The Best Beaches In and Around Los Angeles

best beaches in and around los angeles

The Los Angeles area has some of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen! If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen a few of the pictures I’ve posted already and if you’ve followed me for a real long time (pre blog), you’ve seen my posts from previous visits too! I’m excited though to share some of my favorite beaches in and around LA with you.

I’ve categorized the best beaches into different areas with info on each beach. All are worth a visit and you may be able to tell, but I love a good sunset at the beach – it’s the best!

Los Angeles

Los Angeles has tons of really cool beaches but here are my favorites. Honestly, these are some of the most touristy beaches, but that’s why I love them! I feel like when in Los Angeles, you want to see the most unique beaches and the ones below are them!

best beaches in los angeles

1. Venice Beach

1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA

Parking: Limited street spots and parking lots available ($10-$12)

Venice Beach is known for it’s funky scene with graffiti, skateboarders, surfing, and more to entertain and give you a taste of all the interesting things in LA. Definitely a crowded beach with lots to do.

2. Santa Monica Pier and Beach

200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA

Parking: along the beach for $3 an hour up to $15 a day, you can try parking in the city above the beach but most spots are limited to two hours so make your visit short if you choose this free option

With a really fun pier full of fun rides, food, and a trapeze school, you won’t get bored here. I spent almost a full day at this beach and it was a blast.

3. Muscle Beach

1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA

Parking: Limited street spots and parking lots available ($10-$12)

Muscle Beach is located next to Venice Beach and has a different vibe than Venice Beach. There is a gym here and lots of people train seriously here. It’s a fun and different spot.

Malibu

Malibu is such a pretty place. I first visited a few years ago and on my last trip, I made my way back because I loved it so much! Malibu is about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles and easy to find with large signs. Make sure you plan ahead visiting these beaches because they are popular and parking is free, but you can end up with a spot pretty far away.

4. El Matador Beach

32350 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA

Parking: free lot near the beach, if full park on Pacific Coast Highway

El Matador State Beach is a really beautiful spot where there are multiple small caves, interesting rock formations, and three sections of beach. Expect to have to do some climbing down to the beach and along the rocks. Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared with a bag to carry things so you can climb easily. This beach is a really popular spot so be prepared!

There are only port-a-potties available for restrooms here and it is fairly remote compared to other beaches in Malibu. Visit during low or high tide for great views.

5. Leo Carrillo State Beach

35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA

Parking: free lot on beach or park along Pacific Coast Highway

At first glance, this beach looks like it doesn’t have a spot to see the sunset. You have to keep climbing around to the side of the beach to get to the sea cave and rocks. We had fun climbing around. Again, bring sturdy shoes if you want to do climbing or have strong feet! Visit at low tide for easy climbing.

Laguna Beach

I found Laguna Beach to be my favorite of all the beach spots around LA I visited. The unique beaches, tide pools, and few tourists made it the perfect spot to relax. Parking here can be tricky, but there is a free bus that runs from beach to beach I recommend if you have the time to spend a full day here (click the link for times and info). I came during off season and parked instead without an issue.

best beaches in and around los angeles

6. 1000 Steps Beach

31972 Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

Parking: Street parking along Pacific Coast Highway for free

This beach actually only has about 300 steps, but still this is a lot of steps! Located right along PCH and easy to find at a light along the highway. The bottom of the steps leads to some really cool rock formations and tide pools to swim around in if you go to the left after taking the stairs. I spent over an hour just climbing around here because it’s beautiful! Make sure you go through the arch way to the other side and climb around. Wear shoes you can go in the water in or climb around. Visit at low tide to see the tide pools.

7. Victoria Beach

2713 Victoria Drive, Laguna Beach, CA

Parking: pay for a spot along Pacific Coast Highway ($2 an hour, 2 hour limit) or be lucky enough to find parking in the neighborhood (I was there in November and still didn’t find a neighborhood spot, it’s very limited.).

This beach has some really cool tide pool spots and what is affectionately called the pirate tower although it was actually built by a rich resident back in the early 1900s. This is a clean beach that has lots of space for you to relax for the day. To find the beach, walk through a neighborhood after parking to a gate. It feels a little funny walking in the neighborhood but the residents were very friendly and I kept quiet while walking through the neighborhood. The pirate tower is to the right after you get down the stairs. Visit at high tide to see the tide pools.

8. Pearl Street Beach

1791 Ocean Way, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Parking: Park along Pacific Coast Highway in a paid spot ($2 an hour) or try to find parking in the neighborhood.

Pearl Street beach has a really cool rock formation and lots of little tide pools to explore. Once down the stairs, head left to the southern part of the beach to see the formations. You have to go through water to get to the arch rock formation so wear shoes to climb and explore this area. Visit at low tide to easily climb.

There are the best beaches in and around Los Angeles that I have visited so far! Do you have any favorite beaches around LA? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Constance

    I’ve lived in California all of my life and I’ve only recently been to Venice Beach, recent as in 2 weeks ago. I would agree with you that Laguna Beach area is my all-time favorite, but I still need to make it to Malibu.

    • Oh wow! Hopefully you make it to Malibu soon – it’s one of my favorite places near LA!

  • Erika

    Every time I visit LA I end up in Santa Monica and Venice. I’ve been to Malibu but never to Laguna Beach. Thanks for the recommendation!