Best Beaches in Los Angeles

Nature's Biggest Blockbuster Attraction: Sunny Year-Round Temperatures and Entertaining Boardwalks Make L.A.'s Beautiful Beaches a Must-See

If your perfect vacation day includes soaking up the sun, playing in the sand, or swimming in the ocean, then our Los Angeles guide is just what you need. Travel to the South Bay for beautiful beaches like Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo. Perfect for families and loaded with fun restaurants and shops, the South Bay teems with young, working professionals looking to relax on the weekends. Still one of the most famous beaches in the world, Santa Monica State Beach tops the charts in entertainment and activity options. Rent a bicycle or pair of roller skates and meander up and down the paved path which connects Santa Monica to Venice Beach. In the mood to people-watch? Venice Beach abounds with unique characters like body builders, street performers, and skater types. Want to get away with your honey for some intimate time? Check out El Matador Beach, a favorite with couples, nestled in gorgeous rock formations. Feel like swimming with dolphins? Point Dume State Beach has the most dolphin sightings out of any beach in Los Angeles. Itching to get your surf on? Hailed as the first ever World Surfing Reserve by the non-profit Save the Waves Coalition, Malibu's Surfrider Beach boasts amazing surf breaks along with culture. Zuma Beach personifies the ideal West Coast beach, with its long expanse of sand, plenty of space, and highly praised surf conditions. Nature lovers swoon for Leo Carillo State Beach, packed to the brim with hike trails and amazing coastal caves. Turn off the laptop, pack your beach attire, and get ready for a relaxing day of taking in rays.


One of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles, Zuma Beach personifies the ideal West Coast beach, with its long expanse of sand, plenty of space, and highly praised surf conditions. Kids and adults can play volleyball, use the clean public restroom facilities, and go boogie boarding. Zuma boasts the cleanest (also the coldest!) ocean water in Los Angeles. Visitors swimming in the water are delighted to possibly share the ocean with friendly dolphins and other marine animals. Indulge in nachos, hot dogs, and soda at the basic snack bar. Get here early to score a free parking spot along the Pacific Coast Highway or pay to park in the adjoining lot.

Local Expert tip: Cleanest beach water in L.A.!

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A starring location in popular films like Inception, Point Break, and Gidget, Leo Carillo State Beach deserves its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Named after radio and TV performer, Leo Carillo, this 1.5 mile stretch of sand is a hot spot for observing marine life, beachcombing, and soaking up the sun. Natural points of interest include tidepools, easy to advanced hike trails, and gorgeous coastal caves. In town for Earth Day in April? Pack your sunscreen and beach chairs to attend Whale Fest, a fun day of whale appreciation and environmental awareness. Who knows? You might even spot whales during their annual migration!

Local Expert tip: Check out Earth Day Whale Fest every April!

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Hailed as the first ever World Surfing Reserve by the non-profit Save the Waves Coalition, Surfrider Beach boasts amazing surf breaks along with culture. Formerly known as Malibu Lagoon State Beach, the impressive swells created by Malibu Point beckon to wave-riders of all ages and experience. Pack a picnic and saunter along historic Malibu Pier for hours of bird watching and saltwater fishing. History buffs love the Adamson house, a national historic site, featuring ancient Malibu artifacts. Check in to the Malibu Lagoon Museum to learn about the history of the region, highlighting stories from California Indian Chumash tribe, local ranchers, and native surfers.

Local Expert tip: First-ever World Surfing Reserve!

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Feel like swimming with dolphins? Point Dume State Beach has the most dolphin sightings out of any beach in Los Angeles. From January through March, be on the lookout for whales. Relaxing and boardwalk-free, Point Dume offers visitors the experience of a private beach minus the hefty beach house mortgage. Kids love checking out the multiple tidepools at lowtide and hikers enjoy the 4-mile roundtrip well-maintained sandy trail. Take in stunning views of the Channel Islands at the peak of the easy-moderate hike. Check out the restaurant at Paradise Cove, located by Barbra Streisand's home, for a post-hike lunch or dinner to refuel.

Local Expert tip: Dine at Paradise Cove Restaurant.

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Redondo Beach

Perfect for families, Redondo Beach Pier is home to Georgette, a 16.5 feet great white shark on display at Shark Attack. Step inside the semi-submersible yellow submarine, featuring large glass windows, to view local underwater sealife. If you're in town for Independence Day, Redondo Beach Pier is the perfect spot to catch an exciting fireworks show. Take a spin on the tilt-a-whirl ride or try your luck at one of the many arcades. Take part in the Annual Festival of the Kite, every year in mid-March, and watch the afternoon Pier sky fill with bobbing swatches of color. Summertime heralds free concerts on the Pier every Thursday and Satruday nights from 6-8pm from July through September.

