If you are visiting the Golden State, these California beach getaways are perfect for everything you are looking for. Surf away, sunbathe, visit art galleries by the beach or just take in the sunset.
Here are the 10 must-visit beaches:
Southern California’s beach culture thrives along this city’s curving shoreline, where you can bicycle down an oceanfront path, play volleyball, and, of course, surf. From the pier, it’s just a short walk to Main Street’s stylish boutiques and restaurants, many with sidewalk tables or decks that let you bask in Huntington Beach’s fresh ocean breezes and sun-soaked afternoons. Or discover more natural sides of town by trying horseback riding, bird watching and exploring trails in Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
Stretching for more than 32 miles/51 kilometers along the Pacific, Malibu is a beach town like no other. Hollywood stars and top athletes escape to oceanfront homes on long strands of beach with front row seats of surfers and unforgettable sunsets. Malibu’s Surfrider Beach was named the first World Surfing Reserve.You can shop for beach fashions, and maybe even spot one of local celebs, at the Malibu Country Mart and Malibu Lumber Yard, two adjacent and upscale retail centers.
There’s dining and fishing on Malibu Pier, and in winter, Point Dume at Malibu’s north end provides an ideal perch for spotting migrating gray whales.Head inland and you can also hike through hills and canyons filled with spring wildflowers and even waterfalls.
East Beach and Stearns Wharf
Besides being Santa Barbara’s most visited landmark, Stearns Wharf brings new meaning to fresh seafood – fishermen drop off their daily catches at the harbour just down the road.. Take in the view at the pier from the historic wharf.Join the locals and hire bikes to pedal along the famous seafront. This is also a great place to try stand up paddle boarding. East Beach is perfect for families. It’s also the spot to come if you’re into art; local artists show and sell their works here on Sundays.
Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach
The idyll of Southern California beaches, Crystal Cove State Park is 3.2 miles/5.1 kilometers long, with an undulated oceanfront dotted with tide pools and secret coves. Kids can beachcomb and explore, play in the usually friendly surf, fly kites, and see what surfcasting fishermen reel in. The park also includes a trail network that heads inland – popular routes for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
At night, families can stay at one of dozens of restored 1930s-era beach cottages in a historic compound (just plan well ahead; cottages are offered by lottery and rent out months in advance). Or try your hand at beach camping and pitch a tent on bluffs with sweeping ocean views.
Like an island getaway a stone’s throw from the city, the appealing island community feels like a private enclave wrapped with perfect beaches, including ultra-family-friendly Coronado Beach. Besides those soft sands, the island’s crown jewel is the Hotel Del Coronado, built in 1888 and topped by russet red, castle-like turrets. Explore the lobby and grounds on your own, or join a guided tour offered by the Coronado Historical Association.
The diminutive island, reached by the arching Coronado Bridge, is easy to explore by bike. Rent one from Holland’s Bicycles to pedal past elegant oceanfront mansions and tended gardens, or visit Orange Avenue, lined with shops, restaurants, galleries and theatres. More shops and art galleries are located at Ferry Landing.
With its sugary sand and idyllic setting—edged by wind-carved cypress trees and bluffs topped with quaint cottages with billion-dollar views—this roughly 1-mile/2-km-long crescent is a great place to relax and play. Kids love to build sand castles just above the surf line, or splash in the usually tame breakers (just know that the water is quite chilly – hovering just below 15 degree C, even in summer).
Carmel Beach isn’t just a paradise for people; this is a canine fun zone too—the dog-friendly beach finds owners tossing tennis balls and romping with their furry pals. It can be foggy here, especially May through August, but stick around and the sun often peeks through. Fall and winter days are often clear, crisp, and beautiful. Parking, especially during summer and on weekends, can be a challenge as the official parking lot isn’t that big.
Farther south, Carmel River State Beach is a more secluded option, with silky sand dunes and a host of seabirds, including marbled godwits, brown pelicans, tiny sanderlings, and black oystercatchers (see if you can spot their long, fire-engine-red bills).
Santa Monica Pier and Beach
Take a stroll along Santa Monica’s signature pier at sunset, that enormous sun sinking into the Pacific, and you’ll probably wonder if it can get much better than this. There’s an amusement park—perched right on the pier—called Pacific Park, with not-too-scary roller coasters and classic carnival rides that make a nice mix even for little ones. Then there are incomparable views from the top of the pier’s solar-powered Ferris wheel. On weekends, you can join free historical walking tours to learn more about the pier.
And there are the local fishermen adding colour to the scene; hang out for a while and you’re bound to hear some good yarns and watch some slippery fish reeled in.
And then of course, there’s the beach, a broad expanse of pale yellow sand lining the coast for 3.5 miles. Head inland a short distance and you can hike through hills and canyons filled with spring wildflowers and even waterfalls on trails in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Bordering Santa Monica’s south side is Venice Beach. This region, a blend of hip new condos and funky beach cottages, is famous for the quirky goings-on along its iconic beachfront boardwalk, where street entertainers and vendors create an unforgettable scene of local characters and goings-on. Watch it all stream by from the loud and lively waterfront skate park, or sit near the daily drum circle on the beach. For edgy boutiques focusing on furnishings and fashion, explore boho-chic Abbot-Kinney Boulevard, one of L.A.’s best shopping districts.
Silver Strands State Beach
The great wide blue and pounding surf of the Pacific on one side; a sweet curve of sand around warmer, calm waters on the other. And in between, plenty of run-around room, a chance to try surfing, or build a bonfire on the beach with your family.
Note that access to the bay side is through pedestrian tunnels; be prepared to carry your gear from the large parking area to that beach, if that’s where you want to spread out. Once there, pavilions, grills, picnic tables, and fire pits are available.
Heading south toward Mendocino, you’ll come upon Glass Beach, the most photographed destination of Mendocino and one of California’s most extraordinary finds: polished bits of sea glass fill the beach.
In 1906 the citizens of Fort Bragg chose to deal with their waste in a relatively common manner for the era – they dumped it off the cliffs and into the ocean below. That meant everything from household garbage to automobiles, and the practice continued all the way until 1967. The leftover beautiful glass makes up what is now called Glass Beach.