Santa Monica Beach

Looking for the closest beach to Tucson? Here are 23 best spots!

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Have you found yourself in Tucson needing to escape the heat, wondering where the heck the nearest beach is? Look no further because this post covers 23 of the closest beaches to Tucson, including oceanside, lakeside, riverside, and more! Let’s check them out below!

In a hurry? Shop our favorite beach essentials here:

  • Sand-Proof Beach Blanket – This large sand-proof blanket is perfect for laying out and keeping the sand off! It’s also ginormous and can fit a large group!
  • Women’s 50 SPF Sun Hat – This hat screams the beach, is 50 SPF-proof, and goes with any outfit! It’s also lightweight and breathable.
  • Teva Women’s Tirra Sandal – I’ve had these sandals for six years – need I say more?! Great for walking in the water to protect you from sharp rocks! They also dry quickly!
  • ECCO Men’s Yucatan Sandals – Dylan also loves these sandals! The velcro is great for taking them on and off. ECCO is a brand we love and trust.

23 Closest Beaches Near Tucson, Arizona: An Overview

Before we dive into more details on all 23 fantastic beach spots that are close to Tucson, AZ let’s go over the different locations we’ll be talking about! We discuss everything from oceans, lakes, rivers, and freshwater sources you can hike to! We cover every direction from Tucson – explore spots in the north, east, south, and west!

Location of all of the closest beaches to Tucson AZ
  • Oceanside Beaches Closest to Tucson
  • Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (Rocky Point)
  • Coronado Beach, CA
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • Venice Beach, CA
  • Santa Monica Beach, CA
  • Lakeside Beaches Closest to Tucson
  • Patagonia Lake State Park, AZ
  • Roper Lake State Park, AZ
  • Saguaro Lake (Sadie’s Lake), AZ
  • Canyon Lake, AZ
  • Lake Pleasant, AZ
  • Roosevelt Lake, AZ
  • Riggs Flat Lake, AZ
  • Cattail Cove State Park, AZ
  • Lake Mohave, AZ & NV
  • Beaches to Hike To Near Tucson
  • Seven Falls, AZ
  • Tanque Verde Falls, AZ
  • Hutches Pool, AZ
  • Riverside Beaches Close to Tucson
  • Pebble Beach Recreation Area, AZ
  • Water Wheel Falls, AZ
  • Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park, AZ
  • Grasshopper Point, AZ
  • Slide Rock State Park, AZ

Closest Beaches To Tucson

Now that you’ve seen a list of all the different beach spots we’ll be going over, we have a chance to dive deeper into what each site offers! Most of these beaches will be in Arizona, but some are also located in Nevada, California, and even Mexico! Each category will list the closest option first, with the farther distance locations listed later in their respective order.

Oceanside Beaches Close to Tucson

Often, when we think of going to the beach, we think of visiting the ocean. And why wouldn’t we? The ocean is a special place and one of the benefits of being in Arizona is that it’s close by. If that’s the type of beach you’re looking for, here are 5 oceanside beach getaways that are close to Tucson, Arizona.

Puerto Peñasco – 3 hours, 45 minutes

The closest oceanside beach to Tucson is Rocky Point, located in the city of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. It takes a little less than four hours to arrive at this dainty resort city that’s seated in the Gulf of California. Perfect for a weekend getaway, Puerto Peñasco has plenty of ideal spots to soak up the sun on its picturesque beaches.

Dylan and I stayed here in Puerto Peñasco in an Airbnb for our third anniversary and had a fantastic time. Staying in a home gave us a local feel, though there are plenty of inexpensive resorts and hotels you can stay at to give you the all-inclusive experience! We recommend visiting Calle 13 for food and Calle 32 for shopping.

Puerto Peñasco is the closest oceanside beach to Tucson, Arizona

Coronado Beach – 6 hours, 11 minutes

If you don’t own a passport or are simply interested in staying in the US, Coronado Beach is the second closest oceanside beach from Tucson. Located just offshore of San Diego, Coronado Beach is a little over a six-hour drive. This urban beach attracts tourists for many reasons, but the soft sand and outdoor recreation activities that are available make the long drive worth it.

