Tidepools at La Jolla Cove

Kid Friendly Tide Pools in Southern California

There are plenty of really good tide pools in southern California. Some are great for kids while some are not. The term kid friendly means different things to different people and may result in a different recommended list. The criteria used for this list is as follows and is applicable for smaller children under the age of 8 or so:

1) There should be plenty of marine life that is easy to see. Lots of life right under your feet or on a wall in front of your face.
2) The tide pool location should be easy to get to. No long walks, hikes, scrabbling over large boulders or having to move through water. There are many tide pools that are simply too far for small children to walk too.
3) There should be bathrooms nearby.
4) There should be some sand around or other feature. In my experience, the kids will at some point end up playing in the sand after a while so having something else to do is an advantage.

Here are the recommended locations in no particular order. Click on the links to read more about each location.

Orange County Tide Pools

North Crescent beach tide pools. Finding a parking space here can be challenging during the summer months and nice weekends. There are restrooms, an outstanding beach and great tide pools to the north. Note that Shaws cove to the south is also good but does not have restrooms.

Little Corona Beach tide pools. There is a small hill but easy enough for little ones to manage. Restrooms are available and plenty of marine life and rocks to climb on. There are lots of marine life to see and a great beach to play on.

Los Angeles County Tide Pools

Whites Point tide pools. This is a great location where kids can see marine life just a few feet from the parking lot. There is also an old foundation that used to be a hotel in the 1930s that is fun for kids to explore. Portable restrooms are available and there is a fee to park.

Leo Carrillo State Park tide pools. This is a great location to see tide pools. There is a flat area that features marine life that lives in calmer areas and a more rocky area that has animals that prefer more exposed areas.

San Diego County

La Jolla Cove tide pools. Can be a bit crowded but has easy access, restrooms and lots of marine life to see. This location offers very easy access to tide pools with lots of life. Note that seals are frequently seen in the kid pool as well making this a great family outing.

Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools. This a fantastic location to see some great tide pools. There is parking, although crowded in summer, restroom and not long of a walk. There is also a nice calmer area with water the kids can play in when the waves are small. There are also lots of rocks to explore and climb on.
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