California does not have to be shy when it comes to amazing beaches. The coast is dotted with picturesque, sandy, and fun places where you can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the southern sun. If you are staying in Riverside you’ll need to drive a bit to experience this. Luckily, the shore is not far, so let’s take a look at some of the best beaches near Riverside, CA.
Although, Riverside is a bit further off the ocean shore than ideal it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s look at this with glass-half-full thinking. The fact that you are not directly on the beach means you have more choices. There are a good number of beaches you can reach with some driving.
And we’ve picked out our favorites among them. So pack your beach gear into the trunk and get ready for some fun on the beach. We’ve tried to keep driving as low as possible while keeping the variety as high as possible.
This means that you’ll see some places that are close than others but we do think that a proper beach day is worth driving for. That being said we’ve tried to keep it within a 1 – 1,5h driving distance. Oh, and after we take a look at the best beaches near Riverside, CA we’ll also check out the nearby waterparks as an extra option.
Dana Strands Beach
Distance: 59 miles
First up is the local beach at Dana Point. Dana Strands Beach is a great location and it’s one of the closest beaches to Riverside, CA. You can easily reach it by driving. The distance is around 60 miles but you are going through some heavy traffic areas so driving time can be a bit more than you would expect.
Strands Beach is very popular with tourists and locals alike. The cliff line behind the shore makes it nice and separate from the residential areas.
It has fine yellow sand, lifeguards, and a beachline that stretches for miles. Even though it’s a popular place usually you can find free spots thanks to the size.
Parking is a bit harder. It’s free but we advise that you arrive in the morning to secure a parking spot. You will find the parking space just off Selva Road.
From Selva Road, you can either take the funicular down to the beach or walk right next to said funicular on a set of stairs. Maybe you won’t take it the way down but trust us, after a long day on the beach, it’s an amazing feature when going home.
All in all Strands Beach in Dana Point is an excellent choice especially if you like popular places.
Table Rock Beach
Distance: 53 miles
Are you the type of beachgoer who prefers to be alone or almost all alone on the beach? Then you’ll absolutely love Table Rock Beach.
This is our favorite secluded beach near Riverside, California. It’s only 53 miles from the city center and this beach is great for avoiding crowds.
Before we forget to mention it’s also a really picturesque location. You will find a small patch of sandy beach nestled between the dramatic cliff walls of the coast. We really love how amazing this beach looks.
To access the beach you’ll need to take a set of stairs down the cliff. The stairs are covered by trees creating a beautiful path with a great reward: Table Rock Beach at the end.
There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer season. We’ve also found that this beach is one of the best spots for watching the sunset. The dramatic scenery and missing crowds create a very romantic atmosphere.
Parking is free on the street but spaces are very limited. If you are out of spots then you will be happy to learn that the local restaurant offers parking for a flat rate of $15 for beachgoers.
Distance: 52 miles
Super Popular – Easy to Access
Aliso Beach is one of the best spots if you want something easy to reach and easy to go to. Parking is right off the beach so there are no stairs you have to take down the cliffside or other shenanigans. You park, you grab your stuff from the car, and off you go to the beach.
Needless to say, this ease of access makes it a very popular spot. Locals and tourists flock during the hot days of the Cali summer. Regardless of the crowds, it’s a great beach to enjoy where you can relax and swim in the beautiful water.
It’s also a good spot to practice some watersports. You’ll see people surfing or paddle boarding in the water and you’ll feel like joining them in no time. So if you are into watersports then this beach is a great pick.
Crescent Bay Beach
Distance: 50 miles
Scenic Beach Spot
A beautiful beach that’s usually not crowded. We love Crescent Bay Beach for its picturesque views and laid-back atmosphere. There are lifeguards on duty and clean bathrooms so swimming and the overall beach experience are great.
So if all is so good why is this beach not popular? Well, parking is HARD. There is a residential area nearby where you may find parking but if you don’t come in the morning the don’t get your hopes up.
If there are no spots then you can only park next to the highway with meters. The rate is not bad but it’s capped at one hour only which we find particularly bad so close to the beach.
Anyway, if you are able to find parking then you are in for a treat. A beautiful sandy beach without the usual crowds and noise. It’s a peaceful experience and we love coming here, except there is always a bit of a luck factor with parking. At least you can quickly move to some other beach near Riverside if this one’s full.
Crystal Cove State Beach
Distance: 55 miles
A serene and picturesque beach
Crystal Cove State Beach is a great beach located on the Cali coastline. We love coming here to enjoy the picturesque views and sunshine. The beach is long and there’s plenty of space for everyone which makes it one of the least crowded beaches near Riverside.