It’s consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the US due to its peaceful environment, miles of shoreline, and backdrop of hotels and mansions. There are many great attractions at this beach, including Glorietta Bay and Ferry Landing Marketplace. This beach is pet-friendly, has restroom and shower facilities, and offers free parking off of Ocean Boulevard!

Newport Beach – 7 hours, 20 minutes

Traveling further north up the Californian coast, Newport Beach is a little over a seven-hour drive from Tucson. This quaint harbor city offers plenty of beach activities for you and your loved ones. When you need a break from the beach, head to one of the two piers or the amusement park for some additional fun on your trip.

The Balboa Fun Zone is a vintage and historic amusement park with an infamous Ferris wheel and ocean backdrop. Newport Beach city is best known for its residential neighborhoods, great schools, thriving businesses, and nice shopping centers, so this is a very family friendly beach!

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach – 7 hours, 30 minutes

If you’re looking for a beach ideal for surfing that’s close to Tucson, Huntington Beach is the place for you. Known for its long 10-mile beach, long pier, and perfect temperatures, this coastline is loved by many. Pick up surfing, take a stroll on the pier, or hang out on the beach during your trip.

You might consider going to the International Surfing Museum or exploring some natural wonders in the area. Nearby, you can find Huntington Central Park which features gardens, lakes, open fields, and an equestrian center. You can also check out Bolsa Chica Ecologicals Reserve which is a wetland area that is fantastic for birding!

Venice Beach – 7 hours, 45 minutes

If you’re in Tucson looking for a nearby beach on the ocean, I’m sure Venice Beach has come up at some point or another. Featuring California’s beautiful sandy beaches, Venice Beach is the spot for all the free spirits. This beach features a skatepark, outdoor gym, shops along the boardwalk, and colorful murals along the walkway.

When I visited Los Angeles in 2017, I was so surprised by how far back the beach stretched away from the ocean! The sunsets on Venice Beach are magical, the sand is extremely soft, and you’re in a prime location to many great restaurants and shopping areas. All you need is a blanket and yummy drink in hand and you’re set!

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica State Beach – 8 hours

Taking a trip to Los Angeles but hoping to escape the city? Check out Santa Monica State Beach! It’s about an eight-hour drive from Tucson and has activities for everyone, including a walking path, a pier, local shops, picnic tables, and public basketball and volleyball courts along the two-mile beach.

I loved experiencing the Santa Monica pier when I visited LA, and truthfully, it might’ve been my favorite part of the trip! There was a band playing fantastic songs, many different food vendors to pick from, the Ferris wheel as a uniquely Californian backdrop, and the best dine-in restaurant. Walking the beach after was the cherry on top!

One of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders Like You’ve Never Experienced It Before

Lakeside Beaches Close to Tucson

Sometimes, a day trip to the beach is exactly what the doctor ordered. The best part about taking a trip to the lake from Tucson is that you don’t have to drive far distances to get that much-needed beach experience. Here are nine lakeside beaches that are close to Tucson, Arizona.

Patagonia Lake State Park – 1 hour, 20 minutes

The closest lakeside beach to Tucson is Patagonia Lake State Park. It takes a little under an hour and a half to drive to this state park located near Patagonia, Arizona. Patagonia Lake has plenty to offer: a beach, picnic sites, boat rentals, hiking trails, and great fishing spots.

Dylan and I went to Patagonia Lake State Park on the weekend of the Fourth of July for the first time, and we’ll be sure to go back! The lake is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, and there are plenty of access points to the water. We even managed to see a coatimundi while we were there (spoiler alert to our YouTube video), and we loved exploring the town afterward!

Check out our YouTube video on Patagonia Lake, here!

Roper Lake State Park – 2 hours

The second closest lakeside beach to Tucson is Roper Lake State Park near Safford, Arizona. This state park is amazing because not only does it have a beach for swimming, a boat ramp, campsites, and picnic areas, but it also has a hot spring! You’ll get plenty of time to relax on a beach or near the water at Roper Lake.

