Best LA Beaches
This is a non-exhaustive list of our favorite places to have a beach day in Los Angeles!
South Bay Beaches
Manhattan Beach Pier: Our favorite beach in the whole wide world! We love the big pier, the easy metered parking (I’ve never NOT found a spot right next to the sand) and the fantastic restaurants. We gravitate towards The Kettle and The Manhattan Beach Creamery. We also love the recently redone roundhouse aquarium at the end of the pier. They have a little touch pool and it’s just the right size for toddlers. We also enjoy walking up and down and admiring the homes on The Strand which connects all three of the beach cities.
Redondo Beach: Oh Redondo, how we love you! We come here to escape the crowds and spot dolphins. There is a beautiful park overlooking the ocean that has a cute farmer’s market on Thursdays. Our favorite place to park is the metered parking at Veteran’s Park. Bring quarters for the meters, they don’t take cards. You can push your stroller down a long driveway OR brave one long set of stairs from the parking lot. The pier itself is due for a remodel, but there are lot of food options. I love the little smoothie place best of all!
Hermosa Beach: The name says it all. This beach has so much to offer. It’s a great starting out place for bike rides and strollerblading. It has a huge plaza on the beach for shopping and date nights. Parking is easy and cheap at $1.25/hr on average. Our favorite spot to park is 22nd and Hermosa if we are doing just beach (metered street parking, they take cards) or in the big lot just south of the plaza (pay at a machine, also take cards). During the day it’s a family place but it also draws a large amount of college kids in the evenings. Our favorite restaurant is Hennessy’s Tavern (delicious affordable brunch overlooking the ocean) and our favorite gelato is Paciugo. Alex says this is his favorite gelato place he’s ever been to including his 3-4 gelato stops per day in Italy. American Junkie also has a place in our hearts for their Wednesday $1 Wings and line dancing! Fun fact: the dance scene in “LaLa Land” was filmed on Hermosa Pier.
El Porto in Manhattan Beach. We love this beach because the swings face the ocean and the parking is easy ($1.25/hr, metered parking lot but they take cards!). It’s a surfer beach where you’ll see professionals getting in their morning ride and then changing into their suits for work! Easy waves for beginners and enough break for everyone so not territorial. Food options limited to one overpriced food stand.
Palos Verdes: If you’re looking for quintessential California beach scenery, this is your spot. All of Palos Verdes is perched on a cliff overlooking the water. We come here to hike and enjoy nature, especially on Sundays when we typically don’t get in the water. Favorite PV spots include: Abalone Cove, Point Vicente, Trump Golf Course (can we please change the name??) and this spot, Bluff Cove. Bluff Cove has a steep rocky hill that you have to hike down to get to it and the beach itself is rocky, not sandy. The views are amazing and there is a long rolling break that looks juuuust perfect. I’ve read that there are some seriously territorial surfers here, and even a surf gang. Did anyone else know that was a thing? Parking free most places, not a ton of food.
Santa Monica Bay Beaches
Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey: Exactly like it sounds, Mother’s Beach has calm water and a playground right on the beach. They recently redid everything. We love renting paddleboards here and plopping the toddler on the front. If you park next to the playground, your kid can play while you unload/reload the car. Win/win for everyone.
Playa Del Rey: We had so much fun at this beach on a recent family vacation. Parking was kinda tough to find, but free. I liked that it wasn’t crowded on a holiday weekend and the toddlers liked the planes flying over. It’s a little cheaper to rent a home here for a weekend than some of the other beaches north and south of here due to the planes from LAX. The waves are perfect for boogie boarding and there’s a great bike path running parallel to the beach right through the sand.
Surfrider Beach in Malibu: Perfect for families and beginner surfers alike! Parking is $25 for all day but you get to park in a lot right on the sand. It was here we saw a family of 5 all surfing together. I love admiring the golden hills and mountains all around the Malibu area. The water stays pretty shallow for a long time, so it’s great for small kids to wade in. No food within walking distance distance.
Will Rogers State Beach: After you’ve hit the Santa Monica Beach Boardwalk. skip fighting the tourists and go to Will Rodgers. We love this beach for how empty it always is! It’s just north of Santa Monica, keep driving on HWY 1 and you will find it.