Best Guide to a Beach Day on Your Disneyland Vacation

After spending some fun-filled days at the Happiest Place on Earth, it can be nice to relax at one of the local beaches near Disneyland and put your toes in the sand. Many families pair their Disneyland trip with a visit to a local beach to enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather.

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Disneyland is situated close to some of the best beaches in California. Planning your beach day in advance can make for a smooth outing and activity for the whole family. Let’s start with the top four beaches you should visit on your Southern California Vacation!

Best Beaches Near Disneyland

Goofy hanging out at the beaches near Disneyland

We’ve selected the best beaches near Disneyland based on location, activities, and scenery. Don’t miss out on incorporating a beach day into your trip! Setting aside a beach day in the middle of your park touring days is an excellent way to take a break from the hustle and bustle.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach at sunset: beaches near Disneyland

Huntington Beach, or HB per the locals, is one of the best beaches in the area and is only 15 miles from Disneyland. Huntington Beach includes three main beaches: State Beach, City Beach, and Bolsa Chica. HB is very user-friendly and has parking garages just a block or two from the beach. The beach is clean and has lots of room for frisbee, soccer and running around. The beach also has volleyball courts if you want to play a game or watch the talented local players. You might even see some pro-beach players out there practicing! You can also rent bikes, surfboards, boogie boards, and wetsuits on the beach at Zack’s.

Another benefit of Huntington Beach is that there are several beach and surf shops to wander through. Ripcurl, Jack’s, Havaianas, and Hurley all have shops close to the beach. If you hungry, there are some great restaurants by the beach. Duke’s Huntington Beach is an upscale, Hawaii-themed restaurant right on the beach and are known for their Mai Tais. Down the street you’ll find Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, BJ’s Brewhouse as well as a Starbucks and some ice cream shops. If you walk out on Huntington Pier, there are some more beach shops and restaurants. Huntington Beach has an overall relaxed, beach bum vibe going on.

Huntington Beach is known for its surfing culture so make sure you don’t miss out on the International Surfing Museum! Huntington Beach has plenty to offer for everyone which makes it a top choice among the beaches near Disneyland.

Newport Beach

Newport beach coastline

Just south of Huntington Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway, you will find the quaint Newport Beach. Newport is made up of 10 distinct neighborhoods, including Balboa Island, Corona del Mar, Mariner’s Mile/Westcliff, and Lido Marina Village/Cannery Village. Parking can be a little more challenging here because it is a more crowded area that is very popular.

Newport Beach offers some great outdoor activities, including hiking, surfing, stand-up paddling, and cycling. Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Beach are fun for the whole family. There are some more casual restaurants here as well as the Balboa Fun Zone, which boasts an 80-year old Ferris Wheel. The Balboa Island Ferry is a fun experience and a great way to see some of the bay.

Newport Beach tends to be more upscale than Huntington Beach. This town also offers Fashion Island, an upscale outdoor mall, wine tasting, live entertainment, and sunset cruises. There are over 400 restaurants in Newport Beach, including some waterfront restaurants. This beach city is known for its great seafood. The Crab Cooker and Woody’s Wharf are two well-known restaurants worth trying.

For families with children, Balboa Island is a must see. There are plenty of affordable carnival style games, a ferris wheel, and an affordable ferry trip ($2 per person) which encompasses many different beach experiences in one visit. These unique qualities make it a top favorite for families visiting beaches near Disneyland.

Laguna Beach

Laguna beach coastline

If you continue south on Pacific Coasts Highway, you’ll come to Laguna Beach. With seven miles of coastline, there are 30 coves and multiple beaches to check out. Laguna Beach is known for its beautiful water and clean beaches. Aliso Beach is the county beach where you can enjoy a bonfire. The Main Beach offers volleyball courts and is close to restaurants and parking. Thousand Steps Beach is located in South Laguna. There are only 230 steps down to the beach which has cliffs on both sides.

If you want to see some great sea life, check out the tidepools. The protected Laguna Beach tide pools have tide pool educators and docents at the Main and Treasure Island beaches. Laguna Beach is also known for its great restaurants and shopping. The downtown area has some unique stores where you can purchase clothing, décor, bath and body products, and jewelry.

