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California tide pools and beach activities

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Tide pool fun

Ready for some fun in the sun? Then head out to one of these favorite California tide pools or beaches. It's smart fun for the whole family!

Starfish in tidepool

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Half Moon Bay

Easy enough for toddlers to maneuver, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve offers tide pools that reveal a world of sea creatures at low tide. A ranger's building near the parking lot also offers books and exhibits to enhance your visit.


Address: California Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA 94038

Phone: 650-363-4021 for reservations for groups of 10 or more

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

The tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument are filled with crabs and other sea life, while the visitor's center, a small museum, the auditorium, and the Point Loma Lighthouse offer programs and exhibits geared towards families of all ages.


Address: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego, CA 92106


Also see: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Corona del Mar Beach & Tide pools, Corona del Mar

The tide pools can be found at Little Corona Marine Life Refuge in a protected area, so shells, sea life, and rocks must not be disturbed. While you're there, enjoy the rest of this family-friendly beach, equipped with a large parking lot, fire rings, and sand volleyball courts.


Address: Poppy and PCH, Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Phone: 949-644-3034

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur

The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park's main feature is a natural water fall that drops into the Pacific Ocean. Other natural sites, including gray whales, sea otters, sea lions, and birds offer plenty to see during the day.


Address: Big Sur Station #1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Rates: Parking along the road is free to access nature walk, Julia Pfeiffer Burns monuments,  and to view the waterfall; contact the park for entrance fee.

Phone: 831-667-2315

Malibu Lagoon, Los Angeles

Bridges take you through bird-filled nature preserve to the beach where the rocks offer a trove of sea life, from sea cucumbers to sea stars. Just down the beach is the Malibu pier where older kids can discover kayaking.


Address: 23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles, CA 90265

Phone: 888-310-PIER

Carpinteria State Beach, Santa Barbara

The calm waters at Carpinteria offer the beach's youngest swimmers a safe place to swim, play in the sand, explore tide pools, and fish. Complete with restrooms, picnic areas, and camping facilities, this family-friendly beach is a Santa Barbara must-see.


Address: 5361 6th St, Linden Ave and 6th St, Carpinteria, CA 93013

Phone: 805-968-1033

The Presidio of San Francisco

Paths for walking and bicycling, exhibition hall, ranger-lead tours and programs, and more offers a day filled with fun. Picnic areas, a pond inhabited by hundreds of birds, and a playground are all family-friendly. Or, head on over to the Baker Beach for some sunning and sand fun, but the water is unsafe for swimming.


Address: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Building 201, San Francisco, CA 94123

Phone: 415-561-4323

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