If you are planning on spending a couple of days in Los Angeles, then you may opt to position yourself close to Universal Studios Hollywood so that you’re able to maximise the amount of time you get to spend in the park.
However, visiting Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on a trip to the beach. In fact, there are several incredible beaches all within 40 miles (roughly one hour’s drive) of the park.
1. Santa Monica Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 18.8 miles
Santa Monica Beach is an iconic staple of Los Angeles, this vibrant, dynamic beach destination embodies the quintessential Southern California lifestyle.
Framed by the bustling Santa Monica Pier the beach here offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and is perfect for sunbathing, beach volleyball, or simply soaking up the California sun.
For those in search of a more active beach day, the Marvin Braude Bike Trail also known as The Strand runs along the beach, providing a scenic route for cycling, jogging, or a leisurely walk while the adjacent Annenberg Community Beach House also offers a host of amenities, including a pool, splash pad, and beach courts.
This 3-hour electric bike tour is a fantastic way to see the neighbourhoods of Santa Monica and Venice in Los Angeles. Hop on a Pedego beach cruiser and enjoy a fun ride along the beaches, including Muscle Beach and Venice skatepark.
No visit to Santa Monica Beach would be complete without a stroll along the iconic Santa Monica Pier. The pier hosts a variety of attractions, including the famous Pacific Park amusement park with its colourful Ferris wheel, an aquarium, and an array of food stalls and stores that sell fantastic Los Angeles souvenirs.
2. Will Rogers State Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 23.5 miles
Nestled along the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, Will Rogers State Beach provides a serene escape from the more crowded beach destinations nearby.
Its sweeping, pristine sands and incredible views out over the Pacific Ocean create an idyllic atmosphere for relaxation and rejuvenation while the gentle waves at this beach make it perfect for swimmers, paddleboarders, and kayakers to partake in water-based activities.
The ample parking and well-maintained picnic facilities make this beach an attractive spot for families, couples and solo travellers looking for a peaceful day at the beach.
3. Topanga State Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 23.7 miles
Nestled between the rugged cliffs, Topanga State Beach is a charming getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. While this beach is still located along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, it’s not the most popular on this route, making it a perfect spot for those in search of tranquillity and natural beauty.
The stretch of sand here is flanked by rocky outcrops, yet is still perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, surfing and fishing.
Meanwhile, just 100m away you’ll find Topanga Creek, the third-largest watershed entering Santa Monica Bay and a little further afield Topanga State Park, which is known as “the largest wildland within a major city in the U.S.”
4. Venice Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 23.7 miles
Synonymous with eccentric charm, cultural diversity, and artistic spirit, Venice Beach is far more than a sandy retreat – it’s a vibrant community bursting with character.
Located a stone’s throw away from downtown Los Angeles, Venice Beach offers a unique blend of beach relaxation and lively entertainment.
The beach itself is a haven for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers while the nearby Venice Boardwalk is a hive of street performers, artists, vendors, and skaters, providing a constant source of entertainment and a unique cultural immersion.
Two blocks back from the beach you’ll find another unique, popular attraction, the Venice Canals which have been designed to mimic the Venice of Italy. A stroll along these tranquil, picturesque waterways offers a peaceful contrast to the bustling boardwalk.
5. Sorrento Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 24.4 miles
Located in the affluent neighbourhood of Santa Monica is Sorrento Beach which is known for its distinct blend of natural beauty, beach amenities, and serene atmosphere, making it a favourite spot among locals and tourists alike.
The waters here are generally calm and inviting, making it a preferred spot for families with children and those looking to take a leisurely swim while the sand here is perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or engaging in a friendly game of beach volleyball.
One of the unique features of Sorrento Beach is its access to the historical Annenberg Community Beach House. This beachfront community centre offers an array of amenities including a pool, a splash pad for kids, beach courts, and even a historic pool house. Visitors can take advantage of these facilities for a small fee, adding a touch of luxury to their beach day.
5. Mother’s Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 26.2 miles
Nestled in the scenic Marina del Rey, Mother’s Beach is one of the best family-friendly beaches in Los Angeles known for its calm waters and community park setting.
Officially named Marina Beach due to its lack of ocean surf thanks to the protective lagoon setting, this beach is an idyllic spot for those looking for a relaxed, kid-friendly beach day out within a stone’s throw of downtown Los Angeles.
Lifeguards are on duty during daylight hours to ensure a safe and tranquil swimming environment, while the beach’s sand is perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, and building sandcastles.
Beyond the beach, you’ll find an array of amenities that cater to families including a children’s playground, picnic areas with barbecue grills and volleyball courts.
For those interested in water sports, Mother’s Beach is a popular location for kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing, with several nearby rental shops offering equipment and lessons. The calm waters of the marina provide an ideal setting for beginners to try out these sports.
