Great SoCal Beaches for a Non-Disney Day

While many wish every day could be a Disney day, on a Disneyland vacation, you (and your feet) are likely to want a break! The perfect way to break up that Disney magic is with a day at the beach! There is nothing like smelling that salty air while listening to the crashing waves as they break at your feet. Wait. Why am I not there now?

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing fun things to do at Disney on non-park days.


 

While I’m packing my bag and heading to the nearest beach, let’s chat SoCal beaches. Just about any beach in Orange County will be a great beach for a non-Disney day. They won’t be too far to drive for a day trip from any Anaheim hotel, and they all have something unique to offer. Here are a few of my favorites along with the reason they’ve earned that title!

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach
photo credit: tdlucas5000 Laguna Beach via photopin (license)

Laguna Beach will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am certain that you’ll feel the same after a visit to this gorgeous OC Beach. Not only is it great for those sun worshipers just dying to get in their daily dose of vitamin D, it is perfect for sunset walks and family pictures. Not to mention the incredible art and boutique shops in town. Parking is at a premium, so be prepared to park and walk. Also, if you choose any beach in Laguna except the main beach, you will need to climb down stairs to get there, so don’t pack the kitchen sink. Moss Point Beach in Laguna is one of these smaller beaches with gorgeous rock formations that make for amazing pictures. Definitely not a good beach for a play day with little ones due to the rocks and the amount of stairs it takes to get down there…and then back up again! And now I get to show you a couple of family pictures from Moss Point Beach, because it is my blog and I do what I want.

 

Moss Point Beach Moss Point Beach

See how pretty those rock formations are in the background? Tell me you don’t want those in your family vacation pictures!

Newport Beach & Balboa

 

Newport Beach

 

I love visiting Newport, as will you! The beaches are beautiful, as with most of the SoCal coastline, but there are two great benefits here: parking right on the beach and entertainment! While beach parking is almost always going to be a bear in 75 plus degree weather, if you arrive early, like around 10am, you should be able to grab a spot in a large parking lot right in front of the Balboa Pier. If you stay until lunchtime, I highly recommend walking to Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier and grabbing a burger and a shake!

Balboa Fun Zone

 

With kids, be sure to move a good distance away from the pier to set up your spot in the sand. The surf can be a bit rough here, but if you’re just in it to build sand castles and dip your toes in the water, this spot is perfect. Not to mention that if you walk across the peninsula, you’ll find yourself in the Balboa Fun Zone! In addition to souvenir shopping galore, you’ll find a ferris wheel, lunch spots and, the home of the famous Balboa Bar!

Balboa Bar Balboa Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a fan of the TV show, “The O.C.,” you’ll probably remember a delicious looking rectangle ice cream bar, rolled in a variety of toppings, that was had by Ryan and Marissa on their date in Balboa. That is the Balboa Bar! Highly recommended by myself and my messy, ice cream loving kiddos!

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

photo credit: Ian D. Keating Good Morning Surfers via photopin (license)

Surf City USA! Huntington hosts the US Open of Surfing every summer, so if you want to see the pros do their thing, this is the place to be. And again, here you won’t find a shortage of shopping. On PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and Main Street, you’ll find plenty of shopping options that’ll help you find that perfect bikini, as well as the iconic Jack’s Surfboards.

This city beach also wins at the parking game. Just take a drive along PCH in Huntington and you’ll find  no shortage of large parking lots with plenty of room. The ONLY problem I have with Huntington is that you have to “walk 500 miles,” in sand, to actually get to the water. Okay, so it isn’t really 500 miles, maybe like 450. My suggestions to you would be to wear flip flops or something on your feet because that sand is hot in the summer. Also, am I the only one singing that song now?

Big and Little Corona

 

I’m cheating a bit here by combining them, but stay with me. These beaches, while right next to each other, are very different. Big Corona is a well known family beach with smaller waves, perfect for the whole family. There is a huge parking lot as well, but as with all of the other beaches, get there early or you’ll find it packed and you’ll need to find street parking. While that doesn’t sound bad, the hill you’ll have to go up and down with all your kids and beach gear may make this a terrible option. If you do snag a parking spot or take the hike down to the beach, I promise you’ll love Big Corona! I mean it even has fire pits! (Some of which are charcol only now, so come prepared for that.)

If all of this “get there early” talk has you wondering exactly how you’re going to get a tan at 8am, Little Corona may give you that extra push to roll out of bed early. This beach is much smaller than Big Corona, but it has something amazing to offer: tide pools! Sea slugs, hermit crabs, sea anemones, sea stars, and so much more can be found in the tide pools at this beach. Kids and adults alike love this spot and will leave feeling like you not only got in your quality ocean time, but an education in sea life as well. Be sure you get here early though as getting there too late in the afternoon will result in an ocean covered tide pool, and we don’t want that. You’ll find it at the corner of Poppy Avenue and Ocean Blvd in Corona del Mar.

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While there are so many more beaches to mention in Southern California, these are the ones I feel would be best for a day trip while visiting the Disneyland Resort. As you can see, they are all quite different and have their own unique draw. If you’re finding it hard to choose which you’d like to visit, you’re not alone! That just means that you’ll have to return to Orange County to visit them all!

Did I miss your favorite beach? Do you have a favorite section of one of these beaches that you think our readers should know about? Let us know and leave a comment down below! I love to hear from you.

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For more ways to spend non-park days at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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About The Author

My name is Michaelyn Pouncey and I am a mom to three beautiful girls. I grew up in Southern California and was lucky enough to have a Disneyland annual pass up until recently. Disneyland was a huge part of my childhood and I love that it is a part of my children's as well. I started this blog first and foremost out of my love for everything Disney. I also wanted to help other people who may want more information on the parks or who just want to look at some pretty pictures of all things Disney has to offer!

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  • Pam

    I love the beach but have never been to any in California. These all look so beautiful! I really need to make my way out there some day!

  • Lee Beatens

    Nice list. Not a beach person myself but I have checked out a few to see the ocean.

  • Julie Bigboy

    I’ve never been to any of the beaches in Orange County! Definitely looks like a fun way to spend an extra day.

  • Becca

    We always try and get in one or even two beach days during our Disneyland vacations. They are the perfect way to recharge.