With over 20 beaches to choose from, deciding where to lay your towel in Los Angeles can be a challenge. Use our guide to find the best places to surf and swim or loop the loop.
BEST FOR…Beach perfection
It’s not just the spangly bathrooms, this place ticks all the super beach boxes, and is the unofficial gay beach of LA. Unfortunately the sea is a ‘look but don’t touch’ teaser; don’t assume your itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini will uphold your modesty after a swim in those monstrous waves!
Eat & Drink: Make a beeline for the hot dog and soda stand.
This is definitely as good as budget entertainment gets! You can spend hours watching the weightlifters and gymnasts at Muscle Beach, the pimped up dogs and their pimped up walkers, fire-eaters, jugglers and old age hippies.
Eat & Drink: Candle Cafe & Grill
Our pick of the boardwalk eateries. Pop on your Jackie-O’s to watch LA’s weird and wonderful wander by. 325 Ocean Front Walk.
Most of LA’s beaches have spectacular surf spots but if you don’t mind the 20 mile drive north, the consistently high waves at Zuma nudges it in to the top spot. Good views, clean sand and top junk food – take it or leave it.
BEST FOR…Bonfire parties
This is, in fact, the only beach in LA where they allow bonfires, so it’s a popular party spot with clusters of guitars, families with BBQs and youths on parade, blaring soundsystems underarm. At sunset, some may find the busy overhead flightpath romantic, others not. The bathrooms are atrocious too.
Eat & Drink: Bring your own BBQ provisions. Alcohol is prohibited on LA beaches but you’ll notice people swigging from tell-tale disposable red cups.
The volleyball tournament held here in August = a massive party. The surrounding area is squeamishly perfect with quaint cottages, flower borders and a picture-postcard pier.
Eat & Drink: The Kettle
A 24hr joint serving American diner food and all manner of niceties. 1138 Highland Avenue.
BEST FOR…Community feel
This one is a bit out of town but it’s where locals venture at weekends to visit the marina. If you visit in the summer months you might catch one of the free concerts or festivals held along the pier and there are also a number of good places to eat too.
Eat & Drink: The Green Temple
Strives to be all things good and green and uses mostly organic produce for vegetarian dishes like Mexican wraps, enchiladas, pitas and hearty soups. All set against a beautiful backdrop of lush, exotic foliage, fountain and rich textiles. 1700 Catalina Ave.
BEST FOR…The kid in you
The golden days of bathing clubs and gambling ships are, sadly, only found in black and white movies these days. Santa Monica is now a tourist sprawl of screaming kids, chain stores and thrill rides.
But, wearing your strongest rose-tinted glasses, the pier has a well-restored 1922 wooden carousel and there is still a nice view to be had from the palisades stretch looking down to the beach. If you still can’t stand it, bike hire is cheap and you can take advantage of the wonderful cycle lanes riding north to Malibu or south to Redondo and back in half a day.
Eat & Drink: Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Although not much to look at from the outside, you’ll be able to pick up everything you need for a picnic here, including the plastic cutlery. Build your own sandwich and choose from a few Italian delicacies, sodas, chips and cookies. 1517 Lincoln Bld.
BEST FOR…Peace & quiet
Another trek to the south but the distance means you don’t get the maddening throngs of tourists. There is a nice mix of restaurants and beach bars that don’t mind people traipsing in wearing towels, flipflops and depositing small quantities of sand about the place. Keep an eye out for some nice boutiques too.
Eat & Drink: Hennessey’s Tavern
Don’t be put off by the obvious prime pier location. You can laze in your trunks on the roof deck and enjoy the ocean view or a spot of people-watching. 8 Pier Ave.
Another local favorite is Poop Deck, located on the Strand (1272) and with humble offerings of beer served up with amazing views.
Thanks to elfidomx, LisaLiang, MikeFinkelstein, katsniffen, chrisamichaels ,WHU and jen robinson for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.