This is a great place to take your family, as it offers RV sites with hookups or cabins for your choosing. If you enjoy outdoor adventures, there are plenty of fantastic hiking trails within the park and in the area! This is such a naturally beautiful state park because while you’re in a desert landscape, you can still expect to see both mountainous and lake views.

Saguaro Lake is one of the closest beaches to Tucson AZ

Saguaro Lake (Sadies Beach) – 2 hours, 15 minutes

Just over two hours away from Tucson, Sadie’s Beach on Saguaro Lake offers a waterfront with fantastic mountain views. This waterfront may be categorized more as a rocky beach than a sandy one, but it’s great for the views and cooling off after a long day in the sun. This excellent swimming spot can get crowded quickly, so that’s also something to keep in mind before you go!

The water does get deep at 15 feet, so make sure to keep an eye on your kiddos if you bring them along! This urban beach near Mesa is a great place to go in the summer if you’re near the Phoenix Valley. The beach is located near Saguaro Lake and the Salt River so the water can sometimes be murky, but it is nonetheless safe for swimming.

Canyon Lake – 2 hours, 30 minutes

Canyon Lake is great for all sorts of outdoor activities, such as boating, water and jet skiing, fishing, hiking, and of course… swimming! This lake is great for everyone since there are a ton of outdoor activities readily accessible, but relaxing on the public beach is always an option, too. This lake is surrounded by a canyon and is located fairly close to the old Western town of Tortilla Flat.

If you’re planning on checking out Canyon Lake, you’re in for one of the most scenic drives in all of Arizona, in my opinion. You’ll wind through breathtaking canyons, pass historic towns, and get scenic views of natural water sources along the way. We’d recommend stopping in Tortilla Flats for some delicious food before you go!

Lake Pleasant – 2 hours, 30 minutes

Drive two and a half hours from Tucson to Peoria to experience the massive outdoor recreation area of Lake Pleasant. One fantastic thing about this lake is that in addition to the outdoor recreation activities, there are also primitive campsites along the shore! Make sure you check online for the water level status as it changes throughout the year.

This is a fantastic lake to drive to if you live within the northwest Phoenix area due to its proximity and large popularity. The bright crystal blue waters next to the desert floors and bright green flora make this a magical place to visit. There are also over 250 full-service campsites, making it a great place to spend a weekend!

Campsite at Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake – 2 hours, 45 minutes

The drive from Tucson to Roosevelt Lake is full of scenic views, and those breathtaking views don’t stop when you arrive at the lake. Serving as the largest lake in Arizona, Roosevelt Lake is famous for its largemouth bass fishing, motorized boating, and miles of beach area that can be used for both swimming and camping.

When I worked with Arizona Conservation Corps, I did many projects near Roosevelt Lake, and have to say that it was one of my favorite places I’ve ever camped, especially in the springtime. The restroom and bathroom facilities are great, each campsite has a magnificent view of the lake, and there is plenty of exploring to do. If you haven’t been, I’d say it’s worth a weekend trip!

Riggs Flat Lake – 3 hours, 30 minutes

Looking for a cozy, quiet, and relaxing beach on a lake? Check out Riggs Flat Lake! Escape the desert and head to this 11-acre reservoir that’s surrounded by dense pine forests and dreamy meadows. Despite being a smaller lake, it’s located on Swift Trail, giving you plenty of opportunities to hike!

This lake is located at the top of the Pinaleño Mountains, about a 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Tucson. You can fish, boat, or take in the beauty of this quaint water reservoir! You also have the opportunity to camp via tent or RV!

Skiing at Lake Havasu

Cattail Cove State Park – 4 hours, 45 minutes

Of course, I had to mention Lake Havasu as one of the closest beaches to Tucson! Cattail Cove State Park has got it all… sandy beaches, deep blue waters, and plenty of water activities. Check out this massive lake during your trip northwest from Tucson!

Cattail Cove is a great lake to visit if you want more of a luxurious feel that gives off ocean vibes. The white, soft sandy beaches lined with palm trees and cabanas are truly a delight to experience. The mountainous backdrop sets the tone for a relaxing lakeside vacation.

