cardiff by the sea california cliffs

Have you heard of Cardiff by the Sea, California? If you looking for a trip with your family to San Diego, California, then you should definitely consider this lovely nearby destination. It is a wonderful place to stay or visit.

Cardiff by the Sea is one of the most unique and amazing destinations to visit with your family. In fact, you could even make Cardiff by the Sea your home base, while you explore all that San Diego has to offer.

If you are wondering where to stay near San Diego with kids and what to do, read on as we tell you why Cardiff by the Sea, CA needs to be on your must-visit list. And, you’ll discover all you need to know about this spot for your next family vacation.

This post is a guest post by Cardiff Vacations. It contains affiliate links which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using these links. See my disclosures. Cover photo credit: © Adeliepenguin |

About Cardiff by the Sea, CA

cardiff by the sea sign
Cardiff By The Sea Welcome Sign, Photo Credit: ALL best fitness is HERE | Shutterstock

Just about 25 minutes from San Diego, CA, Cardiff by the Sea is ideally set near all that this area has to offer. It is known for gorgeous wide-open beaches, and breathtaking cliffs. It’s also great for surfing, one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids.

There are two reefs in this area. So if you are a scuba diver, this is also a great place to do that as well. During low tide, the reef is exposed leaving tide pools, which is great for kids to explore.

This area also has beach front camping. It’s a great way to experience the fun of camping and a spectacular beach vacation. If you are trying to do a family vacation on a budget, this is a great way to have a spectacular vacation.

Why Visit Cardiff by the Sea, California

surfers at Cardiff By The Sea, California
Surfers at San Elijo State Beach in Cariff-by-the-Sea, California Photo credit: © Sherryvsmith |

The San Diego area is known for having perfect weather that will make the entire family happy. Cardiff by the Sea is a place with beautiful natural sceneries, outstanding surf spots and meditation spots. The area also features many beautiful beaches to spend time with kids and family.

Cardiff by the Sea is definitely the place to have an unforgettable vacation. Some of the best things to do in this beautiful place include: spending the day at the beach, relaxing and meditating, visiting Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, checking out Legoland and many more.

beach at Cardiff-by-the-Sea California
Beach at Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California © Adeliepenguin |

Beaches of Cardiff by the Sea

Cardiff by the Sea is well-known for its beautiful beaches, being a perfect match with the favorable climate. Spending time on the beach can be very refreshing for both adults and children.

Reading a book, surfing or even listening to the ocean waves will help you relax and it’s a great way to spend family time together. Kids can play nearby with each other or make a sand castle.

There are plenty of beaches to choose from, which is why we recommend you a few of the most beautiful ones. Keep in mind that smoking and drinking alcohol is prohibited on Californian beaches.

San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach is definitely the first beach that most people living in Cardiff are thinking of. This beach is located only 3 minutes away from Cardiff by the Sea. It offers camping spaces, swimming, surfing, parking spots, restrooms and even a Snack Shop for the kids.

Moonlight State Beach

The Moonlight State Beach is a more kid-oriented beach. It is located only 8 minutes away from Cardiff by the Sea and you can find here a grass park specially designed with a playground area for kids.

The slope of the beach is gradual, which makes it safer for your little ones. Many lifeguards are protecting the area and surfing is allowed only outside the swimming zone.

Fletcher Cove Beach Park

A family favorite, Fletcher Cove Beach Park is located only 7 minutes away from Cardiff by the Sea. It features a children’s playground, grass, a basketball court and picnic tables.

There is also free public parking, showers and restrooms. The only thing you have to worry about is that it may be inaccessible during high tide.

wetlands at Cardiff-by-the-sea-california
Wetlands at Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California Photo credit: © Adeliepenguin |

Relax and Meditate

Having a high number of beaches nearby, Cardiff by the Sea is the perfect place to find a spot to relax and meditate. Cardiff by the Sea is a spiritually rich area and you can enjoy meditation by the ocean’s waves.

The Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens is a place specially designed for visitors that are looking for a quiet place to meditate. These beautiful gardens overlook the Pacific with many walking paths and breathtaking scenery.

Make sure you check the schedule when the gardens are open and if you plan to visit them on a Sunday you may also tour the Historic Hermitage Building.

Torry Pines State Park People Hiking
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Photo credit: © Sandrafoyt |

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

One place worth visiting is Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. It’s is a wild lane stretch on the Southern California coast and it is located within the limits of San Diego city.

The place can be visited between 7.15 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day. Visitors and locals come here every day for a walk on the trails, meditation or exercise with this beautiful view. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is also home to a few species of threatened animals, habitats, plants and unique geological formations.

Entrance to Legoland California San Diego
Visit Legoland California Photo credit: © Ivansabo |


Legoland is the perfect place for kids, not far from Cardiff by the Sea, California. The Legoland California Resort features more than 60 rides, attractions and shows. It is one of the best things to do in San Diego area with kids.

You may want to reserve one day only for this since it is open from 10 a.m. and it closes at 4 p.m. and your kids may not want to leave it earlier. The resort is also home to Legoland Water Park, Sea Life Aquarium and Surfer’s Cove in the summer, which features racer-water slides. The place is made completely out of LEGO bricks attracting kids of all ages.

Nearby, you will also find Sea World San Diego and Disneyland California is about 90 minutes to two hours away.

Where To Stay: Find the best attractions and rentals in Cardiff by the Sea

campground at Cardiff by the Sea, CA
Campground at Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA Photo credit: © Sherryvsmith |

Nonetheless, with such beautiful ocean views that you can enjoy, you may also want a nice rental place to stay in Cardiff by the Sea. The good news is that rentals are really close to the beaches and many amenities this beautiful area has to offer.

Final Thoughts About Cardiff by the Sea, California

A day trip to or stay in Cardiff by the Sea can be a great add on to any family vacation to San Diego. It is one of the best places to visit in California with kids. And it is a wonderful respite for beautiful beaches, relaxing family time, and having a memorable family vacation.

About The Author

Photo credit: Cardiff Vacations

Julio is the owner of Cardiff Vacations Rentals, a family-owned vacation rental place that features a Parkhouse, Penthouse and a Seacottage. The love for the ocean made Julio open this vacation place so others could enjoy a unique vacation.

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