best LA & Orange County beaches

by | Mar 12, 2024 | local guide

Looking for the ultimate beach experience in Southern California? Our comprehensive guide to the best beaches in Los Angeles and Orange County is your passport to sun-soaked adventures and unforgettable memories.

Best Los Angeles County beaches ☀️

Let’s cruise through Los Angeles County’s most stunning beaches, from the serene Will Rogers State Beach to the lively Venice Beach.

Will Rogers State Beach 🏖️

Best for relaxation, adventure, and family days

Situated in the picturesque neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, Will Rogers State Beach is a sprawling stretch of golden sands and deep blue sea. As a part of Santa Monica Bay, it provides a refreshing retreat from the city bustle, drawing both locals and tourists alike.

Will Rogers State Beach

Famed for beach volleyball and kite surfing, Will Rogers State Beach is a magnet for sports enthusiasts, drawing competitors and fans across the globe to its tournaments. Here’s what makes this beach a must-visit:

  • Volleyball Courts: Home to high-level competitions and available for public use.
  • Scenic Bike Path: Perfect for enjoying the coastal beauty on two wheels.
  • Accessible Facilities: Ensuring a convenient visit for everyone.
  • Designated Pet Areas: These are where your furry friends can join the beach fun.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Visit in late spring to early summer to enjoy the perfect beach weather before the peak season crowds.

Parking at Will Rogers State Beach: vary from $8 to $15.

Will Rogers State Beach is more than just a stretch of sand; it’s where sports, leisure, and natural beauty intersect.

Santa Monica Beach 🎡

Best for relaxation, cultural experiences, and family fun

Nestled against the vibrant backdrop of Santa Monica, this iconic beach stretches with wide, sandy expanses and offers a quintessential California beach experience. Known for its famous pier, Santa Monica Beach attracts visitors from around the globe with its blend of natural beauty and entertainment options.

Santa Monica Beach

A cultural and leisure beacon, Santa Monica Beach dazzles with its solar-powered Ferris wheel on the pier—offering unparalleled Pacific views and a playground for sun-seekers.

Pack your day’s essentials in a durable beach bag, perfect for carrying everything from sunscreen lotion to a good book, ensuring a carefree day under the Santa Monica sun.

Street performers, artists, and the occasional outdoor concert enhance the beach’s lively atmosphere. Highlights include:

  • Pacific Park: An amusement park on the pier with rides and games for all ages.
  • Solar-Powered Ferris Wheel: Offering breathtaking views and a unique experience.
  • Beach Volleyball Courts: Available for public use, where locals and visitors engage in spirited games.
  • Outdoor Fitness Areas: Including the original Muscle Beach, famous for its outdoor gym.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Winter brings quieter sands, the chance to enjoy the beach’s beauty with fewer crowds, and stunning sunsets.

Parking at Santa Monica Beach: varies from $7 to $18.

Santa Monica Beach offers a perfect mix of leisure and vibrant cultural experiences, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking to capture the essence of a Southern California beach day.

Venice Beach 🎨🌴

Best for adventure, cultural exploration, and eclectic experiences

Venice Beach vibrates with bohemian spirit, showcasing Southern California’s eclectic culture through its vibrant boardwalk scene. This iconic beach is a melting pot of artists, street performers, and fitness enthusiasts, making it a destination that’s as lively as it is picturesque.

Venice Beach in Los Angeles

From the world-famous Venice Boardwalk, where creativity and culture spill from every corner to the legendary Venice Skate Park, this beach offers an experience unlike any other. Highlights of Venice Beach include:

  • Venice Skate Park: A haven for skateboarders, with stunning ocean views as a backdrop.
  • Muscle Beach Venice: The renowned outdoor gym that’s a hotspot for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders.
  • Eclectic Boardwalk: Home to artists, musicians, and vendors, offering a unique shopping and entertainment experience.
  • Canals of Venice: Beautiful waterways that provide a peaceful escape from the bustling boardwalk.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: The summer months are prime for experiencing the full vibrancy of street performances and outdoor activities.

Parking at Venice Beach: varies from $5 to $30 per day.

Embracing the essence of creativity and freedom, Venice Beach is the place for those seeking adventure, cultural exploration, and a taste of California’s eclectic lifestyle.

