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The 5 Best Beach Towns in Southern California

The 5 Best Beach Towns in Southern California

SoCal has a vibe that’s so chill and laid-back, it makes everyone want to ditch their everyday routine and live the good life.

Roubina Al Abashian


4 min read

February 27, 2024

Picture this: you wake up to ocean views, people jogging by the shore, and the sun rays illuminating your bedroom—no, this isn’t heaven, this is Southern California. SoCal has a vibe that’s so chill and laid-back, it makes everyone want to ditch their everyday routine and live the good life. Who can blame them?

Perhaps it’s the weather, perhaps it’s the beaches, perhaps it’s the scenic views. You can’t put your finger on it; all you know is that you keep checking the local housing market to acquire a beach house. Whether you’re searching for a weekend rental or looking to find your dream house, these are the best beach towns in Southern California that should be the first you check.

1. Coronado 

Median home price: $2,466,788

San Diego is always a good idea for a visit, but what’s even better is actually making the move there. And while Downtown San Diego and its neighborhoods are worth checking out, squint hard enough across the bay to find the small island of Coronado awaiting you. Nicknamed the Crown City, Coronado is one of the best coastal cities in Southern California. Here, life can be as you want it to be. Do you have an adventurous soul? You’ll experience an adrenaline rush every weekend in Coronado. Are you more of a laid-back kind of person? The city’s slow-paced lifestyle will take your troubles away. 

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Home of the historic Hotel Del Coronado, this coastal town has attracted presidents, royals, and celebrities over the years. The most trouble you’ll have living in Coronado is forgetting how to complain about your life. Pristine beaches and endless sunshine are always guaranteed, and breathtaking views of the San Diego skyline is the cherry on top. Stop second-guessing and plan a trip to this affluent beach resort area, because this California beach town will surely make you swoon.

San Clemente is recognized for its coastal, hill, and mountain vistas, mild temperature, and Spanish colonial architecture.

2. San Clemente

Median home price: $1,578,083

Located in the southernmost part of Orange County, San Clemente is the "Spanish Village by the Sea" you’ve been dying to visit. With its beautiful beaches, high-end boutiques, excellent restaurants, and gorgeous Spanish architecture, this can’t-miss city is an absolute delight for both locals and visitors alike. Despite the fact that the OC is pretty urbanized, you’ll find that San Clemente is relatively simpler, as views of the pristine white sand beaches and mountains expose themselves.

One of the main things this Southern California coastal town is known for is its excellent surfing conditions. And where to find the perfect waves, you might ask? A favorite among locals and tourists is San Clemente’s Trestles Beach, offering world-class waves and perfect surfing conditions for people of all levels. Trestles Beach is so iconic that San Clemente is known as one of the best surf towns in all of the United States. 

Fun fact: President Richard Nixon loved San Clemente so much that he claimed it’s one of the best cities to live in. The charming city is home to the famous “Western White House”—the late president’s seaside home—where he continually hosted world leaders and famous figures. Want to feel like the POTUS? Make the move to the OC.

3. Carlsbad

Median home price: $1,450,131

Life in Carlsbad is a never-ending vacation. This Southern California beach town is the dream destination for families, retirees, and singles—it’s literally heaven. Outdoor fun is the name of the game in Carlsbad. Watersports are a given here, but for those who like to take a swing, the Crossings at Carlsbad won’t disappoint you. When in Carlsbad, make sure to visit the Flower Fields; they’re too pretty to miss. We’re sure you already know this, but if you don’t visit Legoland, you’re robbing yourself of the most fun you'll ever have in Carlsbad

Carlsbad is the California coastal town where people come to retire and parents raise their children. Its warmth and safety are its most attractive features, as are its limitless fun adventures. Safety and security are guaranteed in this coastal paradise, creating a cozy community atmosphere, especially for new residents. If you’re intrigued, you’d better rush and purchase your dream house before it's off the market—the city's popularity is at its peak.

Ventura lies between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara along U.S. Route 101, which was one of the original U.S. Routes.

4. Ventura

Median home price: $849,687

Situated between Carpinteria and Oxnard, Ventura is a quaint area with the best waterfront activities, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants to keep one busy at all times. Officially known as San Buenaventura, Ventura is one of California’s best and most affordable coastal towns to live in. The beaches here invite you to surf, paddleboard, and jet ski, and your four-legged pal can join too—Ventura is super dog-friendly

Locals love going on evening strolls at the Ventura Pier, the oldest in California. You’ll also find residents enjoying time at the beachfront Marina Park that’s also popular amongst tourists. The best part about living in Ventura is that you’re never far away from the hustle and bustle of D.T.L.A.—it’s only an hour’s drive. 

Located around 60 miles west of D.T.L.A. and a part of the Greater Los Angeles region, Oxnard was incorporated in 1903.

5. Oxnard

Median home price: $715,610

Oxnard is the new Malibu, at least for those who want the ‘Bu lifestyle but cannot afford it. Here, you’ll hardly ever find overpriced boutiques and high-end restaurants. What you’ll find instead are spectacular beaches, delicious meals, eclectic nightlife, and breathtaking architecture. Another advantage of living in Oxnard? You’re never too far from a spa. And If you thought that living in a beach town comes with a hefty price tag, think again. This coastal paradise that’s slowly rising in popularity is one of the most affordable beach towns to retire in or raise a family. 

The underrated small town is home to the best beaches in Southern California and the sickest waves to ride. The mega-popular County Line Beach attracts surfers from all over the state, while Deer Creek Beach is ready for curious minds to discover its underwater treasures. If you ever find yourself in Ventura County, visit this Southern California beach city—Oxnard is ready for you to fall in love, over and over again. 

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