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Your Guide to Los Angeles’ Beaches

Venice Beach Lifeguard Station, Los Angeles, California
Venice Beach Lifeguard Station

Welcome to Southern California, known for its picturesque coastline which offers some of the most beautiful and diverse coastlines in the world. From serene stretches of sand to vibrant beach communities, there’s no shortage of the best beaches in Los Angeles for everyone to enjoy. In this guide, we’ll explore Los Angeles’ beaches, highlighting their unique characteristics and why they deserve a spot on your must-visit list.

Los Angeles Beaches for Families

Santa Monica Beach

People relaxing on the Santa Monica Beach, California
Santa Monica Beach, California

Santa Monica Beach is perhaps one of the most famous and beloved beaches in Los Angeles. Its iconic Santa Monica Pier, with its Ferris wheel and amusements, is a major draw for families. The expansive sandy shore is perfect for sunbathing, beach volleyball, and building sandcastles. The bustling Third Street Promenade, just a stone’s throw away, offers shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It’s the quintessential Southern California beach experience.

Cabrillo Beach

Cabrillo Beach, located in San Pedro, is a family-friendly beach with calm waters and a gentle slope, making it ideal for swimming and playing in the surf. The adjacent Cabrillo Marine Aquarium provides an educational experience for kids, with interactive exhibits on marine life and the local coastal ecosystem. There are also picnic areas, tide pools, and opportunities for birdwatching, making it a great destination for families seeking both fun and learning.

Los Angeles Beaches for People-Watching

Venice Beach

Venice Beach, California
Venice Beach, California

Venice Beach, with its vibrant boardwalk and eclectic atmosphere, is a haven for people-watching. You’ll encounter street performers, artists, and vendors selling unique wares along the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk. The Muscle Beach Gym is a historic landmark where fitness enthusiasts can work out while watching the action around them. The beach itself boasts a wide sandy expanse and the iconic Venice Skate Park. It’s a great spot to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the colorful characters that call Venice Beach home.

Los Angeles Beaches best for Scenic Views

Malibu Beaches

Sunset on Malibu Beach, California
Malibu Beach, California

Malibu, known for its stunning coastline, offers a collection of beautiful beaches that are ideal for those seeking scenic beauty and tranquility. Zuma Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, with its long sandy shore and excellent swimming conditions. El Matador Beach, hidden beneath dramatic cliffs and accessible via a picturesque staircase, is perfect for exploring sea caves and enjoying breathtaking sunsets. Surfrider Beach, adjacent to the Malibu Pier, is a renowned surfing spot that also welcomes swimmers and sunbathers.


Best Beaches in Los Angeles for Water Sports

Huntington State Beach

People relaxing on the Huntington State Beach, California
Huntington State Beach, California

Huntington State Beach, often referred to as “Surf City, USA,” is a haven for surfers of all levels. With consistent waves and a lively surf culture, it’s a prime destination for those looking to catch some waves. The beach offers designated surfing areas, and there are numerous surf schools and rental shops where beginners can learn the ropes. Even if you’re not a surfer, the wide sandy shores are perfect for sunbathing and beach games, making it a great place for everyone to enjoy.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach is also a hub for water sports and outdoor activities. Despite its wide sandy shore which is perfect for sunbathing, beach volleyball, and building sandcastle… The beach also thriving water sports scene with options for surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. The town’s charming shops and restaurants, just steps from the sand, continue to add to the overall appeal.

Best Beaches in Los Angeles for Bonfires

Beach Bonfire
Beach Bonfire

Dockweiler State Beach

If you’re looking for a unique LA beach experience, Dockweiler State Beach is the place to go. This beach is known for its fire pits, making it a popular spot for evening bonfires and cookouts. Bring some marshmallows and hot dogs, gather around the fire, and enjoy the quintessential beach bonfire experience with friends and family. During the day, you can also indulge in sunbathing, beachcombing, and kite flying. It’s a relaxed and family-friendly beach with a distinct atmosphere.

Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in LA

Dog sitting on the beach next to the ocean
Dog on the beach

Leo Carrillo State Beach

For dog owners, Leo Carrillo State Beach is a paradise. This pet-friendly beach allows dogs to roam off-leash in certain areas, making it a favorite among local dog lovers. The beach itself is known for its stunning tide pools and sea caves, perfect for exploration. The backdrop of rugged cliffs and the Santa Monica Mountains adds to the scenic beauty. It’s an excellent choice for a day of adventure with your furry companion.

Best Beach for Beach Volleyball

People playing Volleyball on the beach, Los Angeles, California
Beach Volleyball

Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach is renowned for its beach volleyball culture. The wide, flat shoreline is dotted with volleyball courts, attracting both amateur and professional players from around the world. You can join a game or simply watch the action unfold. Hermosa Beach also has a lively pier area with restaurants, bars, and shops, making it an ideal place to relax after a day of beach volleyball or sunbathing. In the evenings, the pier area comes alive with bars, restaurants, and live music venues. It’s an excellent place to socialize, enjoy great food and drinks, and experience the energetic beach town vibe.

Best LA Beaches for Tide Pools

Tide Pool Beach, Los Angeles, California
Tide Pool Beach, Los Angeles, California

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park

Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a hidden gem known for its rich tide pools and marine life. It’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts and families looking to explore the fascinating underwater world. As you meander through the tide pools, you’ll encounter sea stars, hermit crabs, anemones, and other marine creatures. The park also offers scenic hiking trails and picnic areas with stunning ocean views, making it a complete coastal adventure. Note that access to the beach is through a trail down to the cove. Be sure to bring everything with you so you’re not hiking up and down the trail all day!

