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By Collin Breaux

Though the coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to trips to Disneyland and to movie theaters for now, there are still options for families that want to have fun and explore Southern California.

The region offers plenty of outdoor spots to drive to and forget about your problems for a bit. These places are ideal for taking in the sun, enjoying the natural beauty of the outdoors, while maintaining social distancing in the process. Here are some of our favorite spots you can bring the kids:

Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas

Located in San Diego County, Moonlight Beach is popular with families and other beachgoers. The beach offers a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean and plenty of space for your group. Nearby parking spaces are ample.

 The beach also has a playground for kids to enjoy, a grass park, a concession stand if you’re hungry for snacks, and a rental stand if you want to do some surfing but didn’t bring your own board. For people who don’t want to walk on the sand, cliff spots offer a bird’s-eye view of the majestic scene.

Moonlight Beach also has volleyball courts, so bring some friends for a game.

Crescent Bay Beach in Laguna Beach

One of the tide pool beaches in this famous oceanside community, Crescent Bay Beach is a spot for anyone looking for a quiet getaway on the sand. Be forewarned: the walk down to the beach is a gradual slope.

Once you’re there, feel free to place a blanket down and soak up the relaxing view of the sky and water. Though it doesn’t have as many amenities as other spots, Crescent Beach offers a scenic view of high-end houses on the nearby cliffs. Participate in Laguna Beach’s recommended activities here, including kayaking, body boarding, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Other Laguna Beach tide pool spots—notable for the unique sights they provide when at low tide—include Diver’s Cove and Treasure Island.

SUP Rentals in Dana Point Harbor

Dana Point Harbor is an ideal spot for SUP—shorthand for stand-up paddleboarding. Take your board out into the water, catch a glimpse of sea lions if you can, and head out to the jetties for a break.

Pure Watersports is one of the spots offering paddleboards for rent. They have all the accessories you need to have fun and stay safe. Westwind Sailing is another business that can get you hooked up if you’re interested in SUP.

San Clemente Pier in San Clemente

Kids and parents love to head out to the San Clemente Pier for fishing. You can often spot them throwing out a line over the bridge, waiting for a bite, and enjoying time together in the process.

Even if fishing isn’t your thing, the San Clemente Pier is still a fun spot for a walk and the ideal spot for photo opportunities. The beach below is popular with swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers. People who want to avoid getting sand in their shoes can instead hang out on the nearby grassy knoll. Picnics are popular there, as is taking in the scenery during the day or night on a bench or table.

The area is often bustling with activity, even in the colder months. Grab a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone at one of the nearby shops if you’re hungry.

Oceanside Public Library Courtyard in Oceanside

The Oceanside Public Library pavilion is a destination all its own, with elaborate architecture, spectacular water structures, and plenty of room to walk around and sit down. The nearby area also has plenty of outdoor dining options, shops, and other attractions.

As for the library itself, it currently has grab-and-go services and virtual programming. Check the latest information at the library’s page on the City of Oceanside’s website.

Descanso Park in San Juan Capistrano

Located a short walk past San Juan Capistrano City Hall, this tucked-away outdoor space offers plenty of room to walk and watch cyclists as they pass. Visitors can also check out the creek, explore the playground equipment, and sit at one of the tables. Descanso Park also offers a spot to watch all the activity of San Juan Capistrano happen while being a relative distance from the action.

Editor’s note: Available access to these listed spaces and amenities may change throughout the pandemic. Check with relevant agencies and businesses for up-to-date information.

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