Lake Mohave – 5 hours, 50 minutes

Lake Mohave is the farthest lakeside beach on this list but is still less than a six-hour drive from Tucson. Bordering between Nevada and Arizona, this scenic reservoir offers activities for all – swimming, fishing, skiing, boating, and even scuba diving! The National Recreation Center is a great desert beach that allows visitors to swim at their convenience.

The turquoise, deep blue waters are a sight to behold at Lake Mohave. The water is surrounded by dramatic tall mountainous canyons that make you feel small yet significant. There is truly nothing like spending a day on a kayak on Lake Mohave!

Beaches to Hike To (Close to Tucson)

Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to hike to a destination! Oftentimes there’s nothing better than ending a long hike at a place where you can sit down, relax, and dip your (sore) feet in the water. For all of you who want to stay in Tucson, work up a sweat, and still get access to a beach, these “hike-to” beaches are for you!

Seven Falls – 2 hours (by foot)

Seven Falls Hike

A four-mile hike with breathtaking views and seven waterfalls at the end? Count me in! Take the Bear Canyon trail in Sabino Canyon to reach the falls for a beautiful place to cool off after a long hike.

Dylan, my mom and I did this hike back in October of 2022 and have to say that the views make the challenging route 100% worth it. You start off walking on pavement, though you’ll quickly be immersed in a canyon with breathtaking views of Saguaros and river floors. This is an extremely popular hike, so make sure you go early to beat the crowd!

Tanque Verde Falls – 2 hours (by foot)

This short-distance, but challenging hike to Tanque Verde Falls will not leave you disappointed. The trail leads you through the saguaro-filled desert to a breathtaking series of waterfalls with a rocky beach at the end. The highest waterfall extends as high as 80 feet, but you’ll pass smaller falls along the way.

Whenever I ask for recommendations in Tucson for a hike that leads to a waterfall, people are always pointing me to Tanque Verde Falls. I will say that they often mention that it’s more like walking on rocks near a riverbed than it is a trail, so you’ll want to make sure that you have proper footwear for this hike! Preferably something that is waterproof and comes with ankle support.

Hutches Pool, Sabino Canyon Arizona

Hutches Pool – 3 hours, 10 minutes (by foot)

Hutches Pool, also known as “nature’s swimming pool,” is one of the most slept-on beaches to hike to in Tucson, in my opinion! Walk through the desert terrain to reach a breathtaking natural body of water along the sandy shores of the Lemmon Creek River. There are dispersed campsites at the bottom that make for an extremely fun backpacking trip!

Truth be told, Hutches Pool was my and Dylan’s first backpacking trip and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. We hiked in from Sabino Canyon and made the eight-mile hike out, though you can cut the mileage in half by taking the tram to the end of the paved road. We found a spot near the water and had the whole place to ourselves!

UP NEXT > 5 Best Trailheads for Day Hikes in Tucson, Arizona

Riverside Beaches Close to Tucson

Now that we’ve covered beaches on the ocean, lakes, and ones you can hike to, let’s focus on the most common water source in Arizona: rivers! Although these may not be considered your typical “beaches,” these riverside swimming areas are perfect for cooling off from Arizona’s heat.

Pebble Beach Recreation Area – 2 hours, 10 minutes

Only 20 miles northeast of Mesa, Pebble Beach Recreation Area is just a little over a two-hour drive from Tucson. This sandy recreation area is great for anyone who wants to enjoy the Salt River where no motorized boats are present. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some wild horses cooling off in the river!

You can find Pebble Beach off of Bush Highway, just 20 miles northeast of Mesa. Many people enjoy going for birding and kayaking, as the Salt River makes for a peaceful outdoor adventure. This is a great place for a day trip from the Phoenix area!

Water Wheel Well, Payson

Water Wheel Falls – 3 hours, 15 minutes

Water Wheel Falls in Payson, Arizona is a hidden gem that not many people know about! Located in between the first and second water stops, Water Wheel Falls offers a handful of swimming spots along the riverside. Take the 1.5-mile trail to the left of the parking lot and you’ll find yourself in a breathtaking canyon with water so deep you can cliff jump!

