The Top Southern California Beaches

Venice BeachVenice Beach

For many visitors to California, the trip is not complete without a trip to Venice Beach. Famous as a hangout for the stars as well as home to Muscle Beach, Venice is one of the most iconic beaches in the world. Venice is a beach where people go to be seen. You will find a teeming street life here in the summers. Street performers, rollerbladers and gymnasts are among the people competing for your attention. If you are after the typical Hollywood beach experience, complete with rollerskating bikini chicks, Venice Beach is your place to go.

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach is probably just as renowned as Venice. For years the beach was a weekly fixture on TV sets all around the world as Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff ran around Santa Monica in slow motion. Many tourists come to this beach just to walk on the hallowed grounds of Baywatch. Santa Monica has a lot more to offer though. The Santa Monica pier is as well known as Anderson’s red swimsuit. The fairgrounds on the pier has attractions for kids of all ages, even offering a roller coaster as well as many smaller rides and attractions. Right off the pier you will find a buzzing down town area with plenty of high end shopping and dining. On top of all this you will also find beautiful bike and pedestrian paths that overlook the beach and the Pacific Ocean. The beach is pretty good too.

Hitting the waves

If surfing is your thing. Surf City is your beach. Huntington Beach is home to the national surfer championships every year. More relaxed than the beaches in Los Angeles, this Orange County hot spot has the perfect surfer attitude. The beach is wide and the water is fairly shallow which makes it a great place to go with younger kids as well. If you are looking to surf, keep in mind that on most days during the summer, the no surfing flag goes up at noon over most of the beach.

Huntington Beach is also a great spot to go for some after dark beach fun. The wide beach front and the numerous fire pits make it a great spot for beach parties.

Balboa Peninsula

Another excellent location in Orange county is Balboa Beach. Take the ferry over to the Balboa Peninsula and just stroll around among some of the most expensive beach front properties in the world. Or you could get a guided boat tours of the bay and come face to face with a sea lion or two. The bike path run right along the beach and the city of Balboa is a quiet and charming small town. Balboa has it’s own well knows ferris wheel as well as bumper cars and a few other attractions. Perhaps most interesting is that Balboa was the location for the Bluth family’s banana stand in Arrested Development.

Laguna Beach

One of the most beautiful beaches and beach cities along the Southern California coast is Laguna Beach. Nestled in between dramatic cliffs, the beach itself is relatively small. The draw at Laguna is the quaint beach community. From the picturesque light house, to the beautiful plant arrangements around the beach front you will never run out of opportunities to round up your family for a group shot. The city of Laguna matches this quiet beauty wonderfully. Dominated by low cottage type wood building Laguna has its own very distinct feel. Along the beach lone you will find that Laguna has an abundance of arts and crafts stores. Beautiful glass work and hand made jewelry are among the many eye-catching items you will find.

For the wee ones

Travelers with very small children might be weary of brining their kids to the beach. The surf can be powerful and the undertows a real hazard for inexperienced beach bums. The area around Huntington and Balboa beaches is the perfect solution for families with small children. Through out the Balboa bay there are numerous mothers beaches. Beaches that are shielded from the surf of the Pacific. These beaches are perfect for letting toddlers enjoy the water. Mothers beaches are usually quite small and can be hard to spot. Many of them are pointed out by road signs but it is still a good idea to get directions online to the beach you pick before hand.

No matter what kind of beach experience you are looking for you can find it in California. If you are planning a trip to the Golden State; make sure you go for a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. The scenic route will take you along all the famous and not so famous beach cities of California; making it one of the best ways to experience the unique beach culture.

Image: OL

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