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9 Lake Beaches in the Golden State to Visit Now
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9 Lake Beaches in the Golden State to Visit Now

You’d better pack your bags because it just so happens that California has the best lakes in the world; and they’re all calling your name.

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4 min read

August 22, 2021

The Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area features picnicking, hiking trails, swimming beaches, and designated areas for boating and water skiing.

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Spend a day cruising on the waters on a classic pontoon boat or experience the thrill of sports with wakeboarding at Big Bear Lake.

3. Big Bear Lake 

Location: San Bernardino Mountains 

Hours: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.

Parking: Available on the south shore of the lake 

Amenities: Benches, gazebo, bathrooms

Dogs allowed: On leash

If you only ever saw a picture of Big Bear Lake, we doubt you'd pin Southern California down as its habitat. And yet, tucked away inside the San Bernardino National Forest, this gem breaks all typical SoCal conventions. Aside from boating, Big Bear Lake boasts numerous public beaches, with Boulder Bay Park on the southwest shore being among the most visited.

4. Lake Arrowhead Beach

Location: San Bernardino Mountains

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Parking: Available on Lake Arrowhead Road 

Amenities: Picnic shelters, seasonal kayaks and canoes for rent, seasonal lifeguards, volleyball nets, horseshoe pits, playground, ballfield, camping area

Dogs allowed: Yes

Lake Arrowhead Beach is California's white-sand treasure. The beautiful artificial lake makes swimming a breathtaking experience, with panoramic glimpses of the natural wonders appearing as your head goes in and out of the water. Remedy scorching hot summer days here by playing volleyball, canoeing, or simply floating about in waters.

Popular activities include fishing, waterskiing, jet skiing, kayaking, and of course, swimming at Lake Berryessa.

5. Lake Berryessa

Location: Napa 

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Parking: Available at Oak Shores 

Amenities: Bathrooms, drinking water, grills, picnic areas, picnic tables

Dogs allowed: Yes 

Squeezed between Blue Ridge and Cedar Roughs east of Napa Valley, Lake Berryessa makes for an unforgettable day no matter your outdoorsy preference. This is the perfect place to go fishing, boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, as well as sailing, swimming, kayaking, and marveling at wildlife—this is just to name a few. But what makes Lake Berryessa truly unique is the blue oak woodland landscape that makes everything seem straight out of a fairytale.

6. Pope Beach

Location: South Lake Tahoe 

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Parking: Available on Highway 89

Amenities: Bathrooms, food concessions, paddleboard and kayak rentals, picnic tables

Dogs allowed: No

One of the most beautiful lakes in all of the Golden State, the dazzling blue-water Lake Tahoe boasts beaches left and right—both south and north. Pope Beach in particular is our favorite, boasting swimming, picnicking, and kayaking opportunities on its three-quarter-mile sandy beach. As you're splashing around in the inviting waters, don’t forget to take in all the hues from the surrounding Sierra Nevada; it’s truly a beauty to behold.

Due to Lake Tahoe’s clarity and depth, the colors of the lake are surreal, and Emerald Bay is the perfect place to take in the scenery.

7. Emerald Bay Beach

Location: South Lake Tahoe

Hours: Sunrise to Sunrise 

Parking: At Eagle Point Campground 

Amenities: Boat access, ramps, paddleboard and kayak rentals, picnic tables, bathrooms

Dogs allowed: No

Lake Tahoe's crown jewel—a kaleidoscope of shimmering turquoise, greens, and ivory—Emerald Bay seems too good to be true. Its spectacular beaches are accessed either by the Rubicon Hiking Trail or by boat. Once you’re there, your water-filled wonderland begins; boating and paddle boarding are among the most popular activities. But, you’re always welcome to explore the area and see what else is available; seasonal surprises are sort of Emerald Bay’s thing.

8. Brandy Creek Beach

Location: Whiskeytown Lake 

Hours: Sunrise to sunset 

Parking: Available at the gravel lot adjacent to J.F.K. Memorial Drive 

Amenities: Shaded picnic areas, tables, fire grills, restrooms

Dogs allowed: No

Tailor-fit for families, Brandy Creek Beach is among a couple of other popular swimming areas in Whiskeytown Lake. Scuba diving is this place's M.O.s, with a shoreline wide enough to enjoy a little bit of solitude. The area is also renowned for its cleanliness and picnic amenities, so if there are any elaborate outdoor ideas you have, this is the place to bring them to life.

A typical summer day finds Shasta Lake's blue waters sprinkled with fishing boats, jet skis, inner tubes—almost anything that floats.

9. Shasta Lake 

Location: Shasta County

Hours: Sunrise to sunset 

Parking: Available at Shasta Dam Vista Point 

Amenities: Marina, boat rental, campgrounds, trails, picnic areas

Dogs allowed: On leash

Last but certainly not least, Redding's most beloved summer swimming spot Shasta Lake is your key to unlimited watersports. The area is an undisputed favorite for kayaking, swimming, fishing, and motorized boating. There are five large marinas that allow you to put in your boat or simply rent and start exploring the 30,000-acre wonder. And while Shasta Lake’s beaches are extremely popular, due to the size and shape of the area as a whole, you’re going to have ample opportunity to spread out and discover solitude.

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