Manhattan Beach 🏄‍♂️

Best for relaxation, sports, and upscale experiences

Manhattan Beach epitomizes the upscale yet laid-back beach lifestyle synonymous with Southern California’s coast. Its clean, wide beaches, beautiful pier, and high-end boutiques blend leisure and luxury.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach’s prestigious beach volleyball scene and scenic pier home to the Roundhouse Aquarium epitomizes coastal chic and active leisure. Highlights of Manhattan Beach include:

  • Beach Volleyball Courts: A hotspot for both casual play and professional tournaments.
  • Roundhouse Aquarium: Located at the end of the pier, offering educational and fun experiences for all ages.
  • The Strand: A scenic walkway perfect for jogging, biking, and viewing the ocean.
  • Upscale Dining: A variety of high-end restaurants and cozy cafés line the streets, providing exquisite culinary experiences.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Autumn is perfect for enjoying the beach’s natural beauty with cooler temperatures and less crowded conditions.

Parking at Manhattan Beach: Parking lots cost $2.00/hour.

Whether it’s enjoying the tranquility of the sea, engaging in beach sports, or exploring the upscale amenities, Manhattan Beach offers a refined yet vibrant beach experience that captivates visitors and locals alike. Remember, protecting your skin with a high-quality sunscreen lotion is essential for a worry-free beach day.

Redondo Beach ⛵️

Best for family outings, water sports, and scenic walks

Redondo Beach entices families with its gentle waves, lively pier, and bustling harbor—perfect for a day of water sports and exploration. Its expansive marina and classic boardwalk have countless activities and dining options.

Redondo Beach, CA

From leisurely kayaking in the calm waters to exploring the unique shops and eateries along the Redondo Beach Pier, this beach provides a comprehensive coastal experience. Highlights of Redondo Beach include:

  • Redondo Beach Pier: Famous for its horseshoe shape, offering dining, shopping, and fishing.
  • Water Sports: Kayak, paddleboard, and pedal boat rentals are available for exploring the marina.
  • Veterans Park: A green space adjacent to the beach, perfect for picnics and outdoor activities.
  • Seaside Lagoon: A saltwater lagoon ideal for swimming and family fun.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Spring sees the migration of gray whales, making it an ideal time for whale watching from the beach or a boat tour.

Parking at Redondo Beach: Parking is $2.00 each hour at the pier and surrounding lots.

Redondo Beach has diverse offerings, from serene beach days and water activities to exploring the lively pier and marina, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a multifaceted beach experience.

Dockweiler State Beach 🌅

Best for bonfires, RV camping, and airplane spotting

Dockweiler State Beach is a unique stretch along the Los Angeles coastline. It is notable for its wide sandy beaches, beachfront bonfire pits, and proximity to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), offering a unique blend of relaxation and excitement.

Dockweiler State Beach

This beach is particularly famous for its bonfire pits, allowing visitors to enjoy the rare pleasure of beachside fires under the stars. Its location under the flight path of LAX adds an extraordinary dimension to beach outings with the sight of airplanes flying overhead. Highlights of Dockweiler State Beach include:

  • Beach Bonfire Pits: Over 75 pits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, perfect for gatherings.
  • RV Park: Equipped with full hook-ups, this is one of the few beachfront RV parks in Los Angeles.
  • Hang Gliding: The nearby Hang Gliding Training Center offers lessons and experiences for all skill levels.
  • Bike Path: Part of the 22-mile Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail, ideal for cyclists and rollerbladers.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Participate in the summer grunion run, a fascinating natural event where these fish spawn on the sand at night.

Parking at Dockweiler State Beach: varies from $7 to $15, offering ample space for visitors.

Unique for its beach bonfires and RV camping against an unusual backdrop of overhead plane landings, Dockweiler promises adventure and relaxation under your own beach tent. Don’t forget your cozy beach towel for a comfortable spot on the sand.

Los Angeles County best beaches

Best beaches in Orange County 🏄‍♀️

Step into Orange County’s coastal paradise, from Newport Beach’s elegance to Seal Beach’s quiet charm, where you can lounge under a beach umbrella as you enjoy the view.

Newport Beach 🍹

Best for luxury outings, surfing, and family activities

Elegance meets surf culture at Newport Beach, where pristine sands and upscale dining complement the thrill of world-class waves. Its sophisticated charm and array of water activities make it a preferred destination for relaxation and adventure seekers.

