The 5 BEST Family-Friendly Beaches in Carmel and Nearby (2024)

Looking for the best beaches in Carmel for a family beach day? I recently visited with my kids and I compiled a list of the best ones to visit with all the details you need. 

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a sweet little beach town on the central coast of California. It’s been named one of the best beach towns in the country for years—and for very good reason. 

I just love my visits to the central coast of California because it’s like a whole other world! Each area is straight from a movie.

Carmel is known for its many attractions and fairytale-like vibes, but the most notable designation is the beautiful beaches. 

And with over 17 miles of coastline, there are a variety of beaches, each with its own unique charm.

However, while all of them are beautiful, some of them are very dangerous to swim in, difficult to get to, or are meant just to be seen or used as a backdrop for pictures.

So, I’ve compiled my recommendations of the best beaches in Carmel and neighboring Monterey county that you can actually relax, sunbathe, or swim at with the kids.

Whether you’re looking for a beach with soft sand to lounge at or a beach with awesome tidepooling, you’re sure to find one to visit on this list of beaches in Carmel and Monterey county. 

Key Takeaways

  • Carmel has over 17 miles of coastline, but only a few of them are suitable for a family beach day. 
  • The best beaches in Carmel for families are Carmel Beach and Carmel River State Beach. 
  • Neighboring Monterey offers great family-friendly beaches like Lovers Point Beach, Asilomar Beach, and Del Monte Beach. 

Table of Contents

Need a place to stay in Carmel? 

👉 Check out the casual and adorable Tally Ho Inn OR
the luxurious La Playa Carmel Hotel

Best Beaches in Carmel for Families

1. Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach is one of the best beaches in Carmel for families!

Carmel Beach is the most popular beach in Carmel and been named one of the best beaches in California for years. It’s a great place for families to spend the day.

It’s an amazingly beautiful 1-mile-long crescent of sugary-white sand surrounded by cypress trees. It’s a great spot for sunbathing, swimming (the water is chilly though, beware!), playing volleyball, or just lounging the day away. The sand is soft, and the water is calm, making it a safe place for kids to play.

The town takes a lot of pride in this beach, as many locals regularly volunteer to clean the area. Sunsets are said to be magnificent here too, so come late in the day if you can.

There are restrooms near the parking lot, a small lot with lots of free options close by, but NO lifeguards on duty. It’s also dog-friendly.

An added bonus is that Carmel Beach is right next to the Village, the town’s European inspired downtown area. You’ll have a variety of dining and shopping options a short walk away.

If you can only choose one of the beaches in Carmel, this is the one to choose! You will not regret it.

Address: Scenic Rd & Ocean Ave | Carmel, CA 93923

2. Carmel River State Beach

Carmel River Beach is one of the best beaches in Carmel for families

Carmel River State Beach is also great for families with small kids. It’s bit more secluded than Carmel Beach but equally beautiful, so if you want a quieter scene, this is your spot.

It’s a mile-long beach with a mix of sand and pebbles. The sand is a bit coarser than Carmel Beach, but it’s still soft enough for kids to play in. The waves are rougher here, so stick to just getting your feet wet (unless your kids love jumping in lagoons like mine do…)

This beach offers some extra gems too; the lagoon there is a popular spot for bird watching (you can see pelicans and ducks hanging around too), and there are also tide pools to explore, which kids will love.

It’s an easy drive down Carmelo Street to get there from downtown. Parking is tough as the lot is small, but there’s plenty of overflow along the streets nearby. Dogs are allowed here (on their leashes) and there are restrooms and water fountains near the parking area.

Address: Carmelo St & Scenic Rd | Carmel, CA 93923

Best Beaches Near Carmel for Families

If you want to take a short drive north, neighboring Pacific Grove and Monterey have great family-friendly beaches too. The beaches below are the three closest to Carmel.

Want to visit Monterey while you’re in Carmel? Look over my guide for all the details you’ll need!

3. Lovers Point Beach

Lovers Point Beach in Pacific Grove is one of the best beaches near Carmel

Lovers Point Beach in Pacific Grove is a real treat for families. It’s a bit small and can get crowded, but the overall vibes and beauty make up for it.

The sand is soft, and the water is calm. There is protection from the seawall, making it safe for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. There’s also a short pier you can walk on for great views, and a jumping off spot into the water.

The beach is a part of Lovers Point Park that also includes a large lawn area, shaded areas, a sand volleyball court, benches, a rental stop, and dining options. There’s free street parking and a parking lot nearby.

Address: 631 Ocean View Blvd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

4. Asilomar Beach​

Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove

Also in Pacific Grove, Asilomar State Beach is a great place for families. It’s a one-mile stretch of sandy beach and gentle slopes, rocky coves, and beautiful bay views.

The beach is huge, so there’s plenty of room to spread out and play. The water is calm and shallow, making it a safe place for children to swim. There are also a number of tide pools to explore!An accessible walking trail runs along the beach, making it easy to walk along the beach with a wagon or stroller.

Parking is on the shoulder of Sunset Drive, but it’s limited so plan to get there early to snag a good spot. There are no restrooms or showers here.