Local Expert tip: Free summer concerts from July through September!

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Hermosa Beach

Dubbed “Outstanding Coastal Town” by Los Angeles Magazine, Hermosa Beach lives up to its hype. Restaurants and upscale shops delight families and tourists. An expansive, pristine shoreline makes Hermosa one of the region's most spectacular beaches. The one-and-a-half-mile stretch of sparkling sand is often lined with sunbathers and children building sand castles, but Hermosa is also a popular spot for surfing enthusiasts, boogie boarders, volleyball players and swimmers. A paved path known as "The Strand" runs parallel to the beach and is the perfect place for a scenic run, walk or bike. Stop by the Hermosa Beach Historical Society to learn about the past and current preservation of the beach.

Local Expert tip: Walk along "The Strand" for unique boardwalk delights!

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Perhaps one of the most romantic spots in the city, El Matador Beach is located about 10 miles northwest of Malibu. Although a rugged path leads to the shore, once there you'll find beautiful rock formations, hidden caves, robust waves and some of the clearest water on the coast. The secluded beach also features plenty of peaceful coves, making it a great spot for couples to enjoy a quiet sunset picnic. Solitary and away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, visitors can relax along one of the most spectacular shorelines of Los Angeles. A popular spot for photo shoots, El Matador Beach attracts an eclectic crowd from models and surfers to tourists and locals.

Recommended for Beaches because: El Matador Beach is a rugged piece of Malibu coastline with rocks jutting up from the sand and ocean.

Jenny's expert tip: El Matador Beach is a rugged piece of Malibu coastline with rocks jutting up from the sand and ocean.

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Venice Beach
Photo courtesy of California Visitor's Bureau

Venice Beach isn't quite sure what it is, but it sure is interesting. The boardwalk stretches from Venice Boulevard north to Navy Street, with Muscle Beach, the basketball courts and skate park to the south and many of the head shops, surfboard rental places, boutiques and restaurants scattered along the way. You'll see guys juggling running chainsaws, people gathered in drum circles, even Hari Krishna followers parading with elephants now and then. It's a sea of people on the weekends, so be prepared for a crowd; wander off the beach toward Abbot Kinney Boulevard where chic art galleries, shops and top-notch restaurants await. Keep going north on the beach and you'll find Santa Monica's pier, where you can find the famous Ferris wheel, an amusement park and restaurants. Or just grab a towel and take a swim, but be prepared: the Pacific Ocean is never really warm here.

Recommended for Beaches because: Famous for its eccentric blend of street performers, surfers, muscle men, hippies and homeless people, Venice Beach offers a weird beach scene like no other.

Local Expert tip: Rent a bicycle or a pair of roller skates and cruise along the Venice Boardwalk (it is made of cement) just like the locals do, then keep heading north to hit the Santa Monica Pier, too.

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Santa Monica State Beach is the perfect oceanfront playground for fun-loving families. The expansive, two-mile stretch of sand has plenty of space to sunbathe, go for a walk, or set up a game of volleyball. The paved path along the beach is great for running and biking. Beachgoers can also take a break from the ocean and enjoy the Santa Monica Pier, which features delightful shops, scrumptious restaurants, an amusement park and aquarium. For the quintessential California beach experience, stay at popular luxury hotel Shutters on the Beach and enjoy the beautiful sunsets from the privacy of your own hotel room.

Local Expert tip: Ride the ferris wheel at the Pier for great views!

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Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach

One of the city's most popular seaside stretches, Manhattan Beach draws weekend crowds to its sandy shorelines. This beach is ideal for sunbathing, surfing and boogie boarding, but be advised that surfing is limited to the south side of the pier and boogie boarding is confined to the north side of the pier. Volleyball courts are abundant, and anglers find fishing conditions favorable. The pier even features a vibrant aquarium complete with a touch pool. Get your grub on at popular Manhattan Beach dining establishments like Izakaya by Katsu-Ya, The Kettle, or Rock ‘N Fish. Downtown Manhattan Beach also offers myriad shopping opportunities.

Local Expert tip: Get brunch at The Kettle!

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Meet Sujata Day

Living in the land of perpetual sun, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous people has fueled Sujata Day’s creativity in myriad ways. Her short story “Forbidden Fate” won the WRITE STUFF competition...  More About Sujata