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The Coolest California Beaches for Bonfires

The Coolest California Beaches for Bonfires

Nothing beats roasting marshmallows and enjoying s’mores around the fire; nor can anything beat singing, dancing, and laughing by the shore.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

June 21, 2024

Beach bonfires have been a long-treasured tradition on the Pacific coastline, and Californians today continue in the footsteps of the older generations. Around the bonfires of the California shoreline, families reunite, friendships strengthen, new friendships form, and love stories blossom. Nothing beats the fun of roasting marshmallows and feasting on s’mores around the fire; nor can anything beat singing, dancing, and laughing around the embers as the waves roll gently to shore.

Today, due to environmental problems, many California beaches prohibit bonfires. But those beaches that allow them get so crowded quickly—expect to find people who arrive at dusk to reserve a fire pit. If you’ve been craving bonfire fun with your loved ones, check out these seven California beaches, and get ready for a beautiful adventure.

Beach bonfires are super romantic when you're hanging out with your bae, and they're a ton of fun when you get to go with your best friends.

Top Places For A Beach Campfire

Muir Beach

Location: 200 Pacific Way, Muir Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Free parking available
Amenities: restrooms, picnic tables, trails, fire pits
Dogs allowed: Yes

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A Pacific Coast bonfire is the best thing you can do under the California night sky. Muir Beach is known for being both one of the best beaches to view the California sunset and to host bonfires at. Located in Marin County, this beach is surrounded by miles of hiking trails, and is a perfect place for beachcombing, birdwatching, and having a picnic. Come nighttime, the smell of roasted marshmallows and S’mores fills the air, alongside laughter and music. This breathtaking NorCal beach should top every bonfire list.

Blast your summer playlist, roast marshmallows over the fire, and let the sand run between your toes while the summer breeze blows through your hair.

Ocean Beach

Location: Sloat Boulevard and Great Highway, San Francisco
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Free parking available
Amenities: Restrooms, promenade, paved bike lane, dunes, zoo, fire pits
Dogs allowed: Yes

The list of beaches with bonfire pits takes us to the Bay Area, where fun gatherings are had around beach campfires. Ocean Beach, known as one of the best in the Bay Area, is a five-mile stretch of sand with warm waters. This dog-friendly beach is a great spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding—talk about fun under the sun. As the night approaches, the beach becomes lit with bonfires and the shore suddenly is packed with nighttime beachgoers. That shouldn’t come as a shock though, because Ocean Beach is integral to San Fran bonfire culture. Next time you’re in the area, don’t fight your urge to join the bonfire crowd. 

There's nothing quite like a bikini and a bonfire to get you in the mood for sweet, sweet summertime.

Carmel Beach

Location: Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road, Carmel
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Free parking available
Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, trails, fire pits
Dogs allowed: Yes

Breathtaking views, stone sidewalks, quaint cottages, and bonfires are meant to make for the perfect romantic and affordable getaway. Known as one of the most romantic beaches in California, Carmel Beach is the perfect spot to take any relationship to the next level—under the watchful eyes of dolphins and sea otters, which make regular rounds along the shore. During daytime, picnic, sunbathe, explore tidepools, and participate in sandcastle building competitions; while at nighttime, cuddle next to a bonfire and enjoy each other's company. Especially after experiencing the nighttime fun, this secluded California beach will truly take your breath away.

Dockweiler State Beach

Location: Imperial Highway and Vista Del Mar, Los Angeles
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Free parking available
Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers, volleyball courts, paved bike path, fire pits, picnic tables, BBQs
Dogs allowed: No

Dockweiler State Beach may not be the quietest spot, but it promises a lively and memorable beach experience. Just a 15-minute walk from LAX, this beach is an ideal location for bonfires with a unique backdrop of airplanes taking off and landing. During daylight hours, you can surf, fish, or jump into a spontaneous game of beach volleyball—a fantastic way to enjoy the day. As the evening sets in, the atmosphere shifts to one of storytelling and marshmallow roasting around the fire pit, often with new friends made just that day. So pack your beach gear, update your playlist with some great tunes, and dive into the vibrant beach culture of L.A. tonight.

If you, your S.O., and your crew are making your big plans for the summer, make sure you put a bonfire on your must-do list.

Huntington Beach

Location: Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia Street, Huntington Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset.
Parking: $15
Amenities: Lifeguard, fire pits, restrooms, showers, snack bar, paved bike path, picnic table, BBQs, basketball courts, volleyball courts, rentals, accessible features
Dogs allowed: No

If there’s one thing beachgoers agree with, it’s that nothing beats a Huntington Beach bonfire. Everything you need for a long day at the beach can be found here. From basketball and volleyball courts, to fire pits and hiking trails, Huntington Beach has something fun going on for everyone. But that’s not all, this Orange County favorite is famous within the surfing community as one of the best surf spots in California. We bet you can imagine how crowded the beach can get, so if you want a good spot close to the iconic pier, arrive early and choose one of the many fire pits at Huntington Beach.

Good friends around a bonfire is our idea of a great night. Guess you could say the bonfire was lit.

Corona Del Mar State Beach

Location: Ocean Boulevard and Jasmine Avenue, Newport Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: $15
Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers, BBQs, picnic tables, volleyball courts, fire pits
Dogs allowed: Allowed on leash before 10 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m.

Orange County bonfires are the best. Visitors swear that the Corona Del Mar State Beach bonfires go down in memory lane forever. The fire pits at this Newport Beach stretch of sand have heard more stories than any human ear has. Here scuba divers, surfers, snorkelers, volleyball players, and swimmers come together after a day well spent to talk about their adventures and let go of their troubles. Situated on the east side of the Newport Harbor channel entrance, Corona Del Mar State Beach is the answer to all your bonfire-related questions.

Everything looks prettier with a bonfire glow around it. Cold Air. Dark Night. Warm Fire. Bright Stars.

Mission Beach

Location: Mission Boulevard and Ventura Place, San Diego
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Free parking available
Amenities: Amusement park, boardwalk, arcade, wave house, grass park, picnic tables, lifeguard, showers, bike path, fire pits, restaurants
Dogs allowed: Allowed on leash before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

Look at us saving the best for the last. Deemed by many as the number one beach for summer bonfires in California, Mission Beach is where you want to spend every one of your vacations—and you’ll never get bored. Not only is the San Diego beach a surfer’s paradise, but it also offers good opportunities for skating, biking, and running near its shoreline. But, most importantly, it’s home to the only beachside amusement park in the United States—Belmont Park. The beach’s famous Boardwalk is just a three-mile walk from the fire pits as well. As far as beaches that allow bonfires go, Mission Beach is the best of them all. Hurry up and enjoy the midnight fires at one of the best beaches in all of California.

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