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Torrey Pines State Beach Daytime -Courtesy Lisa Field
Courtesy of Lisa Field /

San Diego’s wide stretches of sandy beaches can be jam-packed with surfers, families, and sun worshippers — especially on summer weekends. Avoid the crowds at these three often overlooked beaches in San Diego, California.

Silver Strand State Beach
Coronado and Imperial beaches may be crammed with screaming kids and littered with colorful towels, but the sandspit that connects them is quiet, by comparison. With 2.5 miles of beach on its Pacific Ocean side and another half mile of beach facing San Diego Bay, the state park is the perfect place to swim, kayak, surf, play volleyball, or fall asleep after reading a good book. It’s also a great beach for RV camping with barbecue pits, picnic tables, and fire rings available for use.


Downside for dog lovers: Fido can’t join you in the surf. Dogs must remain in the campground and on a leash at all times.

Swami’s Beach
Located next door to the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas, Swami’s Beach is a favorite among surfers — it was even referenced in the Beach Boys hit “Surfin’ USA,” but, surprisingly, the beach remains relatively empty. Come at low tide to explore the tide pools just north of the stairway. And though your goal is to wiggle your toes in the sand, plan to spend a little time in the parking lot. Near the large tiki statue, you’ll often find local “hoopers” (hula hoop enthusiasts), dancers, and musicians practicing their arts. The view isn’t half-bad either.


Also in Encinitas: It can be a challenge getting to the small parking lot via a one-way street, but Grandview Beach has a beautiful coastline with lifeguards and bathrooms.

Marine Street Beach
With its thunderous surf and rough waves, this La Jolla beach isn’t for everyone (certainly not families with little ones who want to wade into the water), but it’s ideal for beach lovers who want a break from the crowds. Plan to park on the street since there are no public lots, and be forewarned that, even though lifeguards are stationed here during the summer, there are no public restrooms.

Nearby: Windansea Beach, a popular surfers’ hangout since the 1940s, is perfect for a quiet early morning — or late afternoon — stroll.

Bonus: Black’s Beach
There are a number of reasons Black’s Beach is not as crowded as other area beaches. For starters, you have to hike down a long, steep trail or trek down the coast from Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to get there. But the most obvious reason for the lack of visitors is that Black’s Beach is San Diego’s only legalized nude beach. If you don’t mind, or want to get rid of your tan lines, you won’t have to fight the crowds for a place on the sand.

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