San Clemente Beach

Sunset silhouette beach

San Clemente is a lesser known beach south of Laguna Beach and has a cute town on a hillside overlooking the beach. There are two beaches in San Clemente: San Clemente State Beach and Pier and Calafia Beach. These San Clemente areas boast 20 acres of sandy beaches and a long fishing pier. You can rent bikes, umbrellas, surfboards, and wetsuits at shops close to the beach. There is a bike path that follows the beach as well as hiking trails with views of the water. San Clemente is known for its waves for both beginner and experienced surfers and has a more small-town feel than its northern neighbors.

You can’t beat the amazing Southern California weather and its beautiful beaches. Whether you want to surf, bike, hike, or just relax with your toes in the sand, there are several Orange County beaches to choose from. You can stroll through cute beach shops, enjoy some fresh seafood, and explore some amazing sea life. Mickey Mouse would approve of this contender on the beaches near Disneyland list!

Transportation to the Beach from Your Disneyland Area Hotel

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Planning how to most effectively get to the beach whether you’re prioritizing safety, cost, or time can be more of a headache without a clear guide.

Looking back on my first trip to Disneyland, I spent numerous hours researching all of the different ways to get to the beach from our Disneyland hotel. It was hard to find definite answers on the best options besides renting a car which I did not want to do at the time. If you’ve never been to California, it can be even more confusing to figure out the best transportation options for your group. In my guide to transportation tips, I will provide options (some based on my own personal experience) to best get you to the beach or nearby popular destinations like Universal Studios Hollywood. -Lindsay (Mickey Visit Editor)

Rent A Car

Sign for Alamo at the Disneyland Resort Downtown Disney car rental location

You can always rent a car if you feel comfortable driving in California traffic which can be convenient if you need booster seats for your little ones. Most car rental agencies will offer booster/car seats with your rental at an additional cost. Some of the closest options for renting a car near the Disneyland Resort are:

You will find more options based around the resort but these are top three, highly rated rental car options closest to the Disneyland Resort.

Uber/Lyft

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Another popular option, and likely one of the cheapest, is to just take an Uber or Lyft from your Disneyland area hotel to a nearby beach.

We offer an exclusive code for Uber that will give you a free $15 credit to use with your first ride.

Use the code: “gavind714ue” in the app or redeem right here.

You can also get an estimate for your Uber or Lyft trip by plugging in your destination into the app. One thing to keep in mind that this is just an estimate- the price can change if surge pricing hits (surge pricing is higher prices during peak travel times) or if you get caught in traffic.

You can also find regular taxis/cabs in the area to take to the beach but most of the time an Uber or Lyft will be a cheaper option.

Remember: California requires car seats for those under eight so make sure you have some to bring if you need them.

Bus System

san-clemente-schedule

Take a look at the Metrolink schedule to help you plan your trip.

You use the Anaheim Resort Transportation bus system and transfer to the Metro Link to get to the beach which can be one of the cheapest transportation options.

This is something that may not be ideal though if you have small children- this route involves transferring and going from bus to bus. There definitely is a bit less luxury with this option especially if you’re lugging along beach gear!

You can find the route to the local beaches from Anaheim on their website here.

Beach Bus Tour Options

OC beach bus

There are plenty of local tour companies that offer beach tours which can be a great way to bundle your transportation with a guided tour.

Our editor, Lindsay, recently enjoyed the Beach Bus Tour with the Anaheim Tour Company this past summer and had a great time. See her review below to read how this experience plays out.

If you’re looking to splurge and pamper yourself, this is a great option to kick back and relax.

I enjoyed this company’s outstanding customer service so much that I booked them again for our Christmas trip for transportation to Universal Studios Hollywood. It was another great experience on a roomy and comfortable bus that dropped us off right at the entrance. They also shared tips on the way to navigating Universal Studios which was a nice touch. -Lindsay (Mickey Visit Editor)

You can find other local tour options in the Anaheim area but the thing that sets the Anaheim Tour Company apart is their amazing reviews on TripAdvisor!

Anaheim Tour Company: Beach Bus Tour Review

In the summer of 2018, I used a family owned local company called Anaheim Tour Company and the tour we selected was the OC Beach Bus Tour. They had rave reviews on Trip Advisor and their tours looked fantastic.

