Best Beaches in Southern California you Can’t Miss!
Below you can find a list of the best beaches in Southern California, perfect for spending your Summer days or for your next holiday or vacation. Most of these beaches are particularly family friendly and great for kids too.
Beautiful Southern California Beaches
From the Southern tip of the state to famous Malibu shores, Southern California has some of the best beaches to visit in the USA. Maybe its because of the soft sand and mild waves or year-around sunshine and warm temperatures. The beaches in Southern California are never deserted and always full of activity, making California beaches the vacation hot spot of the USA.
Here are the top 9 beaches in Southern California that you can’t miss.
9 of the Best Beaches in Southern California
Coronado Beach in Southern San Diego has long been called one of the most picturesque beaches in the United States. Although the sparking golden sand (thanks to the mineral mica) and the famous Hotel Del Coronado make it seem luxurious, Coronado is a perfect beach for a lazy day of relaxing by the ocean.
Situated along Ocean boulevard, there is ample parking and large grassy areas to picnic on. One of the great features of Coronado beach happens during low tide when it reveals its amazing tide pools where you can explore the local marine life.
If its winter and the tide is low enough, you may even get to see the shipwrecked SS Monte Carlo.
2. Ocean Beach
With its unique T-shaped pier that is the longest in California, Ocean Beach is an excellent spot for being able to check out the coast of San Diego. Walking to the ends of this Southern Californian beach gives you a breathtaking view of the cityscape.
The OB pier is one of the few in California that allows you to fish without a license. For safety, the beach area is sectioned off by swimming-only and surfing-only areas. There is also an off-lease area for pet owners to let their dogs run and play in the waves.
Like many San Diego beaches, Ocean Beach has a large tide pool area that is exposed at low tide. When visiting, you may get lucky enough to attend one of the many festivals that are held throughout the year.
3. La Jolla
Beautiful La Jolla in Northern San Diego has several unique beach areas to choose from when visiting. However, La Jolla Shores is probably the most popular for those looking to enjoy the sun and frolic in the water for the day. The long stretch of sandy beach has plenty of room for both swimmers and those utilizing the kayak launch.
This beautiful beach in Southern California is situated just in front of Kellogg park which has a large grassy area and playground that faces the water. The beach and park are separated by a boardwalk that allows beach goers to stroll or ride their bikes while enjoying the coastline. Definitely one of the top Californian beaches.
4. Laguna Beach
Though it may be a smaller beach situated between rocky cliffs, Laguna Beach off Main St is always bustling with activity. Visitors can park along Pacific Coast Highway, stroll amongst the shopping village, and make their way to the shore.
First thing you will notice when you visit this Californian beach is the recreation area next to the shore that includes a shaded playground, basketball & volleyball courts, and a real wood boardwalk.
Of course, there is plenty of sandy beach for spending the day playing in the water. In addition, a short walk north will lead you to a rocky area for climbing and exploring tide pools.
Laguna Beach is also known for its artist culture, so if you have time, visit some of the galleries adjacent the beach that sell works like paintings and sculptures by local artists.
5. Huntington Beach
Known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach offers several miles of shoreline along scenic Pacific Coast Highway. The pier offers excellent views of the coastline as well as a restaurant at the end. For sports enthusiasts, Huntington offers sand volleyball courts, bike & surfboard rentals, and pier fishing. Both the Main Street area and Pacific City offer lots of shops and restaurants to visit.
In addition, for those that want to make an entire day of their visit, this Californian beach has dozens of public use firepits. Plus, if you want to bring your dog, there is a beach area for them farther south near Goldenwest Street.
6. Seal Beach
Seal Beach is definitely one of the best beaches in Southern California for families. Named one of the friendliest towns in the U.S. by Forbes, Seal Beach has a welcoming and relaxing small-town vibe.
There are paid parking lots or free spots in the neighborhood offer a short walk down to the shore. The north side of the pier is perfect for younger kids with its docile waves to play in while the north side has an enclosed playground.
You will want to enjoy walking along the pier and exploring the many shops on Main Street. Since shopping and restaurants are so close, it’s easy to grab lunch or treats and make it an entire day’s visit.
7. Venice Beach
Venice Beach has always been best known for its lively boardwalk of shops, street vendors, and performance art. Also known as “Muscle Beach”, Venice has a unique outdoor workout gym that is world famous and a concrete skate park.
While most people come here to shop and walk around as spectators to the hustle and bustle around them, locals can be seen sunbathing and surfing. In fact, Venice is a great place for taking lessons for the beginning surfer because of the small yet consistent waves that roll in.
Out of this list of beaches in Southern California, Venice Beach is probably the least family friendly, because it can be a little chaotic and crowded at times, but still this famous Californian beach is well worth a visit.
8. Santa Monica
Near the heart of Los Angeles is the famous Santa Monica Pier. Unlike long walking piers, this one is home to an amusement park with a rollercoaster, carnival games, and a ferris wheel that lights up the night sky. There is also a small aquarium where you can learn about native California marine life through hands-on exhibits.
Of course, there is expansive sandy coastline for beach goers to enjoy as well as the Marvin Braude bike trail that spans 22 miles of Los Angeles county beaches.
9. Malibu Beaches
Malibu touts several amazing beaches, but none are as majestic as Leo Carrillo State Beach. This beach is an explorer’s paradise. Before going its best to figure out when low tide will be that day then you can get the most out of your trip.
The amazing rock formations on the cliff side create many caves and tide pools to explore in the southern area of Sequit Point. Then travel north up the beach where you can hike the several trials on the hillside.
Because of the steep hills and how rocky it is, it isn’t the best beach to visit if you have younger children, however for families with older kids it is a beautiful place to spend the day.
Southern California Beaches
These are the best beaches in Southern California. Whether you are looking to relax at the shore, try a beach activity like surfing, or wanting to shop and dine with ocean views; Southern California has several amazing and beautiful beaches for you to visit. Did we miss one? What is your favourite Southern California beach?
Author: Jenn is mom of 6, a behavior specialist, and business owner. With 20+ years of parenting, she has a lot to say about where to take kids, what to feed them, & how to keep them entertained. Plus, things to maintain her own sanity like traveling, crafting, cooking, & shopping. Follow Jen at OneHoppyMomma.com or on Facebook or Instagram.