Looking to chill out on beautiful sandy beaches on your Southern California trip? Check out some of the best beaches in Los Angeles, California. Boasting some of the best year-round weather in the United States, the “City of Angels” will have you believing you died and went to beach heaven.
Head south down the historic Highway 101, east on Route 66, or hop a plane: all will get you to one of Los Angeles’ world-famous sandy beaches. The stretches of sand in L.A. are heavenly, featuring every beach activity imaginable, from surfing and snorkeling to volleyball and sipping tropical cocktails as Mariachi bands serenade you.
Ready to find the perfect patch of white sand minutes from the city? Dip your toes into some of these top-rated Los Angeles beaches.
Top-rated Los Angeles beaches
Santa Monica State Beach
The are many reasons why so many people love the seaside of Santa Monica. There’s Santa Monica Pier, where you’ll find an amusement park, restaurants, and an old-fashioned boardwalk experience. And then, of course, there’s Santa Monica State Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches around L.A.
Even if you’re only visiting Los Angeles in one day, Santa Monica Bay is a wonderful family destination. The waves aren’t too big, the space isn’t too small, and the bay is just right. Everyone can enjoy frolicking in the waters or lounging on a float with the Santa Monica Mountains as a backdrop.
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Once back on the expansive Santa Monica Beach, you can build sandcastles, enjoy the North Beach Playground with your children, or play a game of volleyball, if relaxing in the sunshine doesn’t entice you.
Located just 17 miles from downtown, Venice Beach is a popular beach that’s probably been featured in more movies than any other L.A. beach. The stretch of sand is most famous for its buzzy promenade, loaded with restaurants, shops, and street performers.
In addition to the volleyball courts and paddleboard rentals on Venice City Beach, Venice Beach Boardwalk has a skate park, handball court, and quirky shops to keep you interested and entertained.
If participating in sports isn’t your cup of tea, sip a drink on any of the Ocean Front Walk benches and enjoy people-watching and interesting street performances.
There’s a little something for everyone at Venice City Beach. Yes, even those just looking for a workout or to show off their physique.
Muscle Beach Venice, different from the original in Santa Monica, is a big must-visit for all things workout and hot bodies. Featuring gym equipment, training, and even competitions, there’s plenty on display here.
Even if you haven’t visited, you may recognize Zuma Beach. The white sand stretches for miles and is so picture-perfect that Baywatch was often shot here. Zuma Beach is wide with soft sand; you’ll find it packed more often than not.
During the winter you can spot migrating whales. On the shoreline, there are also always sea lions sunning themselves or barking at each other. Even dolphins and seals are often spotted from shore.
One of the best beaches near Los Angeles, this wide beach is littered with countless volleyball courts and offers on-site surf lessons. The crystal clear waters at Zuma Beach are ranked among the safest in Los Angeles, making it perfect for swimmers.
Will Rogers State Beach
Will Rogers is a famous part of the history of the American Wild West. Pay the American icon tribute at his namesake beach, Will Rogers State Beach. The stretch of sand is located in the upscale neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. It sits on Will Rogers’ own former ranch land where he would come and enjoy the seaside pleasures.
Even though Will Rogers State Beach isn’t as crowded as other Los Angeles beaches, it’s still been featured in several Hollywood blockbusters because of its enchanting surroundings. Getting there is easy as it’s located just off the Pacific Coast Highway.
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Will Rogers State Beach is perfect for a low-key day of volleyball, swimming, surfing, scuba diving, or sunbathing. It also sits at the end of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. The popular bike path, also known as The Strand, runs along the coastline from Torrance Beach in the South Bay area to Pacific Palisades.
Riding your bike along The Strand, you’ll come to Manhattan Beach. It’s lined with stunning luxury homes on one side; on the other, you’ll find the oldest fishing pier on the West Coast.
Manhattan Beach Pier is a state historical landmark and a popular spot to visit for tourists and locals alike. The fishing is great from the historic pier as are the sunsets.
A bit further down Manhattan Beach is the Roundhouse Aquarium. Built at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier, the small aquarium offers local sea life on display, a shark tank, and immersive experiences for both children and adults.
Keep cruising south along The Strand bike path from Manhattan Beach and you’ll come to Hermosa Beach, another beautiful South Bay beach. You’ll find the pristine, relaxing sand and sea here intoxicating.
Connected by the Marvin Braude Bike Trail to many of the other Los Angeles beaches, Hermosa Beach is easy to reach and attracts many visitors to its enchanting shores. If you didn’t arrive in Los Angeles with a bicycle, there are numerous bike rental shops to offer you the best deal for your visit.
There are also volleyball courts and plenty of space to enjoy the beautiful sands of Hermosa Beach.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Among the most beautiful beaches in Malibu is the unique Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Popular among surfers for its big breaks, Malibu Lagoon Beach is known to locals as Surfrider Beach. Besides its big waves, it’s also a great place to take a day hike and connect with nature.
Located next to Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Malibu Pier is smaller than other ocean piers around L.A. but has an interesting history. Nowadays, tourists flock to its restaurants for expensive meals with ocean views and sea breezes.