For one of my trips with the Arizona Conservation Corps, we were backcountry camping only a few miles away from here. We explored the area after work one day and had so much fun we almost stayed until dark! The cliff jumping was phenomenal and you can swim between two large canyons up to a beautiful waterfall.

Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park – 3 hours, 30 minutes

Located in Yuma, Arizona, Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park is a fantastic recreation area with great amenities and a sandy beach next to the Colorado River. Take a family road trip to entertain everybody with the nearby hiking trails, picnic areas, a disc golf course, and a playground for the kiddos. Plus, it’s only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Tucson!

This is a gem of a spot for people living close to Yuma, and the lower beach has been restored with native trees and grasses. It also is home to the Stewart Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground which is cherished in the community. This is a great place to bring your family for a day in the sun!

Oak Creek Canyon

Grasshopper Point – 3 hours, 45 minutes

Looking for a beautiful and fun swimming spot near Sedona, Arizona? Look no further than Grasshopper Point – a great swimming and cliff-jumping spot nestled at the bottom of Oak Creek Canyon. Dry off at a nearby picnic table to watch other cliff jumpers while you enjoy your lunch!

The water next to the beautiful red rock makes the landscape pop. It’s only two miles north of Sedona, making it an extremely accessible place to visit in the area. It’s open year round but the hours differ depending on the day of the week, so make sure to check their hours online before you go!

Slide Rock State Park – 3 hours, 45 minutes

Also near Sedona, Slide Rock State Park ranks as one of the state’s most popular recreation spots, and for good reason! This State Park was named after its natural waterslide down Oak Creek. Enjoy your day picnicking, hiking, birding, or of course – swimming!

You’d never know, but Slide Rock State Park was originally a homestead apple farm! The park is full of natural history and the views are to die for. This spot has been on my bucket list for over a year now, and you bet I’ll be making a trip this summer when Tucson’s heat becomes unbearable!

Where To Stay in Tucson

Now that we’ve covered the closest beaches near Tucson, let’s go over some places that you can stay during your visit! Tucson has many great resorts, hotels, and VRBO options that are all decently priced. Let’s go over them now!


Let’s start with the most luxurious option – resorts! These are great for families, and often come with many amenities including pools! If you choose to go this route, you can utilize the pools and hot tubs when you aren’t driving to a freshwater source!

($) Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

Hacienda Del Sol is a fantastic resort that provides a luxurious feel in combination with the southwestern vibe. The property has spectacular mountain views, an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, two onsite restaurants, and more! It’s also the cheapest option out of all three, which is another great selling point!

Loews Ventana Canyon is a great place to stay in Tucson

($$) Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is another great option for a quiet and peaceful Tucson getaway. The resort has a golf course, tennis and pickleball court, spa, fitness center, three dining options, and more. This is a great place to stay on a business trip!

($$$) The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa

The Westin La Paloma resort is definitely on the fancier side, and you’ll see what I mean if you look up their pictures online! There are five outdoor pools with cabanas, a golf course, a spa and salon, and a Latin restaurant on site. It’s also in a prime location near Sabino Canyon and many museums in the area!

OUR PICK: Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort for their varying accommodation options!


If you’re looking for something a little more lowkey, there are plenty of hotels in Tucson to choose from. These three are the ones that people often recommend staying online. If you don’t plan on spending a ton of time in your room, consider staying at one of these hotels!

($) The Downtown Clifton

The Downtown Clifton is a quaint little boutique in the heart of the Sonoran desert. This adorable vintage hotel is close to downtown (surprise, surprise) and offers 22 unique and vintage rooms for visitors to choose from. They also have the Red Light Lounge which features local brews, wines, and food.

($$) Graduate Tucson

Graduate Tucson is a great hotel option that offers awesome amenities including bike rentals from the front desk, a rooftop pool, a fitness center, and more! It’s also pet friendly and is in the heart of downtown, offering a perfect opportunity to explore the city. There is also a restaurant and coffee shop located in the hotel!

The Arizona Inn

($$$) Arizona Inn

The Arizona Inn is a dainty and historic boutique hotel that is family-owned and operated in the Midtown neighborhood. It offers casita-style rooms, dining options near the pool, award-winning restaurants and bars, and gardens on the property! This hotel gives resort amenities in a boutique hotel!

