There have been countless things produced in homage to California. Whether it’s a photograph of a glorious sunset over the Pacific, a Beach Boys song praising the disposition of the girls who live there, or entire reality TV shows based around housewives, one facet of California living is always front and center: the beach. And Southern California has some of the best beaches in the Golden State.

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica California sunset

Home to the oldest pier on the West Coast, Santa Monica is one of the most well-known beaches in Southern California—and for good reason. There is plenty to do, whether by land or by sea. Rent skates or a bike to take advantage of the scenic bike path. Pay a visit to the Museum of Flying to look at vintage aircraft or head over to the Museum of Art to explore the special exhibits. Escape the heat in the arcade (or the ocean, if that’s your thing), and don’t to take the carousel for a spin.

Manhattan Beach


There’s a little less hustle and bustle on Manhattan Beach than others along the Southern California Coast. It’s the quintessential California spot, full of sunbathers, surfers, and rousing games of beach volleyball. There’s even a workout area with built-in equipment for you to warmup before a match. Manhattan Beach is also home to the Roundhouse Aquarium, which houses a multiple attractions, including a shark tank, a tropical aquarium, and a touch tank. One thing to note is the beach’s lack of food options, so your best bet is to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while watching the waves.

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach is another family-oriented destination in Southern California. The International Boardwalk, the largest amusement park on the coast, with its “fun factory” arcade and carnival rides is perfect for family members of all ages, and the white-sand beach is a great spot to play a game of volleyball or just relax and watch the nearby sailboats. Fishing is permitted off the pier without a license, so make sure to pack your poles, bait, and tackle.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach Sunset

Venice Beach is the place to go for people-watching. From its nightly drum circle that begins as the sun sets to the cadre of rollerbladers, surfers, skateboarders, and fitness buffs flocking to Muscle Beach, there’s always someone or something to look at. During the summer there is some form of street entertainment—singers, magicians, mimes, and more!—on every block of Ocean Front Walk, the main drag running through the three-mile beach. You might even be able catch a pro-basketball-player in training at one of the courts nearby, as my famous players got their start at the Venice Beach courts.