Blog · Los Angeles · 11 Best Beaches in LA (And 1 Beachy Bike Trail, The Strand)

11 Best Beaches in LA (And 1 Beachy Bike Trail, The Strand)

July 22, 2023
LA Beaches

Los Angeles has some of the world’s most famous beaches, must-visit stops when you come to Southern California. But there’s much more on that long ribbon of sand than those iconic places (which I’ll tell you all about, too), including those enviable secluded beaches, beaches with easy parking, and the famed bike path that connects most of them along the Pacific Ocean’s shores at the edge of LA. 

These are the 11 best beaches in LA, where sunny days and cool evenings are found most months of the year. The ocean is warmish — 65 to 68 degrees — from July to November and chillier the rest of the year, so remember you might want a wetsuit to go swimming and a sweater or jacket if you are on the coast after sunset.

So grab those necessities as well as your bathing suit, sunscreen, backpack-beach chair, surfboard, and beach volleyball, and let’s go!

1. Start with The Strand, a beachfront bike path

The Strand Beachfront Bike Path

Ready to see 22 miles (one way) of LA’s best beaches? Then take a bicycle (or rent one from almost any of the beach communities) and get pedaling. 

The Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail is simply called “The Strand” by us locals and is designed for traditional bikes, not e-bikes, unless you turn them off and pedal like a regular bicycle. 

But don’t be surprised to see skateboarders, scooters, recumbent bikes, and other self-powered movement along the way. 

This paved bikeway begins (or ends) at Will Rogers State Beach at Temescal Canyon to the north, wends its way through Santa Monica and Venice, then around Marina del Rey’s boat channels, back to the beach in Playa del Rey, and all the way down the shoreline past El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach to finally conclude at Torrance Beach. 

That’s the 22 miles, so to get back where you began, remember to double how far you ride one way. It’s mostly a flat ride with a few small hills thrown in to mix things up a bit.

The Strand is a delightful way to get a workout in while taking in the surfers, beach volleyball players, sunbathers, and kids building sandcastles along the way. 

Remember to watch the signs along the path requiring you to walk your bike when you come into the bigger beach cities, as places like Manhattan Beach will give you a ticket if you buzz through the highly populated sections.

2. Leo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carrillo State Beach

Beginning our LA beach tour to the north, well above The Strand at the far northern edge of Malibu, find Leo Carrillo State Beach. 

Far from the crowds, this less-traveled 1.5-mile section of beach has it all, from tide pools and caves to surf breaks and even the Leo Carrillo State Park Campground just across Pacific Coast Highway.

It’s a real hidden gem of SoCal’s beach experience, especially for families with kids who love to explore nature’s beauty.

3. Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach

Drive about 20 miles into Malibu (from the Santa Monica border) to find Zuma Beach, one of the real gems of sun and fun. 

It may look familiar, since it’s been the filming location for countless movies and TV shows, with its wide, almost two-mile long beach, big (sometimes scary) waves and volleyball courts. 

Happily, Zuma also has plenty of parking, so expect to find crowds here, especially in the summer months.

4. Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach is what most people think of when they hear the words “Malibu.” 

It sits right next to the iconic Malibu Pier and also encompasses Surfrider Beach, a favorite spot for LA surfers. Enjoy the beach here as well as the lagoon’s nature trails and tidepools. Then climb up to the pier for a casual meal or to do a little fishing.

5. Will Rogers State Beach

Set between Santa Monica and Malibu, Will Rogers State Beach (known simply as “State” to locals) marks the northern end of the Strand bike path. 

This wide beach is famed as a top spot for the world’s best beach volleyball players to train — and where Leonardo DiCaprio and other Hollywood types have been known to play volleyball, too. 

Plus, right across Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is Patrick’s Roadhouse, a favorite retro diner to fuel up at since 1973.

6. Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach

With perhaps the most famous pier in the world, Santa Monica State Beach draws visitors from everywhere to ride the Ferris wheel, take in a concert, and enjoy numerous restaurants. 