OUR PICK: Graduate Tucson for its fantastic amenities!


If you’re traveling with your family, are looking to save money, or want more of a homey feel to your vacation, consider staying in a VRBO! There are plenty of great VRBO options in Tucson that can provide you with a rich and unique experience. These VRBOs are all great for couples and are around the same price range, though they vary slightly!

($) Casita in Catalina Foothills

This Casita is in a prime location for any outdoor recreation activities in Sabino Canyon or Mount Lemmon! This is perfect for couples, as it sleeps two with one bathroom. It also comes with a pool and outdoor patio which is ideal for relaxing!

($$) Historic 4th Ave Sunshine Suite

This VRBO is a great option if you’re looking to stay within walking distance of downtown! Like the casita, this is a great accommodation for couples as it sleeps two and comes with one bathroom. It does have an outdoor seating area which is nice for unwinding at night!

Rent out an airstream during your stay in Tucson AZ

($$$) Airstream in Desert Oasis

If you’re looking for a simple, charming, and unique stay with your partner, consider staying in this airstream! It comes with access to a pool, hot tub, and firepit at the base of Mount Lemmon. The Airstream sleeps two adults and calls for a romantic getaway.

OUR PICK: Casita in Catalina Foothills for its location and amenities!


Before you arrive in Tucson, you’ll of course need to think about transportation! Here are the transportation options that we recommend, including flights and car rentals.

Plane ride near Tucson


We prefer booking with Expedia since they always provide information on all available flights. This ensures you can choose the flight that fits your needs best, whether that be a certain time of day, something within your price range, or with your preferred airline. You can also earn points each time you book!

Car Rentals

If you’re flying in and need a car, consider renting through Kayak. They have many different car rentals available for you to choose from, and they often find you the best prices by scanning third-party websites!

Book your flight and car rental through Expedia and here!

I love this picture I took overlooking Tucson from Painted Hills

FAQs: Closest Beach to Tucson

Fantastic! Hopefully, now you have some information on which beach you want to check out, where you’ll want to stay in Tucson and how to book your mode of transportation. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions surrounding the closest and best beaches to Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.

1. How far is Tucson from the beach?

Depending on what type of beach you’re looking for, the closest beach can range anywhere from one to four hours. The closest oceanside beach is Rocky Point, about four hours away, and the closest lakeside beach is at Patagonia Lake State Park, about an hour and a half away. If you don’t want to drive that far, there are plenty of riverside beaches near Tucson or hiking trails that will take you to small beaches with pools of water.

2. What is the best beach closest to Phoenix?

Some of the best lakeside beaches that are close to Phoenix are Cattail Cove State Park, River Island State Park, and Tempe Beach Park. The best oceanside beaches close to Phoenix are Rocky Point, Huntington, and Newport Beach. There are plenty of great beaches near Pheonix depending on the kind of beach you’re looking for.

3. Is there a shuttle from Tucson to Puerto Peñasco?

Nenas Shuttles offers a direct shuttle from Tucson to Rocky Point Beach, costing $80 per person. It takes around 4 and a half hours to arrive. Some shuttles operate every day of the week, leaving from the pickup point at 3 p.m.

4. What is the closest beach to Phoenix?

The closest beach on the ocean to Phoenix is Rocky Point in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. A close lakeside beach to Pheonix is Tempe Beach Park. If you’re looking for a beach near a river, check out spots along the Salt River at Pebble Beach Recreation Area.

Christopher Colombus Park

Wrapping Up: Closest Beach(es) to Tucson, Arizona

Whether you’re looking for an oceanside view, a waterfront with outdoor activities, or a destination on your hiking trip, here are 23 beach options close to Tucson, Arizona. I know how hot it can get in the summertime in Tucson, and if you don’t have a nearby pool to jump in, these spots can serve as a saving grace! Pack up your car for the weekend and choose one of these destinations to get all your beach needs met.

Don’t forget to buy your sunhat, beach blanket, and sunscreen before you go! I hope this post has offered you some insight into all the different options that Arizona and the surrounding states have to offer! Enjoy the water!