Santa Monica Beach
This is the classic, go-to beach when visiting Los Angeles. Both tourists and locals alike come to Santa Monica Beach for the spacious beach and historic pier that marks the end of Route 66. There are nice spots to surf down the stretch of this three-mile beach, but be wary of many first-time surfers coming from the multitude of resorts nearby. It may be one of the most crowded beaches in the city, but there is much to do besides visiting the beach. You can take a walk through the beautiful downtown area, or catch a relaxing moment in the shade at Tongava Park.
There is never a dull moment on this beach. Venice Beach is centered on the energy of the skater community and a famous target for celebrity events. It is is one of the most colorful and eccentric beaches in L.A. Street art is not shy to this area, and if you have never had a fish taco, you’ll have to try one at one of the hundreds stands set just behind the beach (Plancha Tacos are a favorite). If you’re up for it, you can also ride a bike (or skateboard) along the beach’s bike path that connects this beach to Santa Monica.
Located on the south side of the city, the energy of Long Beach duplicates that of Santa Monica, but is a tad less crowded. This is a great beach for families to visit, and the gentle waves make it swimmer-friendly. Besides the beauty of the golden-specked sand and views of islands, you can also enjoy the Aquarium of the Pacific and shopping at the Shoreline Village.
This is the beach you imagine when you dream about that beachfront home you have always wanted. Manhattan Beach is a more relaxed, residential version of all the beaches previously mentioned. Manhattan Beach Boulevard offers lots of local shops and tasty restaurants to explore (Uncle Bill’s Pancake House is a must-do for breakfast or brunch). If you’re feeling sporty, this beach comes with a bike bath, an impressive stretch of volleyball courts, and plenty of room for a game of catch or football (and fútbol, of course).
If you are attracted to the silent beaches, it is a good idea to get a taste of the South Bay waters and visit RAT (an acronym for Right After Torrance) beach. This is another quiet (and rat-less) stretch of sand in Los Angeles. Located south of Manhattan Beach, RAT beach is home to many local surfers in L.A. It is hardly ever crowded, and the lovely views of the Palos Verdes Cliffs make this a very romantic beach.
El Matador State Beach
El Matador State Beach is located north of Malibu, but rightfully deserves a mention on this list because it is absolutely breathtaking. Located right off of historic Highway 1, the cliffs and rocks that create this small beach cove make it a nice and secluded area. Although it is in a quiet area, it gets very busy on the weekends, so try and visit during off-peak times. It is also a wonderful place to watch a classic Californian sunset.
Mother’s Beach (Alamitos Bay)
Mother’s Beach is one of the most non-traditional beaches in Los Angeles. It is tucked away in Marina Pacifica, located only a few miles from Long Beach. Mother’s Beach is by far the most family-oriented beach for young children. Alamitos Bay makes for a great swimming area, and the park behind the beach is ideal for picnics. A great place for families, and a wonderful place to go shopping and to go grab a bite to eat.
The beaches at Huntington Beach – while technically in Orange County – are shining stars of the Southern Pacific waters. Visit the Huntington Dog Beach to let your pooch stretch its legs on the glittering sands. Surfers will be happy to find amazing spots down the stretch of the beach or near the pier. On a clear day, a visit to the pier will make for an awesome, Instagram-worthy photo, and make sure to have lunch at Sandy’s for some delectable seafood tacos.
Another classic, well-known California beach town is Malibu. Located on the northwest side of L.A. County, it is home to several beaches. Surfrider Beach, Point Dume State Beach, and Zuma Beach are the most popular spots for surfers in SoCal. SurfRider beach is also home to the Malibu Pier, which has gorgeous views of the beaches and the city.