Newport Beach, CA

From the iconic Newport Pier to the adrenaline-pumping waves of The Wedge, Newport Beach caters to a diverse crowd. Highlights include:

  • Luxury Shopping and Dining: Explore fashionable boutiques and waterfront dining options.
  • Surfing Spots: Renowned locations like The Wedge offer thrilling surf experiences.
  • Family-Friendly Beaches: Calm waters and playgrounds are perfect for visitors of all ages.
  • Boat Rentals and Cruises: Enjoy the harbor on a leisurely cruise or by renting a vessel.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Winter in Newport Beach is a gem, especially in December when the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade lights up the harbor. For surfers, winter swells bring the best waves to spots like The Wedge.

Parking at Newport Beach: varies from $1.50 per hour to a maximum of $15 for all-day parking.

With its mix of luxury and leisure, Newport Beach stands out as a premier destination for those seeking the quintessential Southern California beach experience.

Huntington Beach 🏄‍♂️

Best for surfing, beach sports, and social gatherings

‘Surf City USA’ lives up to its name, offering surfers paradise with Huntington Beach’s expansive sands and steady waves. This vibrant beach town is famous for its surf culture, lively pier, and active community.

Huntington beach picnic spot

The beach’s expansive shoreline is perfect for various beach sports and gatherings, making it a social hub for locals and visitors alike. Highlights of Huntington Beach include:

  • Surfing Competitions: Home to the annual US Open of Surfing, attracting competitors from around the world.
  • Beach Volleyball Courts: Numerous courts are available for public use and tournaments.
  • Huntington Beach Pier: A landmark offering fishing, dining, and panoramic ocean views.
  • Dog Beach: A dedicated beach area where dogs can play and enjoy the sand.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Summer is iconic here, with the US Open of Surfing in late July or early August drawing crowds for the world-class surfing competition and vibrant beach culture.

Parking at Huntington Beach: $3 per hour non-peak, $4 per hour during peak season.

Huntington Beach embodies the spirit of the Southern California surf culture, offering endless opportunities for adventure, sports, and making connections.

Diver’s Cove & Main Beach in Laguna Beach 🌴🌊

Best for snorkeling, family outings, and art lovers

Diver’s Cove and Main Beach shine in Laguna Beach, blending artistic vibrancy with the natural beauty of serene coves. In particular, Diver’s Cove and Main Beach offer crystal-clear waters and a bustling boardwalk brimming with artistic flair.

best beaches in Orange County

These beaches are perfect for exploring underwater worlds or enjoying the sun on sandy shores. Highlights include:

  • Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: Explore vibrant marine life in the clear waters of Diver’s Cove.
  • Art Galleries: Laguna Beach’s boardwalk is dotted with galleries showcasing local and international artists.
  • Playgrounds and Picnic Areas: Family-friendly amenities make it an excellent spot for a day out with loved ones.
  • Volleyball Courts: Available at Main Beach for sports enthusiasts to enjoy.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Spring is magical, as wildflowers bloom along coastal trails, and the weather is mild. This time of year is less crowded, offering a serene beach experience and optimal conditions for snorkeling in Diver’s Cove.

Parking at Laguna Beach: rates range from $2.75-$4.95 per hour, with most meters having a 3-hour limit.

Diver’s Cove and Main Beach in Laguna Beach offer a serene yet vibrant beach experience, appealing to families and art enthusiasts alike.

Corona Del Mar State Beach 🐚🏖️

Best for swimming, relaxing, and scenic views

Crown of the Sea,’ Corona Del Mar, captivates with its breathtaking cliffs and tranquil waters, perfect for a serene getaway. This beach is a favorite among families and couples looking for a tranquil seaside escape.

corona del mar state beach

Nestled in the sophisticated town of Corona Del Mar, this beach boasts soft sands, rock formations, and a variety of ocean wildlife, making it perfect for leisure and exploration. Highlights include:

  • Family-Friendly Waters: The beach’s calm waters are ideal for swimming and paddleboarding.
  • Inspiration Point: Offers breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and spectacular sunsets.
  • Tide Pools: Explore marine life in the beach’s natural tide pools.
  • Grassy Areas and Fire Pits: Perfect for picnics and evening bonfires.

⭐ Seasonal highlight: Autumn offers warm, clear days and less crowded conditions, perfect for enjoying stunning sunsets and exploring the tide pools without the summer rush.

