SAN DIEGO - An estimated half a million people flocked to San Diego beaches Thursday for the Fourth of July holiday.
People who soaked up the sun told 10News they earned a spot on the sand the hard way because of the long traffic lines.
"I ended up parking down at [Pacific Beach], so I walked from PB back down here to MIssion beach," said Billy Haskett of San Carlos.
Shortly after 11 a.m., San Diego police told 10News that city beach parking lots were full and visitors in the area should expect heavy traffic throughout the day.
"It's crazy," said Leslie Pritchard from Winnipeg, Canada. "We drove around for an hour to find parking and we actually had to leave one of our people and she went and parked and she hasn't made it back.
Police issued a Sig Alert for all city beach parking lots and the congestion was expected to last until 11 p.m.
Those who made it to the sand got their price -- a perfect day at the beach.
"It's honestly more than I expected," said Samir Gharib, from Phoenix. "It's a lot of people, everyone's having fun."
Because of the crowds, the CHP issued several alerts near beaches and in Del Mar by the San Diego County Fair.
In addition, authorities issued an alert for westbound Interstate 8 at Interstate 5 and another for offramps along northbound Interstate 5 at SeaWorld Drive/Mission Bay. An alert was also issued for beach-bound traffic on westbound Interstate 8 east of Sports Arena Boulevard.
An alert was also in effect on the Coronado Bridge just east of the bridge's midspan heading into Coronado as crowds continue to filter out of the peninsula following a holiday parade.
San Diego lifeguards said an estimated 516,000 people flocked to the coast from Ocean Beach up to Blacks Beach.