attractive stretches of coastline.

We looked at beach destinations that had fun things to do like boardwalks with shops and restaurants, excellent kayaking, surfing, or paddleboarding, or other unique diversions. Of course, the best beaches will always deliver an Instagram-worthy view, whether they're surrounded by sandy dunes or famous for their spectacular sunsets.

If you thought California couldn't live up to its hype, just check out one of these five incredible San Diego beaches.

Solana Beach

Located in San Diego’s North Country, Solana Beach is a secluded spot that has a number of hidden coves (accessible by staircase on nearly every street corner). For fans of surfing, head straight toward Seaside or Fletcher Cove — the former has a popular outer reef, and the latter has an exposed beach break. Solana is also home to the Cedros Design District, making it a great place for antique and vintage shoppers. 

Coronado Beach

Perhaps the most special part of Coronado Beach is what’s right underneath your feet. Because mica is mixed into the golden sand here, the beach quite literally sparkles in California sun. Sunbathers will be pleased to know there is no shortage of room for umbrellas, as the beach is wide and flat. After a long day of lounging, take a trip across the 200-foot tall San Diego-Coronado Bridge, where you’ll be treated to a striking view of the San Diego skyline (and a room at an elegant resort like Hotel del Coronado). 

Related: A Guide to Vacationing on Coronado Island

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La Jolla Beach

One of San Diego's best beach destinations for families, La Jolla offers the gentlest waves along its mile-long shore. At this beach, you can join a scuba class and watch sea lions and seals lounging along the coves. Somewhat hidden by the curving coastline is La Jolla Cove — one of the most photographed spots in San Diego. Visitors can snorkel in the calm, turquoise waters, which are filled with colorful Garibaldi fish and other sea creatures.

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Mission Beach

One of the liveliest beaches along San Diego’s shores is Mission Beach. You'll want to skateboard or bike your way down the boardwalk, join a game of beach volleyball, or take a ride on the iconic beachfront roller coaster. With two miles of oceanfront boardwalk and a wide range of activities, it’s hard for anyone to be bored at this beachfront amusement park. But if all the action here doesn’t suit you, it's still totally acceptable to grab a drink and park your flip flops on the sand.

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Pacific Beach

Most commonly known as “The Strand”," this two-mile stretch of beach is one of the top destinations in San Diego, drawing crowds every season of the year. Often catching the attention of the younger crowds, Pacific Beach has an abundance of shops and restaurants along its north end. Come night, the beach lights up from the glow of bonfires and beach parties.