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3 Best Beaches Near San Diego Zoo | Tips & Rankings

San Diego is known for having some of the best beaches in the world, many of which are just a short drive from the San Diego Zoo.

This San Diego Zoo Beaches Guide will detail our top 3 beaches near the San Diego Zoo as well as our breakdown of what you can expect at each of these beaches.  

Questions We'll Answer In This Guide:

  • What Are The Best Beaches Near The San Diego Zoo?


Beach near San Diego Zoo 

Best Beaches Near The San Diego Zoo

La Jolla Shores Beach

Our favorite beach near the San Diego Zoo is La Jolla Shores Beach!

Located in the famous La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, La Jolla Shores Beach is an amazing combination of shopping, sandy shores, beautiful mountains, and even wildlife. 

La Jolla Shores Beach is the furthest beach on this list at about 15 miles from the San Diego Zoo, but it's mostly highway driving and should only take 20 minutes to get there. 

Beach View

If you're looking for a great beach to walk around and spend an evening after the San Diego Zoo then La Jolla Shores is highly recommended.

Not only is the scenery great, but the surrounding area is full of great restaurants to enjoy with sweeping views of the ocean. 

Depending on what time of year you're visiting and time of day you might be able to see some of the seals and sea lions who sunbathe on the shores and rocks of La Jolla! 

Seals on the beach near San Diego Zoo

The only downfall to La Jolla Shores Beach is that parking can sometimes be very difficult to find and you'll likely need to be prepared for a bit of a walk before reaching the actual beach. 

Otherwise, La Jolla Shores Beach continues to be our favorite spot near the San Diego Zoo! 

South Mission Beach

South Mission Beach is another great beach just 10 miles and a 15-minute drive away from the San Diego Zoo. 

South Mission Beach is known for its incredibly wide sandy shores and views of the ocean from multiple locations since it's located at the tip of a peninsula. 

Compared to La Jolla Shores Beach, South Mission Beach will feel a bit empty and "boring", but it's a great spot to enjoy the sun, sand, and water.

Beach Cove Near San Diego Zoo

If your goal is to get to a beach quickly and lay out in the sun or walk along the water then you won't go wrong with South Mission Beach. 

Parking is typically in ample supply and easier to find than at La Jolla Shoes, but arriving during busy periods like an afternoon in the middle of the summer may be a bit more difficult than usual to get a parking spot. 

Mission Beach is also consistently regarded as one of the cleanest beaches in San Diego! 

Tourmaline Beach

Last, but certainly not least on our list of best beaches near the San Diego Zoo is Tourmaline Beach. 

If you haven't heard of Tourmaline Beach it's probably because it's typically more of a local's spot and not nearly as publicized as many other beaches in San Diego. 

Tourmaline Beach is just over 12 miles and a 20-minute drive from the San Diego Zoo.

Tourmaline Beach is unique in the fact that it is known as a surfer's haven and most of the beach is not open for swimming. 

If you're looking to enjoy beautiful views of the ocean as well as watching surfers catch some massive waves then Tourmaline Beach is an amazing spot!

If you're hoping to spend some time swimming in the water then you'll want to consider the other two beaches on our list. 

Tourmaline Beach is almost entirely in a secluded cove surrounded by rocky cliffs giving you a very unique beach experience, especially if you're more accustomed to the flat sandy beaches on the east coast of the United States. 

While swimming isn't allowed through most of Tourmaline Beach, sightseeing and people-watching at Tourmaline Beach is going to be among the best you can get in the San Diego area, especially near the zoo! 



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