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LA’s 13 best beaches, mapped

From Malibu to coastal Orange County, here are 13 great beaches to visit this summer

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Outside of Hollywood and traffic jams, Los Angeles might be best known in the popular imagination for its beaches.

From the tide pools of the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the sandy shores of Malibu, the LA area has some of the most scenic, and most recognizable, stretches of coastline.

Both locals and outsiders are probably already familiar with the sights and sounds of the Venice Ocean Front Walk and the Santa Monica Pier. But those aren’t the only beaches in LA—just the most crowded.

With that in mind, here are 13 beaches in the region perfect for swimming, sunbathing, biking, hiking, exploring, and whatever else you might want to do oceanside. There are other great options, of course, but these should help you get started if you’re visiting—or if you’re an inland local wondering why it’s been years since you’ve seen sand (don’t worry, it happens).

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1. Point Mugu Beach

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It’s a long haul out to this beach, just past the Ventura County border, but the payoff is a dramatic, rocky shoreline where you’ll witness some of Southern California’s most spectacular sunsets. You can also cool off in the waves after a hike in the adjoining state park.

Point Mugu Beach.
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2. Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach

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(818) 880-0363
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This large state beach includes several smaller stretches of waterfront, including El Pescador, La Piedra, and El Matador beaches. The latter has dramatic rock formations and caves to explore, and all three are great spots for tide pooling and beachcombing.

El Matador.
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3. Point Dume State Beach

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6800 Westward Beach Rd
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 457-8143
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Some of Malibu’s best beaches are relatively hidden and require some preliminary research to access. The state beach here is not one of those, but it connects to nice hiking trails and sits adjacent to one of Malibu’s most famous secret beaches: Pirate’s Cove, where the iconic final scene of Planet of the Apes was filmed.

Point Dume State Beach.
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4. Will Rogers State Beach

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17000 CA-1
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
(424) 526-7777
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A little north of the Santa Monica Pier you'll find this low-key beach park with plenty of sand to stretch out on. It’s a good place for swimming, picnicking, or playing volleyball (the nets here are plentiful). It’s also where the 22-mile Marvin Braude bike trail begins, so bring a beach cruiser (or rent one) and explore the coast.

Will Rogers State Beach.
AP

5. Santa Monica Beach

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Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Santa Monica Beach is easily one of the best-known landmarks in the entire LA region. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty crowded at all times of the year. To avoid major traffic/parking struggles, take the Expo Line or one of the many Big Blue Buses that stop within a short walk to the water. The beach itself is quite wide, so there’s usually space to lay out a towel. If you plan on swimming, though, don’t do so close to the pier—head a little farther north, where the water’s cleaner.

Santa Monica Beach.
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6. Dockweiler Beach

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12000 Vista Del Mar
Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
(424) 526-7777
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Look at that sparkling water! Feel that pristine sand! Can you believe how easy it was to park? As long as you pay attention to these things, it’s easy to ignore the hulking power plant behind you—and the noise of planes taking off from LAX. Dockweiler is far from perfect, but it’s accessible, centrally located, and rarely crowded. In Los Angeles, that counts for a lot.

Dockweiler Beach.
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7. Topaz Jetty

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Esplanade
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Looking to get far away from tourists? The area south of Topaz Jetty is another mellow sun-bathing spot on a beach that feels classic Southern California. The amenities are limited, and if you want a little more hustle and bustle, the creaky, kitschy Redondo Beach Pier—where Dennis Wilson and Mike Love first decided to write a song about surfing—is just a short walk away. Access the beach via a set of public stairs at Topaz and Esplanade.

8. Torrance Beach

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Torrance Beach
Torrance, CA 90277

Somewhat overshadowed by Redondo and Manhattan beaches to the north, Torrance is arguably more scenic, with the hills of Palos Verdes framing its southern boundary. It’s also usually less crowded. As an added bonus, you can end your day with world-class Japanese food by heading a few miles inland.

Torrance Beach.
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9. Abalone Cove Shoreline Park

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5970 Palos Verdes Dr S
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
(310) 544-5366
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The bluffs above Abalone Cove provide spectacular oceanfront vistas, and the beach below has a rocky shoreline perfect for exploring tide pools. With pristine water and plenty of marine life, it’s also one of the better LA beaches for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.
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10. Cabrillo Beach

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Cabrillo Beach
Los Angeles, CA 90731

Like the neighborhood of San Pedro where it’s located, Cabrillo Beach is unpretentious and often overlooked. But the beach is family-friendly, scenic, and rich with amenities. Check out the sea creatures at the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (designed by Frank Gehry) and admire the rehabilitated Mediterranean-style bathhouse, built in 1932. And if you plan on swimming, do so on the oceanside of the beach.

Cabrillo Beach.
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11. Rosie's Dog Beach

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5000 E Ocean Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90803
(562) 570-3100
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If you and your dog want to hit the waves, this is pretty much your only option in Los Angeles County (Head to Huntington Dog Beach in Orange County for a bit more off-leash space). As such, it does tend to fill up on weekends, so be prepared for some very competitive games of fetch. And make sure to pick up after your dog. (Waste bags can be found on site.)

12. Sunset Beach

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Sunset Beach
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Just north of the larger Bolsa Chica State Beach, and the Huntington Beach Pier beyond that, Sunset Beach offers plenty of white sand and a slightly more laid back vibe than you’ll find elsewhere in Surf City. Get there early and you might even be able to nab a free parking space near Anderson Avenue.

