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10 Southern California Beaches We Can't Get Enough Of

10 Southern California Beaches We Can't Get Enough Of

What makes a beach great depends on the traveler. But what makes a SoCal beach great is how easily it bends to the whim of its visitors.


5 min read

October 06, 2021

What makes a beach great usually depends on the traveler. What makes a Golden State beach great, however, is how easily it bends to the whims of its visitors. Don’t believe us? Let your zodiac sign guide you then. But no matter your preference—solitude or party, shallow waters or pounding surf, gaggles of beachgoers or far-flung hidden gems—California’s coastal beauties will always make your heart sing. Here’s our roundup of the best of the best, Southern California beaches edition.

The Best Beaches In Southern California 

Located west of Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica State Beach is an iconic example of the famed SoCal sandy stretches.

1. Santa Monica State Beach

Location: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica 
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Next to the pier at the west end of Colorado Avenue
Amenities: Fishing pier, sports courts, basketball courts, children's play area, grass park, paved bike path, lifeguard, picnic tables, restroom, and more
Dogs allowed: No
Bike rack: Available

A stone's throw from Downtown Los Angeles, this SoCal beach is bound to stay in your memory for a long time. Boasting a quintessential Golden State feel, Santa Monica State Beach is all about gorgeous sunsets, surfer dudes, and sand left eternally warm from the sizzling sun. But besides the obvious, this beach in SoCal features an amusement park, aquarium, and a pier that's basically a staple of the dazzling Santa Monica.

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2. Coronado Beach

Location: Ocean Boulevard and Isabella Avenue, Coronado
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Free along Ocean Boulevard 
Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, sandcastles, restaurants 
Dogs allowed: No
Bike rack: Available 

A popular choice among families and couples, Coronado Beach owes its magnetism to the calm ocean blues and the world-renowned Hotel Del Coronado. Waterfront bliss is guaranteed both in and out of the water, all thanks to the picturesque terrain. This not-so-hidden beach in Southern California is always up for a bit of kite flying, sandcastle building, and spooky story exchange around the sweltering bonfire.

Newport Beach offers fine, soft, and warm sand with plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy yourself.

3. Newport Beach Municipal Beach

Location: West Balboa Boulevard and 21st Place, Newport Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available near the pier at 21st Place 
Amenities: Fishing pier, restrooms, showers, grass park, children's play area, volleyball courts, lifeguard
Dogs allowed: On leash before 10 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m.
Bike rack: Available 

Newport Municipal Beach is one of SoCal's most beloved and for good reason. Picture a historic pier and miles and miles of surf stretching quietly along the peninsula; that's true O.C. eye candy right there. And if you ever get tired of staring at the waves (it's rare, you never know), you can make your way to the dozens of eateries scattered along the coast.

4. Zuma Beach

Location: Pacific Coast Highway and Busch Drive, Malibu
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Free along the PCH
Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, snack bar, children's play area, volleyball courts
Dogs allowed: No
Bike rack: Not applicable

Almost two miles of pure beauty, Zuma Beach's golden sands are the postcard-perfect addition to its surrounding waters. Spending an afternoon (if not a full day) here means surfing, swimming, or reeling it in right along the shoreline. With 105 acres of land and about eight parking lots, this Southern California beach is also easily accessible along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Southern California 

If all dogs go to heaven, they're probably going to Huntington Dog Beach, where they run around leash-free.

5. Huntington Dog Beach

Location: East Pacific Coast Highway and Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Plenty available on the east of the Pacific Coast Highway
Amenities: Grass park, restrooms, picnic tables, showers 
Dogs allowed: Yes 
Bike rack: Available 

If you can't bear to part from your pup on a beach day, then Huntington Dog Beach is the place you need to go. This well-known dog-friendly beach in Southern California has plenty of room for your four-legged pal to run around and relish in every second of their sun-soaked adventure. And as for you, there are ample opportunities to surf, run, bike, and skate.

6. Arroyo Burro Beach

Location: 2981 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara 
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Available west of the intersection of Cliff Drive and Los Positas Road
Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, picnic tables, BBQs, grass park, restaurant 
Dogs allowed: Yes 
Bike rack: Not applicable

Framed by tall, sparkling bluffs, Arroyo Burro Beach is one of the cleanest dog beaches you'll find in Southern California. Locals escape the summer heat by retreating here for a bit of bodyboarding, fishing, hiking, and, above all, spending time bonding with their four-legged friends. And if you want to blend in with the locals, call this stretch of coast Hendry's Beach.

Rosie's Dog Beach is an area of Belmont Shore Beach designated by the city of Long Beach for off-leash dogs.

7. Rosie’s Dog Beach

Location: 5000 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Available along Ocean Boulevard 
Amenities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard 
Dogs allowed: Yes
Bike rack: Available 

Squeezed in between Roycroft and Argonne Avenues is Los Angeles County's only off-leash dog beach. To locate this gem, head east of the Belmont Plaza Pool and into Granada Beach—you’ll know you’ve reached your destination when a bunch of running pups enter your sight of vision. Popular activities at this secret beach in Southern California include kiteboarding, windsurfing, and cycling alongside your furry best friend.

Secret Beaches in Southern California 

8. Torrance Beach

Location: 201 Paseo De La Playa, Torrance 
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: With fee along Paseo De La Playa
Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers, grass park, snack bar, volleyball courts 
Dogs allowed: No
Bike rack: Available 

Bid your quest for the least crowded beaches in Southern California goodbye; you've landed on Torrance Beach. The locals like to call this beach "RAT", but don't you worry, this isn't a moniker, rather an abbreviation—most assume it stands for Right At Torrance. Tailor-fit for a romantic bike stroll, Torrance is located at the very start of The Strand, a path connecting the Pacific shoreline to Malibu.

Seal Beach is a wide sandy beach packed with sunbathers, surfers, and beach bums on sunny days.

9. Seal Beach

Location: Ocean Avenue and Main Street, Seal Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Available by the nearby pier 
Amenities: Fishing pier, grass park, restroom, showers, lifeguard, children's play area, benches, volleyball courts 
Dogs allowed: No
Bike rack: Not applicable

When you're in the OC, you might feel tempted to head straight to Laguna Beach, but allow us to let you in on a little secret—the incomparable Seal Beach is actually one of the best in Southern California. This hidden beach boasts what you'd typically expect of SoCal: white sands, waves made for surfing, seaside beauty. But it also has something very rare for this side of the Golden State; there are practically no crowds.

10. South Ponto Beach

Location: Coast Highway and La Costa Avenue, Encinitas 
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Free along the southbound lanes of Coast Highway
Amenities: Restrooms, lifeguard, showers 
Dogs allowed: No
Bike rack: Not applicable

A perfect fit for the introvert beachgoer, South Ponto Beach features year-round pleasant temperatures and clear azure waters. This Southern California beach is nestled on the border of Carlsbad and Encinitas. Sheltered with towering sand dunes, South Ponto tends to have plenty of polished stones washed up during the colder months.

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