Best Beaches in Los Angeles for Relaxation and Seclusion

People relaxing on the beach, Los Angeles, California
People Relaxing on the Beach

Paradise Cove Beach

Another secluded spot, Paradise Cove Beach, is nestled within the exclusive Malibu community. It lives up to its name with its tranquil and picturesque setting. Access to the beach is granted via a fee, but it’s well worth it for the serene ambiance and pristine shoreline. Rent a beach chair, umbrella, and enjoy waiter service right on the sand. The beach cafe offers delicious food and drinks, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing day by the sea.

Best Beaches in Los Angeles for Nature Lovers

Point Dume State Beach, Malibu, California
Point Dume State Beach, Malibu, California

Point Dume State Beach

Point Dume State Beach, located in Malibu, is a hidden gem favored by nature lovers. It’s renowned for its stunning cliffs, coastal bluffs, and diverse marine life. The beach’s towering rock formation, Point Dume, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and is a prime spot for whale-watching during migration seasons. Exploring the tide pools at Point Dume can be a fascinating experience, as you may encounter starfish, sea urchins, and crabs. For hikers, there’s a trail that leads to the top of the bluff, providing even more incredible vistas. This is also one of the few areas where you can also rock climb with the Pacific Ocean behind you. 

Will Rogers State Beach

Best Beach for Sunset Views

Will Rogers State Beach, located in Pacific Palisades, is known for its breathtaking sunset views over the Santa Monica Mountains. The beach’s wide sandy expanse is perfect for sunbathing and picnicking while taking in the stunning scenery. The beach is also equipped with facilities for windsurfing and paddle boarding, making it an excellent choice for water sports enthusiasts. As the sun sets over the horizon, the beach takes on a magical quality, making it a romantic spot for couples and a tranquil place for reflection.

Best Beach for Celebrity Sightings

Carbon Beach (Billionaires’ Beach)

Carbon Beach, often referred to as “Billionaires’ Beach,” is a pristine strip of sand located in Malibu. Known for its luxurious beachfront homes, it’s not uncommon to spot celebrities relaxing on the sand or enjoying the views from their multimillion-dollar residences. While the public access points are limited, Carbon Beach offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the rich and famous. Even if you don’t rub shoulders with celebrities, the beach itself is worth a visit for its stunning beauty and calm waters.

Best Beach for Camping

Two Tents on the Beach, Los Angeles, California
Tents on the Beach, Los Angeles, California

Nicholas Canyon Beach

Nicholas Canyon Beach, also known as “Nick’s Beach,” is a unique beach offering camping facilities right on the sand. The beach is known for its camping area, which accommodates both tent and RV campers. Falling asleep to the sound of ocean waves and waking up to a breathtaking sunrise is an experience like no other. It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the coastal environment and enjoy a beachfront getaway without leaving the city.

Best Beaches for Waterfront Dining

Waterfront Cafe
Waterfront Cafe

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach is located in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. It is a charming coastal community known for its waterfront dining options. The Redondo Beach Pier is lined with restaurants and cafes offering fresh seafood, ocean views, and a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a seafood feast while watching the boats come and go in the harbor. After your meal, take a stroll along the pier, explore the shops, or simply relax on the sandy shores of the adjacent beach.

Best Beach for a Day Trip

Sunset on the beach, Los Angeles, California
Beach Sunset

Crystal Cove State Park

While Crystal Cove State Park is slightly outside Los Angeles County, it’s worth the short drive for a day trip to this pristine coastal paradise. Located in Newport Beach, this state park features a series of picturesque coves and pristine beaches nestled between rugged cliffs and scenic bluffs. The park offers hiking trails, tide pools, and a historic district with vintage beach cottages. Spend a day exploring the natural beauty of the park, go tide pooling, or simply relax on the sandy shores of this hidden gem.

Too Many Options and Can’t Decide?

Kid standing next to the Rocks and Kayaks on the beach, California
Rocks and Kayaks on the Beach

The Best Beach for a Classic California Experience

If you’ve only got a limited time to explore one beach during your stay in Los Angeles… We recommend either Manhattan Beach or Santa Monica Beach. Both beaches offer the quintessential Californian beach experience. It’s a place where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the pier, watch surfers ride the waves, and indulge in beachside dining. Their sandy shores are ideal for sunbathing and beach activities. Furthermore, shops and restaurants are only steps away and offer everything you need for a memorable day by the ocean.

The biggest difference between the two? Santa Monica is very well-known and often a tourist hotspot. However, you’ve got access to some of the hottest attractions in LA: 3rd Street Promenade, Ocean Drive, Pacific Park, and Santa Monica Pier. Easy to hit all those spots in one afternoon in Santa Monica. Despite the fact that Manhattan beach doesn’t have an amusement park on its pier, it provides a very relaxed atmosphere for all ages while still providing excellent amenities of shopping, dining, and beachfront and watersport activities. 

Ready to Explore the Best Beaches in Los Angeles?

Pacific Palisades Beach, California
Pacific Palisades Beach, California

From the iconic Santa Monica Beach to the tranquil Paradise Cove and the nature-rich Point Dume, Los Angeles offers a diverse range of beach experiences for every beachgoer. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly shores, water sports adventures, scenic beauty, or celebrity sightings, LA’s best beaches have it all.

So, pack your beach essentials, soak up the sun, and immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of Los Angeles’ stunning coastline. Whether you’re a local seeking a weekend escape or a traveler in search of sun and surf, the best beaches in Los Angeles promise unforgettable moments and endless possibilities for relaxation and enjoyment. We’ll bring you to the best beaches that southern California has to offer on your Private Tour of Los Angeles.

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