Aeiral photo of SCrescent bay, Laguna Beach

the Perfect Southern California Family Vacation • Our Globetrotters

Are you seeking to visit Disneyland in Southern California but want to combine this with the perfect family beach vacation?

Disneyland California sits just 19 miles by road from the nearest coast so you’re sure to find a nearby beach that will be exactly what you’re looking for in a California beach vacation.

We’ll take a look at the map first to help you work out the main logistics of a family vacation in southern California, then all the best beaches you may want to stay at close to Disneyland.

This post is part of our series discover the USA

How to Get to Disneyland California

If you’re not from California, chances are high that your arrival in southern California will commence from one of the major airports, such as Los Angeles (LAX) or John Wayne Airport (SNA).

These airports sit to the west of Anaheim, while if you head slightly further south, you’ll hit the Pacific Ocean Coast and a great selection of beaches suitable for families.

Map of southern California and Disneyland’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean

Given the close proximity of the beaches in Southern California to Disneyland, you can easily tackle every beach on this list as a day trip from your Anaheim accommodation.

Alternatively, we love splitting our time between theme parks and beaches so we’ve given you some beachfront accommodation choices too if you’d prefer to stay at the beach on the Pacific Coast.

9 Best Beaches Close to Disneyland CA

Ready for a break from the Mickey Madness?

Let’s take a look at the closest beaches to Disneyland, remembering that traffic can most definitely mean nearest doesn’t mean quickest to reach!

All of this selection of beaches, we would realistically allow 30 to 40 minutes – off-peak – by the time your door to door and the car parked. There’s no one outright winner of the nearest beach to Disneyland – instead, you’ll get a superb selection to choose from!

Let’s see which one will suit your family’s interests best.

Beaches Near Disneyland: Huntington City Beach

Distance from Disneyland: 22.7 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 30 minutes

Huntington Beach pier

Distinguished by its 1,800-foot pier, Huntington City Beach is one of Southern California’s most popular beach getaways. For this reason, also one of the busiest, so bear this in mind when choosing the best hotel near Disneyland.

We love that there are some brilliant waves here – earning itself the nickname Surf City USA – so do pack the kids’ boogie boards.

With a few days to spare in your itinerary, there’s plenty to see and do around Huntington beach, including visiting the International Surf Museum. Head to the more southerly end for Huntington State Beach if you’re looking for a slightly quieter stretch of beach.

Where to stay: Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach or Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa

Beaches Near Disneyland: Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach

Distance from Disneyland: 19.7 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 28 minutes

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Bolsa Chica State Beach

Immediately to the north of Huntington City Beach (also known as Sunset Beach) absolutely delivers what you’d expect with such an apt name on the west coast!

Whether it’s sandcastles and time in the sun or water sports from sailboarding to kite surfing, this is what you can enjoy on the soft white sands of Bolsa Chica State Beach.

You’ll find lifeguards on duty during the peak summer season, and there are restrooms available, making it a fabulous family-friendly beach without as much of the bustle as Huntington Beach.

Where to stay: Best Western- Harbor Inn & Suites or The Waterfront Beach Resort


a stroller parked on the beach

Beaches Near Disneyland: Balboa Beach

Distance from Disneyland: 19.2 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 24 minutes

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Balboa Pier

The Balboa Peninsula is put simply, beach-lovers heaven. One of the prettiest and well-groomed beaches in southern California, there are kid-approved eateries, washrooms, and playgrounds making this a superb family-friendly choice.

This beach has an amusement park-like feel with the Balboa Fun Zone and Ferris wheel on the beach, along with plenty of dining choices along the waterfront.

You are also ideally placed here for whale watching tours which leave from nearby Newport Beach. From broadly May to November, the warmer waters of southern California are home to dozens of Blue Whales, a wonderful nature experience to add to your California Disney trip.

Do note, that this is one of the more difficult beaches near Disneyland to get parking – and when you can find a park, it’ll cost so bare this in mind with your budget.

Where to stay: Balboa Bay Resort or Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

Beaches Near Disneyland: Corona Del Mar State Park

Distance from Disneyland: 19.5 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 23 minutes

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Corona Del Mar

Soft sand, gentle waves, and a patrolled beach sound like your idea of beach vacation bliss? We’d argue this is one of the best beaches close to Disneyland for families. just to the south of Newport Beach, this is our preferred option with kids.

Actually two beaches here; you’ll find the wide and soft-sanded Big Corona and Little Corona, separated by a rocky outcrop. We love that there’s a little more for kids to explore here beyond just the sandy beaches. There’s a nearby grassy area for picnics, or at low tide, go exploring in the tide pools.

Where to stay: Look for incredible VRBO Condos right on the beach or you can easily stay in Newport Beach resorts, as above.

Beaches Near Disneyland: Laguna Beach

Distance from Disneyland: 25 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 29 minutes

Sitting further south again, the Laguna Beach area makes an exciting seaside stop to add to your Disneyland itinerary. Offering everything from oceanfront playgrounds, sports courts, and even tidal pools, there’s a little bit of everything from gentle waves to building sandcastles.

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Laguna Beach

Main beach is a popular starting point with plenty to do including basketball and volleyball courts, or out on the water bodyboarding, Stand-up paddleboarding, and snorkeling are all popular at this beautiful southern California beach.

We recommend you explore further, though, to find the perfect little cove for you. One of the prettiest spots for swimming and seal spotting is Crescent Bay, or try Diver’s Cove if you love to grab the snorkel set and head underwater.

The only thing we’d note about a day trip to Laguna Beach is that its popularity means street parking fills fast, you need to get in early in the day.

