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The sprawling city of Los Angeles is renowned for its dramatic coastline, uncrowded stretches of sand and glossy lifestyle. But California’s biggest city is also home to a number of great public beaches within easy reach of Downtown LA.
Renowned for its year-round temperate weather, the City of Angels is home to an array of must-visit attractions – many are free and easy to get to. Besides Beverly Hills, the iconic Hollywood sign and tourist-packed Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles’ biggest draws are its beaches and coastal communities overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The 75-mile-long (120km) coastline stretches the length of Los Angeles, from pristine Zuma Beach to colorful Santa Monica Beach and buzzing Venice Beach – here is Culture Trip’s guide to the best public beaches in Los Angeles.
Surfing enthusiasts and nature lovers will love Malibu Lagoon State Beach between the Pacific Ocean and Malibu Creek. Here, bird lovers can spot and learn about more than 200 species in their natural wetland habitat. Nearby, you’ll also find Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, an area that has become a premier location for surfing after being featured in movies in the 1950s and 1960s like Gidget (1959) and Beach Party (1963). For a unique beach experience, hiking enthusiasts can also go on a short and easy walk along the Pacific.
Part of a state park situated on Malibu’s coast, Leo Carrillo State Beach is 1.5 miles (2.4km) long and stretches into the Santa Monica Mountains – one of the most visited natural areas in California. Situated about an hour drive from Los Angeles, this beach might feel a bit far from the city, but it’s worth the journey. The family and dog-friendly beach is less crowded than some of Los Angeles’ most popular beaches and is a great spot for swimming, surfing, windsurfing and surf fishing. If you want to do more than just relax on the beach, you should explore the area and its coastal caves or hike along the five-mile-long (8km) moderate trail.
An iconic beach and another popular hang-out spot is Santa Monica State Beach. Along its 3.5 miles (5.6km), the beach offers an array of things to do, whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on the sandy beach or enjoy a fun day or evening on the Santa Monica Pier – a historical landmark that dates back to 1909. Bring your roller skates or bike along the 22-mile (35km) paved trail next to the beach, jump in the water with your surfboard or visit Pacific, the on-site amusement park on the Pier. A ride on the solar-powered ferris wheel offers spectacular views of the ocean and the Third Street Promenade – a pedestrian shopping and entertainment mall. Tip: jump on the ride right before the sun is about to set and watch the sunset from this vantage point.