This tour lasted eight hours and included three main beach destinations:

Laguna Beach: This was our first stop. This was mainly a photo op and our tour guide Tom was more than happy to take pictures. We spent about 30 minutes here.

Newport Beach: This stop started with Tom giving us a quick overview of good places to eat and the cleanest restrooms within sight. We participated in the two hour whale watching at this stop. We didn’t see whales but saw plenty of dolphins and sea lions. This time of year isn’t the best time to spot whales and Tom warned us of this ahead of time so we were prepared. Overall, time spent here was three hours.

Huntington Beach: Our last three hour stop and we were dropped off right by the pier with a few tips from our helpful guide. I love Huntington Beach. If you like to shop, this is the best place to do it. I could spend a fortune here. The beach was lovely and the waves were great. The bathrooms by the pier were frightening- just FYI. Find something to eat or buy up near the stores to use some clean ones.

The beach bus itself was comfy and the tour guide was great at keeping us entertained and giving us enough information to find good spots to eat and things to do.

I always like to plan a beach day in the middle of our park days to give myself a chance to recharge and relax. This definitely accomplished that!

Make sure to check Groupon for deals! We got our whale watching through Davey’s Locker in Newport for $20 for two people which was cheaper than adding it as an extra option to the tour itself. It’s always good to shop around to get the best deals on things like this. As most of you know, that extra money adds up quick!

Overall, I’d give the OC Beach Bus Tour five stars. The bus was comfy and clean, the tour guide was excellent, and they gave you your space at each beach stop. It was like having a private driver for a day- I loved it. He drove us to each stop, gave us great local tips, and left after giving us a pick up time.

We’ve taken an Uber before from our Disneyland area hotel to the beach and honestly this cost about the same for my small family. It was well worth it.

There were a few things that made this tour such a lovely option for my family:

  1. I loved the price- for under $100 we had round trip transportation that picked us up from our hotel and we got to visit three different California beaches.
  2. The tour guide, Tom (the owner!), was personable and made the tour enjoyable. I had never done a guided tour before and was worried it’d be too ‘cheesy’- I actually loved it and so did my eight year old son.
  3. The tour lasted around eight hours so we really got our money’s worth with time. Our first stop was just a quick picture op and walk around, then our last two stops: Balboa and Huntington Beach we had nearly three hours at each one.
  4. Once you got to your destination, you’re on your own and free to do what you’d like to do without having the constraints of a tour following you. As long as you’re back to the meeting spot by the assigned time, you’re good to go!
  5. I loved being able to relax on a tour bus and not have to worry about driving in traffic, worrying about Uber prices, or trying to take a public transportation system I’m not familiar with. It was a great way to really enjoy the vacation- a perk that parents should appreciate. We had plenty of room on the bus for our beach gear and it made the entire day stress free.

You can check out our Facebook post with pictures and step by step details of this tour here.

-Lindsay (Mickey Visit editor)

Beach Tips for a Relaxing Day

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Here are our top tips for having a relaxing time at the beach with your family:

  • One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is hauling too much stuff with them to the beach! This should be your day ‘off’ from Disneyland to relax after all that walking and navigating through crowds. Only bring the bare essentials.
  • Instead of packing towels that take up too much room in your suitcase, use your hotel towels. They tend to be smaller anyways and can roll up easily in your beach bag.
  • Have your beach bag double as your free personal item on the airplane. This allows you to bring a bigger bag along with on the plane to carry souvenirs home and then it’s not taking up room in your suitcase either.
  • Bring baby powder to get the sand off everyone before heading back to the hotel.
  • Don’t over do it- remember, if you have small kids they may already be over stimulated and tired from Disney. Try to keep the beach day simple- avoid high end restaurants or experiences and just enjoy the time on the sand.
  • Make sure you settle down near a restroom if you have small kids, that way if anyone needs a potty break you don’t have to pack up the whole parade and troop around to find one.
  • Pack some snacks to save money- this can easily be your cheapest day of your vacation if you think thrifty.
  • Enjoy! Get off your phones, lay in the sun, and enjoy the quiet.

Plan your Disneyland Beach Vacation now!

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