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11 of the Best Beaches in Los Angeles to Surf, Swim & Play All Year Round

This is an aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica.

Fondly known as the City of Angels, Los Angeles is the most populous city in California. It is home to Hollywood and some of the finest beaches in the entire region. Little wonder it attracts lots of visitors from across the world. And with daily high temperatures almost all-year-round, it makes sense to look for interesting activities outdoors.

Hitting the beach is a favorite pastime in L.A., both for locals and international visitors. With several miles of scenic coastline, there’s no better place to find recreation than on the beaches of Los Angeles.

Here are 11 of the very best beaches in Los Angeles that are perfect spots for families, beach bunnies, surfers, and other outdoor enthusiasts to surf and play all year round.

1. El Matador State Beach

Of the three Robert H. Meyers Memorial Beaches, El Matador State Beach is undoubtedly the most popular and most picture-perfect beach. It’s rocky and small, yet it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Los Angeles, and well-liked among photographers and wedding planners.

This is a look at the beach in El Matador State Park.

You will definitely love to explore the secret sea caves if you are a nature lover. Plus, there’s the exceptional sight of migrating whales, the deep blue sea, and the neighboring forest all around, giving the whole scenery a spectacular view, especially from the parking lot that’s on a bluff.

Bring light gear, wear shoes, take a walk down the bluff to the beach, and spread a towel or surf all you want. Just look out for high tide! You can watch the beautiful dawn or breathtaking from the sands if you arrive early enough or stay late.

2. Zuma Beach

If you’re looking to go surfing or playing on the beach in a group or with your whole family on weekends, Zuma Beach is an excellent choice. The 3-mile long beach is situated on an idyllic location west of Point Dume. It is easily accessible because of its nearness to the Pacific Highways.

This is an overlooking view of Zuma Beach.

The beach has quite a handful of facilities, including showers, restrooms, swing sets, fully-functional restaurant and snack bar, and volleyball courts. Plus, there are lifeguards on duty.

This Malibu beach is a popular holiday spot for destination beach-goers and locals alike and has plenty of space for a sizable crowd while offering enough onsite parking. You may want to avoid this beach during the summer if you don’t like crowds because it can get really crowded. Body surfers and boogie boarders will love this spot.

3. Paradise Cove Beach

This is a look at the pristine Paradise Cove Beach.

If you’ve seen “American Pie 2” or “Charlie’s Angels,” you will definitely expect to see the Paradise Cove Beach listed among the best beaches in Los Angeles. The beach was made famous by its café and continues to attract families, couples, groups of friends, and lone travelers.

The clean sand, sandstone cliffs, and majestic palm trees will beckon you for a long walk along the beach. If you need to rest your legs, you can rent lounge chairs, beach beads, and large umbrellas, too. And if you are with a group of friends, some terraces fit up to thirty people up for rent as well.

4. El Porto Beach

El Porto Beach is an excellent spot for surfers who come in from all of Southern California. Hit the spot before 8 am to get free parking.

There’s the occasional sound of planes to and fro LAX couple with the noise from the Chevron refinery, but the consistent waves crashing on this beach will most definitely drown all the noise and make your time here enjoyable. El Porto will get you coming back time and again whether you enjoy braving the overhead waves or simply love the sandy beach.

Some of the facilities on El Porto Beach include showers, restrooms, concession stand, and bike path. If you’re not in the mood for surfing, you can use the volleyball courts or bike path.

5. Leo Carrillo State Beach

It’s not surprising that Leo Carrillo State Beach – a top choice among filmmakers – has come to be fondly known as the “movie beach.”

This is an overlooking view of the Leo Carrillo State Park Beach.

But it’s not just filmmakers who love this beach. The tide pools, a wide range of caves and reefs, secluded and scenic beauty, and a well-equipped stretch of sand endears it to surfers as well as nature lovers.

Whatever it is you plan to do at the beach, swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, surfing, or even fishing, you can be sure that there’s room for you in Leo Carrillo State Beach – one of the best beaches in Los Angeles.