Where to stay: Montage Laguna Beach or The Tides Laguna Beach

Beaches Near Disneyland: Treasure Cove, Crystal Cove State Park

Distance from Disneyland: 23 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 26 minutes

Far more undeveloped than other beaches we’ve mentioned on this list. If you’re looking for a day trip from Disneyland, California, to a more intriguing beach stop, Crystal Cove State Park can be a great choice for your family.

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Crystal Cove

With multiple access points along 3.2 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway, one of our favored entrances to head to is Pelican Point. This puts you between Little Treasure Cove and Treasure Cove.

There are plenty of cool rock formations and tide pools for the little ones to explore, and at low tide a wide sandy beachfront reveals itself. There’s lots of space here if you prefer your beaches without sitting on top of one another. Wear a sturdy pair of beach sandals to make the most of exploring this rugged beach.

Where to stay: Resort at Pelican Hill or try a VRBO for charming beachside cottages nearby.

Beaches Near Disneyland: Seal Beach

Distance from Disneyland: 19.3 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 26 minutes

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Seal Beach

Flipping things slightly further north, Seal Beach in Orange County is the perfect spot for swimming, kite surfing, surfing, and sunbathing. By distance, it’s one of the closest beaches to Disneyland.

Despite its name, seals are no longer regularly visiting the beach here, however, we still love the pier here at Seal Beach for spectacular sunset viewing.

We also love that there are plenty of facilities on hand here, free parking, picnic tables, and bathrooms. Plus, if you’re visiting in the summer, catch a concert on the beach every Wednesday night.

Where to stay: Ayres Hotel Seal Beach or The Pacific Inn

Beaches Near Disneyland: Dana Point

Distance from Disneyland: 34 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 35 minutes

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Dana Point

There are actually a few beaches around Dana Point worth considering, the furthest south in the beaches we consider “close to Disneyland”; Baby Beach, with calm waters inside the sheltered marina (pictured); Capistrano Beach, for bigger waves and fire pits, and Doheny State Beach.

Doheny State Beach is known as a great surf spot and for its camping spots along the beach. In summer, it’s also patrolled by lifeguards, making it a great spot to head to with the kids who love a few waves.

Dana Point is another popular starting point for jumping on a boat and heading out on whale watching and dolphin spotting tours.

Where to stay: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club or Best Western Plus Marina Shoes Hotel

Beaches Near Disneyland: Manhattan Beach

Distance from Disneyland: 32.9 miles

Approximate Drive Time: 38 minutes

Beaches near Disneyland CA - Manhattan beach

Looking for a beach that puts you back closer to LAX for your return trip after Disneyland? Then Manhattan Beach could be a good choice for you and your family.

The Manhattan County beach is full of watersports and of course, unmissable west coast sunsets that you can capture your last glimpse over the Pacific ocean before you leave Los Angeles.

Where to stay: Shade Hotel at Manhattan Beach or the Beach House Hotel at Hermosa Beach

Other Southern California Family Vacation Activities

In addition to Disneyland and the beautiful beaches of southern California, you may also want to consider when planning a family trip to the west coast:

  • Legoland California Resort – Comprises a theme park with over 60 rides, a resort hotel, Legoland and Chima Water Park, and Sea Life Aquarium. Legoland California is approximately an hour south of Disneyland, 65 miles. The nearest beach to Legoland is Carlsbad State Beach.
  • SeaWorld San Diego – Keep heading south for this family-favorite marine animal attraction, approximately 90 minutes drive. The nearest beach to SeaWorld in San Diego is Mission Beach.
  • San Diego Zoo is another very popular attraction for families in Southern California. It would be possible to visit on a day trip from Anaheim but does make for a long day at nearly 100 miles away – 90 minutes drive in each direction.
  • Joshua Tree National Park – for a complete contrast to the theme parks on your family vacation to southern California, consider adding on a stop at Joshua Tree National Park. You are looking at a 2-hour drive west (116 miles).

General Tips For Visiting the Beaches in California

  • If you are visiting a beach on a day trip from Disneyland, think about car parking. Parks fill early in the day and you’ll need either coins or credit cards to make payments. Come late morning, especially on weekends and in the summer, you may find there’s simply no space.
Packing List Sign Up - Beach

More FAQ’s on Disney Beaches

Which is closer to the beach, Disneyland or Disney World?

Both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida allow families to combine the best of the beach with some mouse magic. But Disneyland, in Anaheim, south of LA sits in closer proximity to the nearest beaches, on the Pacific Coast.

Disney World on the other hand, in Orlando, sits about halfway between the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast in Florida. The closest beaches to Disney World are a little over an hour away.

How far is San Diego from Disneyland?

Although we haven’t included any San Diego beaches in this list, San Diego sits only 95 miles south of Disneyland. The drive would take approximately 1.5 hours.

You easily could add a side trip to La Jolla Shores and the most beautiful beaches of southern California to your Disneyland trip, though they are not the closest beaches to Disneyland.

How cold does the ocean get in Southern California in Winter?

Looking at a winter trip to Disneyland and weighing up if a beach stop is worth it? You can expect winter water temperatures around Newport/Los Angeles to drop to around 58/59°F in winter.

Middle of summer the southern California water temperature is a more pleasant 72°F.

We’d suggest in winter kids should wear wetsuits if they’ll be in the ocean for an extended period of time.

Can I stay at the beach and still visit Disneyland?

Absolutely. In fact, if you’re not looking for the perks of an on-site Disneyland hotel, this is our preferred way to stay in Southern California. Stay at one of these amazing beaches near Disneyland then you drive and park or arrange transfers for your theme park days.

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