Exploring Los Angeles' Beaches, Photo: Katrina Woznicki

The View From the Santa Monica Pier!

Beyond the glitter of Hollywood and the grit of downtown Los Angeles, America's second-largest city is also home to 72 miles of pristine coastline, and more than 30 beaches, many of them protected by LA County and the State of California. We visit LA every year and try to explore a new beach while returning to favorites. Whether your passion lies in surfing, sunbathing, or simply just hanging out and taking in the sun and sea, LA has a beach for every personality and interest.

Santa Monica State Beach – A Classic

Yes, it can be crowded, but Santa Monica State Beach offers so much. The iconic Santa Monica Pier is hugely popular among locals and tourists enjoying a carnival-like atmosphere of rides, games, and food. Bike rentals are available on the pier and bike paths take you down the beach for miles to some of the quieter beaches, like Will Rogers State Beach three miles away. Or rollerblade your way to the Annenberg Community Beach House, which is open to the public, and rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and boogie boards. Here and elsewhere around Santa Monica State Beach, there are several cafes,  well-maintained restrooms, on-duty lifeguards, and opportunities to purchase beach gear, making Santa Monica a top choice among families.

Will Rogers State Beach – A Quieter Spot

This beach is better known among residents than tourists, which makes it an ideal place to step away from the crowds and relax. With the Pacific Coast Highway running parallel, the beach is named after the celebrity whose ranch sits nearby. There aren't as many snacking options here as at Santa Monica, but if you stock up beforehand, Will Rogers State Beach is a lovely spot for a picnic because you're not competing for space. The waves are better suited for swimming than surfing, and competitive beach volleyball games are often being played out. Feel free to join in.

Surfrider Beach – Get Your Board Ready

The name says it all. Surf's up at Malibu's Surfrider Beach, formally known as Malibu Lagoon State Beach, where surfers from experienced to beginner levels come to ride the waves. This beach is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, even if you're not into surfing, the rugged coastline offers plenty of eye candy—mountains, sea, birds, sunshine, it's all here. The wooden pier is a popular spot for bird-watching, people-watching, fishing, and just taking in all this ocean bliss.

Venice Beach – A Circus By the Water

The atmosphere at Venice Beach has sometimes been described like a circus, and feels like Mardi Gras seven days a week. Performers, like jugglers tossing chainsaws, fortune tellers, acrobats piling up top of one another, and artists show off their talents on Ocean Front Walk, giving visitors plenty of entertainment. Venice Beach has long drawn eclectic, artistic types since the 1950s and 1960s when it became a hot spot for the Beat generation, where poets and artists shared their work. Today, Venice Beach continues to remain a popular LA destination for artists and visitors, where people come to swim and work on their tan as much as they come to people watch.

Hermosa City Beach

Hermosa combines family fun with the surf scene, making this beach a growing favorite among different types of people. With its white sands and ample pedestrian lanes and parking, Hermosa City Beach is very accessible and provides visitors with a variety of shops, cafes, and ways to while away an afternoon along Pier Avenue. Play volleyball, build a sand castle, catch a wave, fish, read a book, whatever your pleasure, Hermosa Beach accommodates.

For more information about visiting Los Angeles and its beaches, visit www.discoverlosangeles.com. You can learn more by visiting LA County's Department of Beaches and Harbors' website http://beaches.lacounty.gov.

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photo: Katrina Woznicki


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