Address: No address, put Asilomar Beach in any mapping app and you will take you to the beach.

5. Del Monte Beach

Del Monte Beach in Monterey

Del Monte Beach is another great option for families. It’s very large and stretches out for miles. You can enter near the downtown and Fisherman’s Wharf area or go out further if you want a quieter spot.

The sand is soft, and the water is calm, making it a great place for kids to play. The beach near downtown has many amenities you’ll need like a parking lot, restrooms, and picnic tables.

You can also walk to many restaurants, Dennis the Menace playground, or the MY Children’s Museum.

Address: Put Del Monte Beach in any mapping app and it will take you to the beach near downtown.

Full List of Beaches in Carmel

In case you wanted a full list of beaches in Carmel, I added one below. As you can see below, there are many beaches of them, however, you can also see that many are dangerous or inaccessible.

  1. Carmel City Beach
  2. Carmel River State Beach
  3. Monastery Beach (dangerous to swim in, also called Mortuary Beach by locals)
  4. Garrapata Beach at Garrapata State Park (half mile hike to it, snakes and ticks prevalent)
  5. Malpaso Creek (very small)
  6. Bixby Creek Bridge Beach (inaccessible to visit, but highly photographed from a lookout point)
  7. Soberanes Point Beach at Garrapa State Park (inaccessible)
  8. Rocky Creek Bridge Beach (inaccessible)
  9. Point Sur State Historic Park (inaccessible)
  10. Little Sur River Beach (inaccessible)

Point Lobos Beaches: 

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a scenic coastal state park in Carmel.
These are numerous beaches in this area, however hiking is required to get to them and most of them are very small.

These beaches are best for scenic photography:

  1. Gibson Beach or Sandy Beach
  2. China Cove Beach
  3. Whalers Cove
  4. Weston Beach
  5. Hidden Beach
  6. Sea Lion Cove
  7. Moss Cove
  8. Headland Cove

FAQs: Best Beaches in Carmel for Families

Does Carmel have good beaches?

Yes, Carmel has some of the best beaches in California. Carmel Beach is a 2-mile-long (3.2 km) stretch of white sand with calm waters. It is known for its beauty and its popularity and is regularly named one of the best beaches in California. The sand in Carmel’s beaches is some of the softest and whitest in the state.

Is Carmel Beach swimmable?

Carmel Beach is technically swimmable, but the water is cold, even in the summer. The average water temperature is 62°F in the summer. The central coast of California doesn’t get hot enough for the water to warm up. But the water is calm, so it’s safe to swim in (just bring a wetsuit if you get cold easily!)

What is the name of the beach in Carmel CA?

The most famous beach in Carmel, CA, is Carmel Beach. It is a 2-mile-long (3.2 km) stretch of white sand with calm waters. It is known for its beauty and its popularity.

Is parking free at Carmel Beach?

You can find free parking near the beach. Here are your options:
Free, 30 minute & 2-hour curbside parking is available on every block in the Central Business District.
Free, unlimited time parking is available at the following locations: 

  • Vista Lobos public parking lot, located on Torres Street and 3rd Avenue 
  • Center median streets and curbside spaces on Junipero Avenue between 3rd and 5th Avenues.
  • The Sunset Center north parking lot located on 8th Avenue between Mission and San Carlos Streets 
  • Most residential streets outside the Central Business District.
  • The Del Mar parking lot, located at the base of Ocean Avenue near the beach.  

Wrapping Up: Best Beaches in Carmel for Families

No matter which beach you choose, you’re sure to have a great time in Carmel.
Whether you stick to Carmel and enjoy the sugary white sand on Carmel Beach or head to neighboring Pacific Grove or Monterey and visit Lovers Point or Del Monte Beach, you are sure to have a great time.

So, pack your sunscreen and your beach toys, and head to the coast for a day of fun in the sun. I hope you have a wonderful time exploring the beaches in Carmel with your family! 

MEET BESA

Your Go-To Girl for Beach Travel

Hi! I’m Besa. I’ve always been a travel-loving beach bum… and then I had kids. Two boys, born 19 months apart. But I didn’t let that stop me. I still travel, even with a couple little boys in tow – and I want to help other parents like you do the same!

I’ll be sharing all my travel tips, beach hacks, and guides for some of my favorite family vacation beach spots.

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Why Trust Beaches and Babies?

Besa has been a frequent traveler for almost 20 years, and the last five years of her travels have included her two toddler boys, 19 months apart.
Years of flying and beach bumming with her kids has given her plenty of hard-earned experience in the travel world.

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FLIGHTS
Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites for the lowest prices plus the flexible calendar tells you which days are the cheapest to fly.

LODGING
booking.com is easy to use and gives options for all types of lodging. When I know I want a big rental house, I use VRBO.

RENTAL CARS
rentalcars.com scans multiple agencies at your destination to give you the best price.

ACTIVITIES
Viator lets you search for a specific activity at your destination or scroll all available.

Read over my full list of the best sites to book with on my Resources page.