One of the biggest reasons many people love California is for its incredible beaches. If you’re looking for the perfect beach destination in the Los Angeles area, you’re in the right place! We’re going to share the 15 best beaches in Los Angeles – from views of the Santa Monica mountains and pristine water to immaculate sand and endless water activities.
Whether you’re a local looking to take a quick day trip or a traveler planning the perfect beach vacation, this list has various beaches for you to choose your ideal spot! Let’s take a look.
1. Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach is a laid-back area known for being a water sports hub. The waves are top-notch and offer excellent opportunities for surfing, kayaking, jet skinning, and more. It’s also a great place to swim and relax on the sand!
It’s no surprise that many celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston and Leonardo DiCaprio have called Manhattan Beach home. Not only is the beach exciting and beautiful, but there’s also plenty to do nearby.
In Manhattan Beach, you’ll find a downtown area with various eateries, shops, and more. You can also find restaurants right by the water. If you need beach rentals such as paddleboards, surf gear, and beach chairs – you can find everything you need.
At Manhattan Beach, we recommend checking out The Roundhouse Aquarium at the end of the pier and The Strand, a delicious seafood restaurant with unmatched scenery.
2. Redondo Beach
Located in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, the city of Redondo Beach has numerous attractions that attract many beachgoers. Aside from the 1.5- mile long sandy Redondo County Beach, you can find parks, museums, and excellent dining experiences.
At the beach, visitors enjoy swimming, surfing, and strolling. There are also trails perfect for biking, hiking, and rollerblading.
Anglers love a trip to Redondo Beach. There are plenty of opportunities to fish at and around the beach, including nearby parks. For picturesque views, be sure to check out the beach pier.
3. Hermosa Beach
Looking for a beach bonfire experience? Hermosa City Beach, located in the city of Hermosa Beach, is one of the last California beaches where you can still build a seaside fire.
Hermosa Beach is also known for its volleyball culture and surfing opportunities. The long, wide sand allows for plenty of space to relax, play a game of beach volleyball, and take a bike ride. You can even rent bikes at the beach. There are also several trails in the area for biking, running, and skating.
Looking to hit the waves? Surfers and bodyboarders love the consistent waves at Hermosa Beach.
Nearby, you can find several restaurants, beach stores, hotels, and more. It’s a great place to hang out for your next beach vacation!
4. Venice Beach
Most people have heard of Venice Beach, located on the most western edge of Los Angeles County, and for great reason! It offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Pier, as well as plenty of fun activities to enjoy.
At Venice Beach, you can find several delicious places to eat, including restaurants, food trucks, and ice cream shops. For some entertainment, street performers and artists also frequent the area. Be sure to check out the Venice pier for great views!
Venice Beach is also known for its ‘muscle beach area.’ This section is full of weightlifters and fitness enthusiasts. It’s a great spot to join in on a workout or people-watch! You can also find several volleyball courts between Venice Blvd and Washington Blvd.
Looking to stay in the area for a vacation? There are plenty of accommodations and other activities to enjoy.
5. Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach is one of the most popular and best beaches in Los Angeles due to its various activities. You can enjoy swimming, surfing, sunbathing, dining, and more. The white sandy beach itself extends for 3.5 miles, offering plenty of space to take in all the beach vibes.
The Santa Monica Pier itself offers more than enough to do. It’s a great spot to chill out, go shopping, and find a good restaurant. It’s also a popular spot for watching concerts and movies.
Many tourists visit Santa Monica Beach to bike on the path that runs from Santa Monica to Venice Beach or to check out the Heal the Bay Aquarium. On weekends, you can join free historical walking tours to learn more about the pier, which dates back to 1909.
6. Zuma Beach
Zuma Beach is a wide and manicured sandy beach located within Zuma Beach County Park. It’s the only city-operated beach in LA county due to its state park status. The beach is the ideal place for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. It’s very easy to access with tons of parking lots and street parking.
You can find lots of amenities at Zuma Beach, including free parking, restrooms, beach wheelchairs, and lifeguards. There are also barbecue pits, picnic tables, volleyball nets on select days of the week, and a playground. There’s plenty to do for children and adults alike at this beach!
You can also enjoy water activities at Zuma Beach, such as surfing, swimming, diving, and watching gray whales make their winter migration.
7. Nicholas Canyon County Beach
If you’re looking for excellent beaches in Los Angeles that are less crowded, Nicholas Canyon County Beach is the perfect spot! It’s a small, secluded beach that features rocky bluffs and tide pools. It’s also located near three housing tracts, allowing vacationers to enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Nicholas Canyon County Park features pristine sand perfect for picnicking and sunbathing. Visitors also enjoy activities like surfing, body surfing, swimming, and scuba diving. You can also catch some fish at Nicholas Canyon.
As far as amenities go, you can find picnic tables, restrooms, and showers at the beach.
8. Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is a popular destination for surfers and offers some of the best waves in Southern California. The beach is also great for swimming, sunbathing, and playing in the sand.
This beautiful, wide California beach is located in Huntington Beach, a city southeast of LA. The city has been dubbed “Surf City USA” because of the consistent waves and large surfing population. There are also plenty of things to do nearby, including shopping and taking the bike path that stretches from Huntington Beach to Los Angeles County along the coast.
The Huntington Beach Pier, which is 1,850 feet long and extends into the surf, is ideal for taking in views and people-watching. You can also catch some fish from the pier. If you visit on Friday, you can catch the Certified Farmer’s Market on the pier.
9. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a small beach town known for its many art galleries and an activity-filled beach featuring coves and cliffs. The beach is famous for its crystal clear waters and picturesque scenery.
One of the best parts about visiting Laguna Beach is the calm, clear waters that offer incredible sightings of colorful fish and other sea life.
