I want to know which one is the closest beach and if there is one that has easy to get to transportation from the Gaslamp Quarter. I will have a vehicle but would rather walk to a bus/trolley/ferry and pay for those fees rather than pay for parking. Any information would help.
You have two choices for nearby beaches. First there is Shelter Island, which you can drive to (parking is free). There’s a sidewalk that runs along the length and park benches for a picnic lunch and a small beach area.
Second, is Coronado. You can take the ferry across to the island, but the beach is a bit of a hike from the ferry landing. If you drive across the Coronado bridge, you can park down the street from the beach and walk to it. It’s easier and it also means you’ll have the car with you afterward so you can explore the island a bit if you like. There are a couple of nice beaches on Coronado, but my favorites are the one right behind the Hotel Del Coronado (big and clean) and the one right right next to the bridge itself, you can see it when you come across.