Parking at Corona Del Mar State Beach: $15 per day for main beach parking.

Corona Del Mar State Beach is a picturesque oasis perfect for those seeking a peaceful day at the beach with stunning scenic views.

Seal Beach 🌊

Best for quiet relaxation, surfing, and small-town charm

Seal Beach charms with its small-town vibe and relaxed beachfront, an oasis of calm next to its more vibrant neighbors. Its charming Main Street, wooden pier, and welcoming sandy shores make it a hidden gem for visitors seeking solace and simplicity.

Seal Beach, CA

Ideal for those looking to escape the crowds, Seal Beach provides a serene atmosphere for beachgoers, surfers, and families. Ease your journey across the soft sands with a convenient beach wagon, ideal for hauling coolers, beach lounge chairs, and other essentials for a perfect day at Seal Beach. Highlights of Seal Beach include:

  • Wooden Pier: One of the longest in California, offering fishing and scenic strolls.
  • Main Street Shopping: Lined with boutiques, cafés, and restaurants, reflecting the town’s small-town charm.
  • Surfing Spots: Known for its excellent surfing conditions, especially at the north end of the beach.
  • Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge: A haven for bird watchers and nature lovers.

Seasonal highlight: Early fall brings the Seal Beach Classic Car Show, adding a festive atmosphere to this quiet town. The water is still warm enough for swimming, and the summer tourist crowds have dissipated, making it ideal for a relaxed beach day.

Parking at Seal Beach: starts at $2 per hour, with all-day options available.

Seal Beach’s quiet relaxation, surfing opportunities, and charming small-town atmosphere make it a cherished spot for those searching for a genuine Southern California beach day.

Enhance your beach experience ✨

Whether you crave serene relaxation, thrilling surf, cultural immersion, or engaging activities, the beaches of Los Angeles and Orange County will not disappoint. When you want to pause from all the beachside fun, why not enhance your experience with a luxury picnic?

low picnic table rentals in Los Angeles

At Picnic Makers, a premier provider of luxury picnics in Los Angeles, we curate sophisticated picnic experiences that cater to your unique tastes. Book online your luxury pop-up picnic experience today and make your beach visit unforgettable.

Discover more of Southern California’s breathtaking coastlines with our Ultimate Guide to Malibu’s Best Beaches.


Do you have more questions about your upcoming beach adventure? Our FAQ section covers everything from the best times to visit to the activities available, ensuring you’re fully prepared for an unforgettable experience.

Can I swim at all these beaches?

Yes, swimming is allowed at all listed beaches. However, always check for lifeguard presence and heed any posted warnings about surf conditions.

Are there any beaches suitable for surfing in Los Angeles and Orange County?

Huntington Beach, known as “Surf City USA,” is famed for its surf conditions. Newport Beach, particularly The Wedge, offers high waves for experienced surfers.

What is the best time of year to visit these beaches?

Southern California’s climate is pleasant throughout the year, but the prime time for beach visits is from May through October when temperatures are warmer.

Which beaches are recommended for a quiet visit?

For those seeking tranquility, Seal Beach in Orange County is known for its peaceful ambiance and charming small-town vibe, making it ideal for a serene beach day.

In Los Angeles County, Manhattan Beach offers a more laid-back experience than its busier neighbors, with spacious areas for relaxation.

Corona Del Mar State Beach in Orange County offers a quiet retreat with stunning views, less crowded sands, and a more secluded atmosphere.

What facilities are available at these beaches?

Facilities vary but typically include restrooms, showers, lifeguard services, and parking. Specific beaches offer additional amenities like playgrounds, volleyball courts, and picnic areas.

Can I fish at these beaches?

Many of these beaches have piers where fishing is permitted. Huntington Beach Pier and Redondo Beach Pier are popular spots.

For those who love the coast, exploring the best beaches in Los Angeles and Orange County through our guide ensures you discover the perfect spots for every type of beachgoer, from serene shores to bustling boardwalks.

When you want to pause from all the beachside fun, why not enhance your experience with a luxury picnic in Orange County?

Olga and Vlad Picnic Makers

Vlad and Olga

Hello, beautiful souls! 🌸 We’re Vlad and Olga, the storytellers behind each journey. Join us on this adventure as we share tales of joy, celebration, and a life well-lived. Thanks for being part of our magical story! 🌟

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