If you want to be surrounded by activities and people, be sure to hang out at Laguna Main Beach. This is where you can do all kinds of activities including body surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. There’s also a children’s playground and beach volleyball courts.
10. Topanga State Beach
Topanga State Park has so much to offer, including the incredible Topanga State Beach. It’s the closest Malibu beach to Los Angeles and displays a gorgeous backdrop of the serene Santa Monica mountains.
This beautiful clear blue water beach is located at the mouth of Topanga Canyon, surrounded by mountains and other beaches. It’s perfect for surfing, swimming, fishing, and hiking. Around the park, there are also incredible mountain biking adventures to be had.
Topanga State Beach is a great place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. Explore hiking trails, have a picnic, and relax by a fire pit.
11. Crystal Cove State Park Beach
Crystal Cove State Park boasts open spaces and a natural seashore. The beach offers several miles of pristine coastline, making it a great spot for swimming, surfing, and fishing. Several hiking trails lead to hidden coves and various beaches.
At Crystal Cove, you can find 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of untouched woods. The park has been named for its distinctive lime-green sandstone formations and is located about 7 miles south of Newport Beach.
A popular trail within the park leads to Moro Canyon, where you can find panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Crystal Cove.
12. Cabrillo Beach
Cabrillo Beach is located in San Pedro and is home to the historic Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse. There are two different beaches to choose from depending on your interests. The beach on the outside of the breakwater offers ocean surf, while the beach within the harbor is pleasant and quiet.
No matter where you go on Cabrillo Beach, there are excellent opportunities for swimming, fishing, playing volleyball, and windsurfing. It’s also one of the best beaches in Los Angeles to take windsurfing lessons.
One of the most unique experiences to enjoy at Cabrillo Beach is visiting during grunion season. The grunions emerge from the water at Cabrillo Beach bi-monthly to lay their eggs in the sand. You may also see whales frolicking in the water.
The white sands at Cabrillo Beach are perfect for relaxing or having a picnic. You can catch views of Catalina Island at its closest point to the Southern California shore. If you’re looking to go fishing, take a walk along the fishing pier to catch fish and appreciate the scenery.
13. Torrance Beach
If you’re looking for more peace and quiet, Torrance Beach is the place to go! This wide sandy beach is perfect for swimming, playing volleyball, surfing, and sunbathing.
Beachgoers enjoy fewer people at Torrance Beach as opposed to other beaches nearby. You can find volleyball nets, lifeguards, a snack shack, and a bike path.
Within walking distance to Torrance Beach is Miramar Park which sits atop a bluff. Stop here before or after your beach trip for a picnic and gorgeous ocean views.
14. Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is located in the small town of Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA because of its legendary waves. There have even been several surfing competitions over the years, including the US Open Sandcastle Competition. Sunset Beach sits just north of the main Huntington Beach, and many people prefer it here due to the fewer crowds.
This thin stretch of land stretches along 1.5 miles of ocean. You can enjoy your time in the ocean by taking beginner surfing lessons or boogie boarding with friends. Sunset Beach is perfect for surfers of all levels thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and mid-level tides.
Visitors can also go paddleboarding or kayaking. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore near the beach, including the incredible Fish Camp.
15. Dockweiler State Beach
If you like to hang with the locals, Dockweiler State Beach is the place for you. This beautiful beach is more popular with locals than it is with tourists, while still offering plenty of attractions. At Dockweiler State Beach, you can find big waves for surfing, dunes, and tide pools at low tide.
This beach has a long list of fun activities for all kinds of beachgoers. You can rock climb, hike, take part in kite festivals, and go fishing along the coastal pier. The beach also holds surfing contests, and there’s a training center where you can learn hang gliding.
If you’re sticking around for the evening, there are many firepits in the beach area to enjoy a regulated bonfire. If you’re traveling by RV, check out the Dockweiler State Beach RV Park.
As you plan your Los Angeles county beach trip, let’s get answers to some common questions.
What is the nicest beach in LA?
Fortunately, you can’t really go wrong with any of the beaches in Los Angeles. The entire area is filled with beautiful sandy beaches and fun activities. However, if we had to pick just one, we’d go with Topanga State Beach because it offers breathtaking ocean and mountain views.
What are the LA beaches with parking?
Good news! Most of the popular LA beaches have plenty of free parking.
What do I need to know about surfing in Malibu?
Surfers love visiting Malibu! Here’s what you need to know:
- The waves can get very big at some of the beaches, so do your research. Some may not be best for brand new beginners.
- With that said, there are various surfing beaches for varying levels. Ask around for local advice.
- There are a lot of rocks along the shoreline so be mindful of this.
What is the best time to visit Venice Beach?
Venice Beach is one of the most popular in the area and is often busy, especially on the weekends and during the summer months. Many visitors enjoy the energy at Venice City Beach, but if you’re looking for fewer crowds, visit early in the morning or during the off-season or weekdays.
What kind of activities can I do at Santa Monica State Beach?
Santa Monica State Beach is a great place to go for a walk, sunbathe, play in the waves, and enjoy some people-watching. You can also go fishing from the pier, bike ride on the bike path, or take a paddleboard or kayak out on the water.
Where is El Matador Beach?
El Matador Beach is located in Malibu and is known for its dramatic cliffs and ocean views. It’s often called one of the most beautiful beaches in LA. People also love the sea caves that can be explored at low tide.
Enjoy the Best Beaches in Los Angeles!
Los Angeles County has some of the most incredible beaches in the country. The best part is the number of beach cities that are perfect for a vacation.
LA beaches have something for everyone, from beach walking and volleyball to water adventures and bonfires. We hope you’ve found your dream beach destination on our list of the best beaches in Los Angeles!