Just below on the beach itself are sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, the original Muscle Beach (with workout equipment), and the Annenberg Community Beach House, a free beach club with pool, fitness classes and lots more.Learn more: Keen to take a deeper dive into what this beach is all about? Discover why Santa Monica Pier is a destination for everyone.

7. Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Venice Beach has a unique vibe, as the undisputed LA beach that features freaks, hippies, and artists found along its famous boardwalk. You’ll also see plenty of skateboarders, Muscle Beach bodybuilders, handball players, and more sunseekers on this popular beach.

There are restaurants, bars, shops, and street vendors, and Venice has more than its share of homeless residents, too. But that doesn’t stop an average of 30,000 visitors from coming to see the scene every day. There’s also surfing, beach volleyball, and the Pacific Ocean to enjoy here.

Local tip: Don’t miss the Venice Beach canals while you’re in the area.

8. The Jungle in Playa del Rey

Jungle in Playa del Rey

The Jungle is a famous enclave in Playa del Rey, where beachfront homes give way to lots of sand volleyball courts, gentle waves perfect for SUP, and perfect sunset views of the marina that’s right next door. 

The Strand comes back to the beach here, after detouring inland around Marina del Rey to the north, and in the winter when LA builds a huge sand berm to protect the homes from storms, it becomes a place where sand sledding is every kid’s favorite thing to do. 

Plus, there’s great food to be had at Playa Provisions, Caffe Pinguini, and The Shack, all less than a block from the water. 

9. Dockweiler Beach

Dockweiler Beach

Dockweiler Beach is at the south end of Playa del Rey, where El Segundo is marked by the strange landscapes of beachfront water treatment plants and an oil refinery. 

But what makes Dockweiler such a popular beach despite those eyesores are the public cooking pits that dot the beach, where families can barbecue and enjoy a picnic on the beach. 

Plus, there are lots of beach volleyball courts (tournaments are held here all summer long) and an RV campground with bathrooms and showers that is literally two steps from the sand. Plan ahead — you’ll need to reserve those spots at least 24 hours in advance.

10. Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

Luxurious Manhattan Beach is known for its expensive beachfront homes, its surf breaks right at the pier, and as the epicenter of the sport of beach volleyball. 

Look on the pier for plaques commemorating the sport’s best, who’ve been playing here since the early 1960s. Then go all the way out to see the Roundhouse Aquarium at the western edge. Fish off the pier, too, or watch the surfers hang ten down below. 

With chic restaurants and shops just up the steep hill that leads to the city itself, Manhattan Beach is LA’s quintessential high-end beach community.

11. Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach is a funkier version of Manhattan Beach, much more laid-back and still boasting lots of beach “shacks” that were constructed in the mid-20th century. 

Famous for its large beach volleyball community as well as surfers, paddle boarders, and bike riders, Hermosa is known as a sports-loving town.

It’s full of foodies as well, and the famous Hermosa Pier promenade offers up numerous fun bars and casual restaurants, with more sophisticated choices just steps away.

Local tip: A block from the beach, you’ll find the legendary Hermosa Comedy & Magic Club, where Jay Leno performs almost every week.

12. Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach has plenty of sand and water, which is why it was one of the first resort beaches in SoCal, with 1890 marking the first vacation hotel that opened here. 

These days, it’s especially known for its sport-fishing boat fleet that draws anglers from around the world to begin their fishing adventures here at the Redondo Marina. The adjoining pier is also a great place for world-class seafood eateries and perfect sunsets.

Pick your LA beach destination

LA beach destination

No matter what beach style suits you, you’re sure to find it at one of LA’s terrific beaches. 

Just remember that even if it’s overcast at the beach, there’s still a strong sun in our California skies, so always apply and reapply sunscreen when out on the sand, in the water, or on the water. To get a taste of LA’s beaches and other cool spots around the city, consider taking our Private LA Highlights Tour, designed to give you a full day of some of SoCal’s best sights.