9 Best Beaches in Los Angeles

You’re in southern California.

Ready to take advantage of the glorious climate, you reach for the sunscreen, your board shorts or bombshell bikini and hit the road. With hundreds of beaches to check out, where do you drive?

Not all beaches are created equal. These nine, well, they’re the crème de la crème.

1. Leo Carrillo State Beach

Named after a local activist and preservationist, this beach is located 28 miles north of Santa Monica. Not only is the water beautiful, but there is also great hiking, guided nature tours and campfire programs. The beach also has picnicking areas and RV / tent sites if you are looking to camp out.

2. Surfrider Beach

Located in Malibu, this beach is where surfing was first popularized in the late 50s. It is obviously the place to be if you are a surfer or interested in surf culture; but it is just as satisfying if you enjoy people watching and small crowds.

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3. Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach is a classic. It’s a wonderful place to hang out and  to relax. There are volleyball courts and, of course, the pier / boardwalk area (complete with iconic ferris wheel). Between the pier and the beach you definitely have a few different options. Or, to quote Everclear’s hit song Santa Monica, you could “swim out past the breakers and watch the world go by.”

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4. Hermosa Beach

Why did the hipster mermaid leave the ocean? It was too current.

There is a certain hipster vibe given off by the locals at this beach, which makes for a great place to go and people watch. There are volleyball nets and plenty of sandy shoreline to enjoy. If you are not really in the mood for a towel and sunscreen kind of day, though, Pier Plaza is the place to be.

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5. Cabrillo Beach

A tranquil beach that has one side open to the surf and the other open to the harbor, this is the perfect place for a family outing. Because of its location, you have lots of options for activities. You can do the more hands-on activities that a harbor might have to offer (maybe get in some kayaking or paddle boarding), or you can just watch the waves break on the other side of the beach.

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6. Laguna Beach

One of LA’s biggest art communities, Laguna Beach is located just south in Orange County. With its relatively small town location and rich culture of fashion and art, Laguna Beach is a great place to have a beach day. The beach itself consists of beautiful white sands and crystal clear blue water.

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7. El Matador

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, then you are in luck. Check the tide schedule, grab a bottle of wine and some cheese, and head out to find your own secluded nook where you can watch the waves roll in with that special someone.

8. Crystal Cove

Located just south of Newport Beach, this secluded stretch of beach is one of California’s underwater state parks. Tide pools and coves are teeming with life. The beaches themselves are white sand with blue water, and inland, on the cliffs, there are over 26 miles of mountain biking trails.

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9. Catalina Island

22 miles off the coast, this island is a veritable wonderland. It has a multitude of activities and past times for tourists, not to mention a fine stretch of beach. There is great snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, sailing and kayaking. You’re sure to have a great time on this island.

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Alan Perlman

Lead Adventurer at Nerve Rush
For three years, Alan traveled to 60+ countries as an international cost-of-living surveyor. Back in New York City, when he's not running, rock climbing or geeking out about UAV drones, Alan runs a marketing agency that helps companies generate more sales-ready leads using inbound marketing techniques.

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