The sea life in the rocky areas is cool to explore for the kids, and the long shoreline to walk joyfully is great for adults. There is also a state park nearby where you can go for a hike.
There are lifeguards on duty to make sure that everyone is safe. Plenty of parking is available on-site but it’s $20 a day. It’s a small price to pay for a beautiful beach visit.
The parking lot is not right at the beach entrance so if you want to skip walking there is even a cheap shuttle service between the beach entry and the parking lot. Very convenient!
Overall, this is a great beach and we highly recommend it for families. The fact that there are usually no crowds and the picturesque scenery will make for a great day out.
Oceanside City Beach
Distance: 70 miles
Great City Beach
Finally, our last ocean beach near Riverside, CA. Don’t worry we still have some nice picks after this one but if you want to swim in the ocean you must choose from the beaches we’ve mentioned up until this point – or this one.
Oceanside City Beach is the furthest from Riverside but it’s quite unique among the beaches of the area. Most of the other beaches we’ve selected are secluded and you either need to take a long flight of stairs or you are far from restaurants and bars.
Here on the other hand you have a classic city beach. You’ve got great amenities and the streets lining the beach are full of superb places to grab a bite or a drink.
The beach itself is pretty standard: a long sandy patch with enough space for a crowd. Many people come here for surfing when the weather allows. On calm days it’s perfect for swimming and enjoying the sun.
It does get crowded during summer and parking is a bit difficult to find. Other than this drawback it’s a great beach but you need to drive a little over one hour to reach it. We think it’s a nice choice among the beaches near Riverside, CA if you want something different.
Lake Beaches near Riverside, California
Now let’s move on to some beaches that are closer to Riverside. They offer a different experience from the ocean beaches as these ones are on the shores of rivers. This can be a bonus for families as the waves are much calmer on these beaches.
Lake Perris State Recreation Area
Distance: 20 miles
Lake Perris State Recreation Area is a water reservoir with not one but two beaches to choose from. These are simple beaches but they offer a sandy shore and virtually zero waves. Families with children love this place as they feel safer.
It’s a small body of water so during the summer it gets quite warm and comfortable. If you don’t want to drive a lot you can definitely enjoy a beautiful beach day here. The recreation area is separated from the nearby residential areas so we enjoyed the scenery as well.
The downside is that people usually leave this place a bit messy. So please be a good beachgoer and take your trash with you as you leave.
Elm Grove Beach
Distance: 35 miles
Elm Grove Beach is a public outdoor area along the banks of Lake Elsinore. The beach has sand, shaded picnic tables, and BBQ grills, making it a great spot for a summer day out.
It may not be the flashiest beach, but it’s decent enough for a day in the sun. Be sure to get here early on weekends, as it can get busy. It’s also easy to find, with plenty of parking nearby.
Elm Grove Beach is something of a hidden gem. It’s totally family-friendly, with a peaceful vibe that’s perfect for relaxing and unwinding. The water is at a great temperature, making it the perfect spot for a dip.
While it’s not an ocean beach, it’s suitable for swimming and other water activities. Perfect for those days when you want to avoid the long drive.
Waterparks near Riverside, CA
Finally, we’ve got some extra picks for you. These are waterparks. Especially great for families who are looking to do something on a hot summer day.
The Cove Waterpark
Distance: 5 miles
The Cove Waterpark is a nice place that’s centered around families. There are a lot of attractions for kids from smaller slides, to splash pads, and a lazy river.
We love this place as it’s incredibly close to Riverside, CA and it’s good for enjoying a day out with the family.
Adults and bigger kids can enjoy a set of full-sized slides as well. Then there is the competition pool which is your usual pool for swimming.
Fontana Park Aquatic Center
Distance: 23 miles
Fontana Park Aquatic Center is a simple waterpark with some attractions. It’s superb for avoiding crowds as this place is mostly known by locals.
There is a swimming pool, some waterslides, and a pirate ship with splash pads for kids. It’s a simple place that manages to stay under the radar. The admission is only $5 for non-residents so it’s definitely a cheap option to enjoy a day out.
Buccaneer Cove at Castle Park
Distance: In Town
Finally, you’ve got a small waterpark locally. This place is within Riverside and it’s an excellent option if you have little kids.
Buccaneer Cover at Castle Park is essentially a huge splash pad. There is water flowing from different directions and there are even some water slides. There are no pools though so this place is mostly good for children cooling down in the heat.
Adults can sit nearby and enjoy some ice cream if they want to catch a break from the sun. It’s a really good pick for staying in town but it’s not a good pick if the whole family wants to enjoy the water.