If you’re traveling in groups, you can make use of the RV lot, picnic area, and camping grounds. Although most beaches don’t allow dogs, you can bring yours along to this beach, as long as it is leashed.

6. County Line Beach

The perfect playground for surfers and kite surfers alike, County Line Beach gives you access to clear waters (and occasional tiny reef sharks and dolphins, too!).

County Line Beach is located in the northern parts of Ventura County. It offers you an escape from the hustling and bustling crowds in the city.

Regardless of how great (or not) your surfing skill is, this stretch in Malibu provides you with the spot to surf all day. Hit the beach a little later in the afternoon when the winds are just right if you prefer kite surfing. And when you’re hungry, you can grab a quick grub of seafood at the restaurant just across the street.

7. Venice Beach

This is the concrete walkway beside the famous Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

Venice Beach is undoubtedly one of the most popular and best beaches in Los Angeles. With lots of bars, shops, and restaurants, the beach is a favorite pick among tourists and locals as well. If you enjoy people-watching, you’ll find this beach to be the perfect spot for that.

You can enjoy the sand, sun, and sea all through the year on this beach. Surfing and swimming are not the only things you can do here. Rent a bike and ride down to Santa Monica, which is not too far from the beach.

You can easily access restrooms, skate parks, bars and restaurants, a fully-equipped gym, tennis, basketball, bike paths, and a broad canal system. There are also lifeguards on duty.

8. Santa Monica State Beach

It feels like a festive period on Santa Monica State Beach all year round. It’s like a year-long carnival on the beach with a wide range of recreational activities and stunning views. Besides being among the best beaches in Los Angeles, it is also a scenic and iconic beach that sprawls the entire length of Santa Monica itself.

The perfect spot for families, groups, and tourists, the beach’s main attraction is Santa Monica Pier, a place worth checking out if you really want the complete Santa Monica experience!

This is an aerial view of the Santa Monica Beach.

Surfing, paddle-boarding, and swimming are among the common activities here, but you can also enjoy beach volleyball, game booths, and roller coasters. There are also lots of food stands and carnival rides that make the beach fun for everyone.

Parking might be an issue here, but there are multiple paid parking lots, to make things a bit easier for the teeming crowd.

9. Malibu Lagoon State Beach

This is a view of the Malibu Lagoon Beach.

If you’re interested in doing a little bit of study while surfing or swimming on the beaches of Los Angeles, you’ll probably enjoy the guided tours on the Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

Located at the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon State Beach is a popular choice among surfers and birdwatchers. It is nestled between the Malibu Pier to the east and a picnic area to the west.

There are several hundreds of bird species you can spot and study from this location. Grab your shoes and binoculars and walk the wetlands that are frequented by birders and hikers as well. A visit to the Malibu Lagoon Museum will be worthwhile, too.

10. Rosie’s Dog Beach

Not too many beaches allow dogs, but if you’ll like to have a good time with your dog on one of the best beaches in Los Angeles, your best bet would be Rosie’s Dog Beach. The dog-friendly beach is a paradise for your dog as it is the only legal off-leash pooch beach in Los Angeles.

This is an aerial view of the Rosie's Dog Beach on a sunny day.

The beach is named after the late Rosie, the English bulldog (a local dog celebrity). There’s a paid parking lot, restrooms, and lifeguards on duty.

11. Manhattan Beach

Bask in the sun and savor the ocean breeze that wafts over you as you relax on the nice Manhattan Beach spot.

This is a look at the spacious Manhattan beach with tropical trees.

Stretching across two miles of pure sand, this spot is definitely one of the best beaches in Los Angeles, offering a wide space to surf, swim, run, and have a nice game of volleyball. You can bike and run along a separate path along the coastline.

When you’re done surfing or swimming, find a spot on the historic Manhattan Beach Pier and enjoy some leisurely fishing while viewing the magnificent sunset. Head out to the end of the pier to visit the Roadhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium.

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