6. Sunset Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 26.7 miles
Nestled in the Pacific Palisades neighbourhood, Sunset Beach is often less crowded than its neighbouring beaches, creating a more intimate beach experience, and making it the ideal spot for a tranquil day by the sea.
The sand here is perfect for sunbathing, picnics or leisurely strolls while the gentle waves of the water make it an ideal place for swimming and paddle boarding.
The rugged cliffs of Pacific Palisades provide the beach’s backdrop and are perfect for hiking, with trails to the top rewarding you with panoramic views of the ocean below. However, in our opinion, the real draw of Sunset Beach is, as the name suggests the breathtaking sunsets you’ll see here.
7. Dockweiler Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 27 miles
Dockweiler Beach is uniquely situated under the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and offers a distinctive beach experience.
The sand here is perfect for plane spotting, picnics and sunbathing and the water is great for swimming which makes it popular with visitors throughout the day. However, when this beach really comes alive is at sunset.
That’s because Dockweiler Beach is renowned for its numerous fire pits scattered along the shoreline, a unique feature among LA’s beaches. These bonfires, flickering against the night sky, create a captivating ambience and make Dockweiler Beach a popular spot for evening gatherings.
8. Las Tunas Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 28.1 miles
Situated off the beaten path, Las Tunas Beach is an undiscovered treasure, providing an oasis of calm and seclusion amidst the bustle of LA’s more frequented beaches.
With an extensive range of distinctive rock formations which reveal fascinating tide pools during low tide, this beach presents an exciting exploration opportunity for nature enthusiasts.
However, the serenity of Las Tunas Beach extends beyond its tide pools and makes this beach a preferred spot for contemplative walks or peaceful reading sessions by the shore.
9. Manhattan County Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 29.1 miles
Popular amongst both locals and tourists, Manhattan County Beach is a quintessential Southern California beach known for its lively atmosphere and pristine sands.
The beach is a surfer’s dream with consistent wave conditions, while volleyball enthusiasts will find plenty of nets set up waiting for them.
Adjacent to the beach, you’ll find a quaint pier housing the Roundhouse Aquarium, a must-visit for families. While the area surrounding the beach is filled with chic boutiques, trendy eateries, and laid-back cafes, offering an array of options for dining and shopping.
10. Hermosa Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 29.6 miles
Located just south of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach is a vibrant beachfront community known for its lively atmosphere, excellent surf, and the iconic Hermosa Beach Pier.
The beach is a sunbather’s paradise and a popular spot for games such as volleyball and Frisbee while the on-duty Lifeguards here help to ensure a safe environment for swimmers and surfers alike.
One of the most distinguishing features of Hermosa Beach is the Hermosa Beach Pier, stretching out into the ocean and providing a perfect vantage point for panoramic ocean views.
Meanwhile, the beachside community of Hermosa Beach is known for its vibrant nightlife and dining scene. As the sun sets, beachgoers head to the many bars, restaurants, and live music venues here, keeping the vibe alive into the night.
11. Malibu Surfrider Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 32.3 miles
Adjacent to the historic Malibu Pier, Malibu Surfrider Beach is a surfer’s paradise, boasting excellent wave conditions. However, its sandy shore and crystal-clear waters are equally inviting for sunbathers and swimmers.
After a day at the beach, take a leisurely stroll along the Malibu Pier, where you can indulge in some local cuisine at the pier’s restaurants or visit the charming little shops that offer an array of unique, beach-themed items.
For nature enthusiasts, the nearby Malibu Lagoon State Park is a must-visit, where you can observe a myriad of bird species in their natural habitat.
12. Zuma Beach
🚗 Distance From Universal Studios: 40 miles
Situated in Malibu, Zuma Beach is one of the largest and most popular beaches in Los Angeles County. Known for its long, wide sandy expanse and pristine waters, this beach offers a classic Southern California beach experience.
One of Zuma Beach’s distinguishing features is its excellent water quality, which makes it an attractive spot for snorkelling and diving, providing visitors with a chance to spot a variety of marine life.
Zuma Beach is also backed by sand dunes, which add to its natural beauty and provide a habitat for coastal plants and wildlife. There are also picnic areas, volleyball courts, and concession stands, making it a well-equipped beach destination for a full day’s outing.
Universal Hollywood Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Hollywood?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Hollywood tickets.
Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Hollywood theme park tickets from AttractionTix.
I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?
If you’re travelling to Universal Hollywood for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Hollywood, as the theme park has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points.
However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Los Angeles.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Hollywood?
When visiting Universal Hollywood, I recommend staying at Loews Hollywood. From this hotel, you can take an Uber or Lyft to Universal Hollywood in under 15 minutes.