Los Angeles County is home to some of the most incredible beaches in the world. With its stunning coastline stretching over 70 miles, this sunny paradise offers a plethora of sandy shores, sparkling waters, and breathtaking vistas that beckon families to enjoy a day of fun in the sun.
Whether you’re a local looking for a weekend getaway or a visitor planning a family vacation, the beaches of Los Angeles provide the perfect backdrop for creating lasting memories.
1. Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach is one of the best beaches in Los Angeles, an iconic staple of the county, 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, a bike path 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 as well as a number of stores that sell some of the best souvenirs in California.
2. Will Rogers State Beach
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
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
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.
Both Venice Beach and Santa Monica State Beach have a parking lot that can accommodate hundreds if not thousands of cars between them. As such if you can’t find a space in the first parking lot I suggest driving further along the coast to the next parking lot(s) until you do.
5. Huntington Beach
Situated in the lively heart of Orange County just south of Los Angeles County is Huntington Beach, often referred to as “Surf City USA” due to its reputation as a top surfing destination. This beach is renowned for its sweeping coastal beauty, recreational offerings, and vibrant atmosphere, making it an undeniable draw for locals, surfers, and tourists from all around the globe.
The surf at Huntington Beach is consistently impressive, offering an ideal playground for both seasoned surfers and beginners. Meanwhile, the wide, sandy shores are perfect for sun-worshippers, castle-builders, and beach sports enthusiasts alike. Volleyball courts dot the beach, and friendly matches are a common sight on sunny afternoons.
A distinguishing feature of Huntington Beach is the iconic Huntington Beach Pier, one of the longest public piers on the West Coast. This landmark not only offers stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean but also houses eateries and shops that cater to a variety of tastes.
Adjacent to the beach is the bustling Huntington Beach Downtown, offering an eclectic mix of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Additionally, the beach boasts access to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a sanctuary for various wildlife and a hotspot for birdwatchers.
6. Sorrento Beach
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.
7. Laguna Beach
Situated in the picturesque southern Orange County, Laguna Beach is a seaside jewel that’s famed for its stunning natural beauty, world-class art scene, and upscale atmosphere. This iconic beach town has a charm that is both appealing and inviting to locals, artists, and tourists alike.
The beaches of Laguna are known for their breathtaking beauty, featuring coves of soft sand set against dramatic cliffs and crystalline waters. These waters, often teeming with vibrant marine life, are excellent for snorkelling, swimming, or simply enjoying a tranquil seaside walk. The consistent waves also make it a surfers’ paradise, welcoming novices and experts alike.
Heisler Park, Laguna Beach is home to one of the best tide pools in Orange County and is well worth visiting during your trip.
Among the unique features of Laguna Beach is its thriving arts community, which is encapsulated by the numerous art galleries and the famous Pageant of the Masters, an annual festival where art literally comes to life. Art lovers and curious visitors are bound to find something that tickles their fancy.
8. Mother’s Beach
Nestled in the scenic Marina del Rey, Mother’s Beach is a family-friendly haven 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 while those interested in water sports can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing, with several nearby rental shops offering equipment and lessons.
9. Sunset Beach
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.
10. Long Beach
Nestled in the heart of Southern California, Long Beach is a dynamic urban waterfront playground, acclaimed for its vibrant atmosphere, unique attractions, and diverse cultural experiences. This coastal city is a magnet for locals and tourists alike, offering a blend of beach activities, urban amenities, and an enticing harbour setting.
Long Beach is a wonderful spot for water-based activities, ranging from swimming to sailing, and kayaking to kitesurfing. The beach’s sandy expanse is perfect for sunbathing, beach sports, or just enjoying a leisurely walk along the shoreline. The water here is usually calm, making it an inviting place for families and casual swimmers.
11. Dockweiler Beach
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.
12. Las Tunas Beach
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.
13. Redondo Beach
Situated in the South Bay region of Greater Los Angeles, Redondo Beach is a charming coastal city known for its beautiful sandy beaches, bustling harbour, and friendly community atmosphere. This beach town attracts locals and tourists alike with its blend of seaside tranquillity, recreational activities, and vibrant local culture.
Redondo Beach is a popular spot for water enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of activities such as swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, and fishing. The beach’s wide sandy expanse provides ample space for sunbathing, beach games, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk along the shoreline. The adjacent Marvin Braude Bike Trail invites visitors for a scenic ride along the beach.
A standout feature of Redondo Beach is its lively harbour area, often referred to as the Redondo Beach Pier. This buzzing spot has some of the best family-friendly restaurants in LA as well as several independently owned stores, and amusement attractions. It’s also a great place to indulge in fresh seafood, take a romantic sunset stroll, or try your hand at fishing off the pier.
14. Manhattan County Beach
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.
15. Hermosa Beach
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.
16. Playa Del Rey Beach
Located in the Westside of Los Angeles, Playa Del Rey Beach is a LA hidden gem, a tranquil seaside haven, known for its expansive sandy shoreline, picturesque surroundings, and relaxed vibe. This less-crowded beach offers a unique appeal to locals and visitors seeking a peaceful retreat from bustling city life.
The beach offers a broad expanse of sand that is perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, and engaging in various beach sports. The waters of Playa Del Rey Beach are typically calm, inviting swimmers and paddleboarders to enjoy a leisurely dip or glide in the Pacific.
Playa Del Rey Beach is also home to the beautiful Ballona Wetlands, one of Southern California’s significant remaining wetland areas. This ecological reserve offers a serene spot for birdwatching and nature walks, where visitors can appreciate diverse wildlife amid the urban landscape.
17. Malibu Surfrider Beach
Adjacent to the historic Malibu Pier, Malibu Surfrider Beach is a surfer’s paradise, boasting excellent wave conditions. However, it’s 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 that make some of the best Los Angeles souvenirs.
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.
18. Zuma Beach
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.
19. Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Situated in the iconic coastal city of Malibu, the Malibu Lagoon State Beach is a pristine ecological gem that offers a diverse range of natural and recreational experiences. This beach is celebrated for its extraordinary natural beauty, wildlife viewing opportunities, and historical landmarks, drawing locals, tourists, and nature enthusiasts from around the world.
The beach features a wide sandy expanse perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, and beach games. Its Pacific waters are a popular spot for surfing, particularly at the world-renowned Surfrider Beach, located adjacent to the lagoon.
A distinctive feature of Malibu Lagoon State Beach is the Malibu Lagoon itself, where the Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. This estuary is a haven for birdwatchers, with its lush wetlands serving as an essential stopover for migratory birds and hosting a variety of marine life. Walking trails and viewing platforms around the lagoon allow visitors to explore this ecological marvel and its diverse inhabitants.
Los Angeles Travel Planning Guide
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Trip to Los Angeles?
Yes, you should definitely buy travel insurance for any vacation to Los Angeles. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Trip to Los Angeles?
Whether you’ll want a rental car in Los Angeles will really depend on how long you’re visiting for and where you plan to go during your trip. The traffic in Los Angeles is notoriously crazy, yet, public transport is still somewhat limited.
If you do decide to hire a car in Los Angeles, then I’d recommend using Discover Cars to find the best car rental deals.
🏨 Where to Stay in Los Angeles?
The best place to stay in Los Angeles will really depend on what you plan to do most during your trip. If you’re planning to visit Disneyland, for example, then staying in a hotel in Anaheim is likely going to be best.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on exploring the city and visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, then I’d recommend Loews Hollywood.
If you’re looking for a little bit of luxury during your trip to LA, then a hotel in Beverly Hills is a great choice. However, if you’re looking for more of a beach vacation, then consider a hotel at Newport Beach.