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The 8 Best Beaches in Los Angeles and the Surrounding Area

8 Best Beaches in Los Angeles

1. Santa Monica Beach

Arguably one of the most iconic Los Angeles beaches, Santa Monica Beach is located west of downtown L.A. The long, pretty sandy beach is divided into the north and south beaches by the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. The pier itself has an amusement park and an aquarium, perfect for family fun or a couple’s date night!

The Original Muscle Beach is an outdoor gym where you can work out with local residents outside while overlooking the sea. Kids can have fun at the North Beach Playground, a colorful playground right on the beach. If you want to swim but don’t feel like the cold Pacific waters, you can take a dip in the pool at Annenberg Community Beach.

2. Venice Beach

Venice Beach is probably the most popular of all the Los Angeles beaches and once you’ve walked up and down the boardwalk, you’ll see why. The beach is vast and beautiful and ideal for exercising or just lying in the sun. Either way, people-watching is a must at Venice Beach, because the boardwalk musicians, entertainers, and locals look like they’ve stepped right out of a Hollywood movie.

There’s an open-air gym where you can flex your muscles, plenty of space for families with kids to splash around and there’s a famous Venice Beach Surf School where you can learn to surf. If you want to do as the locals do, rent inline skates and cruise the boardwalk at sunset hour.

3. Manhattan Beach

Relaxed yet chic is the vibe of Manhattan Beach, California. The beachfront villas are some of the most expensive in the area and make for a beautiful backdrop when walking on the beach.

The center of activity is the Manhattan Beach Pier, where there is a free aquarium. You may also recognize this location as the famous surf shop from the movie “Point Break”. With this kind of history, it’s no surprise that Manhattan Beach is still the main venue for the International Surf Festival – the waves here are fantastic!

4. Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, located between L.A. and San Diego, is popular among the surfing crowd and is locally known as “Surf City”. But before you jump into the waves yourself, pay a visit to the International Surf Museum. Then you can grab a board and go! The waves are consistent and it’s not uncommon to see international surfing elite paddling out at any time of the day.

If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can rent a bike and ride along the beach boardwalk, play volleyball or simply end the day with a beautiful sunset and ocean view.

5. Paradise Cove

Few beaches have as much star power as the pleasant Paradise Cove in Malibu. An incredible amount of filming and photography has been done here. The cover of the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ Safari” is probably still one of the most iconic photos taken at Paradise Cove.

The beach is open to the public but is quite small, so finding a parking space can be difficult or expensive. It’s worth the effort though, especially if you can get a seat at the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. The restaurant sits right on the shoreline and you can have lunch with your toes in the sand while immersing yourself in Hollywood history.

Local tip: True Beach Boys fans should take a detour to Hawthorne, where the band originated and recorded their first songs.

6. Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach in Malibu is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Los Angeles County. A long sandy beach and solid breaking waves are calling your name. Swimmers need to be careful of strong currents that are common here. If you’re not sure if you can enter the water safely, it’s better to talk to the lifeguards stationed throughout the beach beforehand.

Even without getting wet, Zuma Beach is a worthwhile destination, especially for families. All along the beach, you’ll find volleyball courts, picnic areas, toilets, and stalls where you can buy food and drinks. To top it off, the 2-mile-long beach is perfect for a long walk (or run).

7. Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach is a great destination for those who want a little more action than just a perfect beach. Besides the usual activities of sunbathing, walking along the beach, and surfing, you can also rent a SUP at the pier and take to the water. From December to May, there are even guided SUP tours to watch whales migrating. If that’s too chilly, you can take a ride on the Looking Glass boat and discover the underwater world through the panoramic windows on the floor, a truly unique experience.

If you want to escape the sun, the SEA Lab, an interactive marine biology lab, is a great destination for the whole family to learn all about underwater life in the Pacific.

8. Catalina Island

If you’re craving an island vacation then you should take the ferry over to Catalina Island, which is located off the Los Angeles coast. There are several public and private beaches, and depending on the location, you can expect a Greek or tropical atmosphere. Pebbly Beach, as the name suggests, is a pretty little pebble beach to visit. You can camp overnight with your tent at Little Harbor and Shark Harbor.

If you prefer something a little more chic, head to the Descanso Beach Club. There you can take advantage of the extensive sports program on land and on the water or chill out in a cabana with a cocktail in style!

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