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7 Luxurious California Beach Towns to Visit

7 Luxurious California Beach Towns to Visit

California stands out due to its many luxurious and elegant beach towns.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

May 18, 2023

Any travel enthusiast will tell you that California and luxury go hand in hand. What adds to the sophistication of a city is its charming beach towns, sitting gorgeously on the shores of the Pacific. These California beach towns offer top surfing destinations, exceptional attractions, breathtaking coastal hiking trails, and beautiful rolling hills. There’s something wonderful going on at every corner of the Pacific shore. If you’re not sure which California beach town to visit first, we’ve rounded up the most luxurious ones. We promise you’ll have a blast. 

Welcome to The ‘Bu, the coastal paradise located on the shores of the Golden State.

1. Malibu

Live in the lap of luxury in Southern California’s premier coastal town, Malibu. The coastal town is the go-to destination for celebrities, who own beach houses in the city or regularly visit to enjoy their holidays here. This fancy beach town in California is not just an A-lister’s paradise; it’s everyone’s paradise. Known to surfers as “The ‘Bu,” Malibu is where surfers come together to enjoy second-to-none breaks. Even if you’re not big on surfing, getting a taste of Malibu’s waters is a must, whether it’s in the form of swimming, paddleboarding, or any other water sport you admire.

This beach town boasts more than just its beautiful Pacific waters. Point Dume State Beach and Escondido Canyon Park offer some of the best hikes in Southern California—one every avid hiker dreams of. High-end retail enthusiasts are also in for a treat. The Malibu Country Mart contains trendy and exclusive fashion shops and should be the first stop on your ‘Bu itinerary. Between hiking, shopping, and enjoying water sports, it’s easy to say that Malibu is the luxurious beach town of your dreams.

Point Lobos is the highlight of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Dedicate a full day to enjoying the natural wonders surrounding this natural reserve.

2. Carmel-By-The-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea, or Carmel, is a California beach town that will win your heart time and time again. With its breathtaking nature and rich artistic history, Carmel oozes charm every season of the year. As one of the best beach towns in California, Carmel promises its visitors tranquility and fun wrapped into one. Whether you’re looking to spend one day or three in Carmel-by-the-Sea, there are a few must-do. After exploring the European-inspired village, get out and hike some of the fantastic trails. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve will take you to Sea Lion Cove, an incredible place for whale watching in California. While still there, you’ll also want to visit China Cover. The emerald green cove, with its small cave and rock arch, makes for one of the most instagrammable places in the state.

Book a stay at La Playa Carmel for a luxurious experience. With its historic elegance and modern touches, this 1905 mansion is a lodging you can’t miss. The beach and the best restaurants are a few minutes away. Meanwhile, the iconic Bud’s at La Playa, located within the premises of the hotel, serves the most mouthwatering burgers you’ll ever have.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-see during your Monterey vacation. Kids and adults will enjoy it equally.

3. Monterey

Monterey is the answer if you’re looking for the best beach getaways in California. The laid-back city, which happens to be the hometown of everyone’s favorite California-born author, John Steinbeck, is also home to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Exploring the aquarium ranks highly on everyone’s Monterey itinerary. Your bucket list should include scuba diving at Monterey Bay Aquarium and a touring Monterey State Historic Park. 

When hunger strikes, you can treat yourself to a mouthwatering meal on Lighthouse Avenue. And when your day is over, you can rest your head at the prestigious Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, with promises of pampering yourself the next morning at the spa. 

Have you always dreamed of seeing the colorful houses lying on the California shore? It’s probably time to give Capitola a visit.

4. Capitola

Residents of Silicon Valley sleep easy knowing that one of the best California beach towns is just a short ride away from them. Capitola is the relaxing escape we all deserve from our busy day-to-day lives. This small town was first developed as a seaside resort and is now considered the oldest and best beach resort in California. With great year-round weather, pristine surfing conditions, and unmatched natural beauty, there isn’t a single thing not to love about Capitola. Quaint shops, world-class restaurants, and striking architecture add to the town’s charm.

Has Capitola’s picturesque waterfront of colorful Mediterranean-style cottages attracted you since you first saw them? Are they the reason you wanted to visit the town in the first place? You’re in luck. Many of these privately owned houses are available for rental. If you weren’t lucky enough to find one, Capitola Venetian Hotel offers the chance to have that experience. 

Carlsbad highlights the gorgeous landscape and high-end living that California offers daily.

5. Carlsbad 

Have you ever dreamed of living on a never-ending vacation? Residents of Carlsbad are living the dream every day. You can too, as soon as you start planning your next trip to this marvelous coastal town. Carlsbad is home to the most water fun you can have. And if you ever feel like you’ve experienced enough water sports for one vacation, you’ll find tons of other fun things to do in Carlsbad. For starters, you should take a swing at The Crossings at Carlsbad, one of the best golf courses in Southern California. And then, of course, you should spare a day for Legoland, whether you’re in the city with kids or not.

Nights in Carlsbad can be as luxurious as you want them to be. For optimal comfort and pampering book a room at the fancy Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa, and spend a few days like true royalty. But, the truth is, no matter where you choose to stay, you’ll always feel chill in Carlsbad.

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With miles of sandy beaches, Encinitas promises a never-ending summer to all of its visitors.

6. Encinitas 

What makes Encinitas one of the best beach towns in all of California, is its ability to combine bustling city life with laid-back coastal vibes, and make it feel completely natural. The town’s beaches are filled with surfers arriving from all across the country, and its streets buzzing with tourists admiring the architecture and history. The San Diego Botanical Garden is a key attraction in the city, with 37 acres of natural landscapes filled with the most beautiful flowers, bamboo groves, tropical rainforests, and desert gardens. 

For an unforgettable beach vacation, Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas should be your hotel of choice. Not only will you be steps away from the beach, but you’ll also be minutes away from all the fun the city has to offer. 

As one of the best beach towns in California, La Jolla is a gem that provides full-day entertainment and beauty to all of its visitors.

7. La Jolla

La Jolla could very well be San Diego’s pride and joy. The breathtaking coastal city takes life by the sea to a new level. La Jolla Cove is a shining example of why the city is considered one of the most beautiful places to visit in California. The small cove with its own beach is where deep divers come to explore life under the sea. Even those who do not care for scuba diving or snorkeling find joy in exploring the area on a kayak. Here, you’ll also find one of the top surfing beaches in the state, Windansea Beach, where the world-famous breaks will pose quite the challenge.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a deluxe resort you’ll love to stay in during your visit to this luxurious California beach town. This award-winning resort is home to Torrey Pines Golf Course, considered one of California’s top golf courses.

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