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Inside nearby Malibu Creek State Park, you can enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing. Both at Malibu Beach and inside the Malibu Creek State Park, the wetlands showcase hundreds of bird species. Take one of the guided tours to better appreciate the local flora and fauna.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
For all the sea-creature lovers and those with children eager to explore, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park offers a day to remember along the South Bay beaches.
Although it sports amazing views and hiking trails galore, perhaps the most common reason to visit Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is for its tide pools. A myriad of small sea life can be found in the countless tide pools and at low tide, they’re just waiting to be discovered.
The Abalone Cove Trail crosses the California Coastal Trail, so you can easily find the beach from either direction. The hiking is a bit more rugged than you might expect but the vistas and accessible sea life are well worth the trek.
Leo Carrillo State Beach
Family and Fido-friendly, Leo Carrillo State Beach is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in Southern California. Technically, North Beach is dog-friendly and South Beach is two-legged only; take your pick and enjoy the sunshine!
You’ll find many things to do at Leo Carrillo State Beach. There’s swimming, surfing, windsurfing, and surf fishing, as well as sea caves and beachcombing opportunities.
The long, sandy beach at Leo Carrillo State Park also has nature walks, playgrounds for the kids, and giant sycamore trees to hug.
Be sure to take in a sunset here as it’s one of the few beaches not facing westward on the West Coast. Bring your camera along to capture the incredible colors dancing across the waters.
Dockweiler State Beach
Want to fly into Los Angeles, hop off the plane, and dive onto the beach? Well, you can at Dockweiler State Beach, a stretch of sand wedged between the Pacific Ocean and LAX International Airport.
From Dockweiler Beach, you can see the underbellies of the planes as they land at LAX. The planes are a bit loud—but so is the ocean! As the two mix together, they form a cacophony of good times.
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If you’d rather skip the daytime crowds and lay back looking at the stars overhead, Dockweiler Beach permits bonfires. Bring your smores kits and enjoy a night out under the stars—and planes!
Paradise Cove Beach
Forgot your beach towels? No problem. Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu rents lounge chairs and beach beds for those wishing to be spoiled in paradise. This beautiful beach really lives up to its name, so much so that numerous classic Hollywood films have been filmed here.
A white sand beach framed by swaying palm trees with striking seaside cliffs makes Paradise Cove Beach the perfect backdrop for Hollywood movies and vacation days alike.
With a secluded feel and the tropical atmosphere, you’ll soon imagine you’re the star of your own personal Hollywood blockbuster.
Playa del Rey Beach
Looking for a local dog-friendly beach? Playa del Rey Beach is a local treasure for playing with your dog on the sandy shores—or just catching a few rays without all the tourists hovering around. There’s also a grassy knoll with a playground for the kids and a lagoon for everyone to enjoy.
Playa del Rey is not a tourist beach and therefore doesn’t have a large parking lot. It only offers street parking, but since tourists aren’t vying for spots, it should be accessible.
Lining the streets of Playa del Rey there are also many shops and restaurants. From the beach, you’re never far away from some knick-knacks and tasty treats.
Want to feel like more than just a local? If you can find one of the two hidden entrances between the seaside mansions, Carbon Beach will give you a glimpse into the life of luxury.
Bordered by multi-million-dollar homes, the scenic beach will beckon you to walk its length. With homes to admire on one side and beautiful ocean views on the other, the 1.5-mile walk is pleasing in both directions.
If at any time you feel the desire for an ocean dip, the swimming at Carbon Beach is top-rated.
If you want to get off the beach and into the ocean, Cabrillo Beach has a paved boat ramp and is a top spot for whale watching around L.A. Next to the public boat launch is Cabrillo Beach Park where you can find playgrounds and picnic tables.
Harborside, you’ll find the calmer waters where fishermen cast lines from the pier and enjoy spearfishing from boats. If you venture out past the jetty, the waves are unprotected and perfect for windsurfing and sailing.
Those left back on Cabrillo Beach can keep happily occupied with plenty of volleyball courts, shady nooks, and soft sand.
Did you come to Los Angeles to go surfing? Then Huntington Beach is a must-visit during your stay. Located in Orange County just south of L.A., the town of Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City, hosts the Huntington Beach U.S. Open of Surfing.
Everyone who is anyone in the world of surfing has ridden the waves at Huntington Beach. The beach is nearly ten miles long, literally sand and waves as far as you can see. But the real attraction here is the surf.
Those not interested in the waves will enjoy all the usual L.A. beach accouterments. There’s even an off-leash dog beach here. Huntington Dog Beach is 1.5 miles long; if your dog likes to run in the sand and surf, there’s no better place than this stretch of sand.
Marina Beach is a man-made beach in Marina del Rey. It’s also known as Mother’s Beach by the locals for its calm waters with no surf. It’s a popular spot for families and children to come play in the ocean.
With its calm water, Marina Beach is also one of the top beaches in Los Angeles to kayak, paddleboard, and row. You can see many locals enjoying or training in the various boating options at this popular Marina del Rey beach.
At Marina Beach, you can also expect to find beach volleyball courts for the die-hard sports fans among us.