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Posted by on Mar 18, 2009 in Beaches, Places To Go, Spring Break, West Coast | 0 comments

Top 10 So Cal Beaches

There are so many famous beaches in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego that it would take weeks to see them all.  If you ever get the chance to cruise Pacific Coast Highway 101 along the laidback beaches of Southern California, here is a breakdown of the So Cal beach scene. Step one: Put on oversized shades… 



Jerome SlagleWhen I used to live in Southern California back in the day, this was the beach we went to every chance we could get. It’s also known as “Surf City”, because it’s a primo spot for surfing. There is now an outdoor shopping pavilion in Huntington with surf shops, clothing stores, restaurants and bars for nighttime entertainment. There is also a dog beach here where you can let Fido off the leash to run and play in the ocean.




Thanks to The OC, it’s assumed that most people have at least heard of Newport Beach. Full of yachts and Mc-Mansions, Newport has some of the wealthiest residents in Southern California. There are also many vacation rental homes on the peninsula and more on Balboa Island, which is a ferry ride away. Downtown Newport has several bars and restaurants, including some very posh sushi joints with incredibly fresh seafood, and the ultra-trendy Fashion Island, an upscale shopping hub. Experienced and daring bodysurfers can visit The Wedge, a spot near the pier where the wave break literally forms a wedge that crashes right on the shore. But don’t bring your board. Surfing is not allowed at The Wedge. During the winter, Newport is one of the best places to go on a whale-watching tour on the Pacific.



Once again, those kids on that show made Laguna Beach a part of many people’s general knowledge. What you may not have learned from the Mtv show is that Laguna is actually a center for local artists. There are numerous art galleries and an annual art festival in the summer. Laguna is unique because of its many rocky bays, tidal pools and secluded coves. In the heart of downtown Laguna are basketball and volleyball courts near the beach and tons of shops and restaurants.



PatrickSmithPhotographyOne of LA’s most popular beaches, Santa Monica is the best combination of beach and city. It is one of the widest beaches in Southern California, with a bike path traveling underneath the pier, volleyball nets, the famous Muscle Beach, and Pacific Park amusement park. Located on the pier, the amusement park has a Ferris wheel providing a view of the coastline, a vintage carousel, and arcade games galore. Santa Monica also has the Third Street Promenade, a several-block outdoor shopping area. On Thursday nights during the summer, a free outdoor concert series takes place. Santa Monica is located close to Beverly Hills and Hollywood as well.  


People watching may be the most entertaining attraction at Venice Beach. Street vendors, performers and all kinds of LA’s most eccentric people populate this artsy, alternative beach community. Look out for invitations to “the gun show” as beach-goers pump iron at Venice Beach   Gym, an outdoor workout area.   



The place where many celebrities reside in hidden hilltop mansions, Malibu is the stretch of coast with beachfront houses built right along the shoreline, and a common location for filming. Zuma Beach is the best place in Malibu for surfing although it can get very crowded.  



szekeInsiders know that this is the actual place where The OC was filmed, not Newport. Manhattan Beach is popular among the mid 20’s age crowd for its surfing and packed bars and nightclubs. El Porto is the surfing and boogie boarding destination. Land lovers can enjoy the Strand, a path along the beach for biking, jogging, and rollerblading.  



If you get a chance to make it south to San Diego, Mission Beach is one of the best beaches to enjoy San Diego’s slightly warmer temperatures, and Belmont Park, which holds the famous roller coaster the Giant Dipper. Keep your eyes open for tricked-out, chrome low-rider bicycles along the 4 mile long boardwalk. There are also nearby attractions in San Diego like the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and Balboa Park.  



Near San Diego, La Jolla is not the rowdiest town, but this bay area is one of the best locations in Southern California for snorkeling in the coves. Watch out for the stingrays though.  



The quintessential California beach, cars or trucks can be driven right on the white sand beach here. The beach is known for Pismo Clams, which are represented on signs all over town, but you will need a license to go clamming.


It takes only two words to sum up Blacks Beach. Those words are “clothing optional.” The beach is wide and long, hidden below a large cliff which make for excellent hiking trails and provides privacy for nude sunbathers. Its seclusion can make getting down to the water a bit tricky. But once on the shore, it is a great beach for surfing, besides the fact that there are no lifeguard towers like most of the other public beaches in California. So don’t hold your breath for a Baywatch moment, although there is often some kind of filming or photo-shoot happening here.  


By: Carrie McCloud

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