13. Crystal Cove State Beach

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7402 Pacific Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92657
(909) 949-2425
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This large state park also includes multiple beaches and offers ample opportunity to participate in just about any beachy activity imaginable—from kayaking to body surfing to tide pooling. If you plan your trip far enough in advance, you can even stay overnight at one of the historic cottages along the shoreline, built between the 1920s and 1940s.

Crystal Cove State Beach.
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1. Point Mugu Beach

Point Mugu Beach, California 90265
Point Mugu Beach.
Shutterstock

It’s a long haul out to this beach, just past the Ventura County border, but the payoff is a dramatic, rocky shoreline where you’ll witness some of Southern California’s most spectacular sunsets. You can also cool off in the waves after a hike in the adjoining state park.

2. Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach

Malibu, CA 90265
El Matador.
Shutterstock

This large state beach includes several smaller stretches of waterfront, including El Pescador, La Piedra, and El Matador beaches. The latter has dramatic rock formations and caves to explore, and all three are great spots for tide pooling and beachcombing.

3. Point Dume State Beach

6800 Westward Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265
Point Dume State Beach.
Shutterstock

Some of Malibu’s best beaches are relatively hidden and require some preliminary research to access. The state beach here is not one of those, but it connects to nice hiking trails and sits adjacent to one of Malibu’s most famous secret beaches: Pirate’s Cove, where the iconic final scene of Planet of the Apes was filmed.

6800 Westward Beach Rd
Malibu, CA 90265

4. Will Rogers State Beach

17000 CA-1, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Will Rogers State Beach.
AP

A little north of the Santa Monica Pier you'll find this low-key beach park with plenty of sand to stretch out on. It’s a good place for swimming, picnicking, or playing volleyball (the nets here are plentiful). It’s also where the 22-mile Marvin Braude bike trail begins, so bring a beach cruiser (or rent one) and explore the coast.

17000 CA-1
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

5. Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Santa Monica Beach.
Shutterstock

Santa Monica Beach is easily one of the best-known landmarks in the entire LA region. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty crowded at all times of the year. To avoid major traffic/parking struggles, take the Expo Line or one of the many Big Blue Buses that stop within a short walk to the water. The beach itself is quite wide, so there’s usually space to lay out a towel. If you plan on swimming, though, don’t do so close to the pier—head a little farther north, where the water’s cleaner.

Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica, CA 90401

6. Dockweiler Beach

12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
Dockweiler Beach.
Shutterstock

Look at that sparkling water! Feel that pristine sand! Can you believe how easy it was to park? As long as you pay attention to these things, it’s easy to ignore the hulking power plant behind you—and the noise of planes taking off from LAX. Dockweiler is far from perfect, but it’s accessible, centrally located, and rarely crowded. In Los Angeles, that counts for a lot.

12000 Vista Del Mar
Playa Del Rey, CA 90293

7. Topaz Jetty

Esplanade, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Looking to get far away from tourists? The area south of Topaz Jetty is another mellow sun-bathing spot on a beach that feels classic Southern California. The amenities are limited, and if you want a little more hustle and bustle, the creaky, kitschy Redondo Beach Pier—where Dennis Wilson and Mike Love first decided to write a song about surfing—is just a short walk away. Access the beach via a set of public stairs at Topaz and Esplanade.

Esplanade
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

8. Torrance Beach

Torrance Beach, Torrance, CA 90277
Torrance Beach.
Shutterstock

Somewhat overshadowed by Redondo and Manhattan beaches to the north, Torrance is arguably more scenic, with the hills of Palos Verdes framing its southern boundary. It’s also usually less crowded. As an added bonus, you can end your day with world-class Japanese food by heading a few miles inland.

Torrance Beach
Torrance, CA 90277

9. Abalone Cove Shoreline Park

5970 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.
Shutterstock

The bluffs above Abalone Cove provide spectacular oceanfront vistas, and the beach below has a rocky shoreline perfect for exploring tide pools. With pristine water and plenty of marine life, it’s also one of the better LA beaches for snorkeling and scuba diving.

5970 Palos Verdes Dr S
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

10. Cabrillo Beach

Cabrillo Beach, Los Angeles, CA 90731
Cabrillo Beach.
Shutterstock

Like the neighborhood of San Pedro where it’s located, Cabrillo Beach is unpretentious and often overlooked. But the beach is family-friendly, scenic, and rich with amenities. Check out the sea creatures at the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (designed by Frank Gehry) and admire the rehabilitated Mediterranean-style bathhouse, built in 1932. And if you plan on swimming, do so on the oceanside of the beach.

Cabrillo Beach
Los Angeles, CA 90731

11. Rosie's Dog Beach

5000 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90803

If you and your dog want to hit the waves, this is pretty much your only option in Los Angeles County (Head to Huntington Dog Beach in Orange County for a bit more off-leash space). As such, it does tend to fill up on weekends, so be prepared for some very competitive games of fetch. And make sure to pick up after your dog. (Waste bags can be found on site.)

5000 E Ocean Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90803

12. Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Just north of the larger Bolsa Chica State Beach, and the Huntington Beach Pier beyond that, Sunset Beach offers plenty of white sand and a slightly more laid back vibe than you’ll find elsewhere in Surf City. Get there early and you might even be able to nab a free parking space near Anderson Avenue.

Sunset Beach
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

13. Crystal Cove State Beach

7402 Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92657
Crystal Cove State Beach.
Shutterstock

This large state park also includes multiple beaches and offers ample opportunity to participate in just about any beachy activity imaginable—from kayaking to body surfing to tide pooling. If you plan your trip far enough in advance, you can even stay overnight at one of the historic cottages along the shoreline, built between the 1920s and 1940s.

7402 Pacific Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92657

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